Museum: Martin Guitars

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1939 Martin D-18

Serial # 71880. Few instruments in the vintage guitar world are as revered at the pre-War D-18. Their tone is legendary, and their list of players reads like a who's who of modern American music. Here's a refinished specimen from '39 with its original bracing intact and unrepaired, a wide 1-3/4" nut and original Grover G-98 tuners. This instrument was built very early in 1939, but does feature rear shifted bracing in addition to its wide neck. The switch from forward-positioned X-bracing happened about 500 guitars before this particular D-18. The guitar has seen its fair share of repair benches over the years, so we've provided additional photos for your perusal.

The instrument has been re-finished, however the top's thickness still measures between .100" and .120" and the back measures .120" fairly consistently. The thicknesses are well within factory specifications, and there is no top deflection. There is a repaired headstock crack visible through the re-finish, and the fingerboard and nut have been replaced. Repaired cracks on both sides of the body, along the bass side of the fingerboard extension, as well as along both sides of the attractive tortoise replacement pickguard. There is an output jack repair on the lower treble side, and belt rash on the guitar's back under the refinish. The bridge and rosewood bridge plate are oversized replacements.

Despite its cosmetic shortcomings, the guitar has a powerful and balanced voice that flat pickers will love, with responsive bass, rich mids and chewey trebles. The neck carve is full and round and the guitar plays well with a stiff bluegrass action and medium strings. Mahogany back and sides, red spruce top, rosewood headstock overlay, ebony fingerboard and bridge with bone nut and saddle. Original headstock logo, completely original bracing in excellent condition.

With 1970's blue thermoplastic 'Steal Me' case

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