C. F. Martin 0-17 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1940)

C. F. Martin  0-17 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1940)
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Item # 9823
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C. F. Martin 0-17 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1940), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 75784, natural lacquer finish, mahogany body and neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, black hard shell case.

This is a superb playing and sounding pre-war Martin 0-17, showing some typical wear but offering a very powerful sound for a small body, all-mahogany guitar. It was built in mid-1940, a year that saw only 226 of these little mahogany wonders shipped with WWII looming on the horizon. At the time inexpensive instruments remained important to Martin's bottom line; sales of this affordable model had been a big part of the company's salvation in the early-mid 1930's when most folks were hard up to afford even the basics.

While the humbly unadorned 0-17 stood near the bottom of the Martin guitar line, it is still built of high-grade materials to Martin's lofty standards. The guitar is austere in appearance, with no binding anywhere and only a small sound hole ring and Martin headstock logo as trim. It is built of mahogany throughout, with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The thin mahogany top is delicately scallop braced with a small maple bridgeplate. These pre-war examples are truly exceptional guitars despite their original budget status.

Listing for $30.00 in 1940, this guitar still represented a fairly expensive proposition for many Americans at the time; you could get a guitar from Sears for $1.98! Then as now 0-17 is a fully professional-quality instrument, extremely responsive with a rich, singing tone. This is one of the nicer pre-war examples we have had lately, a wonderful player's 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 overall but remains a lovely example, cleaner than many of these depression era workingman's specials. The original thin lacquer finish has had no overspray or touchup, which is often hard to find on older mahogany Martins. It shows wear overall including numerous dings, dents and nicks, with a rather large spot of belt buckle wear to the back and the area on the bass side of the neck between the 8th and 12th frets worn through for less obvious reasons. The top is relatively clean with some light pick marks and a few deeper dings.

The only crack in the instrument is a repaired split through the endpin area, solid but visible with no overspray added. There are no top or back cracks which is somewhat miraculous for a Martin of this vintage. At some point (probably when the bridge was relied) there was some minor clamping damage to the bracing in that area, visible but not a structural issue.

The tuners are still the original flat-plate Waverly machines, in working order with some plating loss. The rosewood bridge is a very nicely done reproduction, the neck has been neatly reset so playability is excellent. The bone nut looks like an older Martin-style piece, but is likely a replacement as the 0-17 was usually fitted with an ebony nut. The original frets show only light wear and this is a truly excellent guitar, with a huge ringing sound for a small mahogany instrument. It is housed in a nice modern HSC. Excellent - Condition.