C. F. Martin 0-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1930)

C. F. Martin  0-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1930)
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Item # 12142
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C. F. Martin 0-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1930), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 42824, natural lacquer finish, Adirondack spruce top, Honduras mahogany sides and neck, ebony fingerboard and bridge, original black chipboard case.

This is a beautifully well-worn example of a Martin 0-18 from what some old-time fans would consider just about the perfect year, showing some wear and repair but with a sound for the ages. By 1930 the $40.00 0-18 had firmly settled into its specifications as a steel-string guitar, in the 1920s still a fairly new idea at Martin. This model has *slightly* beefed-up bracing compared to its earlier 1920's ancestors, but by modern standards the delicate scalloped X pattern remains extremely light. The main difference is the addition of the new bottom-belly bridge, which gives a greater gluing area and strengthens that crucial spot on the top without diminishing the tone.

The 0-18 is traditionally a 13 1/2" wide mahogany-bodied, spruce top guitar with plain trim. It would be only built in this 12-fret form for another couple of years before the advent of pickguards and 14-fret neck joints decidedly changed its character as the 1930s went on. This 1930 guitar shows the early evolution of the model, still in its 1920's configuration but better equipped to handle increased steel string tension. The other features remain as before; the spruce top and mahogany back and sides are bound with rosewood and the bridge and fingerboard made of very high-grade dark ebony. The position marks are a simple descending-sized pearl dots, the nut is ebony and the tuners on the slotted headstock are unplated Waverly strips with grained ivoroid buttons. The neck profile is a slim very soft "V" with a 1 13/16" wide ebony nut.

This small-bodied mahogany guitar may have been near the bottom of the Martin line, but listing at $40 (plus case) was still a more expensive instrument than many 1930-era flat top guitars, and built to the lofty standards that only C.F. Martin & Co. ever sustained. This 0-18 is one of only 283 sold in 1930, the year the depression began to really kick in. The sound is more powerful than one might expect, 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, stringband music to early jazz and beyond. While a bit of a "real relic" this is a great playing small-body 12-fret guitar, in this relatively unaltered condition something we don't see as much as we'd like anymore.
Overall length is 38 in. (96.5 cm.), 13 1/2 in. (34.3 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 13/16 in. (46 mm.).

This guitar has seen a lot of use over the part 94(!) years but remains largely original with no major alteration. It shows a decent amount of wear and tear for its near-century in the trenches but nothing that affects playability or sound. The finish is original with some topical touched-up areas but no wholesale overspray. Overall it shows numerous dings, dents and scrapes but less of the large pickwear areas than many older flat tops. The back has some deeper scratches and larger dings. The most noticeable spot of added finish touchup is below the strings, where an old (added) pickguard was long ago subsequently removed, with most of the area showing some finish disturbance (and older pick wear) under a thin coat of lacquer touch up. The back of the neck has some finish worn away mostly on the treble side but only a few small dings and dents.

The guitar (rather amazingly!) shows no top or back cracks, but the lower side is another story. There are a number of visible old repaired rim cracks on the treble side from the waist backwards, mostly in the lower bout area running almost to the endpin. This includes an area of some larger pressure damage at the turn of the lower bout including a small mahogany patch in lower side. This area is fully solid if cosmetically less than perfect, but does not impact the guitar's function or sonics at all.

The neck has been very neatly reset with the original bar frets still intact and playable, a bit lower than original spec showing some later re-crowning and polishing. The bridge is a perfectly sized replica of the original first-generation ebony belly bridge. Internally the guitar is very solid including the original tiny 1920's style small maple bridgeplate, very nicely preserves. There has been some visible re-gluing at several brace ends but no damage or alteration to the braces themselves . The original tuners are still present and fully functional.

While far from pristine this guitar is a truly excellent playing steel-string Martin from this magnificent era, and simply a superb sounding instrument with power to spare. It still lives in the original heavy chipboard case, which has somehow survived more-or-less intact over what must have been an eventful life. Overall Very Good + Condition.