C. F. Martin 00-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1912)

C. F. Martin  00-18 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1912)
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Item # 9873
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C. F. Martin 00-18 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1912), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 11538, natural varnish finish, Brazlilan rosewood back and sides, spruce top; Spanish cedar neck with ebony fingerboard, black tolex hard shell case.

This charming exactly 110 year old guitar is still a lovely player, a real testament to the care and craftsmanship that has always been the hallmark of the C.F Martin & Co. organization. While Martin's Style 18 is generally thought of today as always having a mahogany body, up until 1917 it was a rosewood guitar. This late 1912 00-18 has Brazilian rosewood back and sides with a particularly beautiful straight-grain figure as was prized by Martin at the time, with a plain wood backstrip. The top is Appalachian spruce bound with 5 plys of contrasting woods and a multiply wood inlaid soundhole ring.

The neck is Spanish cedar with an ebony fingerboard, inlaid with three small dots and fitted with the traditional Martin bar frets. The tuners are the most noticeable feature, the solid headstock fitted with genuine ivory friction pegs which were an option up into the 1910s instead of "machines" as Martin called geared tuners at the time. This was still the preference of some older, more traditionally minded players but is a fairly unusual fitting on a Style 18 well into the 20th century. The original ebony pyramid-end bridge has wooden pins, there is an ebony endpin as well and a pin on the beck of the headstock for fitting a silk neck cord.

The C.F. Martin stamp is visible on the back of the headstock, the backstrip and on the heelblock over the serial number. This is a beautifully made and delicately X-braced guitar which like all Martins from this era is suited to gut or nylon strings only. The Ivory pegs in any case would not work at all with steel stringing, and indeed this may have insured this guitar's survival as so many pre-1920s Martins have been severely damaged by string with the heavy steel popular in the mid-2oth century. As it stands this is a lovely survivor of the Edwardian age, an austere but still delicately beautiful instrument with a soft but enchanting sound.
 
Overall length is 38 1/4 in. (97.2 cm.), 14 1/4 in. (36.2 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/16 in. (10.3 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 7/8 in. (48 mm.).

This 00-18 has preserved much of its originality over the last 110 years, though there have been a few typical repairs made over the decades. The original lacquer finish is in great shape overall and virtually un re-touched, save for one spot of touch-up lightly applied on the side of the upper bout. The top has some moderate play wear, with strum marks around the sound hole, slightly into the wood on the treble side. There are a number of light nicks, dings and scrapes scattered over the top. The back and sides are cleaner with typical nicks and dings and one long scrape (or possibly strap burn mark) across the center of the back.

A small strip of binding on the treble side of the lower bout has been reinstalled, and the adjacent crack along the top neatly sealed shut. The top also shows two almost contiguous sealed cracks below the bridge along the center seam, which have been glued and cleated but not finished over. Three fine splits in the grain along the side at the lower bout of the bass side have been previously sealed, with some very minor finish work applied. There is a 5" long grain split extending from the bottom on the back, about an inch above the center seam.

The guitar has had the neck reset, with an ebony shim neatly placed under the fingerboard extension, and has also had the original bar fret wire reworked and re-installed after the fingerboard was trued. The original pyramid bridge had previously been reglued with some visibly marks around it, and a reproduction drop-in bone saddle added. Besides these fairly minor restorations, the Martin has kept all of its original delicate scalloped bracing and bridgeplate, with the original ivory tuning pegs still intact and fully functional. The original ebony endpin, bridge pins, nut, and strap button on the back of the headstock, remain in excellent condition.

This 00-18 is housed in a recent Martin hardshell case. With 110 years under it's belt, this little wonder has escaped unnecessary alteration and avoided the often catastrophic damage caused when these were steel-string starting even in the 1920s. This is a lovely and stately guitar that still sings beautifully especially to those with a more delicate playing technique. Excellent - Condition.