C. F. Martin 0-17 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1938)

C. F. Martin  0-17 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1938)
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Item # 9233
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C. F. Martin 0-17 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1938), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 69551, natural lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, black tolex hard shell case.

This is a superb playing and sounding pre-war Martin 0-17, showing some only light wear and with a very powerful sound for a small body all-mahogany guitar. This 0-17 was built in mid-1938, by which time the 14-fret version of the model was still a fairly recent development that had already proved a very popular design. 451 of these little mahogany wonders were made this year, with the Depression still in evidence and inexpensive instruments remaining important to Martin's bottom line. This affordable model may well have been the company's salvation in the early-mid 1930's.

While the 0-17 is plain in appearance and stood near the bottom of the Martin guitar line, it is still built of very high-grade materials to the highest standards. The individual Grover tuners with metal buttons fitted were relatively high-grade machines at the time. Listing for $30.00 in 1938, this guitar represented a fairly expensive proposition for many Americans at the time…you could get a guitar from Sears for $1.98! Then as now 0-17 is a fully professional-quality instrument, extremely responsive with a rich, singing tone. This is one of the cleanest pre-war examples we have ever had and a wonderful instrument in every way.
Overall length is 38 1/2 in. (97.8 cm.), 13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/4 in. (10.8 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 guitar shows some wear but remains a lovely example, far cleaner than many of these depression era workingman's guitars. The most obvious damage to the finish is some old "strap burn" on the back, the sort of contact marks that occur when a vinyl strap was left in the case toughing the guitar for long periods. There is one spot where the lacquer is worn through to the wood and a number of disturbed spots where the finish is roughened somewhat.

Other than this the finish is very nicely preserved, with the original shine intact and showing only small dings, dents and scrapes. The top shows hardly any pickwear. There is one fairly deep "case lid ding" into the top at the outer edge of the upper bass bout. There are no cracks, the original small rosewood bridge is still intact and unaltered. This guitar has had a very clean neck reset and some fret work and plays flawlessly, with a stellar sound. We love all these small-body mahogany Martins but the pre-war examples are truly extraordinary guitars, and this is a well better-than-average example. Excellent Condition.