7/12/2018

1948 Martin 0-15 Flattop Guitar




Old mahogany-top Martins are heart-pulling guitars. They're my favorites out of Nazareth on either side of a '52 or '53 00-18. This one came in via a customer who'd rescued it from an antique shop's obscurity and wanted it spruced-up for himself. Unfortunately, quiet times on the work-front mean it's going to be up for sale.

This is perhaps the cleanest '40s 0-17 I've had through the shop. Its one crack is a tiny, 1/2" think on the side near the endblock and it's stable and repaired. Aside from that, the only "damage" to the guitar was a split original bridge, dilapidated tuner buttons, and a need for new pins all-around. It also has a few light scratches and scuffs from use-wear but really -- it's hard to find one of these boxes anywhere near so clean as this one and I attribute that to the fact that it's resided in its original leopard-ish-print Geib chip case its whole life.

Work included a neck reset, fret level/dress, new tuner buttons, new ebony pins, and cutting and installing a new bridge. The new bridge is close to the same dimensions as the old one but the owner and I decided on a drop-in saddle slot rather than slotted like the original (as the original blew-out its front wall like so many drop-in saddle bridges wind-up). Martin had installed the bridge in a slightly wrong location for the saddle slot anyway, so my new one is about 1/32" wider in the endblock-to-neckblock direction so I could give the saddle some more deck space.

It's turned-out a stunner of a little guitar with that creamy, velvety, mids-forward, clean mahogany Martin vibe in spades. It makes an ace fingerpicker but it flatpicks quite well, too -- just listen to the clip above! It's punchy and sweet. I like.

The neck is straight, the frets have plenty of life left, and the action is set at 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE at the 12th fret with plenty of room to lower the saddle if need be. Strings are gauged in a balanced 54w, 40w, 30w, 22w, 16, 12 set but it'd take regular 54w-12 "lights" just fine.

Specs are: 24 7/8" sale, 1 11/16" nut width, 1 1/2" string spacing at the nut, 2 1/4" spacing at the bridge, 13 1/2" lower bout, 10 1/4" upper bout, and 4 1/4" side depth. The neck has a mild-to-medium, full-feeling C-shape to it.

Woods are: solid mahogany, x-braced top, solid mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck, and Brazilian rosewood fretboard. The bridge is made from some sort of more-obscure rosewood-family species that I can't quite remember (it was from my wood stash), but its grain fits the vibe I was looking for to use on this guitar.



The original ebony nut is still in service. I've matched it with ebony bridge pins and an ebony endpin and new, black, StewMac-issue tuner buttons.




Gosh, don't you love the look of those red-tortoise pickguards? They're my favorites of any guards used on old Martins.







The oversize Kluson tuners work just fine, thankfully -- as it's awfully hard to find an original if they go belly-up.










Here's that tiny little 1/2" crack repair on the side near the endblock.



The original Geib case is still in fine shape and... it's... leopard-print!




The original bridge comes with the guitar -- stashed in the case.

2 comments:

Robert Gardner said...

What a beautiful little guitar. I think this is the model that Aoife O'Donovan plays (but hers is from 1934). Any single O Martin is going to be a special guitar but the mahogany topped models are particularly sweet. And in great shape too. The leopard-skin case is the best. I think this guitar is worth a visit for sure.

Jake Wildwood said...

Definitely, Rob!!!

I have to re-record that soundclip, though, it's all woof-city. Oops!