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Author Topic: Why is Martin so stuck on Toner?  (Read 10517 times)
Zohn
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« on: February 04, 2009, 11:43:07 AM »

I saw the most beautiful Martin OM-21 Special without the usual aging toner that seems to have become synonymous with Martin over the years. It was a custom order, and has the pleasing and clean aesthetics that Larrivee is more famous for. Did Martin get caught in their "vintage-looks-vibe" altogether, or is it because the fans still demand it?
This specimen is one beautiful guitar, and like the OMJM, I wouldn't mind having it in my collection.
http://www.om28.com/smartin/om21sp.html
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roguegnome
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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2009, 12:57:30 PM »

I prefer the patina look, myself. Whether through age alone or cosmetically applied with toner, I don't care. My furniture has stain applied beneath the finish, too. I just like it that way.
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Randy_R
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« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2009, 01:01:51 PM »

I guess Martin has given up on competing with Larrivee on sound, so they rely on the vintage mystique.....  

back to reality..

The toner must sell, Martin wouldn't use it so liberally otherwise.

The OM21s are supposed to be really well done, at least most players love them. I should try one if I get a chance. A couple friends have OM28s, and they are both excellant guitars.
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« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2009, 01:25:37 PM »

I have a Martin custom shop OM (with toner) similar to an OM-21. It weighs about 1/2 as much as my Larrivee OM and I hate to admit it, especially here, but it sounds a lot better. I got it from a friend of mine who was injured in a fall and is a quadriplegic, so I don't know what he paid for it. It has his name on the label and CFM IV signed and all. The thing just sounds incredible, with or without the toner and/or the name son the label. An amazing guitar.
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bluesman67
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« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2009, 01:38:32 PM »

What is toner?
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Queequeg
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« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2009, 02:05:21 PM »

What is toner?
a light stain, golden in color that many guitar makers use to add a little patina (color occurring normally due to age) to the tops of guitars.
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Bltprf502
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« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2009, 02:53:21 PM »

Trying to bring that vintage vibe alive on a new Martin!  They aren't what they used to be, but their efforts are good.
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Johnny M
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« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2009, 04:16:04 PM »

Let em age naturally I say!  I've seen some Martins that looked orange ... kind of like that fake suntan cream, just doesn't look 'right' in my eyes.

YMMV
John
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Zohn
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« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2009, 04:47:25 PM »

I have a Martin custom shop OM (with toner) similar to an OM-21. It weighs about 1/2 as much as my Larrivee OM and I hate to admit it, especially here, but it sounds a lot better. I got it from a friend of mine who was injured in a fall and is a quadriplegic, so I don't know what he paid for it. It has his name on the label and CFM IV signed and all. The thing just sounds incredible, with or without the toner and/or the name son the label. An amazing guitar.
Don't get me wrong, I have a long standing affection for Martin guitars. There are so many that I love, I wouldn't know where to begin if I bought one. The OMJM model has toner as well, and I would buy it today if I had the moola. It just seems odd that they actually specify it as a  "feature".
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jeremy3220
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« Reply #9 on: February 04, 2009, 06:46:38 PM »

Some of the Martins that used aging toner a few years ago, like an OM-28V I've played, looked very fake. It was orange and you could tell it was something applied over the wood. I'm not sure if all Martins use the same toner now but I played a D-18GE and had no idea they used any kind of tinting on the top until I read about it, I just thought it was the natural color.
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2009, 07:52:29 PM »

Trying to bring that vintage vibe alive on a new Martin!  They aren't what they used to be, but their efforts are good.
Careful with that comment, there are lots of Martin owners here.  You can be assured that the pre-war Martins that survive today sound better than when new.  Martin's vintage line, including the GE and Authentic lines, sound almost vintage when new.  They are being built to the original spec's, give or take a few things.  Plus, modern build techniques can build a lighter and yet more stable instrument. 

Give them 30 years and beyond and I'm convinced they'll sound every bit as good as what we now call vintage.

The "aging" toner?  Cosmetics, that's all.  I can live with or without it.  But those "wings", ...
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« Reply #11 on: February 04, 2009, 09:24:25 PM »

Careful with that comment, there are lots of Martin owners here.  You can be assured that the pre-war Martins that survive today sound better than when new.  Martin's vintage line, including the GE and Authentic lines, sound almost vintage when new.  They are being built to the original spec's, give or take a few things.  Plus, modern build techniques can build a lighter and yet more stable instrument. 

Give them 30 years and beyond and I'm convinced they'll sound every bit as good as what we now call vintage.

The "aging" toner?  Cosmetics, that's all.  I can live with or without it.  But those "wings", ...

I have absolutely no basis to compare a "pre-war" or even an "old" Martin to my D-18 and I don't really need to. As it stands in 2009, the Martin D-18 is well constructed and sounds great. Slightly aged models (early 2000s) sound even better so I've got a lot to look forward to. In 30 years time, I'll be sure to grumble and complain to my grandkids that sustainable woods sound like crap and that Martin made the best guitars at the turn of the century (2000 ad). I hope that my grandkids do exactly what I do now, ignore the old badgers who can't seem appreciate their amazingly aged guitars and instead want to complain about how bad the new ones are constructed.

And back to the original post, yeah I don't really like the aging toner at all. I have to say that on many of the Martins I have seen with it, it's at least done well. You want ugly, take a look at *some* of the blueridges; they had a run of orange guitars for a while before they pulled it back.
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« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2009, 01:37:31 AM »

I've seen some extreme examples but it isn't always objectionable

compare this 000-18GE with toner and an L10 without





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« Reply #13 on: February 05, 2009, 01:42:29 AM »

I have a Martin custom shop OM (with toner) similar to an OM-21. It weighs about 1/2 as much as my Larrivee OM and I hate to admit it, especially here, but it sounds a lot better. I got it from a friend of mine who was injured in a fall and is a quadriplegic, so I don't know what he paid for it. It has his name on the label and CFM IV signed and all. The thing just sounds incredible, with or without the toner and/or the name son the label. An amazing guitar.

I like the look of the Eric Clapton top, but also love the look of a natural top with just a gloss clear coat. BTW, the Martin OM-21 IMHO, is the sleeper in the regular Martin line up! Martins have a different sound than Larrivee's and I completely understand your enthusiasm and endorsement of your OM-21. This is why we need multiple guitars from different builders/manufacturers   While I love the 'vintage' tone, I've personally not found that in the new Martin's I've played. In my opinion, the OM-21 has a life and sparkle to it that I have not experienced in the more tradtional line up. As I shared on other thread, I've really been impressed by most of the Golden Era Series I've played. Perhaps if some of that Obama stimulus trickles down into my bank account I might think of a GE, but then again, there's rumblings of a Forum IV .

Below is a shot of what a naturally aged Spruce top might look like in 40+ years or so . Luthier Tim Mcknight was fortunate to pick up some very well aged '1959 Sitka Spruce at an estate sale, where somebody had planned to build guitars but never got around to it. These tops exhibit a honey colored hue, with a dry vintage tone that's simply amazing!! I was fortunate to get my Mcknight just before Tim's reputation really started taking off, and there is now a $750 upcharge for one of his builds with his "famous '59 Sitka Spruce" top. You're paying for 50 years of aging, but that's where that vintage tone comes from

 ~ Ray ~
 


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tadol
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« Reply #14 on: February 05, 2009, 02:47:00 AM »

I haven't seen toner on a guitar that I liked. I even think that sunbursts have to be done very carefully, or they detract form a nice guitar as well. Larrivee is one of the few that does a nice sunburst, in my opinion.

Tad
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« Reply #15 on: February 05, 2009, 04:47:44 AM »



no toner on any of them...  the D18 is a 54's, the Gibbie 12 is late 60's, and the Larrivee OM, and Martin custom are both 2002, the flaminco (cedar top) from '71, and the guitar with a hubcap in the middle is a '32

Note how dark the D18 has become it's 50+ years.... that's ageing toner the slow way....

second exibit;

the Yamaha classical i got new in '64 (it's sitka over brz), and the Gibbie B25-12 was re-topped, and re-fin'd (with Larrivee's mastergrade sitka, and finished at Larrivee spray booth in Vancouver) in '98, the B-45-12 beside it is the one above.. late 60's we think, the guild f20 is a '61...

In this one check how dark the Yammie is....  and how light both the B-45-12 and the f20 are

Somewhere there's gotta be a picture of a Gibbie B45-12 getting darker

Ta,

d.
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Stephen Basil
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« Reply #16 on: February 05, 2009, 05:04:32 AM »

Excellent visuals!!
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« Reply #17 on: February 05, 2009, 05:06:23 AM »

Wow, that's a whole lot of lovely on that wall.
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Zohn
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« Reply #18 on: February 05, 2009, 06:00:31 AM »

Let em age naturally I say!  I've seen some Martins that looked orange ... kind of like that fake suntan cream, just doesn't look 'right' in my eyes.

YMMV
John
Yeah, those orange ones remind me of gold plating on a cheap wrist watch....
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« Reply #19 on: February 05, 2009, 04:19:49 PM »

I think the aging toner looks ok, but the "vintage toner" they use on the OM-21Special, Clapton and Mayer models are too much for my taste.

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