Museum: Martin Guitars

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1944 Martin 000-18

Serial # 87925. Here's a very fine sounding '44 000-18, with wartime ebony neck reinforcement, red spruce top and original scalloped bracing. The guitar has seen its fair share of repairs, including a full refinish, but is in perfect working order and in need of no further service. Its top's original braces are in excellent shape, as is the original small maple bridgeplate and bridge; the top measures to between .100" and .110" (which is within spec), and there is no top bellying or deflection.

Under the guitar's newer finish there is a small repair to the top by the lower bout and a repaired back crack. The treble side of the guitar has been replaced from just below the waist to the end block; and the work is quite cleanly done. The neck is refinished as well, the frets and nut are replaced, and the headstock logo is modern. The tuning machines are modern Waverly issue. The pickguard is a faux-tortoise part from Martin. Post-refinish, the guitar suffered a bass-side impact, which has since been repaired, and a bridge reglue.

Set-up and new saddle, care of Folkway, and we've installed a set of unslotted bridge pins. The guitar's bridge is attractive, and the new saddle has 3/32" of height. Action measures 5-7 64ths at the 12th fret.

Despite the guitar's repair history it remains a very fine vintage Martin. All the most important details are in good shape -- the top and back, bracing, bridge and bridgeplate are original and largely unaltered, the neck angle is good, and the frets play well. The guitar plays in tune, and stays in tune well, thanks to those Waverly gears. The instrument presents very attractively, in a new-looking kind of way.

It's a very lightweight guitar, with the kind of tone that comes from lightly built mahogany and spruce. The bass end is quite open and expressive but in balance with the rest of the guitar. Midrange is musical and present and does a good job of adding tonal mass to the treble strings. This one isn't a guitar for hard-hitting strummer, but is well suited for refined fingerstyle or accurately picked melodies.

The neck is fairly rounded and compact, the nut measures 1-21/32" across, and the guitar's scale is 24.9"

With modern hardshell case

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