Vintage Instruments: Martin Guitars

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1977 Martin D-18 Shadetop

We have a soft spot in our hearts for sunburst-topped Martin Guitars. There’s something about them that just looks so good to all of us here at the shop. Martin never made too many sunburst (aka Shadetop) guitars, but over certain periods in their history we see higher production. The early/mid 1930’s, early 1950’s, and mid 1970’s saw increased numbers of shadetops roll off the line at Martin.

This early 1977 D-18 is a lovely sounding guitar that has survived the years in particularly fine condition. It has a pair of very small repaired side cracks at the treble-side waist (where D-18s always crack), a tiny 1” long crack on the back, a couple of touched up dings, and a couple of small vinyl-strap finish imprints - but is otherwise perfect. There are no areas of playwear, no brace repairs, no top cracks or pickguard issues, and no modifications other than a light fret-dressing, new saddle and bridge pins care of our shop. Original Grover tuners are perfect, and the original nut has never been removed.

Excellent playability with medium strings, and a remarkably straight neck. We’ve set the action at 5-6.5 64ths at the 12thfret for a fast and slinky feel, and there remains about 1/16” of saddle above the guitar’s full-thickness bridge for some future adjustment. 1-11/16” nut width, 25.4” scale.

A warmly voiced D-18 with bold trebles and an open and well developed bass. Excellent volume and headroom for a heavy flatpicked approach, but lots of subtlety there with a lighter touch. A very fine sounding 70’s D-18.

With original hardshell case.

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