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  #1  
Old 05-02-2019, 10:12 PM
Manbelton Manbelton is offline
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Default 1897 Martin 0-42

A little over two years ago, I had asked the forum for ideas for luthiers in Seattle to help with a vintage Martin. Thanks to Mark Tossman (on a recommendation from someone here on the forum), I finally got around to having some work done last summer. Now, am finally getting around to posting some pics here.

Neck reset and a few minor repairs here and there, and she is looking pretty darn good for 122 years old. Strung up with Thomastik-Infeld John Pearse strings and sounding fantastic too! Beautiful full tone, with a shocking amount of low end for a guitar this small.

Pic of the guitar in the case shows some screws that had unfortunately been installed in the bridge at one point. Mark removed and filled, which you can see in one of the other pics.

Fuzzy picture is of the initials of Fred Martin and the date of production.
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  #2  
Old 05-02-2019, 10:22 PM
383roller 383roller is offline
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Gorgeous. Love that look, I wonder if that was an original dark top or refinished that way? Looks like it turned out great regardless.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:25 PM
Manbelton Manbelton is offline
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Thanks! I've seen pictures of a few "pumpkin top" Martins from that era, so I think that could be the original shade. It does appear to have had a refinish at some point in its history, but it was well done.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:29 PM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Gorgeous guitar.

383roller, the top's color is almost certainly the result of age and exposure to UV rays in the hundred and twenty two years of its existence. For that matter, I don't recall ever seeing any Martin guitars with stained or lacquered dark finishes until the late 1920's. I don't think Martin even offered those as an option until they started to feel the pinch of competition from Gibson during the Jazz Age. This 0-42 was made earlier than that.


whm
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:34 PM
Manbelton Manbelton is offline
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When I'd looked into this a while back, I was surprised to find that there were apparently some darker factory finishes, which seemed to have disappeared around 1900 and then come back in the 20's, as you noted. Here's a bit of what I had found before:

http://www.vintagemartin.com/finishes.html

Still likely darkened over the years as well, as Wade noted.
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Old 05-02-2019, 10:52 PM
Tico Tico is offline
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Wow!
What a treasure!

Thanks for posting.
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:10 PM
Manbelton Manbelton is offline
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I should probably share the story on how I ended up with this guitar, too.

My wife's grandfather was an avid musician and when he passed away about 15 year ago, he had a wide variety of stringed instruments (guitar, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles).

I only met him once when my wife and I were first dating, and when he found out I played guitar, he shuffled to the other room and came back with this guitar and a mandolin, and told me "play something! play anything!" He was in his late 80's at that point but we still jammed a bit that day, me on the guitar and he on the mandolin.

When he passed away a couple years later, my father-in-law inherited the guitar and planned to give it to me some day. My father-in-law, his three siblings and none of my wife or her cousins caught the music bug, so I was the next best to "keep it in the family."

My father-in-law tucked the guitar away, and my wife and I later married and several years went by. When I later purchased a Martin OM-28 a few years ago, my father-in-law saw the guitar and said "A Martin! You know, I've been holding onto my dad's guitar for you all these years - let me dig it out of the closet for you."

Great piece of guitar and family history. Now hopefully one of my kids catches the music bug!
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Old 05-02-2019, 11:27 PM
ataylor ataylor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manbelton View Post
I should probably share the story on how I ended up with this guitar, too.

My wife's grandfather was an avid musician and when he passed away about 15 year ago, he had a wide variety of stringed instruments (guitar, mandolins, banjos, ukuleles).

I only met him once when my wife and I were first dating, and when he found out I played guitar, he shuffled to the other room and came back with this guitar and a mandolin, and told me "play something! play anything!" He was in his late 80's at that point but we still jammed a bit that day, me on the guitar and he on the mandolin.

When he passed away a couple years later, my father-in-law inherited the guitar and planned to give it to me some day. My father-in-law, his three siblings and none of my wife or her cousins caught the music bug, so I was the next best to "keep it in the family."

My father-in-law tucked the guitar away, and my wife and I later married and several years went by. When I later purchased a Martin OM-28 a few years ago, my father-in-law saw the guitar and said "A Martin! You know, I've been holding onto my dad's guitar for you all these years - let me dig it out of the closet for you."

Great piece of guitar and family history. Now hopefully one of my kids catches the music bug!
What a cool story. Sounds like you married into a great family.
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  #9  
Old 05-03-2019, 03:57 AM
Wade Hampton Wade Hampton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manbelton View Post
When I'd looked into this a while back, I was surprised to find that there were apparently some darker factory finishes, which seemed to have disappeared around 1900 and then come back in the 20's, as you noted. Here's a bit of what I had found before:

http://www.vintagemartin.com/finishes.html

Still likely darkened over the years as well, as Wade noted.
I had absolutely no idea that Martin tinted some of their finishes prior to their introduction of shaded tops in the late twenties. Armed with that information, I take back what I wrote about the coloration of the 0-42 in question: it seems obvious now that the shellac or whatever finish was used was, in fact, tinted. Exposure to light over the years has undoubtedly darkened it somewhat, as well, but it started off with a subtle tinge of color to begin with.

Thanks for providing that link, Manbelton. I learned something new, which doesn’t occur all that frequently for me when the subject is old Martins.


Wade Hampton Miller
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  #10  
Old 05-03-2019, 04:39 AM
Parlorman Parlorman is offline
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Lovely guitar and a great story.

The Thomastik Infeld strings sound great on these 19th century Martins.
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Old 05-03-2019, 04:56 AM
Howard Emerson Howard Emerson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manbelton View Post
When I'd looked into this a while back, I was surprised to find that there were apparently some darker factory finishes, which seemed to have disappeared around 1900 and then come back in the 20's, as you noted. Here's a bit of what I had found before:

http://www.vintagemartin.com/finishes.html

Still likely darkened over the years as well, as Wade noted.
You should get directly in touch with my friend, Robert Corwin, whose website Vintagemartin.com you're referencing.

He's always interested in cataloging more examples.

His photography is about as good as it gets.

photos@robertcorwin.com

HE
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Old 05-03-2019, 05:12 AM
Ozark Ozark is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Manbelton View Post
When I later purchased a Martin OM-28 a few years ago, my father-in-law saw the guitar and said "A Martin! You know, I've been holding onto my dad's guitar for you all these years - let me dig it out of the closet for you."!
Isn't this what we all who play a guitar dream of hearing some day, and you lived it. Congrats on a beautiful old treasure.
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Old 05-03-2019, 05:32 AM
beatcomber beatcomber is offline
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Holy cow, what a treasure! And the backstory is just wonderful.
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Old 05-03-2019, 05:47 AM
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Bill Kraus Bill Kraus is offline
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Gorgeous guitar, and the case is pretty nice too, congratulations.
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Old 05-03-2019, 06:37 AM
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Methos1979 Methos1979 is offline
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Oh my! That is just a gorgeous piece of history right there. I would love to own something like that.

Whatever you do, do NOT loan it out to Quentin Tarantino for a movie!!!
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