Museum: Martin Guitars

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1932 Martin 00-18

Serial # 51690. Back in the early 1930's there was no place to purchase a Martin guitar anywhere near the small northern Ontario mining town of Kirkland Lake, from where this Martin 00-18 hails. Located about 400 miles north of Toronto, it would take the better part of a week for mail to arrive from the south, and we can imagine that waiting for this Martin 00-18 to be delivered wasn't too easy! The guitar's owner, a radio personality, had corresponded with a number of retailers prior to purchasing his Martin, and when he finally received it, he clearly was focused on keeping the guitar in top shape. Some eighty years later the guitar made its way to Folkway Music, beautifully kept, and with all the purchase correspondences dating back all that time still in the case with the guitar. The instrument has been in the possession of the family of the original owner until now.

An exceptionally fine Golden Era Martin, this 00-18 is completely issue-free. Considering that it survived some eighty terribly cold northern winters with not a single crack, loose brace, or even a lifting bridge is nothing short of a miracle. The guitar needed no repairs other than a neck reset, fretwork and set-up -- all of which were completed by Folkway's Mark Stutman. It now plays beautifully, with perfectly crowned new bar frets (measuring in at about .042"), an aged bone saddle, and excellent neck angle.

Most agree that the guitars C.F. Martin & Co were building in 1929-33 were among the best steel string flat tops ever built, and this 00-18 reaffirms. The guitar is powerful, rich, full, and responsive; with robust mids and excellent bass to treble balance. It's a clean-sounding 00, light on the overtones and smoke, but heavy on the fundamental -- and very pure. The guitar has plenty of power when it's called for, but responds equally well to lighter touch.

Red spruce top, finely scalloped-braced, with original small maple bridge plate. Original full-thickness ebony belly bridge, and original celluloid pickguard. Black celluloid-bound mahogany back and sides; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard and rosewood headplate. Martin stamp on the back of the headstock, original Waverly tuners, original ebony nut, original bridge pins.

Clean neck reset and refret, new bone saddle. Endpin has been enlarged to accommodate an output jack (the guitar's only flaw, the stick-on Barcus Berry pickup has been removed), and a Stew-Mac NoJak enpin installed. Original unmodified finish throughout; some dings and scratches from regular use, neck finish shows minor capo wear. The guitar is set-up with light gauge strings (12-54), and an action of 5 to 6 64ths at the 12th fret. Mostly round neck profile, but with a slight hint of a soft V. 1-13/16" nut width, 24.9" scale.

With the guitar comes its original hardshell case, rope strap, 1932 Martin Catalog and Canadian price lists, letters between the guitar's first owner and various Martin resellers (all dated 1934), and case-pocket ephemera.

Click HERE for our hi-def video feature of this 00-18

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