The pre-WWII series Martin 000-45 is one of the finest, most collectible and the most expensive guitars the C.F. Martin Company has ever produced.
This series got its start in 1904 as a 12 fret model. The 45 designation means all the bells and whistles, with pearl binding on the neck and body. Abalone trim surrounded the neck where it meets the body and around the body, sides and soundhole.
The headstock was slotted with a flower pot – torch inlaid design. The back and sides were top of the line Brazilian rosewood. The 1 7/8” guitar neck was made of mahogany with snowflake inlay and the fingerboard and bridge were made of ebony wood.
From 1904 to 1931 only 142 of these guitars were built. This made them very rare finds. Starting in the mid 1920’s, Martin started bracing their instruments for steel strings, which included the 000-45. In 1929, Martin replaced the pyramid bridge with the belly bridge. This design allowed for accommodation of the heavier tension of steel strings. It is still in use today.
In 1934, Martin switched the body to a shorter version in which the neck joined at the 14th fret. Most of us envision this version when we think of a Martin triple "0.” These instruments had the same accoutrements as the earlier "45's.” These instruments were braced for steel strings.
Click here to see Roy Rogers' personal 1930's 000-45 Martin with Deluxe trim.
A pre-WWII Martin 000-45 could set you back $125,000 to $130,000. The earlier models are selling in high five-figure range. These guitars are great for any sort of music, but stand out when finger picked.
By reviewing the pictures from the top to the bottom, you can see the evolution of the Martin headstock. Originally it was always a slot head, similar to classical guitars.
Martin used banjo keys to solve this problem.
Some of the early 000-45 14 fret guitars used this method and others used still maintained the slotted headstock.
Later on Martin started using the traditional angled rear mounted tuning keys that we are all used to seeing.
Friday, May 28, 2010
When I was 14 years old I went to see Hendrix play at the Xavier University Field House. The audience had to sit through one of those awful 1970's light shows where some pseudo artiste spills oil on a pane of glass, manuevers the puddle and projects the whole mess on the stage wall using an airport runway light using colored gels.
Finally Hendrix, Mitchell and Redding came on and did a 90 minute set. Hendrix bashed his upside-down Jazzmaster (which he bought that day in Cincinnati at Hughes Music Store) into one of his Marshall amps. But he didn't do much damage.
Later that year I went to see Herman's Hermits play at Cincinnati's Music Hall.
The warm-up band was The Who. Go figure! At the end of the show Townsend butted his guitar into a rented Fender Dual Showman a couple of times ripping the grill cloth..
|Agile Ric Copy|
The guitar appeared to be a Rickenbacker 360, however the plastic logo was missing from the headstock leading me to believe either the nameplate was damaged from a prior bashing or perhaps it was a copy guitar.
Pete did not do too much damage that afternoon. I suppose he was saving his guitar to ruin in a larger city.
My band had some colored floodlights mounted on a 8 foot 2" X 8' board with a rheostat, a pieced together P.A. with Electo Voice speakers and no strobe light. The guy that followed us around would flip the light switch off and on for a pseudo strobe effect
The rich bass player with our rivals band purchased a brand new Hofner bass and a new a Fender Bassman with the large cabinet. At the end of the night this guy would put the Hofner down and pick up an inexpensive Teisco bass guitar. When the band was near the end of their psychedelic song this guy smashed the Teisco to bits, threw the pieces on the ground and walked away. What a drama queen!
If you've recently checked your local Vintage guitar store, those old Harmonys, Kays, Teiscos, Truetones, Cameos, Casinos and others are selling for $200 to $500.
So someone in the guitar biz noticed a need to be fullfilled and has come up with an answer for you Townsend and Hendrix wanna-be's.
Impress audiences with your powerful destructiveness and emphasize your musical passion. Chicks will dig you.
The guitar is aptly named The SMASH. You can order this Telecaster style instrument it in black or white.
The Smash has a "Special Empty Body" so it's light and easy to hurl and creates a beautiful smashing sound on impact. Styled like a Telecaster, the Smash has a maple neck, a rosewood fretboard, dual pickups, and electronics concentrated in the center of the body to minimize dangerous trajectories.
"The guitar will smash with less power than using a normal guitar," the manufacturer declares, ironically adding, "It is not created for the purpose of smashing." Yeah right! I suppose the lawyers wrote that, since it's advertised intended purpose is to smash the thing.
However make sure your roadie picks up all the pieces because this baby is recyclable. Yep! You send the smashed instrument back to K's and they reassemble it for you. The the guitar sells for a mere 60 bucks.
The guitar weighs a mere 2.5 kilograms. Once K's reassembles the guitar they claim it will be given to charity in the Philipines or for a fee they will assemble it and send it back to you to destroy during another set.
Thursday, May 13, 2010
The guiding principle of the company as envisioned by Storbeck, Dritz and Curlee was that the guitar company should build a quality instrument at an affordable price for the user. The company began by building 100 instruments, 75 basses and 25 guitars) for the 1975 NAMM show. These were truly handmade instruments.
Shortly after the 1975 NAMM show, Randy Dritz left the company. Around 1977 the S.D. Curlee’s changed the pickups to DiMarzio “Hot” P-Bass models.
The big problem for the company was the fact that there was only one actual luthier running the company. The other partners were business men. This really put a kink in ramping up production to meet sales demands.
|Denny Rauen today|
He offered to fix a sander that was in need of repair for the company and was offered a job. Within a year and a half he was in charge of the work shop. He was able to upgrade the tool and jig designs to be more efficient.
|1976 Liberty Bell Bass|
This set the trend for Fender, Gibson, Guild, Gretsch and other US based musical instrument manufacturers to outsource production of their lower cost lines overseas.
|SD Curlee guitar|
The surface-mount Badass II models were first made in 1978. Badass bridges that were sunk into the body were first used in 1979. The number of instruments that were actually produced is hard to pin down.
Denny Rauen recalls that the numbers were exaggerated for publicity sake. The monthly output was in the neighborhood of 25 instruments.
The serial numbers on the basses and guitars were somewhat erroneous due to the company’s embellishment of production numbers and the fact that there was a bin of numbered plates that were randomly used, but there was no real record.
Also the control cavities shape was altered. By 1980 the SD Curlee logo was replaced to one that just read Curlee.
They had planned on using poplar and painting the instruments.
Those of us that can remember that era, the 1980’s brought an influx of very well made imported instruments. This was the era of pointy guitars/basses and heavy metal.
These factors plus the changing economics including exorbitant interest rates of the time brought about the demise of SD Curlee guitars and basses. Randy Curlee moved to San Antonio Texas and took with him all the guitar parts from inventory.
Denny Rauen went to work for Dean Guitars and designed the Dean Baby series. He also worked on their multiple radius fingerboards. Lately he has a career as an independent luthier based out of Milwaukee.
Jack Blades of Night Ranger went from using to SD Curlee bass guitars to Hamer bass, which looked amazingly similar to his Curlees. Some of the models were:
Standard 1 (1 P-bass DiMarzio, mahogany body, maple neck, originally equipped with a Gibson like humbucker located near the bridge
Standard 2 (identical to the above but 2 pick ups) Butcher (body made of butcher block maple)
Curbeck (body made of walnut, maple stripes)
Summit (body and neck made of laminated walnut)
C-30 (violin shape, walnut/maple body, maple neck) probably the rarest Curlee bass produced
The Yankee was advertised with three different pick up configurations; 1 P-bass (Yankee I), 2-Pbass (Yankee II) and the rare Yankee II-J including 1 p-bas (bridge)/J-bass (neck).
Most Yankees have a 2 p-bass pick-up set up (Yankee II). The basses were available as fretless instruments.
As we progressed into the 1980's guitar designers were thinking of new ways to increase sales. Natural wood instruments were no longer in vogue.
The popular guitars and basses were now made with heavily coated polyesther finishes in flashy finishes. You could barely tell if they had any wood in the body. Some were even made with resin bodies and necks.
For much more information visit SD Curlee USA.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
The following is part of the transcript from the Antiques Roadshow web site:
APPRAISER: Have you had the guitar appraised, have you had it evaluated?
GUEST: Yeah, years ago, in the early '90s. They appraised it from pictures that I sent off, and they said around $10,000. And they were interested in buying it if I wanted to sell it, which seemed unusual.
APPRAISER: You didn't sell it. Well, that's probably a good thing.
It's a 42 style. 42 means that it has the pearl around the body. It doesn't have the pearl around the back and sides. It's also called the 000. That's the body size. This guitar was made in 1941. 1942 was the World War. They quit making fancy things for a while. So 1942 was the last year that they made this model. They did make a fancier model. They made a 000-45. But, for some reason, the 000-42 has become the rarest and hardest to find of the pearl guitars. It was kind of the poor man's pearl guitar. It was an inexpensive guitar from day one, but it only had the pearl on the front.
The tuners that they used back in the '30s, which was kind of the golden era of Martin guitars, weren't available during the war, so they used a lower grade tuner.
The fact that it has these lower grade tuners and somebody didn't go back later and put more expensive tuners on it is really a good thing, because that preserves the originality of the guitar. I'm going to go back to the front of the guitar. It has an ebony bridge and ebony fretboard that's bound in ivoroid. This is the nicest example of this guitar I have seen.
I did a little research on this guitar. One thing not mentioned is the headstock is overlaid with Brazilian rosewood. The quality of the workmanship is superb.
The wood on these older models has aged well. Some of the models from these years may have used actual ivory for binding material.
The headstock was overlaid in rosewood.
The tuners were made by Waverly; Nickel with Ivoroid butterbean knobs.
The guitar had abalone inlay on the body and ivoroid trim. Unlike the 1940's models, this guitar had trim on the back of the body and an ivoroid stripe down the middle of the back.
The snowflake position marker were deluxe and the headstock featured an exquisite design. I believe this was a limited edition of 250 guitars. They were hand signed by Clapton. The action was set high from the factory, but perhaps this is due to Clapton's preference.
This guitar is similar to the newer models; however the back is Indian rosewood and the top is sitka spruce. The binding is a material called Bolatron and is black and white. The neck is bound in white ivoroid.
The nut is real bone as is the compensated bridge saddle. The fingerboard is black ebony with snowflake markers (all of these instruments feature snowflake markers unless otherwise specified). The tortoise shell pickguard is beveled.
Like all the aforementioned 000-42's this guitar had 20 frets, joining the body at the 14th fret.
Like older Martins there is no paper label. The model number was burnt into the back center woodstrip and on the neck block.
Thursday, May 6, 2010
|Martin 0-21 NY and 0-16 NY|
This same year two new Martins were introduced; The O-16NY and the 00-21. These guitars hold the distinction of being the first vintage re-issues of a guitar. By 1961 the popular Martins were series D guitars.
my 0-16NY to the factory twice I was told by a Martin representative, this guitar was very lightly braced and actually designed to use silk and steel strings. Remember, these guitars did not have a truss rod. The 0-16NY was manufactured up through the early 1990's.
I have a Martin cataloge that shows the last 0-16NY and by that time the slot head was gone.
Here is a 1992 Martin 0-16NY. Look closely at the wonderful straight grain in the wood. It is a beautiful instrument.