SOLD: 1947 Martin 00-18

This is no collector’s item. It’s a scuffed-up old guitar that’s been played vigorously for over seventy years, with lots of honest playwear on the top and plenty of buckle-rash on the back. Everything about it says ‘Play me’. If you like a guitar with that vintage vibe and plenty of mojo, this one’s got it in spades.

The details:
– 1947 Martin 00-18, ser. #98855. Sitka top, mahogany neck, back & sides, Brazilian rosewood fretboard, bridge & headplate.
– Original tuners replaced with Waverlys.
– Weight: 4.0 pounds.
– Older neck reset & refret.
– Nut width (as measured) is 1 21/32″ and the neck thickness (as measured) is .9175″ at the first fret.
– The neck has the period’s C- profile, but surprisingly, the girth at the first fret (4 1/2″) is exactly the same as that of my ’32 0-18 which has a nut 1/16″ wider but a shallower, rounded-V profile. The 00’s neck doesn’t get a lot thicker as it approaches the body and its girth at the ninth fret is 5 7/8″.
– Neck is straight with great playability. Action at 12th fret – 6th string: a hair above 6/64″ (.100”); 1st string: a hair above 4/64″ (.070″), and enough saddle height to lower it a bit if desired.
– At some point, the original fretboard had some cupping at the first three frets that was filled in with some kind of dark filler (ebony or rosewood dust and CA glue?) then smooth-sanded flat (see photo).
– There’s a rectangular patch, 1 3/8″ x 3 1/2″ on the bottom on the treble side of the endgraft where a well-matched piece of mahogany was grafted in (see photo).
– There’s a small, filled hole on the bass side of the heel where a strap button used to be (see photo). A small block of wood was glued to the inside to receive the button’s screw.
– There are a few small finish cracks in the back, but from an internal examination, they don’t go all the way through. Top & sides are crack-free.
– Comes with a new Guardian hard-shell case.

For all its obvious mileage, this Martin box needs nothing. It’s solid, sturdy and ready for another seventy years of full-throated music. Which brings me to this guitar’s Voice.

If I put this guitar next to a pristine 00-18 from 1947 and asked, “Based on looks alone, which guitar is likely to sound better?” most vintage fans would probably say the scuffed-up one. Why? Because if you’re looking for a vintage Martin you know there’s a reason some guitars get played a lot and some don’t.

A great-sounding guitar gets played, and the more it’s played, the better it sounds. This one sounds the way you’d expect from its looks: loud, wide-open and completely alive. Some guitars can sing sweetly like EmmyLou, while others rattle the windows like Pavarotti. This one can do both. If one plays lightly, it responds smoothly. Under a moderate strum, sound leaps out at you, and if you want to dig in, amazingly, it still has headroom.

Its voice is everything a well-played vintage 00-18 should be: big, dry, with great note separation & sustain and that classic woody Martin tone. It sounds simply fantastic.

Click the photos to see larger versions.

Watch a demo video of it here on YouTube:


Contact Jim at:

Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian.

– Herman Melville, Moby Dick

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