C. F. Martin 000-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1945)

C. F. Martin  000-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1945)
Just Arrived!
This item has been sold.
Item # 10026
Prices subject to change without notice.
C. F. Martin 000-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1945), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 90306, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, Adirondack spruce top; Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

To many players and Martin fans, the 000-18 constitutes one of the company's most propitious and beloved combinations of wood, wire, and inspiration. The light mahogany body coupled with an Adirondack spruce top makes for a superbly responsive guitar; the 15" wide narrow-waisted 000-size body contributes both depth and clarity to the sound.

The 14-fret 000-sized body was introduced with the OM-18 in 1930; after 1933 nearly all Martin guitars were being built in this new "Orchestra Model" format so the OM designation was dropped, and the model simply called the 000-18. The original OM-18 used a long 25.5" scale length, but Martin changed this to a slightly shorter scale in 1934. The 000-18 has remained one of the company's mainstays ever since.

This example was built very early in 1945, one of a total of 400 000-18s shipped in that concluding year of WWII. Unlike most other instrument builders Martin managed to keep up substantial guitar production during the war and the instruments of that era have their own character. This 000 has a features specific to this exact period, when much was in transition. The superb straight-grained Adirondack spruce top is a left-over from pre-war spec; within a year or so supplies of this wood were no longer available in quantity and Martin began using Sitka spruce from Alaska instead. The top is constructed in a transitional "tapered brace" mode; the traditional scallop-bracing had been discontinued in 1944 but the braces themselves are shaved thinner on the ends than later practice and are lighter than the typical 1950s and '60s models.

Other woods used are mahogany for the neck, back, and sides, with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge -- a change from the prewar ebony. The top has a tortoise celluloid pickguard and outside edge of the 5-ply binding, with a single layer for the back binding. The neck has a fairly slim profile with a soft but noticeable "V" along the spine, typical of wartime models. There is no metal rod but an ebony reinforcement that has stayed straight and true, making this guitar among the lightest 000s out there. The fingerboard inlay is mixed size dots and the tuners are openback wartime Klusons with no bushings and plastic buttons.

While not a particularly expensive guitar by 1945 standards, listing at $67.00 (plus case) the 000-18 still represented a substantial investment to most era players. By that point of the war professional grade guitars were in short supply, and Martin likely had their hands full building them. The 000-18 is not a flashy guitar; the trim is discreet with tortoise celluloid on the body edges and a simple multiply sound hole ring. In classic Martin style, the elegant understatement speaks for itself. Despite its lack of glitz, this was a fully professional instrument and proved popular with radio entertainers, most obviously the country acts common in the Southeast.

This 000 has seen use over the decades and shows some wear but is in excellent-playing condition and sounds wonderful. It excels as a fingerpicker's instrument but also has a lot of punch and clarity as a ringing rhythm machine as well. The combination of the light, non-scalloped Adirondack top with the ebony-reinforced neck without the metal core creates a unique sonic character only found in the instruments from this late-war period. Whatever the style of music one might prefer, mahogany flat-top guitars simply don't get a whole lot better than this.
Overall length is 39 3/4 in. (101 cm.), 15 3/16 in. (38.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This guitar remains in very fine original condition with some typical wear and minor repair. The finish overall shows typical dings, dents, and scrapes but nothing major. The top lacquer shows fine checking and areas of wear, mostly strumming marks up near the fingerboard. There is a deep "case lid bite" into the top by the upper bass side edge, a small but deep ding into the wood behind the bridge and a worn-away area on the lower sound hole rim. The bridge has been reglued (probably more than once) but it appears original; it is possible this is an old replacement but it looks exactly as it should and shows some wear. The thin maple bridgeplate is original and unaltered. There appears to have been a nicely done neck re-set some time back.

The top and sides have no cracks; the only wood damage on the instrument is a small impact mark on the middle back off the center seam and a small associated grain crack, all sealed up but visible. The headstock has some general wear and a chip off the upper corner of the face above the D string tuner. The finish is worn on the spine and sides of the neck but there are no heavy capo marks or deep dings along the surface, only a few small dinks. There is a bit of divoting to the fingerboard in the lower positions but the frets have only light wear and the guitar is a very fine player. This guitar feels superbly played in and is just a wonderful-feeling and sounding instrument. The original hard case in worn but fully functional condition is still present. Excellent - Condition.