2/28/2018

2014 Martin 0-15 Custom Flattop Guitar




The "custom" bit of this 0-15 model from 2014 is that, unlike the standard production model 0-15, it has a 1 3/4" nut width and vintage-correct 24.9" scale length. Apparently, Martin builds their newer 0 and 00s with long 25.4" scale. No wonder they don't sound right to me! I'm so used to '40s and '50s mahogany-topped Martins that I didn't even think they'd move them to long scale for their new ones.

I mean, part of what makes hog-topped old Martins so "velvet" and fundamental in the lower-mids is that they have a shorter, more Gibson-ish scale length. I've always scratched my head at why the newer ones sound brighter and punchier. Well, duh! If you put an OM's scale on a little hog Martin, there you go.

Anyhow, this model rectifies that and despite other design changes (simplified bracing, different neck joint, thicker build overall, etc.) compared to an original 0-15 or 0-17, it still manages to capture a lot of the magic of the old ones. It has sweet, mellow highs, a clean and warm low-end, and bursting lower-mids. It's not as open and airy as an old guitar, but I'm still pretty impressed.

This came in via consignment from its second owner, who picked it up in trade. It's lightly-played and aside from a few minor nicks on the knee-side side/top seam, one little scrape near that, and the natural "buffing" of the finish from arm and picking-hand movements, it's in "excellent/shopworn" shape. The frets in the 1-5 area had minor pitting and so I gave the frets a very light level/dress and then set it up. It's on-the-dot playability-wise with a straight neck, working truss, good-height saddle, and 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The strings are new (supplied by the owner) and feel like 52w-11 "custom lights."


It's a pretty guitar -- the solid mahogany top/body has a good, ruddy glow to it and the satin finish suits it. Decorative touches are spare -- just the pickguard, rosette, and small "flake" inlays spiff it up.


It's right on target, size-wise, for an 0-size guitar -- 13 3/8" on the lower bout and with a 4 1/4" depth at the endblock.


Build quality is crisp and well-executed on this one. The nut and saddle are bone and the tuners are nice, 18:1 Grover Sta-Tites.

The 1 3/4" nut width, mild radius to the board, and slim, C-shaped rear neck profile give this fast playability but a more vintage-ish string spread which makes it easy-peasy for fingerpicking.





The bridge pins and endpin are all ebony, which is a nice upgrade vs. plastic.








Here's that little scratch/scuff on the treble-side upper-bout side.


The above pic is to show the "buffed-up" areas on the top in the glare. This happens to every satin-finished Martin as they're played.




It comes with its original, hard, arched-top case and an assortment of original hang tags and sales material. This sold, I think, for around $1,500 when it was brand new.

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