C. F. Martin 000-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1954)

C. F. Martin  000-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1954)
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Item # 8903
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C. F. Martin 000-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1954), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 144402, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with rosewood fingerboard, black chipboard case.

To many players and Martin fans, the 000-18 has always been one of the company's most propitious and beloved combinations of wood, wire, and inspiration. The light mahogany body coupled with a spruce top makes for a transparent but warm and responsive guitar; the 15" wide narrow-waisted 000-size body contributes both depth and clarity to the sound. The 14-fret 000-sized body was introduced with the OM-18 in 1930. After 1933 nearly all Martin guitars were built in this new "Orchestra Model" format, so the OM designation was dropped and the model simply called the 000-18, one of the company's mainstays ever since.

While not a particularly expensive guitar by 1950s Martin standards, listing at $120.00 (plus case) in 1954 the 000-18 still represented a substantial investment to many players. This is not a flashy guitar; the trim is discreet with tortoise celluloid on the body edges and a simple multiply sound hole ring. In classic Martin style, the elegant understatement speaks for itself. Despite its lack of flash, this was always a fully professional instrument popular with radio entertainers, most obviously the country acts common in the Southeast.

This example was built around the middle of 1954, one of a total of 601 000-18s shipped that year. It incorporates typical post-war Martin style 18 features including lovely mahogany on the back and sides, a superb straight-grained spruce top, Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and bridge, and tortoise celluloid pickguard and body binding. The neck is mahogany with a fairly slim "C" profile; the fingerboard inlay is mixed size dots and the tuners are openback individual Waverlys with metal buttons. This 000 has seen its share of use but is in excellent-playing condition and sounds lovely. It is an excellent fingerpicker's instrument but also has a lot of punch and clarity as a straight rhythm machine as well.
Overall length is 39 7/8 in. (101.3 cm.), 15 1/16 in. (38.3 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 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This featherweight 000 shows some accumulated wear and repair but remains nicely original and sounds fantastic. The finish has dings, dents, and scrapes overall with more notable pick wear to the top on the lower sound hole rim and on both sides of the fingerboard. There is one long repaired grain crack to the top just below the center seam, and a couple of very small ones off the top edge of the pickguard and the sound hole off the bass side of the fingerboard. All are solidly sealed up.

There is an area on the treble side just below the neck block where some of the mahogany was pushed in and repaired; this is solidly glued up but not as neat as we might prefer. There is a very small sealed grain crack on the upper side on the curve of the lower bass bout. The finish has no overspray, just some tiny touchups on the repairs. The bridge and bridge plate are original; the bridge top appears to have been lowered slightly long ago. The neck has been reset and the frets crowned. Playability is excellent and this is a superbly responsive guitar that sounds great in virtually any style of playing. Very Good + Condition.