6/11/2016

1947 Martin 0-17 Flattop Guitar





I worked on this guitar for a consignor, and like other old Martin mahogany-topped guitars, it has that mids-oriented, creamy sound that absolutely suits fingerpicking and absorbs heavy flatpicking without becoming too aggressive or distorted when driven. They make good "folk guitars," as it were -- and everyone knows a bit of chocolate is good for you.

The serial dates this to '47 and it has the bigger, C-shaped neck profile you might expect of a postwar/early '50s Martin. It's -- shall we say -- substantial... and would be a very familiar "grab" to players of mid-late '40s Gibsons, too. After work it plays spot-on at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret, strung with standard-issue "12s." The neck gains a tiny, nearly negligible backbow in frets 1-2 with less tension so those or slightly heavier would be ideal. The neck can easily take it.


While the finish, tuners, and endpin are original, the bridge is a replacement (Brazilian rosewood, by the looks of it) and there's a swapped bridge plate in the manner of '70s, thin-rosewood-plate Martins. The neck had been reset when it came in and I knocked the angle back a bit more and re-centered the string path at the same time.


Original ebony nut with 1 11/16" width... and a nice rosewood headstock veneer. The original Kluson tuners are also holding-up nicely, though the original buttons are always a gamble over the years (they tend to break down over time).


The board is Brazilian rosewood with a 14" radius and ivoroid dots. I'm not entirely sure if the frets are original but I believe they are. They got a level/dress, anyhow, and the neck is nice and straight.


Note the tiny hairline/stress crack next to the bass side of the fretboard extension -- nothing to worry about, but I like to be precise.


The original pickguard is still lookin' fine.


This replacement bridge was a little crude, before. There are filled holes where pearl dots were on the wings and I filled/relocated/redrilled the pin-holes as the neck was set off-center beforehand. I then lightly-sanded and polished-up the bridge and made a new bone saddle (obnoxiously, the previous replacement saddle was actually glued into that big slot -- grr).

Note that behind the bridge there's a 1/2" (repaired) hairline crack and in front of it near the low E there's a repaired chip-out of the top wood. To my thinking, the replaced bridge plate and wider, bigger, belly bridge suggest that the old bridge pulled up and perhaps damaged the top a little under it. The repairs are sound and it holds-up, however, perfectly. As for "belly," there's just a tiny bit -- as normal for an older flattop.


As you can see, it's got a nice tall saddle on it.


Style 17 of these years, with its simple unbound edges, looks great to me.




The original Kluson tuners work nicely.



It looks like the neck got a bump at some point because there's finish disturbance checking/finish cracks (no real cracks, however) on the back showing around the outline of the neck block. After taking pics, I blended this in  better, but wanted to show it for completeness' sake.








While the original bridge pins were pretty shot, the original endpin is quite functional.

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