1869-1887 Martin 1-21. Guitar Database.

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1869-1887 Martin 1-28 guitar 1869-1887 Martin 1-28 guitar

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Name: Martin
Location: Nazereth, PA

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1869-1887 Martin 1-28 guitar


  • Model: 1-21 style
  • Type: 1 parlor
  • Year: 1869-1887
  • Top:  Red spruce
  • Back and sides: Brazilian rosewood
  • Neck: Cedar
  • Total length: 37 3/4
  • Body length: 18 7/8
  • Upper bout: 9 1/4
  • Lower bout 12 3/4
  • Depth upper bout: 3 3/8
  • Depth lower bout: 4 3/16
  • Bridge:Ebony
  • Binding: Rosewood
  • Rosette: Herringbone
  • Backstrip: Herringbone
  • Purfling: Line
  • Headstock: Rosewood
  • Scale Length: 24.9”
  • Nut width: 1 7/8”
  • Twelfth fret width:2 5/16”

1869-1887 Martin 1-28 guitar

This is an example of a 19th century 21 style guitar with the Spruce/Brazilian rosewood tonewoods, cedar neck, line purfling, herringbone rosette and backstrip. The Brazilian has nice spiderwebbing and it is in a reasonable state of repair with filled top cracks being the most obvious repairs. In it’s favor, it does boast the original wooden coffin style case!

1869-1887 Martin 1-28 guitar

The prior owner Randy Cole has this to say about this guitar “This fine mid to late 19th Century Martin is in uncommonly nice condition. The instrument has been recently gone over by the noted luthier Sylvain Courcelles, and is in great playing order, and sounds absolutely breathtaking. A few repairs were made, most notably, two cracks were cleated and filled on the lower bout of the guitar’s top, a few minor cracks in the Brazilian rosewood were properly repaired, and the original ebony pyramid bridge was properly reinstalled.

1869-1887 Martin 1-28 guitar

The guitar is in its original condition, with a impressively well preserved interior (looks like a 20 year old instrument on the inside), and beautiful original hand applied varnish, which is in excellent condition.

This instrument had principally one owner for the first 70 plus years of its life, the gentleman passed away in 1949 at the age of 87. I actually have a photo of the original owner with dates and cemetery location, which I will include with the guitar. The instrument was un-played from approximately 1940, due to the original owner’s declining health, and to a lifted bridge.

When I acquired the guitar, it was safely stowed in its original coffin case, with a set of strings on it that could be no newer than the late 30’s. Strings have unusual spiral wrapped ‘ball’ stops at the bridge end. More such strings were stowed in the case, and are included in this sale.

According to my edition of Philip Gura’s ‘C.F. Martin and His Guitars’, this instrument was made after 1869, when the herringbone sound hole ring became more intricate in design.

1869-1887 Martin 1-28 guitar

The herringbone perfling is set between two groups of five rings rather than two groups of three rings as was the first version of the style 21, which was introduced in 1860.

I believe I have identified the ring pattern correctly, I welcome comments. The instrument is branded C.F. Martin & Co. New York, which indicates that it was made prior to Frank Henry Martin’s takeover of the company in 1888, at which time the branding was changed to Nazareth PA.

The guitar sounds just fabulous. It is dark, dark, dark, as well as extremely sensitive and loud.  Very rich voice on this little one. Action is a touch high, but there is plenty of bridge and saddle to adjust.  Intonation is excellent at the 12th fret. Neck angle at heel is correct, and the top shows almost no distortion. Neck is remarkably comfortable, with a very gentle, low profile shape. It should be noted that the marks on the back of the neck are cosmetic only, these are surface depressions in the wood, not signs of any repair or modification.”

1869-1887 Martin 1-28 guitar

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Pictures kind courtesy of Randy Cole see more here

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