Vintage Instruments: Martin Guitars

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1973 Martin D-18S

Martin’s D-18S is a wide neck 12-fret Dreadnought with a cavernous voice. There’s a significant increase in air volume in a 12 fret Dreadnought, which adds to their bigness and bass-end response; and, with the bridge positioned farther from the soundhole and X brace, the top is moved a lot more by the strings. It all makes for a remarkably bold sounding guitar.

This example has seen some modification in recent years. The original large rosewood bridgeplate has been replaced with a smaller maple plate, the upper ‘popsicle’ brace has been removed, and the braces have been scalloped slightly. The neck has been reset and refretted as well, and there are two repaired cracks in the top.

The guitar has a very open and resonant voice, and it’s a big guitar that’s really responsive to a lighter touch. The action and neck angle have been set for a fingerstyle player, and the guitar’s 4 to 5 64ths string height is achieved with a full height saddle. If you’re looking for a 12 fretter to hammer bluegrass on with a heavy flatpick this isn’t your guitar. But anyone with a lighter touch and a taste for wider 12 fret necks would find a lot to love in this D-18S.

Beyond the two top cracks and previous hot-rodding the guitar is in good shape. There’s not much playwear to the frets and the finish is largely pretty clean (although there are various tiny non-matching nail-polish touch-ups on the body). Original tuners and nut, reglued original pickguard, new bone saddle and antique acoustic bridge pins and K+K Pure pickup.

With black Martin thermoplastic case.

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