C. F. Martin D-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1964)

C. F. Martin  D-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1964)
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Item # 12277
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C. F. Martin D-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1964), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 195296, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck; spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

This nicely preserved and fine-sounding D-18 was built just about exactly 60 years ago in mid 1964, right as the guitar boom was hitting its Beatle-inspired peak. At the time Martin's Dreadnought flat tops had already been increasing in popularity (thanks in part to The Kingston Trio) to the point of eclipsing the company's other offerings. This trend would peak in the early 70's, with the singer-songwriter boom when D-18's and D-28's were sold in the thousands each year. Earlier in the 1960s the mahogany D-18 and its pricier rosewood sister the D-28 were practically the emblems of the Folk revival, and ss the decade went on the Martin Dreadnought became the acoustic guitar of choice for serious pickers of just about every persuasion.

This D-18 has typical appointments for 1964, the "golden sunset" just before Martin began making a number of changes to their instruments thought to diminish their vintage character. This D-18's pickguard and edge binding are tortoise celluloid, soon to be changed to black plastic. The rosewood bridge still has the old long saddle and rests over the traditional small maple bridgeplate, replaced a couple of years later with a short saddle and much larger rosewood plate. The original tuners are Kluson Deluxe, about to be replaced by the heavier Grover Rotomatics as the stock fitting on this model. The headstock's "rounded" corners are characteristic of this period, the result of Martin's shaping templates having become worn from extensive use. The top has some nice "striped" long grain figure to the spruce.

Martin records indicate 1,002 D-18s were sold in 1964; At $229.50 (plus case) this least expensive Dreadnought guitar still represented a serious investment, but it was the ambition of a vast number of aspiring flat-top players to own one. From its introduction in the early 1930s on, the D-18 has been a workhorse for country, gospel, folk, and other forms of American vernacular music and in the '60's this sonic palette only expanded. This D-18 is less worn than many of this vintage and sings with a powerful, bright and clear sound, an excellent instrument for just about any flat-top application.
Overall length is 40 3/4 in. (103.5 cm.), 15 3/4 in. (40 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 15/16 in. (12.5 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 shows some light general wear and tear with a few minor repairs for its six decades on Earth; still it remains cleaner than many and in structurally fine playing condition. The finish is all original; the top shows light typical checking and some minor pickwear through the finish around the lower soundhole ring, with a few random pick strokes above and below. There are several small dings that look like case lid bites on the top. The back and sides are relatively clean showing some noticeable dings, dents and scratches but only minor buckle wear. The back of the neck has a few very small dinks but no real wear through the lacquer.

There are a few dings and stress marks but no noticeable cracks through the wood on the instrument. The only really notable impact mark is on the turn of the upper side of the guitar above the endpin. The neck has been very neatly reset, with a rosewood shim discreetly placed under fingerboard extension. The original frets have been leveled and show minor subsequent wear. The original rosewood bridge was slightly lowered; a new bone saddle installed that retains plenty of height for future action adjustment.

Internally, all of the original braces and small maple bridgeplate remain in impeccable shape. There was never a strap button added to the heel. This is a truly excellent playing and sounding D-18, a fine survivor of well over half a century with a comfortable action and powerful woody sound. It resides in the original green-lined hard shell case, showing some wear but fully solid. Overall Excellent - Condition.