1954 Martin 0-18T Tenor Guitar




Ya know, too many nice '50s Martins around at one time is a bit painful for the soul. I think the 0-18T models are among the best production flattop tenor guitars made -- right from their '30s introduction through the '70s when they petered-out. The smaller "size 5" Martin tenors are excellent guitars in their own right, with a "baritone uke-plus" body shape, but these "squashed-0-size" tenors are where it's at as far as adaptability is concerned. More airspace, more low-end, more volume, more punch! They sound good in any typical tenor tuning but excel at the well-loved "Celtic" octave-mandolin GDAE tuning, which is how I have it strung/tuned at the moment.

This particular 0-18T has been played hard, judging by the amount of washboard-style pickwear at the upper bout and soundhole. It also has tons of usewear throughout -- scratches all over, small nicks and dings, and whatnot. There are a few cracks (pictured) repaired as well and overall it has a look that says, "I was loved!" These are the types of guitars that routinely sound superlative, and this one does -- it's louder and punchier than the average 0-18T and responds on a dime. It might be the year, though, too -- my favorite Martins tend to be from '53 but '52 and '54 builds are often magic as well.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, bridge reglue, recut of the saddle slot to a "faux-through-slot" (I deepened it so it's now a drop-in but has a faux-through-look saddle in it), new saddle, crack repairs (re-repair of a hairline split across the endblock and cleats for the pickguard crack below the soundhole), cleaning, and setup.

Setup notes: it plays perfectly with quick 1/16" action height overall at the 12th fret and a straight neck. String gauges are 40w, 30w, 18w, 12 for GDAE (octave mandolin) stringing. It'll restring with 32w, 20w, 13, 9 gauges for CGDA no problem but I will need to lightly re-compensate the saddle for DGBE (Chicago) strings/tuning. The saddle has good height.

Scale length: 23"
Nut width: 1 1/4"
String spacing at nut: 1"
String spacing at bridge: 1 3/8"
Body length: 17 1/8"
Lower bout width: 13 1/2"
Waist width: 8 5/8"
Upper bout width: 9 7/8"
Side depth at endpin: 4 1/8"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back & sides wood: solid mahogany
Bracing type: x-braced
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: rosewood, bone saddle
Neck feel: medium soft C/V shape, flat board
Neck wood: mahogany

Condition notes: oh, my -- everything but the bridge pins, saddle, and endpin is original to the instrument. The finish is glorious and aged-in but it's heavily-worn. There are scratches all over and there's a lot of pickwear on the upper bout and below the soundhole. There's a repaired pickguard hairline crack (uneven surface, though) below the soundhole and a repaired neck-block-split/hairline crack in the sides at the endpin area. The finish has loads of weather-check and rubbing around the edges. This guy was played and it looks it. The pickguard has a slightly raised edge (very shallow) on its lower portion, though I reglued any bits I needed to.

It comes with: a ratty old chip case that serves for storage or light use.



















These odd old aluminum endpins can be found on guitars from the '50s from a variety of makers. I'm guessing they were a replacement part at guitar shops.


Here's some glare so you can see the repaired cracks near the endpin better.


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