The first step in re-topping this Martin is to remove the neck. This is accomplished by pulling the 15th fret and drilling a small (3/32”) hole in the fret slot; this allows access to the dovetail “pocket”. A heat blanket is used to soften the glue, so that the fingerboard “tongue ” can be loosened. Now comes the steam! I use a modified espresso machine attached to a small tube via a rubber hose.
This 1956 Martin was glued together with hide glue. Hide glue is a truly superior glue with one exception: it is hard to work with (more on this in a later post). However, in this case it allows for easy disassembly and clean up. Now for the top removal. By using my thin putty knife I’m able to carefully separate the top from the sides.
The top is free and now the full extent of the modifications can be seen. The darker wood is all non-original; there is really not much of the factory bracing left. The globs of brown glue are plastic resin glue, which is a good glue but one that is not normally in a repair person's tool box because of its heavy viscosity.