Sunday, May 30, 2010

C.F. Martin Pre-WWII 000-45

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.

Martin also had special order 000-45’s with fancy inlaid pickguards and gold-plated engraved tuners with mother of pearl buttons. This became known as the “Deluxe” trim.

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. 

When Martin transitioned to a solid headstock, the thought was that tuning keys sticking out at angles would be unusual, since everyone was used to the side mounted tuners.  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.

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