C. F. Martin 00-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1963)

C. F. Martin  00-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1963)
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Item # 9326
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C. F. Martin 00-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1963), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 189814, natural lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, spruce top, Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and bridge, original black chipboard case.

This very nice 1963 00-18 is a typical "Folk Era" grand concert model, built the year before Martin's move to a new larger factory led to a host of production changes. This was the last full year of production in Martin's old North Street shop which had been gradually overwhelmed by demand for the company's products. Martin's new factory allowed them to ramp up production dramatically, but the guitars were no longer built in the same way as they had been for the previous 100+ years.

This 00-18 still retains the classic older style features including the "long saddle" rosewood bridge and the tortoise celluloid outer binding and pickguard. The tuners are individual Grover Sta-Tites mounted on the typically rounded-edge headstock. It is more lightly constructed than later '60s examples and has a very lively sound.

A total of 603 00-18s were shipped in 1962, priced at $164.50, plus case. At the time the large Dreadnought guitars were becoming ever more popular, and were already starting to eclipse these smaller-bodied flat tops in sales. These days the smaller Martins are once again more appreciated, and have experienced a renaissance among players of many styles. This mahogany 00 is one of Martin's most versatile designs, equally at home fingerpicking ragtime and blues, as a strummer's songwriting and recording mainstay, leading a band onstage with a pickup added or just the perfect couch guitar.
 
Overall length is 39 3/8 in. (100 cm.), 14 3/8 in. (36.5 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 11/16 in. (43 mm.).

This is a truly lovely guitar, very well preserved for its nearly 60 years on Earth showing hardly any play wear and just some typical maintenance repairs. The finish still shines like it did when new, the color has ambered somewhat on the top. There are small scuffs and dings overall but really little evidence the guitar was ever played much.

Time has taken a toll in a few spots, mostly related to the celluloid pickguard shrinking a bit. There is one old repaired grain crack to the top off the bottom edge of the pickguard, sealed with some fill and minimal touchup but still quite visible. Another smaller tight crack is off the top edge of the guard, neatly sealed up and far less conspicuous. There are no other cracks on the instrument.

The guitar has had a very neatly done neck set, with a new compensated saddle set into the original rosewood bridge. The original frets show virtually no wear, the fingerboard is very clean and this is an excellent player, with a lovely sound that really calls for playing in to fully mature, something this guitar seems to have been waiting for since the Kennedy administration! It happily resides in a vintage but slightly newer (c. 1970) Martin blue plastic 00-sized HSC that is a fairly uncommon item in itself. Excellent Condition.