5/07/2016

1950 Martin 0-18 Flattop Guitar




Update: This guitar just came in for consignment and so I've updated the pictures to current (Oct 2016) ones, added a soundclip, and expanded on the original post where necessary. The biggest change has been the addition of a K&K 3-sensor pickup (what they used to call the Pure Western) which sounds excellent in-service.

This 1950 0-18 was one of today's "while you wait" project, and it received a fret level/dress, saddle and nut adjustments, new ebony pins all-around, and a set of parts-bin 40s Kluson tuners installed to replace some aftermarket sealed Schallers that had been installed at some point in the past.

Let's congratulate the owner on this recent find of his: this box's body is crack-free, has a great neck angle, and is played-in just-so to give it a warm, breathy, comfortable tone. It sounds excellent and has more girth in its tone than I expect from the average 0-18. I'm fairly-sure someone gave this a neck reset in the past and replaced the saddle, pins, and pickguard at the same time. Either way -- it plays spot-on, now, and with gusto.

Update, here: I've recently cleaned-up some funky old divots in the front of the bridge, cut a new bone (compensated) saddle, and set it up again. It's playing 1/16" DGBE and 3/32" EA at the 12th fret with a set of 12s on it -- perfectly! -- and the neck is straight.


One can't help but love buttery spruce over cinnamon mahogany,


The orangey-brown rosewood on the headstock veneer is good-looking sutff, too. The nut is, I'm sure, a replacement -- but made from good-quality bone.

Note the one "off" shaft (slotted) -- more on the cobbled-together tuners, later.


The board is Brazilian rosewood and has pearl dots and side dots. The frets are original and have some meat left for further level/dress jobs.



While the pickguard is a replacement, its red color isn't too-far-off from what you might see on an early '50s Martin. Check out all the cool soundhole pickwear, too!


The original, Brazilian, bridge has one small, thin-depth hairline crack (filled, tight) along the line of the (new, ebony) pins, a replacement bone saddle (this comes with a taller, older Micarta saddle, too), and some funkily-filled little "slots" in front of the saddle. Those "slots" were, presumably, from when someone filed-down the bridge to lower the action.

The decent saddle height suggests that this got a neck reset in the past.


This has tortoise binding, though the stuff is fairly dark on this guitar.




The story on these tuners is that the top 4 are all from one set in my bins while the bottom two I hacked out of scrapped 3-on-a-plate Klusons of the same/similar vintage, recutting the tops quickly to match the profile of the other Klusons "close-enough." These then all got a new set of black buttons.

They don't 100% match the outlines of the long-gone original, large-plate Kluson tuners, but they do lighten up the headstock by what feels like 2/3 vs. the eyesore-inducing sealed Schallers that were on here before.


Another small victory for parts-sourcing, by the way, is shown here in the form of StewMac repro strap buttons in "Gibson style." I've always preferred the look and style of these buttons as they match the aesthetics of old guitars better. I was very happy to see these pop up in StewMac's selection of new bits.

I installed this one per the owner's request.






While the finish shows average use-wear (especially on the back), it does gleam and looks good.



Here's the jack for the K&K pickup.




A slightly-oversized old hard case comes with it.


Don't you love those stickers?

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