4/07/2016

1956 Martin 00-18 Flattop Guitar




A consignor sent this to me for work and resale -- and it's a beaut. I wish the weather were nicer outside as good sunlight would really pop the wood on this. The serial places this at '56 and it has all the good stuff from mid-50s 18-series Martins including a comfortable, mid-size soft-V neck profile, red tortoise binding, a fairly light build, and a boat-load of volume, punch and clarity that would make any flatpicker quite happy.

It's original save a few replacement ferrules (same type, from my parts-bins), a new bone saddle, and new ebony pins all-around. Work included a neck reset, bridge reglue, the mentioned new saddle, a fret level/dress, and a pickguard-edge hairline crack repair on the top. It plays perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret and a good, tall saddle. It's strung with 12s-comparable balanced-tension strings and has a nice, straight neck under tension.



While there's weather-check to the finish, the condition overall is quite good. There's no overspray or touch-ups and it has that charming, yellowed-in look to the top.


There were 3 replacement tuner ferrules on this when it came in but I replaced them with original-style ones from my parts-bin. The headstock veneer is very, very clean and -- of course -- Brazilian rosewood like the board and bridge.

Nut width is 1 11/16" and the board has a light radius close-enough to 14" or so.


The frets are original and, after a level/dress, still have plenty of life left.



There are two minor hairline cracks next to the fretboard extension -- presumably from dryness at some point. They're both stable, filled, and run right over the "popsicle brace" under the fretboard extension, anyhow.


Nice pickguard, huh?


The original bridge had been reglued in the past, though the job wasn't very good. I took it up and reglued it and then fit a new saddle (the original had been shaved to the deck). There are very, very faint traces of masking-tape lines (I'm guessing?) around the outline of the bridge. I can't even get a photo of it.

I'm guessing just a little bit of moisture was trapped under the tape when the bridge was glued the previous time. Don't be afraid: I doubt you could even see it if you were looking -- I just mention it because one notices these things when staring at the bridge area for a half-hour or so, sanding a bit here and there to make a good gluing surface.


As you can see, it now has a good, tall saddle like "them bluegrassers" like to see. I've compensated it, too, and added a fresh set of ebony pins to replace the replacement (junky) black pins that were on it.


I love the look of the red tortoise binding from this period.


This small pickguard-crack is cleated, filled, and sealed -- good to go. As usual, however, there's a tiny amount of concave "dishing" in the top from the way the pickguard's glue effects it.





The back and sides look gorgeous. There's not much wear on the finish and the mahogany is that even, straight-grained stuff that you expect from a Martin.


The tuners are lubed and work well. The G-string knob's shaft is ever so slightly bent.







Again... I love htat tortoise!

At both waist-sides, the steepest part of the curve shows some very slight raised grain against the finish, though there are no cracks. You can see in the photo that it barely, if at all, registers except to someone like me who's going over this inch-by-inch.






At the moment, a period-ish chip case comes with it (it came in a junky 70s one), though I have a few spare (oversize) hard cases that could be padded to fit if desired.

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