C. F. Martin T-18 Tiple (1952)

C. F. Martin  T-18 Tiple  (1952)
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$2,000.00 + shipping
Item # 9769
Prices subject to change without notice.
C. F. Martin T-18 Model Tiple (1952), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 124238, natural lacquer finish, mahogany back, sides and neck, spruce top, black gig bag case.

This is a nice example of a Style 18 Martin Tiple from the early 1950's. The Tiple was basically a Martin invention, designed to be strung with 10 steel strings in ukulele tuning. Martin's manufacture of "The Uke that went to College!" dates to the early 1920s, but after a long layoff they were perhaps surprisingly revived just after the war and made in very small quantities up into the 1970s. Only 12 T-18's shipped out in 1952, priced at $60 without a case; that was enough to buy a decent guitar from Harmony or Kay. The T-18 was the mid-line Tiple model, built of mahogany with an X-braced spruce top like a miniature Style 18 guitar. The fingerboard, bridge, headstock overlay, and binding are rosewood; the nut is ebony.

While not well-remembered today, numerous small African-American string-swing ensembles of the 1930s made extensive use of these small, loud instruments for both fast lead work and frantic rhythm strumming. Two of the best known were the Spirits Of Rhythm (featuring guitarist Teddy Bunn) and Cats and the Fiddle, where Tiny Grimes got his professional start. This particular instrument has seen some use but still plays and sounds great. No better examples of these now somewhat obscure instruments have ever been made, and the Martin Tiple remains -- even if by default -- the world's standard.
 
Overall length is 27 in. (68.6 cm.), 9 in. (22.9 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 17 in. (432 mm.). Width of nut is 1 7/16 in. (36 mm.).

This T-18 is just slightly worn-in but remains all original and a very good player, with the ringing tone these are known for and plenty of volume. The top finish shows some minor dings, dents, and scrapes with the only heavy wear being a large chip down to the wood on the upper treble bout. The back, sides and neck are relatively clean with only very small dings and dents.

Structurally the instrument is excellent with a nice, flat top, solid original bridge, and no cracks anywhere. The bridge has likely been reglued (nearly all of them have) but there are no obvious scars to prove it. Playability is excellent, and this is one of the best-sounding Tiples to brighten our doorstep in a while. There is no case but a good quality gig bag that fits well is included. Excellent - Condition.