C. F. Martin 0-17 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1935)

C. F. Martin  0-17 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1935)
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Item # 9424
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C. F. Martin 0-17 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1935), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 59229, natural lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, black tolex hard shell case.

This is a truly superb example of a pre-war Martin 0-17 in amazingly fine condition for its age. Not only does this guitar show very little wear but it is also an extremely fine player with a powerful sound for a small all-mahogany guitar. This 0-17 was built in early-mid 1935, a time when the 14-fret version of the model was still a relatively new design. The 0-17 had been changed from a 12-fret neck joint just in time for the 1934 catalog; this one dates to a year or so later. At the time the Depression was very much still in evidence and this small, unassuming but affordable guitar was Martin's best seller. This one model may well have had a major role in keeping the company in business during the first half of the decade.

The 0-17 is a direct descendant of Martin's 12 fret, steel string budget guitars of the 1920's, which were a novel idea for the company at the time. Designed to offer a reliable, great sounding instrument at the lowest price Martin could manage, the Style 17 instruments were a study in elegant minimalism. The body is all mahogany, with no ornament except for the soundhole ring. The unbound, dot-inlaid rosewood fingerboard has an ebony nut. The tuners are plain individual Grover G98s with metal buttons. The only notable change from a year earlier is the traditional Martin bar frets had been replaced by modern tang fretwire by this time.

954 of these little mahogany wonders were made in 1935, down a bit from a peak of 1100 the year before. Listing for $30.00 in 1933-4, this was still a fairly expensive proposition for many Americans at the time. While plain in appearance and at the bottom of the Martin guitar line, The 0-17 is still built of high-grade materials to the highest standards. Guitars could be had much cheaper from the likes of Harmony, Regal and the Sears catalog, but none came close to the sonic value of this instrument. Then as now 0-17 is a fully professional-quality guitar, extremely responsive with a rich, singing tone that belies its humble appearance.
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 is one of the loveliest and best preserved pre-war Martins we have seen in some time, showing some signs of use but really amazingly clean and undisturbed for being 85 years old. The finish is completely original showing only small dings, dents and scrapes, with very little playing wear anywhere. No cracks are evident, and everything on the guitar remains original and in excellent working condition. The frets show just some minimal wear, the neck has been very neatly reset and the bridge reglued. The original bridgeplate is very neat and undisturbed, the original Grover tuners look to have been polished out just a bit. This is just a lovely find, one of the nicest examples of our of our most popular instruments we have ever had. Excellent Condition.