9/14/2012

c.1960 Martin 0-15T Tenor Guitar




Sheesh, I love this thing. It's making me extremely tempted, especially after setting it up with GDAE-tuning strings.

This is a Martin 0-15T tenor guitar, dated to 1960, and it's in great, played-in shape. The bridge saddle has obviously been lowered over time and the neck has just a hair of relief, but it still plays dead-on -- 1/16" at the 12th on the treble and a hair above that on the bass. My work included a light setup, cleaning, and a fret level/dress, but otherwise it was pretty good to go when I received it. It's also nicely, 100% original.

Per Martin styling, the 0 refers to the 13.25" lower bout, the 15 refers to a non-bound, all-mahogany body, and the T refers to the tenor type. This body shape (a shortened 0 shape with a 14-fret join, sort of "squashed") was first used on the 1930s 0-17T and 0-18T models, but Martin continued making these right through the "folk boom" period with little change, save that banjo pegs were replaced with guitar-style tuners over time.


The weather-checked, chocolate-colored top is lovely. See the pickwear on the upper bout? This lady was played! There's a tight (possibly repaired -- it doesn't move) hairline crack at the pickguard's inside (in the typical place) and also a couple of small, tight, not-through hairline cracks on the lower bout, bass side. I felt around inside just to be sure, but they seem to be just in the finish and maybe just a tiny bit in the grain below it. Either way, they're not flexing or moving and there's no room between the bracing for cleats at this point in time.


1960s-style "rounded corners" headstock with the usual Martin decal. Rosewood headstock veneer. Ebony nut. Because this has a long 23" scale I can get away with a set of 42w, 32w, 16, 11 strings for GDAE tuning. The plain "A" is so nice to have since it gets rid of that "thumpy" A string heard with the wound A strings on identically-tuned octave mandolins. But, you know, this also sounds awesome with CGDA and DGBE tunings.


Rosewood board, min-dots, and side dots. Simple and effective.


I like the 60s-style tortoise guards. They're so classy and dark!



Martin backstrip "stamp" and also a shot of an old crack repair, reinforced with glued-down fabric tape.



Just a nice piece of 'hog!






Oh, what's this? Yep, an old "dot" style piezo pickup is installed on the underside of the soundboard... and guess what? Despite being passive, it sounds good...! No sense upgrading it at all.

Yeap, so I'm smitten. It has that lovely, open-toned, but refined voice that I loved so much about this "chocolate" Martin, that's since left my hands...

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