Museum: Martin Guitars

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1933 Martin R-18 Roundhole

Serial # 54286. A first-year issued small-body archtop, completely original, and in remarkable condition. The earliest R-sized archtops featured both a round soundhole and arched, rather than carved, spruce tops. The top thickness of this guitar is about .125", and the bracing is a beefed-up version of the company's flat top pattern, with scalloped X braces, two scalloped face braces, and a bridgeplate. Some might be tempted to convert the guitar to a flat-top, which would be relatively simple and allow the use of the original top and braces - but we'd suggest to, instead, enjoy the guitar for what it is!

00 sized body of mahogany and Red spruce, with style 18 trim and beautiful shade-top lacquer finish. Apart from a set-up in our shop, this guitar has never been repaired or modified; and it's in absolutely perfect condition. There is the slightest bit of finish wear evident by the tailpiece, minor case rash on the bass side upper bout, and a tiny spot of buckle wear on the back. The bar frets are full-height and show very light wear in the first position, clipped-plate Grover tuners work perfectly, and the neck angle, action and relief are spot on. The guitar plays perfectly.

Sonically, the guitar won't be for everyone, but it does what it does very well, and we like it a lot. The instrument's biggest assets are its small size and warm bass response. Jazz players who enjoy comping on the bass strings will dig this guitar tremendously; it's clean, expressive, open, and warm. It's not tremendously loud, but would take its place in a mix very well - live or on tape. Its small body is so much more comfortable to hold than the typically large archtop, and the neck's shorter 24.9" scale length makes chords that span a number of frets so much easier. The neck has Martin's classic early 30's carve, with a soft V feel that softens out in the first position, and a 1-3/4" wide nut.

With original chipboard case

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