C. F. Martin 0-17 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1935)

C. F. Martin  0-17 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1935)
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Item # 10717
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C. F. Martin 0-17 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1935), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 59450, natural lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, black tolex hard shell case.

This is a truly superb example of an early 14-fret Martin 0-17 in fine condition for its age. Not only does this guitar show only light wear and minor repair but it is an excellent player with a very powerful voice for a small all-mahogany guitar. This 0-17 was built in early/mid 1935, when this 14-fret version of the model was still a new design. The 0-17 had been changed from a 1920s style 12-fret neck joint to this modernized version just in time for the 1934 catalog. At the time the Depression was very much still in evidence and this small, unassuming but affordable guitar was Martin's best seller. This one model may well have had a major role in keeping the company in business during the first half of the decade.

The 0-17 is a direct descendant of Martin's first 12 fret, steel string guitars of the 1920's, which were a novel idea for the company at the time. Designed to offer a reliable, great sounding instrument at the lowest price Martin could manage, the Style 17 instruments were a study in elegant minimalism. The body is all mahogany, with no ornament except for the soundhole ring. The unbound, dot-inlaid rosewood fingerboard has an ebony nut. The traditional Martin bar frets had been supplanted by modern tang fretwire before this one was built, otherwise it is unchanged from 1934 examples.

While plain in appearance and at the bottom of the Martin guitar line, The 0-17 is still built of high-grade materials to the company's lofty standards. Decent guitars could be had much cheaper from the likes of Harmony, Regal or the Sears catalog, but none came close to the sonic value of this instrument. 954 of these little mahogany wonders were shipped in 1935, a huge quantity for Martin at the time and an indication of how their dealers must have been clamoring for an affordable 14-fret guitar. While the original price of $30.00 may seem laughable today, in 1935 this was still a fairly expensive proposition for many Americans struggling to make ends meet.

Then as now 0-17 is a fully professional-quality guitar, extremely responsive with a rich, singing tone that belies its humble appearance. The scalloped X-bracing is very delicate the entire instrument is rather more lightly built than subsequent iterations. This initial 14-fret 0-17 is a true treat for the Martin connoisseur as well as the casual strummer.
Overall length is 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm.), 13 5/8 in. (34.6 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 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This is one of the loveliest and best preserved pre-war Martins we have seen in some time, showing some signs of use but really amazingly clean and undisturbed for being 85 years old. The finish is completely original showing small dings, dents, scrapes, and play wear. There is pickwear through the finish on the outside edge of the pickguard and in an area of the upper bout at the top of the pickguard. A small grouping of dings, most likely case bites, populate the top at the edge of the lower bout on the bass side. There are a few capo marks on the back of the neck in the lower positions.

No cracks are evident, and everything on the guitar remains original and in excellent working condition. The neck has been refretted, the neck has been very neatly reset and the bridge reglued. The saddle is a recent bone replacement. The original bridgeplate is very neat and undisturbed, the original Kluson tuners, with replaced white buttons, still function well. This is just a lovely find, one of the nicest examples of our of our most popular instruments we have ever had. Excellent - Condition.