C. F. Martin D-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1949)

C. F. Martin  D-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1949)
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Item # 10861
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C. F. Martin D-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1949), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 109928, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, black hard shell case.

There are certain guitars that are simply the standard by which all others are judged; the vintage Martin D-18 is certainly one of them. This is a very well-played post-war example made in early 1949. It shows lots of playwear, but only a few carefully executed repairs, remaining in excellent playing condition with the expected splendid sound in spades. The power and depth of a Dreadnought combines with the sweetness, sparkle, and singing character of the best mahogany Martins in a magical mix, an exceptionally versatile flat-top guitar suited to practically any musical situation.

This D-18 shows the classic features of the model, widely imitated by other makers over the decades. The back and sides are Honduras mahogany and the top is tight-grained Sitka spruce, bound on the outside with tortoise celluloid. The top has an unusual slightly wavy grain pattern behind the corners of the bridge that is something not too often seen on a Martin. The Rosewood bridge has a canted bone saddle. The pickguard is made of tortoise celluloid in a small "teardrop" shape which often proved too small to fully protect the top from enthusiastic picking, in this case quite visible off the back edge.

The neck is fairly slim but has a slightly chunkier feel than typical wartime examples, round backed but with a noticeable dress away to the shoulders that gains a soft "V" flavor as it moves towards the body. The rosewood fingerboard is unbound with mixed-size pearl dot inlay. The headstock is fitted with large-plate open backed individual Kluson tuners specific to this era, faced with rosewood and adorned with the gold Martin logo decal.

In the minds of most acoustic guitar players, collectors, and historians very few instruments approach the pantheon of the vintage Martin Dreadnought in terms of sound and historical importance. While not as sought after as pre-WWII examples the just post war guitars like this D-18 are now 70+ years old and have much to recommend them. Only 450 of these were sold in 1949, by modern standards a very small total. This instrument has been played for generations and remains a fantastic performing or recording guitar, a great early postwar example that was played extensively but also well-cared for and ready for many more decades of picking.
 
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 15 5/8 in. (39.7 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 7/8 in. (12.4 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This is a "genuine relic" instrument, a structurally well preserved, extensively played and excellent sounding 1949 D-18. The original finish is worn overall with general play wear, dings, dents, scrapes and areas of finish loss. There is pickwear through the finish around the pickguard, around the entire soundhole and on both sides of the fingerboard extension. There is arm wear on the bass side of the top and lots of dings, dents, scrapes and "case lid bites" throughout. In spite of all of this, the top has a look of being well worn in, rather than looking abused and there are no top cracks at all.

Wear patterns continue on the back and sides, with a decent size area of finish worn down to the wood on the bass side rim between the waist and the apex of the lower bout. Scratches, dings and dents continue on the treble side rim. There is a scratch next to the heel on the bass side rim that at first glance looks like a crack, but on close examination is only another of the many scratches that populate the guitar. The back has extensive buckle rash through the finish into the wood and numerous scrapes, dents and scratches. with areas of finish loss by the binding. The neck has its fair share of finish loss as well with much of the finish on the neck worn down to the clear coat underneath or to bare wood.

The only grain crack repair on the guitar is at the apex of the lower bout on the treble side rim, where a series of short cracks from an impact were carefully re-sealed, without ant notable added finish. The interior of the guitar, including the original maple bridgeplate bridgeplate, is clean with only the small area of sidecrack repairs showing.

The original bridge retains its full height with a new bone saddle and the neck has been cleanly reset. The frets were replaced with correct small fret wire and show signs of subsequent wear and dressing, but they play well and have plenty of life left. The very good neck reset and new saddle make this an excellent player with a very powerful sound. While far from the cleanest this is simply a superb just-postwar D-18, even considering the wear one of the nicest we have had from this period. This would make an exceptional recording or gigging instrument for just about any style of play from traditional to modern. It includes a worn but solid 1960-70s HSC Overall Very Good + Condition.