C. F. Martin 0-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1932)

C. F. Martin  0-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1932)
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Item # 10465
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C. F. Martin 0-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1932), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 49989, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, Adirondack spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This is a beautiful and nicely preserved Martin 0-18 from early/mid 1932, considered by many to be the apex of the golden era for these original 12-fret "old style" standard Martins. In 1932 the $40.00 0-18 had recently settled into its final specifications as a 12-fret steel-string guitar with the then-new belly bridge and pickguard as standard features. 506 of these featherweight mahogany marvels shipped out of Nazareth in 1932; this model would not see numbers like that again until the 1940s. Considering the devastating effects of the depression and the limited production of most guitar builders at the time this figure seems rather miraculous in hindsight, but by modern standards it is paltry!

This 0-18 has slightly beefed-up bracing compared to its early 1920s ancestors, but by modern standards the scalloped X pattern remains extremely delicate. The Style 18 had begun to be offered with steel strings only in 1923; this model was Martin's first spruce top guitar so equipped from the factory and soon became a popular instrument as a result. It would only be continue to be built in this 12-fret form for another year or so before the advent of 14-fret neck joints changed its character forever.

The 0-18 is a 13 1/2" wide mahogany-bodied guitar with relatively plain trim; the Adirondack spruce top and Honduras mahogany back are bound with rosewood, the belly bridge and 1 13/16" wide fingerboard made of very high-grade dark ebony. The mahogany neck has a slim round-backed profile and an ebony fingerboard. The slotted headstock face is unadorned on the rosewood facing and fitted with three-on-a-plate Waverly openback tuners, while the back of the headstock features a C. F. Martin stamp. The position marks are three simple descending-sized pearl dots and the nut is ebony.

It may have been near the bottom of the Martin line, but this was still an expensive instrument compared to many competing 1932 Depression-era flat-tops. It is built throughout to the lofty standards that only C.F. Martin & Co. ever sustained, and would have been the finest instrument of its type in the world at the time.

This is a very fine playing guitar, considered a classic old-time stringband or solo guitar but suitable for any style of play. The sound is more powerful than one might expect from an instrument this size, full-bodied with surprising depth for the small body. It makes a great fingerstyle instrument but also works well with a flatpick, appropriate for solo playing, old-time fiddle band music on to early jazz and beyond. This is simply a wonderful 12-fret guitar for any style, and fine original condition something we just don't see enough anymore.
Overall length is 38 3/4 in. (98.4 cm.), 13 9/16 in. (34.4 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 13/16 in. (46 mm.).

Overall this is a nicely preserved original guitar, with a decent mount of honest wear overall and a few carefully completed repairs. The finish shows average typical wear over the entire instrument: dings, scrapes and dents with some noticeable pickwear through the finish around the sound hole and pickguard. There are no large areas of finish loss on the body, but some deeper scrapes on the back and the lower edge. The back of the neck is heavily worn down to the wood and actually has a lovely feel. The lower top has one long scrape and a couple of deeper dings.

There is one small area of short top cracks at the very edge of the lower bass bout; all of which have been carefully sealed. There are two repaired cracks on the treble side rim, one is near the back binding running from the apex of the lower bout and running towards the waist and another short crack near the apex of the upper bout.

The neck was neatly reset, the original full height bridge has been reglued and a crack through the pins has been neatly and solidly sealed long ago. The bone through saddle is a correct replacement. The original bar frets have been crowned down a bit and have plenty of life left. The guitar plays and sounds truly excellent and is complete in a modern HSC. Overall Excellent Condition.