Museum: Martin Guitars

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1934 Martin 0-17

Serial # 56870. 1934 was something of a magical year for the instruments being constructed in Nazareth. It seems that Martin and Co. had really hit their stride in building steel-string guitars that year; and to many, the instruments built in '34 represent the apex in all things acoustic guitar. From the neck carve to the scalloping of the braces, 1934 was a year that brought all the best together in Martin's instruments.

With its lightweight all-mahogany body, thin maple bridge plate and carefully scalloped braces, this 0-17 has a full and deep dry voice with enough of a push in the midrange to keep any ragtime picker happy, but plenty of warmth and openness across the strings to satiate a melodic single-note picker. It offers that 'piano-like' cavernous articulation in the bass-end, and a sweet and well-rounded treble.

The neck has a soft-V carve that pretty much hugs your hand, and a 16" radius fingerboard with rounded-over edges that makes thumb-overtop playing easy and comfortable.

We've just reset this guitar's neck, replaced the bridge with a very accurate reproduction, leveled and dressed the original bar frets, and glued a few minor cracks and loose braces. The tuning machines are new Gotoh X-finished Waverly look-alikes, and the new unslotted bridge pins are by Antique Acoustic. There is a short and mostly insignificant crack leading away from one of the tuner screw holes; a minor impact scar on the side near the bottom of the guitar, and an area of heavy pick-wear on the top, between the pickguard and the fingerboard extension. The guitar's worn finish is completely original; there is a spot of blushing on the treble side, lower bout, and some more lightly blushed finish on the back.

All told, it's a remarkable sounding vintage guitar with the benefits of new-guitar playability. It has had top-tier repair/restoration, and shows a few fairly minor scars from its first 80 or so years. Action is set at 5-6 64ths at the 12th fret with perfect relief and a well-adjusted original ebony nut. 1-3/4" wide nut, 2-3/8" string spread at the bridge, 24.9" scale length.

With original chipboard case

Click HERE for our hi-def video feature of this 0-17

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