There are few guitars as simple yet elegant than the C F Martin Style O-18. Nothing fancy, but man, it takes care of the business of making beautiful acoustic music right along side the most legendary small-bodied guitars of the past century.
The Single-O or Concert Sized guitar was a staple of the Martin line from the beginning of recorded serial numbers (that was 1898) and actually from long before then, back in the 19th century. In the year 1953 Martin made 650 of them. By comparison, in that same year they made 675 D-28 guitars. As improbable as it might seem today – 59 years ago the 0-18 was almost as popular as the D-28! Go figure. Players loved the small but oh-so-impressive 0-18. Although some might envision this a smaller body size – but at 13 ½” in width at the lower bout it is considered a full-sized instrument. In fact, in the 1880s, when most people bought parlor sized guitars, this would have been considered a large instrument. It certainly sounds large.
This is a dedicated steel string guitar, having a nut width of 1 11/16th”, and 12th fret fingerboard width of 2 1/16th” and a bridge string spacing of 2 3/16th”. Its body measures 4 3/16th” in depth at the bottom side. This example shows far less than what we would call “normal” signs of use – it is quite remarkably clean. Sure, there are some extremely minor scratches, some of those small indentations known as “dings,” but it is on the whole a healthy old thing and one that you may wish to hold fast to your breast in the classical pose of the full-figured torso in a Renaissance sculpture.
Our workshop has professionally repaired the de riguer pickguard cracks on the bass edge of the teardrop shaped faux-tortoise shell pickguard, and also humidified and glued an insipient seam separation below the center of the bridge. It shows the slightest sign of finish checking. The back is mostly free of what people call “belt buckle marks” except at the very bottom of the back where something caused "pen squiggles." Was it a belt buckle? We cannot know this for sure. We are happy that the back of the neck is nearly free of normal ring dings and scratches (oh sure you might find one or two, but really nothing much is there). This is an extremely well cared for guitar. The headstock, with its Brazilian rosewood overlay, shows only the smallest dings and signs of string changing, but there is a small scratch over the “M” in “Martin.” Tuners are the original individual open-gears with twin filigreed vertical lines on the back of each plate, with nickel-plated metal buttons.
The back of the neck has what we refer to as “the old Martin neck shape” – in an entirely unscientific manner I measured it with a ruler and I think it’s 15/16th” deep at the fifth fret. People of many different finger lengths say that this is “hand filling but extremely comfortable.” Somebody has scratched a number on the top of the back of the headstock, as people did in the 1950s because that’s what the local authorities told them to do. It has six matching (newer) black bridge pins. There is what appears to the eye to be a "scuff" in the finish on the bass side of the top under the 6th string, and another scuff caused by playing wear below the pickguard. There is, as well, some light yet visible pickwear through the finish and into the wood in a very small area of the face at the 4 o’clock position at the soundhole. The heel cap, fingerboard and bridge are Brazilian rosewood, the end graft is tortoise shell colored celluloid and so is the top and back binding; the top is trimmed in thin purfling lines of black-white-black-white; the soundhole is thrice ringed with black and white purfling – the center circle being many layers.
When it came in the playing action was elevated and so, as we speak it is receiving the professional neck reset/refret that many, if not most, older Martins seem to require. The sound quality of this mahogany and spruce six-string Concert Sized celestial confection is simply stupendous! It will sings with a voice of great aural intensity. The lows are thunderous and the highs, they are scintillating. It is both super-fine sounding and effortless playing and takes its rightful place as a fine early 1950s Martin 0-18 guitar – one that will live on in the memory of man as being monumental and/or just plain mental.
This was $4199 at our Discount Price or $3995 at our Cash Discount Price, but it is presently "on hold" for a customer.