1/30/2015

1971 Martin 00-16C Classical Guitar




Martin classicals (save Willie Nelson's Trigger) never get much limelight -- but to be honest, they're quite nice guitars. This one has come in for consignment and sports the Martin 12-fret 00 shape which folk steel-string players will be familiar with. It's got a solid spruce top, solid mahogany back, sides and neck, and has fan bracing rather than anything remotely similar to Martin's early x-bracing for gut/nylon strings from the 1910s and 1920s. This yields a big, full sound with focused bottom (thanks to the mahogany) that's ideal for folk fingerpicking or, yes, a vaguely flamenco sound.

My work on it included a replacement bone saddle, setup, and light cleaning. It plays well with miniscule to no fretwear, action height of 3/32" at the 12th fret (spot on for nylon), and a good, solid tone. Unlike earlier Martin 00s made for gut/nylon strings, this has a full "classical" scale of 26 1/2" and a nut width of 2 1/8" -- it handles like a modern classical guitar vs. a vintagey "parlor." The strings seem to be a normal tension set of D'Addario Pro Artes with a "carbon" G string.


It's such a clean guitar with just a few minor scratches throughout. The finish is a semi-satin, thin, and in good shape. It had milked up a little bit for whatever reason in a few places but some StewMac polish set it straight.


The slotted headstock looks great and the tuners, thankfully, use metal oversize shafts rather than plastic ones which tend to deteriorate.


The original frets are in superb shape and the neck is nice and straight. It has a definite classic flattened "D" profile shape to the back but handles well.


Aside from the new bone saddle I also trimmed the upper edge of the saddle slot's top just slightly to give a tiny bit more adjustment room for saddle height (so you can shave it down if you're a buzzy flamenco devotee, for example).


The cut and trim is tight clean, per Martin's usual accurate build.



Nice hog, huh?



The neck set is perfect but there is a tiny hole from an old strap button. If the new owner desires, this can either be re-buttoned or filled. I've left it as-is for the moment.







The endblock area has a "no jack" endpin which covers up a 1/2" hole drilled out for a pickup's endpin jack. It would be super-easy to install a pup if one wanted to.


The hard, fitted, arched-top case is in great shape and serves to protect admirably.

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