A couple of years ago, I bought a beautiful used Martin guitar 000-28VS (12-fretter). It had some neck issues, so it was quite cheap for this type. This is fixed now, but the more I play it, the less I like the sound. It has power enough. Great in the street or in a noisy jam, but the sound is everythind but sweet and harmonic, I think. Especially the two treble strings sound harsh and kind of muted up the neck and has too little clear fundamentals, but instead a lot of unpleasant overtones, and nail noises, like a cheap guitar and not a beatutiful Martin. The guitar is all solid (spruce and indian rosewood). I have looked inside it, and there is nothing loose. I use GHS vintage bronze 11-50, which sound great on my other guitars. The tap resonance is accvording to my tuner a little below A. I have wondered if the top could be a little too lightlu braced. It has s

  • The repair might not been as thourough as you thought. Get the guitar to a professional guitar builder and let him check it out, and while you at it, let that person set up your guitar to your liking
    – rock-on
    Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 10:44
  • Thanks for your answer. The neck had to be adjusted for too much relief (trussrod), and the nut was a little too low, which caused buzzing against the first fret (not big things). But the sound. It is as if it has too little fundamentals (especially first and seccond string) and too many unpleasant overtones (harsh sound and nailscratching). The sustain is not the best either. I have a cheap Sigma copy of this guitar. It has not quite the same power, but sounds just right in every way. So what is wrong with my fine Martin. Does anybody know these symptoms. Best wishes Steen Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 15:13
  • Check or try to find something vibrating on the awful sounding notes. Could be slightly buzzing on a higher fret. Commented Apr 16, 2017 at 2:41

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately it may be just the way that particular guitar sounds. Solid top guitars can have a pretty wide variance on tone from top to top. As the wood ages the tone will also change.

You should check under the saddle and see if it has been shimmed. If the action was lowered and then raised again, a piece of plastic or possibly even cardboard may have been placed under the saddle. A shim can change your tone significantly. If there is a shim, you should have the saddle replaced with a new bone or equivalent material one (not the cheap soft plastic ones).

It is also possible that there was some router "chatter" when the bridge was made and the saddle slot isn't fully flat, causing less than full contact of the saddle bottom to the bridge wood, which would also give you a loss of tone. This is a simple repair for a qualified Luthier.

Sometimes an instrument will sound better under different tensions, so trying out different gauge sets of strings may help. Some guitars will sound better with lower tensions, some with higher, so you will have to do some experimenting. Also check out alternative sets like the Silk and Steels.

Edit: You might also try replacing the bridge pins with wooden (ebony or rosewood) or metal pins for a tone change. The metal ones give more sustain and brightness, but I have heard them give a guitar more "fullness" too.

  • Here's a link to some info about saddles: frets.com/FretsPages/Musician/Guitar/Setup/Saddle/saddle01.html Commented Apr 15, 2017 at 19:47
  • Dear Alphonso Balvenie. Thanks for your ansvers. I think your very first sentence hits the thruh, since none of your other suggestions seem to be the case. It has scalloped bracing, and I suspect the top is braced a little too lightly. I have tried some lower tension strings, and the guitar seems to like them better, but it still has some harsh overtones and lack fundamentals. Next time I shall try silk and steel. On youtube there is a video called Bad sounding guitar. Here you can get an impression of what I am talking about (even if my guitar is better). Best wishes Steen Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 14:41
  • Thanks for the "bridgelink". I must admit, I have not (yet) had the bridge saddle removed. it is a bone saddle and everything seems to be tight and perfect. But I have tried tried to tap it in its full length with a screwdriver, and there are no "hollow" spots to be heard. But I will check it next time I change strings, because I know from banjos how tremendous effect bridges can have to the sound. Commented Apr 17, 2017 at 15:09

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