C. F. Martin D-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1947)

C. F. Martin  D-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1947)
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Item # 11002
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C. F. Martin D-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1947), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 99265, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, black tolex 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 lightly played-in post-war example made in early 1947, not long before Martin's serial numbers rolled over into 6-digit territory. It shows some general playwear but remains in excellent playing condition with the expected splendid sound. The power and depth of a Dreadnought combines with the sweetness, sparkle, and singing character of the best mahogany Martins in a magical mix, making for 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 some darker streaking in the grain pattern 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.

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 shades towards a soft "V" flavor. The rosewood fingerboard is unbound with mixed-size pearl dot inlay. The headstock is faced with rosewood and adorned with the gold Martin logo decal. It is fitted with pre-war open backed individual Waverly tuners that soon disappeared in this early postwar era.

While not as highly venerated as pre-WWII examples the just post war Martins like this D-18 are now 75+ years old and have much to recommend them. Only 775 of these were sold in 1947; this was the highest total so far for the model but by modern standards still a fairly small number. This instrument remains a fantastic performing or recording guitar, a great early postwar example that was 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 D-18 has shows some general wear and tear but for well over seven decades on the planet has survived quite well. The original lacquer finish shows a fair number of nicks, dings and scratches over the body, with some heavier scratching on the back. There are a several capo wear spots on the neck worn through into the wood; these are feelable between the first and fifth frets but does not affect playability.

There are two spots of light touch-up on the back and side. One is over a crack repair extending five inches up the back on the bass side of the lower bout. The second is a small spot on the side of the guitar near the binding on the lower bout of the treble side, a little under an inch long. The top is completely crack free, with noticeable strum wear right above the pickguard on the upper bout, and a fairly deep scratch running along the grain near the center seam under the bridge.

There are several sealed cracks along the side and the back of the guitar; one runs along the binding on the lower bout, the other two extending along the back near the center of the upper bout. The neck had been neatly reset, with a small rosewood shim added under the fingerboard extension. The fingerboard had been leveled and refretted and the original bridge had been previously reglued and slightly lowered with a new bone saddle.

Internally, the original braces and small maple bridgeplate remain intact; one back brace on the bass side near the waist was previously reglued. For an early post-war Martin, this D-18 has all of the charm and aesthetic that one might expect from a Martin made just a few years prior, with a big smooth sound richer than many while not losing clarity. It is a delightful guitar to play and resides in a modern Martin hardshell case. Overall Excellent - Condition.