Museum: Martin Guitars

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1945 Martin 00-21

Serial # 91416. The 00-21 is one of the few models of Martin guitars that retained a 12-fret neck after 1934, and it stayed that way until being discontinued in the early 1990's. Like all Martin guitars the 00-21 went through a number of design changes through the year, and this 1945 example shows a mix of wartime and post-war features.

The guitar is built with figured Brazilian rosewood back and sides and features a red spruce top; something you won't find on larger instruments built in 1945. The bracing is highly tapered; a transitional carve that Martin experimented with after abandoning scalloping in 1944. Tapered braces have a thicker mid-section that tapers, or feathers, down to a very thin end. Early tapered braces (such as those in this guitar) show a taper starting at half to two thirds down the brace. The effect on tone is massive, and these first red spruce-topped, taper-braced guitars have amazing power, fundamental, and clarity; all the while maintaining some of the open and woody character that defines the earlier scalloped braced versions.

Aesthetically, this 00-21 is mostly pre-war spec -- with wooden ring herringbone rosette, wooden purflings, zigzag back strip and ebony fingerboard and bridge. The fingerboard dots were new to 1945 though, and give this guitar a slightly more modern look.

Ebony neck rod, round-carved short-scale neck with a nut width of 1-7/8, string spread of 2-5/16" at the bridge. 12 frets to the body, slotted headstock.

The guitar is completely original but for new frets and bone saddle done by us, and one side of the tuning machines (which are a close match but have plain celluloid buttons rather than ivoroid and brass posts). Recent professional neck reset and small pickguard cracks nicely repaired. There are no other cracks, no brace repairs, and the original bridge and plate are intact. We've restored the bridge plate holes. Original nut, style 21 pins and original unmodified finish throughout.

The guitar's finish shows scratches and craze-lines typical of a guitar this age that was actually played. There is light belt-buckle scratching on the back, a few dings and dents in the top, some scratches on the back of the neck, and some light wear on the headstock's edges.

Set up and action are perfect, thanks to the good neck angle, refret and set-up work we've just finished. Action measures 4 to 6 64ths at the 12th fret with a set of .012 to .053 D'Addario EJ-16s.

A remarkable and beautiful guitar.

With period, possibly original Lifton hardshell case.

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