C. F. Martin 00-21 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1929)

C. F. Martin  00-21 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1929)
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Item # 6963
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C. F. Martin 00-21 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1929), made in Nazareth, PA, natural lacquer finish, Brazlilan 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 just a few years before altering nearly all their designs to the 14-fret neck "Orchestra Model" pattern in the early '30s, Martin crafted a relatively small number of 12-fret Brazilian rosewood 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. This early 1929 Model 00-21 is a well-played but splendid example.

The Style 21 designation signifies a midline instrument, the 00-21 being the second smallest rosewood model in the company's line, over the 0-21. Models beneath this were built with mahogany back and sides instead of the even-at-the-time costly rosewood. It still maintains the same standards of workmanship as the highest-grade instruments, which is a Martin trademark.

The figured Brazilian rosewood on the back has an interesting slightly swirly grain pattern on the outer edges. This would be considered a premium today, but Martin considered this "flawed" at the time compared to absolutely straight grained wood, so they used the pieces on a Style 21 instead of a higher grade guitar. The famous "herringbone" trim ornaments the sound hole ring and backstrip instead of around the top edge as with a Style 28; the outer binding is rosewood and the ornamental position markers in the ebony fingerboard are small slotted diamonds.

This 00-21 was built very early in 1929 -- the serial number is just beyond the last registered for 1928. It is one of 101 shipped that year priced at $60.00, which seems like an incredible bargain even in period money. Although produced in a larger quantity than some of the highest grade models, this is still a rare guitar today. All 1920s Brazilian rosewood Martins were made in very small numbers by later standards, and if the original price seems laughable now, they were still relatively expensive flat-top guitars in their time.

This guitar has had some finish touch-up added to the worn areas of the top but remains in better preserved and more original condition than many period survivors. Even when braced for steel strings, the Martins from this period are much more lightly constructed than later models. It is simply a wonderful-playing and sounding instrument, a continuing testament to its builder's skill and reputation and at least as fine a 12-fret 00-sized model as anyone has ever made -- then or since.
Overall length is 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm.), 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/16 in. (10.3 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 is a great-playing example of this 1920s Martin classic, with some wear and older repairs but no ongoing issues. There has been a very neat neckset, with some work to the fingerboard and original bar frets resulting in a very playable instrument. The small ebony pyramid bridge and Waverly strip tuners are original; the bone nut and saddle appear replaced. The original maple bridge plate has a small rosewood reinforcement patch under the pin holes.

The rosewood back and sides remain crack-free except for one small sealed check off the side of the tailblock on the treble side. There are several old repaired grain cracks to the spruce top, all on the treble bout. Three are off the back edge, with another just in the inward curve of the bout. The upper treble bout shows a single 2" crack inward from the front edge. There is also a "case lid" ding with a very small crack through it on the top by the lower bass bout. All these are well-sealed but visible.

The top finish itself is largely original and shows some average wear overall, but there is one fairly large area of added finish work. The oft-seen pickwear zone below the high E string shows moderately heavy wear down through the original finish into the grain of the spruce, with an old clear overspray to this area that has clouded somewhat and checked heavily. This is blended into the original lacquer at the edges but is fairly thick at the middle. The back of the neck shows considerable playing wear completely through the finish in the lower positions.

The rest of the body shows average wear and scuffing but no large areas of loss. The back has very fine checking to the varnish, and some light wear spots. The original bar frets and fretboard show some light wear, with one small divot between the second and third strings in the 4th fret area.

This is simply a great-sounding guitar; a splendid example of an early steel-string Martin 00. The sound is full and powerful as a fingerpicked guitar, and is surprisingly loud and crisp as a flatpicking instrument as well with a rich but authoritative tone and a lot of projection. These 1920s rosewood Martin 00s are simply some of the best-balanced, finest-sounding flat-top guitars ever made, and this is a very fine example. Includes a modern hard case. Very Good + Condition.