Museum: Martin Guitars

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1953 Martin D-18

Serial # 129477. With total certainty, this 1953 Adirondack Spruce topped Martin D-18 is the most desirable post-War mahogany Martin in existence that is not associated with a celebrity. The guitar is two hours short of factory-new, and is easily the cleanest vintage D-18 that we have ever witnessed in person or in photograph. The icing on this particular cake is that the guitar has an Adirondack spruce top -- a feature of many of the guitars built in 1953, but one that is distinctive to that year during the post-war era. It is the definition of a 'Time Capsule,' complete with its original hardshell case, unopened case key and original replacement strings. In short, of all the D-18s built between 1945 and today, this is the benchmark; and as such, the most valuable.

The guitar is completely original, crack free, and virtually unworn. There is evidence that it had been used for a couple of hours: light strumming marks on the top by the pickguard, a few ridiculously minor dings and a hint of buckle rash on the back; but it was obviously put away and forgotten about the day after it was bought, not to see the light of day again until surfacing again recently.

The guitar is clean and factory fresh both inside and out. No dust inside the body or case. A light wipe with a dry cotton cloth brought the shine out beautifully, and no set up has ever been done to the instrument. Bridge and braces are all well glued and in need of no repair. The original bridge and end pins have shrunk and crystallized to the point of uselessness, which gave us reason to use the very precious new-old-stock Martin 50's pin set we've had stowed away for the better part of a decade.

The action is high on the guitar, measuring 8 to 10 64ths at the 12th fret, so expect it to play it comfortably in the first position, but not much beyond. We certainly can reset the neck on this guitar without leaving a trace, but will leave the decision to do so to the guitar's next owner.

And finally, you're all likely wondering how it sounds? Pretty much as you'd expect. It's a brand new Adirondack topped, Hide-glued, lightly built 60 year old D-18. It sounds fabulous, but not played-in. It's loud and balanced, with that dry snap of an old mahogany and Adirondack spruce guitar. There's infinite headroom should you (carefully) dig in, and great life throughout its register.

A tremendous guitar, and a rock-solid investment.

With original hardshell case

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