Museum: Martin Guitars

Bookmark and Share

1940 Martin 0-15

Serial # 75003. At $25 upon its introduction in 1940, the 0-15 was Martin & Co.'s most economical guitar. The company's response to the deepening depression through the Mid 1930's was a few prototype 15 series guitars built in 1935, but the 15 series didn't enter production until the spring of 1940. Only the 14 fret single 0 size was offered in the new 15 series, with 00's left to the slightly more expensive 17 series. Apart from a slightly simpler fingerboard dot pattern, white plastic tuner buttons and pins, and a less-glossy finish, there is very little different about the 15 and 17 series guitars.

This example is a particularly early 0-15, with a serial number just 500 or so instruments later than the very first 0-15s produced. It's an elegant little guitar, otherwise unadorned but for its unique and very cool tortoiseshell celluloid headstock overlay. Like every guitar built before the War, this one features finely scalloped top bracing and a tiny maple bridge plate -- which ensures that every ounce of tone is yours for the picking.

Unbound mahogany body, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, simple rosette, tortoise-shell celluloid pickguard, and ivoroid fingerboard dots. The black bridgepins and endpin are replacements, as are the period-correct tuners, ebony nut, bone saddle, and frets. Reset and refret by Gryphon strings during the tenure of the guitar's previous owner, fresh set-up by our repair shop. Three short and well-repaired cracks on the back's lower bout, otherwise issue and repair free.

A beguiling guitar, this 0-15 easily fits into the category of instruments that are hard to put down while writing for this website. Its trebles are round and forward, the bass is open and warm in that small-guitar kind of way, and there is a liveliness and excitability in its response. Open, scallop-braced response, with mahogany top dryness -- it's a beautiful thing.

Mostly round neck, easy to hold, 1-11/16" wide at the nut, and fattens up nicely closer to the heel. 24.9" scale. Fingerstyle set-up, very little fretwear, excellent playability.

With modern deluxe hardshell case

← Back to Martin Guitars

More Instruments