C. F. Martin 000-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1952)

C. F. Martin  000-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1952)
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Item # 10870
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C. F. Martin 000-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1952), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 126527, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top; Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

To many players and Martin fans, the vintage 000-18 constitutes one of the company's most propitious and beloved combinations of wood, wire, and inspiration. The light mahogany body coupled and spruce top make for a superbly responsive guitar; the 15" wide narrow-waisted 000 shape 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 this model simply designated 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 just about 70 years ago in mid-late 1952, one of exactly 550 000-18s shipped that year. The top is Sitka spruce with slightly wider grain lines at the outer edges than most Martins of the period. The other woods used are mahogany for the neck, back, and sides, with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The top has a tortoise celluloid for the pickguard and the outside edge of the 5-ply binding, with a single layer for the back binding. The neck is fairly slim profile with a soft "C" profile that gains more of spine as it approaches the body. The fingerboard inlay is mixed size dots and the original tuners are large plate open back Klusons with metal buttons.

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 very popular with radio entertainers, most obviously the country acts common in the Southeast.

While not a particularly expensive guitar by 1952 standards, listing at $105.00 (plus case) the 000-18 still represented a substantial investment to many era players. In this early-postwar era professional grade guitars were in short supply, and Martin likely had their hands full building them; the even 550 listed as shipped that year likely represents a self-rationed total.

This 000 has seen use over the decades and shows some wear but is in excellent-playing condition and sounds truly wonderful. The light, non-scalloped Sitka top and mahogany body combine to produce an fingerpicker's instrument but also provide plenty of punch and clarity as a ringing rhythm machine as well. Whatever the style of music one might prefer, post-war 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 5/8 in. (41 mm.).

This guitar remains in fine playing condition for its age with some typical wear and maintenance repairs. The finish shows typical dings, dents, and scrapes overall. The top lacquer has a decent amount of rather random wear, most notably a worn-away area from strumming on the soundhole rim above the pickguard. The lower bout is populated with a collection of press marks, dings, scrapes and scratches, with a worn-through spot where the player's arm rests. The sides and back are similarly marked with dings and scrapes. The finish lightly worn on the spine of the neck but there are no heavy capo marks or deep dings along the surface, only a few small dings. The headstock also has some general finish wear.

There are several short grain cracks on the top edge just at the apex of the lower bout on the treble side, all sealed up with no overfinish. The bridge is a rosewood replacement, correct in most dimensions, but the belly is slightly wider than the original , with a new bone through-saddle. The thin maple bridgeplate is original and unaltered. There appears to have been a nicely done neck re-set some time back and the angle is excellent. A strap button has been added on the side of the heel.

There is a bit of light fingernail wear to the fretboard in the lower positions but the frets themselves have only light wear and the guitar is a very fine player. While this 000 shows some light "genuine relicing" it feels just superbly played in, a wonderful-feeling and sounding instrument. It is housed in a good modern hard shell case. Excellent - Condition.