C. F. Martin D-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1944)

C. F. Martin  D-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1944)
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Item # 8931
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C. F. Martin D-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1944), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 88796, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, rosewood fingerboard, original black hard shell case.

There are certain guitars that are simply the standard by which all others are judged; the original Martin D-18 is certainly one of them. This 1944 example shows far less playwear and repair than most, remaining in excellent playing condition with the expected splendid sound in spades. The power and depth of a Dreadnought combines with the sweetness, sparkle, and singing character of the best WWII-era mahogany Martins in a magical mix, an exceptionally versatile flat-top guitar suited to practically any musical situation.

This D-18 shows the original classic features of the model, widely imitated ever since. The back and sides are Honduras mahogany and the top is tight-grained Appalachian spruce, bound on the outside with tortoise celluloid. The ebony bridge has a canted bone saddle. The pickguard is made of tortoise celluloid in a small "teardrop" shape. The design often proved too small to fully protect the top from enthusiastic picking, but this one has escaped serious wear. This guitar was made in mid-1944, shortly before Martin stopped scalloping the X-braces on their guitars in response to the number coming back in for warranty repair. Later D-18s can still be wonderful instruments, but many have felt over the years this changed the sound, and not for the better.

The neck is mahogany, with a slim wartime slim profile showing the hint of a "V" in the way the sides bear away from the center as it moves towards the nut in its otherwise relatively round-backed profile. The unbound ebony fingerboard is decorated with discreet graduated size pearl dot inlay. The peghead is faced in grained Brazilian rosewood adorned with the gold "C.F. Martin & C." decal at the top. The tuners are open back individual wartime Kluson units with riveted gears, no grommets, and plastic buttons, which were used only in this period.

In the minds of most acoustic guitar players, collectors, and historians, very few instruments approach the pantheon of the early Martin Dreadnought in terms of sound and historical importance. Still today, this remains a fantastic performing or recording guitar, with the mellow depth of the Dreadnought mixed with a crisp, slightly dry mahogany ring. This is a great wartime example, exceptionally well-cared for and ready for many more years of picking.
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 15 5/8 in. (39.7 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 7/8 in. (12.4 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 is an extremely well-preserved D-18 from this period, one of the best we have ever seen. There is light wear to the finish overall, but no major loss to the thin wartime lacquer. The top shows some pickwear into the finish on either side of the fingerboard, but only in a few tiny spots did this go down to the wood. The sound hole rim has a bit more wear down to the wood, but again far less than is often seen on these.

There are several repaired cracks, all minor. The longest is a spruce grain split on the top from the bridge back to the back edge just behind the high E string...this is very tightly sealed up and inconspicuous except on close inspection. There is a very small crack of the top edge of the pickguard, again neatly sealed up. The only notable repair is a patched jackhole on the lower side, locally oversprayed. There is also a very small grain crack nearer to the waist on the same side, neatly sealed and oversprayed as well.

The neck has been perfectly reset and the bridge reglued, both very neatly done jobs. The saddle is replaced, and the nut appears newer as well. Internally there are no repairs and the original small maple bridgeplate is in nearly perfect shape. The frets appear original, and are in excellent condition. This a superb-playing and sounding guitar; an exceptional example of one of the final scallop-braced D-18s still in its original green-lined HSC. Overall Excellent Condition.