C. F. Martin 0-15 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1940)

C. F. Martin  0-15 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1940)
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Item # 9651
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C. F. Martin 0-15 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1940), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 75028, natural lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, molded plastic hard shell case.

This is a very nice playing and sounding pre-war Martin 0-15, showing some typical wear and minor repair but with a powerful sound for a small body all-mahogany guitar. This 0-15 is a very early example, built around mid-1940 which was the introductory year for the model. During the depression the nearly identical 0-17 proved a very popular design; the 0-15 is the same instrument structurally with simply a less polished finish and was offered no doubt in response to dealers continually requesting lower prices for Martin guitars!

The 0-15 is austere in appearance, with no binding anywhere and only a small sound hole ring and Martin headstock logo as trim. While it stood at the bottom of the Martin guitar line, it still maintains their workmanship standards and typically high-grade materials. The guitar is built of mahogany throughout, with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The thin mahogany top is delicately scallop braced with a small maple bridgeplate. This 0-15 sports one cool touch found only on Martins of this exact period; the headstock veneer is tortoise-pattern celluloid instead of the usual wood. Why Martin briefly tried this no one knows, but it is a distinctive feature of some 1940-41 guitars that we particularly like.

528 of these little mahogany wonders were made this first year with the uncertainties of WWII about to engulf the US. Despite an improving economy inexpensive instruments remained important to Martin's bottom line. The affordable 0-17 model had been the company's salvation in the early-mid 1930's; the 0-15 with a slightly lower list price ($25 instead of $30 in 1940) allowed them to expand further into the mass market. Even this represented a fairly expensive proposition for many Americans at the time…you could get a guitar from Sears for $1.98!

Then as now the 0-15 is a fully professional-quality instrument, extremely responsive with a rich, singing tone. The light pre-war construction and scallop braced mahogany top makes for a unique package almost impossible to truly replicate today. Small, handy and super responsive this 0-15 is one of the nicer pre-war examples we have 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 and light typical repair but remains far cleaner than many of these depression era workingman's guitars. The finish shows dings, dents and scrapes overall but no large areas of wear; there is far less pickwear to the top than many older Martins. The most notable repairs are a spliced crack on the top off the back edge, neatly done but visible. There is one smaller sealed crack above this that was glued up long ago. An added strap button on the neck heel is the only alteration.

Internally the guitar remains clean and undisturbed, with just some glue seepage visible from the old top repairs. The small rosewood bridge, bridgeplate and bracing are original; the bone saddle is newer. There is a slight belly to the top behind the bridge as is typical for these but the instrument is completely sound. The guitar has had a neatly done neck set with some attendant fret work and plays perfectly. It retains the original Waverly strip tuners with plastic buttons and even the beautifully ambered celluloid bridge pins and endpin are intact.

We love all these small-body mahogany Martins but the pre-war examples are truly extraordinary guitars, built lighter than their postwar sisters with a truly stellar sound. This is a well better-than-average example of what has become one of the most sought-after vintage instruments of late, the ultimate home/couch/recording guitar and a wonderful piece of Martin history. It is housed in a fitted modern molded HSC. Excellent - Condition.