Museum: Martin Guitars

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1892 Martin 2-20

No Serial number, top pencil-dated 3/92. This New York stamped Martin is truly among the most inspiring little guitars we've ever had our hands on. Built long before Martin designed guitars for steel stringing, this size 2 was built exceptionally lightly, with very thin body woods and super light bracing. We've strung the guitar with John Pearse Silk and Phosphor light gauge strings, which safely brings out every drop of tone the instrument can muster.

A small guitar with an incredibly robust voice, the tone of this 2-20 is both surprising and beguiling. The bass response is warm and pronounced, and it underlies every note on the fretboard. The guitar has an incredible ability to express itself under a light attack, with a full body and a richness of overtones. Mid range is forward and musical, with piano-like sustain, and the trebles are round, thick, and bold. There isn't any bright, wiry, thin, or over-articulated typical small guitar tone in this one. Just the good stuff.

Red spruce top with fan bracing, Brazilian rosewood back and sides. Three-ring rosette with green and red herringbone center, matching backstrip, and 4-layer purflings inside rosewood bindings. Ebony pyramid bridge with original bone drop-in saddle and period bridge pins. Radiused ebony fingerboard with bar frets, 1-13/16" width at the nut, 24.5" scale, 2-1/4" string spread at the saddle. Spanish cedar two-piece neck with a softened V carve and comfortable profile, gorgeous Seidel tuning machines with bone buttons.

The guitar has just been through our shop and has received a neck reset, a new aged bone nut, a fret-dress, and set up. Previous to Folkway, the bridge had been reglued, and a top crack was repaired. There is a repaired chip in the top in front of the bridge, and the tuner-post holes have been filled and redrilled to fit the current non-original tuners. There are a few very tiny repaired side cracks, a few cleanly glued brace ends, and areas of French polish finish touchup on the top. The guitar presents well, but with a number of old scratches and dents around the bridge from long ago.

Playability is lovely thanks to our reset, fretwork, and setup. The guitar's action measures in at 5 to just-under 6 64ths at the 12th fret. Neck is nearly straight, and the left hand feel of the neck and strings is heavenly.

The guitar is exquisite to play and to listen to. A musician's instrument and muse for certain.

With hardshell case

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