1/25/2015

1953 Martin 0-18 Flattop Guitar




Personally, I think the early and mid 50s Martins are some of the best Martins out there. Don't get me wrong -- the pre-war and wartime Martins are fantastic (if sometimes finnicky from the extra-light builds) -- but there's something full and familiar about the 50s Martin sound that does it for me. This has to be the best 14-fret 0-size I've heard thus far, with a lot of lower-mid saturation and a creamy top end. It's a perfect blues, thumping, or picking guitar with innate volume and snap. It sounds like it embodies the "guitar tone" of a zillion old Folkways recordings.

Hyperbole aside, this got a fret level/dress, some seam repair work, a small hairline crack repair to the neck near the nut, a bit of bridge/saddle adjustment, cleaning, and setup. The only "new" bit on the guitar are the new rosewood pins which replaced the remaining trashed black plastic pins that this probably had on it since "birth." It plays spot-on (3/32" bass, 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret) and is ship-shape and ready to go, strung with 12s.


18-series trim means that this guitar has a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back, sides, and neck. It's got a non-adjustable rod in the neck (steel bar) and the bridge and board are Brazilian rosewood. Everything but the bridge pins appear original.


Nice rosewood headstock veneer and retro metal-buttoned original Kluson tuners... butting up against a 1 11/16" nut width. The profile of the neck is a soft-V shape that's around the general thickness one finds on a modern Martin. It's fast but not tiny.


The board is radiused and all the original frets still have plenty of life left. There's a bit of wear here and there on the board itself but that just adds to authenticity, no?


The original pickguard looks great, though it does have a little cloudiness to the finish on top of it if you catch it in the light just-so. The finish overall actually looks a lot better than in these shots (fairly clean with light use wear) but it's certainly weather-checked throughout.

I think the center seam might have been reglued just slightly right below the soundhole at some point.


The original bridge and bridge plate are in good health. I added the new rosewood pins and this guitar came to me with a broken top edge on the original saddle. Fortunately, it was able to be reused since it needed to be cut down a little anyhow. At the same time I compensated it further.


The binding is tortoise and looks great in sunshine.



Pretty, understated mahogany. What's not to like?


The neck set is good to go.





There are a couple if tiny 1" hairline cracks side by side in the treble lower bout side but I had the hardest time shooting them since they're near-invisible. That said, they're stable and good to go.





Here you can see the 1st-fret-long small hairline crack that I glued up when this first came in. You can't even feel it... but I did manage to (finally) get a pic of it in just the right glare. There's nothing structural to worry about, etc. etc -- the neck is good, straight, and holds up perfectly under tension.


The supplied chip case that comes with it is good enough for light storage and shipping protection but nothing else.

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