MARTIN | OO18 | 1931 | “Ye Music Shop”
From 1931, this is the 12fret version of the classic OO18. With an Adirondack top and Honduran mahogany back and sides, this was a utility guitar with minimal ornamentation.
Mike Longworth places the production total for this model at 350 for 1931. I particularly like the 18 style, in particular the 12fret OO body shape during the 1930-32 period as they offer a unique sense of aesthetics and features.
The scalloped bracing is forward shifted (that is, 1 inch from the soundhole) and there is a popsicle brace. The bar frets and the ebony truss rod offer a distinct tonal and playing feel. I have found many guitars with these combination of features have superb articulation and response yet great headroom.
Aesthetically, the simple, elegant look appeals to many. The transitional bridge we see started in the 20’s on some 18 style guitars with a slow migration towards a belly bridge which were standard by 1932. The graduated dot as fingerboard markers are in the short 5-7-9 fret pattern vs ‘long’ 5-7-9-12-15 pattern from 1932. The understated wood bindings on this guitar was only continued until 1932.
This particular guitar is all original except for a newer hardcase. It sports the original ebony nut, and ivory saddle and even bar frets all of which are commonly changed or lost over a guitar’s life. It also sports a decal from Ye Music Shop, Sacramento. Although not factory standard it is in an inconspicuous location and may in fact add character to the instrument. The only reference I have been able to find of the shop is an advert in a small town paper called The Gridley Herald in 1927. Hence the decal is likely original to the guitar.
A recent neckset by Frank Ford allows the guitar to play with minimal, comfortable effort. The 1 13/16” nut width allows for a wide variety of styles and the shorter scale length makes stretching less of a chore. It has some finish checking on the top and a small side crack but is otherwise intact and unmolested.
The guitar has matured with an open, dry sound developed over the past 76 years. It has excellent volume and plays with no resistance one often finds in newer guitars.
- 12fret OO
- Year: 1931
- Back & Sides: Honduran Mahogany
- Top: Adirondack spruce
- Top Trim: Line Purfling
- Rosette: Line Purfling
- Finish: Nitrocellulose
- Neck: 1 piece mahogany
- Headstock: Slotted
- Headplate: Rosewood
- Fingerboard: Ebony
- Frets to body: 12
- Bridge: Ebony
- Nut: Ebony
- Nut Width: 1 13/16″ , String Spacing: 2 1/4″
- Tuners: Ivoroid Buttons, 3 on a plate
- Case: Newer Hardcase
Links: Martin Guitars http://mguitars.com
References: Longworth. Martin Guitars A history.
All content, photos ©2008 Terence Tan.
Except recording by Dennis Czech- used with permission
Disclaimer: Guitar is not for sale.