Vintage Instruments: Martin Guitars

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1948 Martin D-18 lefty

About as rare and exciting a left-handed guitar as this store has ever seen, here’s a vintage Martin to keep all of our lefty regulars sleepless for at least a few nights! Production records for left-handed Martin models don’t exist, but we’ve never before encountered another factory left-handed D-18 from the 1940’s. Rare is likely something of an understatement.

The guitar is in excellent condition and shows no modifications, cracks or repairs of any significance. There is some right-handed playwear to the top, but the bridge hasn’t ever been changed from its original lefty configuration. The top features tapered lefty X bracing and original lefty pickguard, and the fingerboard has lefty side-dots. The neck has been beautifully reset, the action is low (measuring 4-6 64ths at the 12th fret with 3/32” of saddle above the bridge, and the original frets show little wear over a recent dress. There is the slightest beginning of a pickguard-crack but no other top cracks. The back is crack-free, and the sides show a few tiny stress lines as vintage D-18s always do. There is a dime-sized repaired impact a few inches to the right of the endpin. Bridge and bridgeplate are original and in great shape, and there are no bracing repairs. The guitar’s original finish is unmodified, and its original Kluson tuners hold their tune well.

The neck has a compact round feel, with a nut width of 1-11/16”. There is light capo wear to the back of the neck that isn’t particularly noticeable to your hand.

A wonderful guitar, with the classic mid-range strength of a D-18, plenty of volume and a lot of sweetness and richness. It’s a great strummer with the warm clarity of old mahogany, and also has the string balance one would want for fingerstyle. Flatpicking is a natural go-to for any 40’s Martin Dread, and this D-18 is right at home with a heavy pick and a songbook of fiddle tunes. It has a poppy and quick attack, and maintains excellent articulation under a hard left hand. It’s a stellar guitar, and it’s pretty much as cool a D-18 as a lefty can get their paws on.

With late 1960’s Martin hardshell case.

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