Vintage Martin Acoustic Guitar Restoration : Martin 00-17

Here’s a rare guitar on the workbench, it’s an old Martin 00-17 made in 1949.  Bob Dylan used this model back in the early so called “Coffeehouse Days” more info on Dylans guitar’s Here…

This little gem has some all too familiar problems; it has severe soundboard bellying, the neck is loose giving a high playing action. All of which has probably causing the bridge to lift.

Other issues

There is a small hole in the rib

Initials have been scratched in the lacquer on the back

It has been fitted with inappropriate machine heads

Click image to enlarge


With all bridge-lifting or bellying issues the first thing to look at is the internal structure of the soundboard.

Using lights and mirrors to scrutinise the internal bracing it is discovered that the bridge plate is a little loose and not glued at its edges.

By removing the bridge and bridge-plate the soundboard can be returned to its original flat shape.

With very little effort the bridge is removed.

The bridge-plate is soaked overnight. The next day, with a little heat, the bridge-plate becomes detached very easily.

With this area of the soundboard in a “damp” state, the soundboard is clamped into a negative bow and left to dry out for a week or so. This will help the soundboard regain its correct shape.

Once completely dry a new bridge-plate is made up from Indian Rosewood and glued into place. Hide glue is used because it is reversible, this will make the plate easier to remove in later years if necessary.

With the soundboard still in its negative bow the new bridge-plate is fitted, clamped up and left to dry overnight.

The bridge footprint on the soundboard and the underside of the bridge are cleaned up and with the soundboard still in its negative bow the bridge is glued into place.

Hide glue can be diluted to such a viscosity so as to be used in a syringe. Using this method the issue of the loose neck is easily solved by injecting Hide glue into the join and clamping overnight.

The hole and initials are patched up and cleaned up so as not to look too “over worked”. This is quite often a good way of resolving damage to a finish that is already distressed from years of use.

Suitable replacement machine heads are not available at the time of stringing up this old Martin. This will be done when appropriate tuners become available.

Glenn of Glenn’s Guitars plays the changes and checks over the  finished results.

More Martin 0017 photos on Flickr

7 Responses to “Vintage Martin Acoustic Guitar Restoration : Martin 00-17”

  1. C.J. Says:

    That heater that you used, is that a certain heater made specifically just for bridge plate removal, aslo I would like to thank you for being so informative about the work you do. My guitar needs a little work now and I’m thinking about doing it myself. Just don’t have all the right tools yet.

  2. Graham Parker Luthier Says:

    The heat blanket used on this repair is a purpose made device available from most luthier suppliers
    Good luck with your repairs,

  3. Rich Says:

    ..I still need to bring my 00-17 in for you to take a look at!!!!


  4. Graham Parker Luthier Says:

    Hi Rich,
    What seems to be the problem with it?
    Email if you wish

  5. Christine LeDoux Says:

    Hi there! I was wondering if you could help me. I have what I think is the same guitar. I’m American but here in Austria. I am trying to figure out if that’s what it is first of all and if so, what to sell it for.
    I emailed a friend and guitar expert Teja Gerken, but haven’t heard back yet. Just trying to find as much info as I can. Thanks so so much in advance.
    American expat in Austria Chris

    • Graham Parker Luthier Says:

      Hi Christine ,
      Email me a few photos of the guitar showing its condition and any issues that you know it may have. Also the model and serial number and I’ll check it out.
      Email address on the contact page.

  6. Charles A Campbell Says:

    I have a Martin Model 0 17 serial number 96828 (inherited from my father) with some damage (holes he drilled to for an electric pickup) and just general wear and tear. Could you tell me, approximately, what would be the cost of restoration. Even a ballpark number would be helpful.

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