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Old 03-22-2017, 09:43 AM
EPiC Audio EPiC Audio is offline
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Default *SOLD* 1935 Martin F-7 Archtop - Collectors Dream - All Original

Guitar has been sold - 1935 Martin F-7 Archtop, This extremely rare, museum quality archtop guitar is one of the few remaining, all original F-7s in existence. It is in excellent condition, plays well and sounds great. This guitar is truly a superb example of prewar, golden-era Martin craftsmanship.


The Guitar: This is a 1935 C.F. Martin F-7 Archtop guitar with its original hard shell case. It is 100% original, down to its nitro lacquer sunburst finish, frets and pickguard. It has not had any repairs, rework or finish overspray. The back and sides are made of the highly coveted, prewar Brazilian rosewood. The bound, hand-carved top is Adirondack spruce. The neck is one piece mahogany. The body width is 16”, body depth is 4.125”, scale length is 25” and it has a polished 1.75” bone nut. The ivoroid bound fingerboard is ebony with large mother of pearl hexagon inlays and has two additional ivoroid vertical lines extending the length of the fingerboard. The headstock has the (first appearance) vertical C.F. Martin logo in mother of pearl. The Grover trapeze tailpiece contains the Martin logo and is stamped GROVER PAT. APPL’D FOR. The tuners are open back Grovers. The two piece bridge is ebony. The pickguard is tortoise. All the binding is tight to the body and neck.
There are a few minor cosmetic cracks in the back. According to Martin, they would be straight forward to repair but I prefer to preserve the guitar as is. There is also one small ‘ding’ in the top where it looks like the case closed on the guitar. Outside of that the guitar is extremely clean with virtually no finish checking, belt scratches, pick, thumb, fingerboard marks… The neck is in exceptional shape with a great angle allowing for a low, smooth action. The original frets are worn but still play well. The slightly V’d neck (perhaps my favorite feature) feels great and makes the guitar very easy to play.

The Sound: If you’ve read this far I hope you will appreciate the following: The tone is different enough with a pick verse finger picking that I will describe them separately. I realize a pick verse finger picking always sounds different but in this case the tone changes enough that it deserves to be described individually.

With a pick: The guitar projects very well and tonal sounds somewhere between a Martin Dreadnought and OM-Series. The presence and clarity are excellent with substantial sustain. It reminds me of Eddie Lang’s tone. The highs are musical with a round woodenness and no metallic edginess. The midrange is smooth with the tonal quality of ringing chimes and is supported by focused, clear lows with warm sustain.

Finger Picking: The sound is very sweet, warm and even, reminiscent of an acoustic Gibson L-5, making this (as designed) an ideal guitar for Jazz. The sustain is smooth and carries as a true vintage tone (like the cool music of the 1930’s and 1940’s or Wes Montgomery when he’s playing slow and mellow). The highs are extremely round, full, wooden, singing and wonderful. The midrange softens (compared to using a pick) and has the tonal quality of large bells ringing in the distance. The lows have a rich base with mellow sustain and maintain individual clarity.

The Story: I have owned this guitar for a while. About a year ago I emailed Chris Martin IV (Chairman and CEO of C. F. Martin), as we have met in the past, and offered this guitar to Martin for their museum (worth visiting if you have the chance, take the factory tour as well). Since Martin already has an F-7, albeit in worse condition than this one, in their museum a deal could not be reached. The only interest was to buy the guitar to convert it to a flattop. Eventually Martin offered to do the conversion for me. I wanted to pursue having the conversion done so I brought the guitar to Dave Doll (Manager of the Custom Repair Shop at Martin, check out his informative Youtube Martin video series). After Dave evaluated the guitar and determined it was all original and one of, if not the best condition F-7 he has seen (and he has seen most of them), he said “my job is to talk you out of converting this guitar.” He recommended preserving the guitar due to its rarity, historic value and condition. He went on to say the guitar is easily worth $9k to $10k.

The F-7 History: In 1930 C.F. Martin was the premier flattop guitar manufacturer. However, they were not competing in the growing archtop guitar market. To address this Martin began manufacturing Archtop guitars in 1931, beginning with the C-series. The C-series was followed by the top of the line F-series (Models: F-7 and F-9) archtops in 1935. Martin produced a total of 72 F-9s and 187 F-7s from 1935 to 1942; 91 F-7s were manufactured in 1935. The F-series was designed to compete against the popular Gibson archtops. As an enhancement, the F-series was given a larger body width of 16” and a depth almost an inch greater than the Gibson L-5. As a predecessor to the production of the legendary Martin D-45 the F-series was the first to incorporate the vertical C.F. Martin logo inlay on the headstock as well as hexagon inlays on the fingerboard.
Decades later these rare F-series guitars, thanks to Matt Umanov (of the famed Matt Umanov Guitars) and iconic artist David Bromberg, become highly sought after for converting to flattops. According to Matt the idea to convert an F-series stared with a conversion done in the mid 1960s by guitar store owner Marc Silber. He obtained an F-series guitar with a broken top and had it converted to a flattop. This seemed like a good idea since the F-series was pretty much the same shape as the 14 fret 000s but with a 16” body. A few years later Matt converted an F-series for David Bromberg. As Bromberg’s ‘conversion’ guitar gained notoriety, many players searched out F-series guitars to have them converted to flattops. The popularity of these conversions led Martin to producing the M-38 model (OOOO size) based on David Bromberg’s guitar.
It has been estimated that 80% of all 259 F-Series guitars produced have been converted to flattops. (Surprisingly, the last time I was at the Martin factory a few months ago they were in the process of converting two F-7s to flattops). This combined with the approximately 10% of guitars destroyed over time would only leave about 25 (around 18 model F-7s and 7 model F-9s) original F-Series guitars in existence, and even fewer in excellent shape. Due to the limited production (187 Model F-7 and 72 Model F-9) of the F-series archtops and their popularity for conversions they have become one of the rarest of Martin production guitars and considered one of the crown jewels by collectors.

Last edited by EPiC Audio; 04-21-2017 at 12:12 PM. Reason: Guitar has been sold
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archtop, f series, f-7, martin

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