3/06/2015

1959 Martin 0-18 Flattop Guitar




Gosh, two 1950s 0-18s in the shop at the same time? This one is a '59 and aside from a repaired smallish impact crack on the bass side, it's crack free. My work included a fret level/dress, bridge reglue, and general setup work. It plays beautifully and has a punchy, full voice. I tend to like smaller-bodied Martins better as they have a more focused sound that fits my own style of play a bit better than "those fatso" dreadnoughts, to quote a customer of mine.

This one has certainly been played and while the finish is glowing, it shows general use-wear light scratching and plenty of average pickwear on the upper bout. To me... this is a plus! Played-in means "warmed up."


This guitar has typical "style 18" specs... solid spruce top with solid mahogany back, sides, and neck. The bridge and fretboard are both Brazilian rosewood. Everything is original except the bridgepins and endpin... all of which are older replacements in plastic.


Original 1 11/16" nut, nice headstock veneer... and those cool old Grover tuners!


The frets leveled/dressed-up nicely and have plenty of "meat," though they start to get slightly lower at the very end of the fretboard extension over the body.

This has that typical softer V/C hybrid shape that's medium in size and usual for Martins of this time. It feels good! Not too small, not too big.


The pickguard looks great, doesn't it?


Now, if you look closely, you can see two off-color "dots" on the rear edge of the bridge. Someone had used oversize bolts to bolt this bridge back in place. I decided I wanted to re-use the original bridge and so after regluing the bridge I filled the holes in with rosewood sanding from cleaning up the bridge foot and then lightly sanded and polished up the bridge after my repair to ensure and even look. Out of the harsh daylight it's actually really hard to see these "dots."

I also filled and then redrilled the bridge pin holes so that the pins have a nice fresh hold on the underside. The (original) saddle had previously been cut low and that's how it is, now, though the guitar plays perfectly with a fast-feeling 3/32" bass and 1/16" treble action at the 12th fret while rocking a set of 12s. I also intonated the B string slot.






After a quick lube the tuners turn smooth and sweet.



Here you can see the general use-wear that's typical, though the finish is awfully pretty as you'd expect on an old Martin.


The back of the neck shows plenty of "love" and, presumably, a bit of capo use.




This repaired (it's also backed on the inside) smallish impact crack is stable and good to go. It actually looks worse in the photo than in person. If you look at the picture just before this you can get an idea of scale.

And hey, don't ya love tortoise binding?





An original, cool-as-heck hard case comes with the guitar...


...accompanied by a 1978 letter from Mike Longworth telling us that it was made in '59.


There's that case again. It's lightly arched, too, for strength.

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