C. F. Martin 0-16NY Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1976)

C. F. Martin  0-16NY Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1976)
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Item # 12289
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C. F. Martin 0-16NY Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1976), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 393558, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, original molded blue plastic hard shell case.

This 0-sized 12-fret Martin is an early (if unheralded) example of a "vintage" re-issue; one of the first in the company's history. Beginning in the late 1950s there was a groundswell of interest in the "old" 1920s-style Martin guitars with 12-fret neck joints and wider fingerboards. At the time these were considered more "authentic" folk instruments than the newer 14-fret styles built since the 1930s. Joan Baez in particular was very influential in this regard; her use of an already-vintage 12-fret 0-45 became an icon of the era and many players wanted a similar sized instrument.

The 0-16NY was offered beginning in 1961, designed as an affordable guitar for folk-style playing with either steel or nylon strings; to this end, they were built much lighter than the "modern" steel string Martins of the time. The satin (non-gloss) finish and trimmings are very plain but the guitar is built with Style 18 materials: a spruce top, mahogany body and neck with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. Only 112 of these were shipped in 1976, the model's totals slipped dramatically in the 1970s but at least the design proved to have "legs" well beyond the folk boom of the early '60s.

Although not advertised as such essentially this is a re-issue of a late 1920s 0-18, with a wide 12-fret neck, slot head, small bridge, no pickguard, and only side dot position markers. Although cataloged as suitable for nylon strings or steel when new, these guitars have full traditional Martin X-bracing and handle light steel strings perfectly well. Suitable for many styles beyond traditional folk, this is a very nice, quite useful if somewhat under the radar Martin model still. This one has an endpin jack and pickup added for extra versatility.
 
Overall length is 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm.), 13 5/8 in. (34.6 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 15/16 in. (49 mm.).

Overall this is a very nice original example, showing some fairly light wear but no major repair or abuse. The original finish shows just very minor wear over much of the guitar with the most noticeable being some pick scratches below and behind the soundhole. The back of the neck has a feelable rub spot behind the 7th fret but is otherwise quite clean.

The guitar appears crack free with no visible repairs. The neck may have been reset, it is hard to say for sure but if so it was a super neat job. The original rosewood bridge is fully intact; there is a spot on the treble wing that looks like old residue from a contact pickup. There is an old undersaddle pickup installed wired to an endpin jack, otherwise the guitar is original and unaltered. This is still fully functional if somewhat outdated.

The original frets show light wear as does the fingerboard but playability remains excellent. Even in the 1970s these "NY" models were built lighter than the "modern" Martins; This is a fine playing, sweet sounding guitar with more power than one might expect from a 1976 model; a relative bargain in a nearly 50 year old small-body Martin. It resides in the original molded blue case. Overall Excellent Condition.