1939 Martin 0-17 Flattop Guitar

Prewar Martins are nice guitars -- it's a fact. Still, my favorite ones have all been mahogany-top (or koa-top) models. The stiffer top with the lightweight bracing means they survive in a much more stable shape than their spruce-topped brothers and sisters... and can generally handle 54w-12 gauges without complaint.

This one's owned by a buddy and he sent it up here to get a refret (with medium stock), new tuners (it had '50s Kluson wafflebacks on it), a bridge reglue, and a setup. Now that it's been spruced-up it's a real cannon of a guitar. It's loud, forward, punchy, and bright... in a velvety way, I suppose. You can keep digging into it and it won't max-out.

After deliberation, we went with dollar-heavy Waverly relic tuners that more or less match what would've been originally on the guitar. They look, work, and feel great. Like all modern Waverlies, they feel a bit stiff but they're accurate and worry-free.

This guitar has had a checkered past, though -- when it was purchased originally by the current owner the heel was split in two pieces, the headstock was broken, and it had all sorts of other bits of damage. A previous repairman did a beautiful job putting all that back together and, it seems, made a nice new repro bridge for it with a drop-in (thank you, you logical, forward-thinking repairman!) saddle slot. There are patches of overspray here and there but the original finish is extant throughout and under the overspray.

Repairs included: a board plane and refret, new tuners, and minor setup work.

Setup notes: it plays perfectly with 3/32" EA and 1/16" DGBE action at the 12th fret. The neck is straight (actually with minor backbow in frets 1-2 that I had to work around) and it's strung with 54w-12 gauges.

Scale length: 24 7/8"
Nut width: 1 11/16"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2 5/16"
Body length: 18 1/8"
Lower bout width: 13 1/2"
Waist width: 8"
Upper bout width: 9 7/8"
Side depth at endpin: 4 1/4"
Top wood: solid mahogany
Back/sides wood: solid mahogany
Bracing type: x
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: rosewood
Neck feel: slim-medium C (up the neck: bigger C), 12" board radius

I swapped-in some old pins at the bridge because it had a mismatched set of other old pins. Those are in the case, now.

Nice looking machines, huh? The relic/aged looks is great but it's interesting that the brass oranged-up so much. I expect a couple years of sitting will darken it a bit.


Rob Gardner said…
Boy, what a great sounding little beauty this guy is. You can see why they are so popular in the Americana world of music.
Scott said…
I don't think there's anything better looking than aged mahogany, especially on a Martin guitar.