Martin string gauge help

Discussion in 'Acoustic Soundboard' started by Heartfelt, Oct 14, 2014.

  1. Heartfelt

    Heartfelt Strat-Talker

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    About 4 months ago I bought the cheap Martin DRS1. The sapele dreadnaught with the stratabond neck. It came with .12 gauge strings fitted.
    It sounded fantastic, and I bought it after trying over 30 different acoustics, some twice the price.
    However, after not playing it for a while I took it from it's case to find a rather high action. The neck is still pretty straight but there is a bellying behind the bridge.
    I've changed the strings to .10 and the bellying has reduced. So far, so good..
    But the sound is no where as good as when the 12's were on.
    The saddle is quite tall. Do you think lowering the saddle would give a less steep pull on the rear of the top? Obviously the action would lower too, but I'm not particularly bothered by a high action.
    I'm more concerned with ruining an albeit cheap but nice guitar.
     
  2. BadBrad

    BadBrad Strat-O-Master

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    Martin actually recommends medium gauge strings (.13 gauge) on that guitar, so it should be able to handle the 12's okay. Some guitars just settle in over time, and it might just need a setup. If you bought it at a local shop, I'd take it back and ask them to correct the action and assess whether the bellying behind the bridge will get any worse.

    I typically use mediums on my Martin dreadnoughts and lights or medium-lights on my smaller-bodied guitars.
     
  3. stratman in va

    stratman in va Most Honored Senior Member

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    You won't harm anything by lowering the saddle. A lot of guitars get that bellying of the top.

    Have you checked the neck relief? Its probably pretty flat with those light strings on it.

    I put .11s on a guitar that had the bridge lifting a tiny bit. I glued the bridge down with Titebond and went to .11s after the glue set up.
     
  4. moondance360

    moondance360 Strat-O-Master

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    You need to take it to to where you purchased it. It might need a small extension added to the bridge plate. Any good repairman could fix it for you.
     
  5. Fender Fool

    Fender Fool Strat-Talker

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    Bellying does occur but it tends to take years if the guitar is structurally sound. And that's generally using a heavier gauge string like 13's.

    My D28 is 25 years old and has a bit of a belly behind the bridge. As long as it's not too severe it will not hurt anything. Some say a bit of bellying improves the tone of the guitar.

    It's wood and all woods don't react the same.

    Check out frets.com or Brian Kimsey's site. A lot of good info there. Best thing to do is to take it to good luthier in your area and let him have a look at it.

    I don't think reducing the saddle height will have an affect on the belly. Id keep the lighter strings on it until you get some answers.
     
  6. rousejeremy

    rousejeremy Senior Stratmaster

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    If the top is bellying behind the bridge, check to see if it is concave in front of it. It's usually a sign of lack of humidity, which is dangerous to acoustic guitars and can void the lifetime warranty.