3/14/2013

c.1958 Martin 5-15T Tenor Guitar




Update 2016: This has spent 3 years in Taiwan a happy ex-pat and is now back for consignment. I've updated the pictures and description where necessary. My only adjustment upon its return was a gentle setup.

This all-mahogany tenor guitar is a 5-15T from 1958. I love mahogany Martins and this is a nice little one that fits in the lap and under the arm almost as if it wasn't there. I especially like 50s Martins because they seem to be a nice compromise between the extremely-lightweight 30s builds and the durability of later builds.

This one needed a fret level/dress, its bridge reglued and saddle lightly shaved, a cleaning, string ramps, new endpin, and setup. Otherwise it was good to go. It, of course, plays great and has that balanced, sweet mahogany sound that's particular to these x-braced Martins and records so easily.

I can't stress enough how practical and no-nonsense these guitars are. They don't have any excuses -- they just "work" like they should and hold up very well to lots of use. The smaller size 5 body is best for CGDA (standard) and DGBE (Chicago) tunings, however. I'm not a huge fan of these for "Celtic" or "octave mando" GDAE tunings.


This tenor is also all-original except for its endpin (a replacement ebony type), which is nice to see. The finish is (as expected) full of weather checking as well as smaller scuffs and scratches throughout, but that stuff can't be seen except up close.


I had to build up the low string slot of the ebony nut as it had chipped out a little but it's good to go, now.


This has a rosewood board with cream dots and good, medium frets.



The one-ring rosette is the only decorative touch. The dark-red tortoise pickguard looks great, though! I had to glue a couple edges of it down while doing the work on it, of course.
 

The bridge and saddle are original, but it took a little shave to get it playing spot-on at 1/16" at the 12th fret. It's currently strung with 30w, 22w, 13, 9 strings for CGDA tuning.



Good quality mahogany was used throughout.



The only significant blemish is this smaller-than-a-dime bumped area that someone plugged up with a bit of mahogany long, long ago. Fortunately this is on the "knee" side of the guitar so no one will see it. It's also dark enough that you might not notice it at all.




This has a nice, two-piece back.


The individual-unit tuners work well.




Here's that new endpin.





It also has a newer chip case in good condition that serves "just fine!"

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