Museum: Martin Guitars

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1932 Martin 0-18K

Serial # 50551. So rarely are we fortunate to encounter an early 1930's Martin in such remarkably pristine and original condition. The guitars built in the early 1930's are exceptionally lightly constructed, and so many have withstood the years of sting tension poorly. Many others have been mistreated by repair people with good intensions but little skill, and others have been loved well and played hard for eight decades and, today, show their age. Here's a guitar that, with only a few small scratches and a new saddle, is exactly the same as it was when it left Nazareth some eighty years ago. It has aged well, and sounds exceptionally good as a result.

A factory Spanish 0-18K, rather than the more common Hawaiian set-up 0-18KH; the guitar features an angle-compensated saddle, radiussed fingerboard and bridge, and bar frets. Pickguard and belly bridge were the norm by 1932, and the guitar is quite comfortable with standard light-gauge steel strings at concert pitch. The new saddle is the guitar's only non-original part, and was cut and installed by us following the neck reset we've just completed. Original nut and bar frets are perfectly adjusted, and the guitar's original bridge pins are virtually unworn. There are no cracks or internal repairs of any kind, and the original bridgeplate is in perfect condition. We have set up the guitar to play with a low/normal action of 5-6 64ths.

The sound of an old and lightly built all Koa 12 fretter is unmistakable. The guitar has a dry and articulate snap, rich body resonance, and forward response. Single notes are bold, present, and well defined; while triads gracefully rumble. It's a quick guitar, with a spry maturity in its tone. And it's the kind of instrument that sounds much bigger when held off the player's belly. Not a dark sounding instrument as a spruce topped 0-18 might be, but not bright, either. Both new and old strings will sound good on this one.

Rosewood-bound Koa body, style 18 trimmings, ebony fingerboard and bridge, ebony reinforced mahogany neck. Soft V neck profile with just enough chunk in the feel, 1-7/8" nutwidth. 24.9" scale.

With original hardshell case

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