C. F. Martin 0-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1927)

C. F. Martin  0-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1927)
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Item # 9443
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C. F. Martin 0-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1927), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 29175, natural lacquer finish, Adirondack spruce top, Honduras mahogany sides and neck, ebony fingerboard and bridge.

This is a beautiful and superbly well-preserved Martin 0-18 from early 1927, the golden era of these 12-fret "old style" standard Martins. In 1927 the $40.00 0-18 had only recently settled into its specifications as a steel-string guitar, still a fairly new idea for Martin. This model has slightly beefed-up bracing compared to its early 1920s ancestors, but by modern standards the scalloped X pattern remains extremely light. The Style 18 had begun to be built for steel stringing only in 1923; this model was Martin's first spruce top guitar so equipped from the factory and soon became a popular instrument as a result.

The 0-18 is a 13 1/2" wide mahogany-bodied guitar with relatively plain trim. It would be built in this austere 12-fret form up through the end of the decade before the advent of pickguards and 14-fret neck joints changed its character as the 1930s rolled on. This 1927 guitar is internally equipped to handle increased steel string tension but still identical cosmetically to its gut strung ancestors. The other features remain as before; the top and back are bound with rosewood and the bridge and 1 3/4" wide fingerboard made of very high-grade dark ebony. The position marks are three simple descending-sized pearl dots, the nut is ebony, and the tuners on the slotted headstock are unplated Waverly strips with grained ivoroid buttons.

This small-bodied mahogany guitar may have been near the bottom of the Martin line, but was still a more expensive instrument than many 1927-era flat-tops. It is built throughout to the lofty standards that only C.F. Martin & Co. ever sustained, and would have been the finest instrument of its type in the world at the time. This is one of exactly 700 0-18s sold in 1927, a banner year for the model at the height of the opulent 1920s before the 1929 crash and ensuing Depression set in.

The sound is more powerful than one might expect, full-bodied with surprising depth for the small body. It makes a great fingerstyle instrument but also works well with a flatpick, appropriate for solo playing, old-time stringband music to early jazz and beyond. This is simply a wonderful little 12-fret guitar, and in this unaltered condition something we don't see as much as we'd like anymore.
Overall length is 38 in. (96.5 cm.), 13 1/2 in. (34.3 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 3/4 in. (44 mm.).

This is a wonderfully original and well-preserved 93 year old guitar, showing some general light wear and tear but no abuse or alterations. The very thin lacquer finish shows minor dings, dents, and scrapes but little of the large pickwear areas so often seen on older flat-tops. The only spot noticeably worn into the wood is some pick scratching below the strings from the lower sound hole rim back to around the bridge, and even this is shallower than many. The original bridge has been reglued and there is some finish disturbance all around the perimeter, but nothing major. The finish overall is absolutely consistent showing no additional overspray or alteration at all.

Amazingly enough there are no cracks anywhere on the instrument. The neck has been neatly reset and the original bar frets are still intact and very playable, neither they or the fingerboard showing much wear at all. Internally it is untouched including the tiny 1920s bridgeplate, and the beautifully scalloped braces.

While not absolutely pristine, this guitar is in far above average condition for a steel-string Martin from this era, and simply a superb playing and sounding instrument. It includes a modern hard shell case and (if you want it) the original canvas softshell case it came in, a miraculous survivor. Ninety+ year old Martins really don't turn up like this much any more, and when they do are always a treat to see, play, and especially hear. Excellent Condition.