C. F. Martin 0-21 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1927)

C. F. Martin  0-21 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1927)
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Item # 12276
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C. F. Martin 0-21 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1927), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 33583, natural finish, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, black hard shell case.

The 12-fret, steel string Martins of the late 1920s are some of our very favorite guitars. For only a few years at the end of that decade -- just before Martin altered nearly all their designs to the 14-fret neck "Orchestra Model" pattern -- the company crafted a relatively small number of Brazilian rosewood-bodied flat-tops braced for steel strings instead of the gut used previously. The other features are pretty much as they had been since the last century, with a wide fingerboard on the neck which joins the body at the 12th fret. These guitars were the final evolution of the original 19th Century Martin patterns before the "modern" 14-fret design became the standard just a few years later.

The 0-21 was the smallest and lowest-priced rosewood model in the company's line. Models beneath this were built with mahogany back and sides instead of the even-at-the-time costly Brazilian rosewood. It still uses the finest grade materials, to the same quality workmanship standards as the highest-grade instruments. The Brazilian rosewood on the back and sides has some very colorful graining, then considered by Martin as less desirable than the straight grain used on the top-line guitars. The straight-grained Appalachian spruce top is still lovely and even at the time premium wood. The famous Martin "herringbone" trim ornaments the backstrip and sound hole ring instead of around the top edge as with a Style 28; the outer binding is rosewood and the ornamental slotted diamond position markers in the ebony fingerboard are tiny and discreet.

This 1928 0-21 is one of just 155 made that year when this lovely guitar was priced at $55.00, which seems like a bargain even in period money. Even though produced in the larger quantity than some of the highest grade models, this is still a relatively rare guitar. Late 1920s Brazilian rosewood Martins were made in very small numbers by later standards, and although the original price seems trivial today they were some of the most expensive flat-top guitars of the period.

This one has seen some use and one minor if quizzical modification but remains wonderful playing and sounding instrument, a testament to its builder's reputation and as fine a 12-fret 0-sized model as anyone has ever made -- then or since.
Overall length is 38 in. (96.5 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 13/16 in. (46 mm.).

This nearly century-old guitar is in excellent playing condition for its age, with some noticeable wear but less repair work than many of this vintage. The top has fairly large areas of pickwear through the finish both above below the sound hole rim, the lower extending to below the bridge. The back of the neck is fairly well worn through from the nut to around the third fret area; the rest of the finish on the instrument has numerous dings, dents and scrapes but no other large areas of damage.

There is a rather odd if structurally innocuous modification; the upper corners of the headstock were lightly rounded down long ago, for reasons unknown. This makes it look a bit more like a 19th Century European guitar, but as to who or why this happened we have no clue. It does not affect the guitar in any functional way looks a bit unusual! Another minor oddity is there are position dots along the treble side of the fingerboard; the guitar used for left-handed play at some point. These are very neatly done and a very close match to the bass side dots, the guitar may actually have been ordered this way.

Structurally the instrument is excellent; the original ebony pyramid bridge has been lowered somewhat and fitted with a later style short saddle; it was also reglued at some point with some very minor finish loss around the edges. There has been a cleanly executed neck reset at some point. The top/back seam has been resealed on the back edge over the endpin with a strip of rosewood binding patched in, and there is a sealed impact split to the top just at the apex of the lower bass bout. We can find no cracks on the guitar.

Everything else on the guitar appears original including the openback Waverly strip tuners, all the delicate scalloped bracing and the tiny maple bridgeplate. The original bar frets have plenty of height and show some minor wear in the lower positions. Playability is excellent and this is a huge-sounding guitar for a small-body instrument, with power and articulation in perfect measure. It includes a more recent HSC. Overall Very Good + Condition.