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- Model: D-18
- Year: 1940
- Serial number: 74130
- Top: Adirondack Spruce
- Back and sides: Mahogany
- Neck: Mahogany
- Nut Width: 1 11/16″
- String Spacing: 2 1/8″
- Scale: 25.4″
- Body Length: 19 7/8″
- Lower Bout: 15 5/8″
- Upper Bout: 11 3/8″
- Body Depth: 3 3/4″, 4 3/4″
- Bridge: Ebony
- Binding: Synthetic Tortoise
- Rosette: Ring
- Backstrip: None
- Purfling: Line
This is a very early 1940 prewar D18 that I am well acquianted with. I first saw it in a small London guitar shop. It was clear then that it had a lot of repair work done to it but despite the refinish, replacement bridge and rosewood bridgeplate it still sounded good.
Of note this guitar has some attractive bearclaw on the top and a relatively rare tortoiseshell headstock veneer.
The current owner Steve Broitman has this to say:”1940 Martin D18. Following is a listing of all features, facts, repair history, etc to the absolute best of my ability to determine:
1. SN 74130. This makes it a very early 1940 (about the 60th one produced in 1940), so by any definition it would properly be considered a “pre-war”.
2. Sometime (we believe in the 1960’s) it was sent to the Martin factory for some repair and restoration. The following was performed there at that time:
a. The entire body and the neck were professionally refinished. This is of course unfortunate from the standpoint of its vintage price value – but it does bring the price down considerably from what it would otherwise be appraised at. At least the refinish is extremely high quality as determined by a master luthier in this area, and it looks (for better or for worse) almost like a new guitar. (It was explained to me that the previous owner (now deceased) was a church minister; the guitar was used during church services, and he didn’t want to be disrespectful to the congregation by playing a beat up looking “old” guitar at the pulpit….)
b. At the factory the original bridgeplate was replaced. As customary for that time period Martin replaced the original with a rosewood bridgeplate. Surprisingly, unlike most bridgeplate replacements of that period (which were often large and thick), the dimensions and specs of this replacement are consistent with the original in terms of size, thickness, shape, etc (except it’s rosewood). I looked into having it replaced with a more period correct maple plate, but the luthiers who examined it all said that it was so well installed, stable, intact, and true to the original (regarding dimensions), that replacing it would be inappropriate.
c. There is also a small spruce inlay very carefully installed right behind the bridgeplate that may have been added for reinforcement to the top when the bridgeplate and/or bridge were removed for replacement. It has been carefully examined and I am assured that it is beautifully done work, and the structural stability of the top, and the entire area of the bridge and bridgeplate are beyond question.
d. The bridge is a slightly oversized replacement. We are not sure whether this was also done during that Martin service, but it appears to be high quality and in perfect condition.
3. This guitar also has the unique feature of being one of very few (estimates are ~ 5) original D18’s from that period that were made with a tortoise veneer on the headstock (see photo). This is original as it came from the factory except (possibly from the refinish) some crazing has developed on it.
4. At some point the original pickguard was replaced with a very nice Greven replacement.
5. The bridgepins are replacements of high quality buffalo horn, custom shaped to this bridge.
6. Tuners are all original. At some point there were probably others installed (looks like it may have been Rotomatics from the imprint on the peghead), but it has been confirmed that it currently has all original Grover G98 1940 D18 tuners in perfect condition.
5. There are two thin cracks on the lower side approx 1 inch long. They’ve been professionally sealed and are completely stable. They don’t seem to show up in any of the photos.
6. At some point the neck was reset. The cosmetics are pretty rough (you can see the seam) but it is structurally perfect and solid, and the neck angle is correct. I have the action set on the low side (3/32 under the low E string) and there is still saddle height above the bridge.
7. It comes with a new Martin hardshell wooden case.
8. After obtaining this, I sent it to my luthier for a through inspection, and to have any outstanding issues corrected. The following work was then completed:
a. The neck had some warp, there was too much relief, and the intonation was off. This was corrected with the careful use of a heat press, and a complete refret using compression frets to professionally straighten the neck. It is now perfectly straight, with correct relief, brand new frets, and plays with perfect intonation everywhere with no buzzes at all (actually as good as you would want, but not necessarily get, on a high quality new instrument).
b. There appeared to be some small surface cracks on the back of the peghead, where someone had improperly installed, or tightened the tuners. Upon taking off the tuners it turned out that the crack, although not deep, was structural and so this has also been completely sealed and stabilized.
This instrument is currently for sale, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (302) 654-8306 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (302) 654-8306 end_of_the_skype_highlighting for more info. [disclaimer below]
References: Martin Guitars, a History by Mike Longworth.
Pictures kind courtesy of Steve Broitman.
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