Museum: Martin Guitars

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1945 Martin D-18

Serial # 91088. A late wartime Martin D-18 with incredible tapered-brace tone, plenty of playwear charm and patina, and top-tier playability thanks to a reset and refret care of Folkway's Mark Stutman two years back.

Martin's last scalloped-braced guitar rolled off the line in late 1944, some 1200 guitars prior to this '45 D-18. But the change from scalloped to straight bracing wasn't without its own evolution. The first "straight" braced guitars were anything but, and employed a gradual tapering of the X and lower face braces, which left a much longer thin section to each brace. The result of this new brace carving were that tops were stiff around the bridge, but much more free to move through the last 3-4" of their perimeters. As such, the tops of these tapered-braced guitars produce a tone that's unlike both its earlier scalloped and later straight-braced siblings.

Expect a lot of fundamental power and presence, and much more open bass response than a later guitar, but with greater definition in the lows than an earlier scalloped version. Sitka spruce replaced Red spruce also in '44, so comparing this Sitka / Tapered '45 to a Red / Scalloped '44 has its limitations.

This D-18 is a remarkable guitar. It was clearly heavily played and saw more belt buckles than case lids; but, despite its upbringing, it managed to survive without any real issues. The guitar is essentially crack-free (there are a few very insignificant and cleanly repaired cracks: a couple of hairline cracks at the soundhole, a very tiny pickguard crack and just a few very short side cracks). There are two back brace ends that have been cleanly reglued. All the top's braces and bridge plate are unaltered and have never come loose, and the guitar is completely original but for frets, nut, saddle, and bridge pins.

The bridge shows a few scars behind pin holes, there is minor touch-up to the finish around sections of the bridge, and the treble-side of the fingerboard has been thinned somewhat in an earlier refret. All told, the repairs to this guitar are minor -- especially considering how well used it has been.

We reset the neck on this guitar within the last 2 years. The frets, nut and saddle were replaced at the same time. The repair quality is top-notch, and the guitar plays incredibly well. Frets show very light even wear and play cleanly in all positions.

Ebony fingerboard and bridge (note the factory original Style 28 dots), Sitka spruce top, Mahogany back and sides with typical style 18 trimmings. Wartime era Kluson tuning machines with new Antique Acoustic buttons. Nut measures a well-worn 1-11/16", 25.4" scale, 2-1/8" string spread at the saddle. Action set at 5-6.5 64ths with 3/32-1/8" of saddle above the bridge.

We don't write so much about a guitar if we don't like it. A lot.

With deluxe hard shell case.

Shipping into the USA?

Sending this guitar to a US address is easy to do, and there are no import fees, taxes, or duties to pay when it arrives. We take care of everything involved in shipping -- all you have to do unpackage the instrument when it arrives and play!

Questions? Email us anytime, or call us toll-free at 1-855-772-0424.

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