7/24/2015

1958 Martin 0-18 Flattop Guitar




Can't argue about a pretty old 0-18! This one lacks any cracks in the top and back and is in rather good "player's" shape -- excusing a few filled-in jack-holes on the treble side. I have to admit that I have a fondness for 50s Martins as they seem to toe the line between underbuilt for uber-tone and slightly bulked-up to handle wear over time. After work this one is a joy for the left-hand and has that mid-rangey, tight chordal sound I associate with 0-size 14-fret Martins. If you fingerpick, these are gorgeous recording machines, too, as they don't muddy-up anywhere on the neck.

Work included a fret level/dress, pin hole fill/redrill, cleaning, bridge and saddle adjustment, and setup. Action is 1/16" treble and 3/32" bass at the 12th fret and the neck is nice and straight. The original frets were fairly pitted so the frets are leveled lower than stock. I still think it's good for one or two more level/dressings before replacement, however. Good to go...



Don't ya love the look? Classy. I prefer the tortoise binding, too, which always looks great next to mahogany and yellowed spruce.


Nice rosewood for the headstock, too, and an original bone nut. Width is 1 11/16" and the profile is actually quite fast and comfortable -- think modern Martin soft-c/v shape from frets 1-5 and then slightly bigger after that. This guitar has the standard non-adjustable steel rod in the neck.


Brazilian board, pearl dots, side dots... all the usual.


There's a bit of pickwear south of the pickguard and at the soundhole but otherwise the top is fairly clean (minus usual finish crazing and the like).

The strings on the guitar are a hybrids set of 50w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12. That's a "custom light" wound set with a "light" top pair. When I first strung it up with regular 12s (it was fine with them), I felt the bass was a bit too oomphy with the particular strings I was using. These give a more balanced tone.


I added a new set of ebony bridge pins (and a new ebony endpin) as the set on it was cheesy replacement plastic that was wearing out. The front of the bridge right in front of the saddle had a tiny hairline crack in it, too. That's usually from someone trying to wiggle a saddle out incorrectly. At any rate, I removed the split bit off, re-leveled the front of the bridge, and polished it up again so the Braz rosewood would show itself off nicely.

The saddle is the original but I've height-adjusted it (on the top) and intonated it for the B string. I also filled and re-drilled the pinholes to remove wear and tear to the holes (and give a nice snug seating of the ball-ends). After that I string-ramped behind the saddle to get nicer back-angle and also reduce wear further (since these "ramps" were worn-into the guitar from string wear, anyway, before).






The back shows belt-buckle rash and numerous little scritchy-scratchy. It doesn't hurt the look, in my eyes, but it's there.


While stiff at first, a bit of lube helped these nice old Grover tuners along.






The neck shows a lot of playwear! To me this is good news.


The treble side has more wear and tear including...


...a filled jack-hole at the waist! Weird, but just fine.


I replaced the missing endpin with a new ebony one. Note also the filled (presumably) jack holes over here, too. Aside from that stuff I haven't found a single "crack" to speak of.



A dreadnought (thin) size case comes with the guitar, but isn't ideal. If you're in the market for this, please talk to me about case options.

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