3/20/2013

c.1938 Martin 0-17T Tenor Guitar


Well, after missing out on this tenor, this tenor, and this tenor (click for links), I think I'm going to enjoy this one for at least a little while before I consider letting it back out on the market. These all-mahogany Martin tenors "of yesteryear" are quite good guitars with warm and woody tone and good volume. They're also almost always in relatively good shape considering the extra strength of their hardwood tops: they usually have very little belly or structural problems that I associated with spruce tops.

This one was built right in that peak of Martin production just prior to WWII where modernized design was met with excellent craftsmanship. This guitar is super-lightweight, "turns on a dime," and projects very well even with the relatively light gauge strings and lowered tuning (GDAE) I have it in. It also came with its original semi-hard chip case, so aside from the usual playwear, case-wear, and weather checking, it came to me in very good shape.

I initially thought the center-seam below the bridge needed cleating but upon inspection found that the job had already been done, so I just backfilled the center-seam slightly with mahogany dust and sealed it up. The only other work was setup and cleaning: a fret level and dressing, and a slight saddle and bridge shave.


Style 17 denoted all-mahogany construction with no trim except for a one-ring soundhole rosette. It also means the guitar has a gloss, rather than semi-gloss (as found on Style 15) finish. This came in looking faded but a bit of cleaning spruced it right up and the warm, milk chocolate color of the guitar came right back.


All the fittings are original including these nice single-unit Grover tuners and ebony nut.


Rosewood board, nickel frets (T style, not bar at this point), and clay or celluloid micro-dots.


The original pickguard is in great shape, too, and isn't too dark a color: it fits right in with the medium-brown of the mahogany.

You can see some of that lateral weather-checking and finish crackle on the bass side of the top. In actuality it's all over the guitar, but it's the kind of stuff I like to see on an old instrument!


Original bridge pins.


The "squashed 0 shape" is nice in the lap. I wish the modern Martin company would use it with a 6-string neck sometime and slightly lower bridge placement: it would make a nice alternative to something like Taylor's "GS Mini" that's all the rage these days.




You've gotta love those classy Grover tuners.


The neck joint, of course, is perfect.




This has its original endpin, too.

I forgot to take a picture of the case, but for what it's worth it's a nice, clean semi-hard case with an arched top. I'm 100% sure that it's the reason this guitar is in good condition.

4 comments:

Ambrose said...

So you're holding onto this instead of the 5-15T? How do they compare? Similar pricing if you do sell?

Antebellum Instruments said...

Ambrose: being pre-war this would run in the $1800 range. On the other one: the 5-15T sold before I could decide one way or the other. Both are excellent guitars -- both very similar, but a little different. The smaller body is sweeter and has a rounder tone, the bigger body is more lush on the bottom end and has more volume but is less nuanced and complex.

cheap jerseys said...

Very nice guitar

TAC Blog said...

Trade you for a ‘35 5-17 in great condition -- email me - raharrris@wpunj.edu -- Robert