Museum: Martin Guitars

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1932 Martin C-1

Serial # 51099. The C1 was the least expensive of the 15" C series archtops built by Martin Guitars between 1931 and the onset of WWII. Featuring mahogany back and sides, black celluloid binding, rosewood fingerboard and bridge and simple dot markers in the fretboard, the C1 was mostly analogous to the company's popular style 18 flattops. The guitar's pearl inlaid C.F. Martin vertical headstock logo and engraved nickel-plated tailpiece added all the glitz that Martin felt a budget priced professional-level archtop needed.

An early C1, this example features the round soundhole, X-braced carved top, and long-scale neck particular to those built in the first two years of production. In 1933 the C-series necks all changed to a 24.9" short scale, and the round hole was dropped in favor of Gibson-style F holes. Gorgeous sunburst top, style 18 stained mahogany back and sides.

The guitar is in beautiful playing condition and has been carefully set up by us. We've dressed and crowned the bar frets, and have built a one-piece Tonk/Washburn/Regal style bridge with glued-in saddle to help bring out all of the guitar's tone. The original adjustable bridge is perfectly functional, and included. 1960's Grover Sta-Tite tuners, original fluted nut, pickguard, and tailpiece. The instrument's finish is playworn throughout, there is vinyl strap damage on the back, and the neck is smooth from use. There are repaired cracks on the back, reglued brace ends, and a couple repaired small side cracks. The top has had its center seam reglued, but is otherwise without issue. The guitar is in need of no further repairs.

With its braced flat back and round-hole top, the C1 has a tone that's something of a hybrid of arched and flat top guitars. It's reactive and quick, punchy through the mids, and has rounded trebles. The bass is succinct and articulated; excellent for single-note runs. The guitar finds its place in an acoustic mix nicely, as one would expect of an archtop, but holds on to some of that warmth and resonance handed down by the flattop side of its gene pool. The guitar offers a tone somewhat akin to David Rawling's famous small bodied Epiphone.

Medium-full neck with an oval first position carve that tapers quickly to a very soft V. The nut measures in at 1-3/4".

With original hardshell case

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