Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Martin 0-16NY

1961 was the year that could be written upside-down and it would still be the same. This was the year that ushered in a new page in American music history called The Folk Era.

Driven by a handful of people that gathered in some Greenwich Village Clubs or on Washington Square carrying old acoustic guitars, banjos and bass fiddles, they interrupted Rock music briefly with strains of Kumbaya and Tom Dooley.

Seriously, there were some excellent musicians from those days that changed music and the world as we knew it. Guitar manufacturers jumped at the chance to produce instruments that would appeal to these folksie folk song types. C.F. Martin was no exception.

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.

Perhaps Joan Baez' and Joni Collins' preference for small bodied Martin 12 fret instruments that caught the eye of Martin designers that served as a basis for the 0-16NY. This guitar was different from other Martins of the day. It was designed for finger picking and it was designed to have the appearance of a pre-war 1898 Martin, which incidently were built in New York.

There was nothing fancy about this guitar. This is noted by the designation "16". The body had a satin finish with no pickguard. The top was solid sitka spruce. The back and sides were solid mahogany. The bridge was a straight piece of rosewood. The mahogany neck bore a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and had very small side markers, but none on the front of the fingerboard. There was one large ring enclosed in two small rings around the soundhold. The perimeter of the top was bound with tortoise shell binding material.

There was no binding on the back or binding material separating the book matched back. The mahogany neck was wider than a size D Martin. The nut was 1 7/8th and nearly as wide as a classic guitar. The scale was 24.9". The headstock was slotted and the overlay was Brazilian rosewood.

The tuners were open with plastic buttons, although some models made toward the end of the run, had solid head stocks. The neck had no volute. The top of the body was braced very lightly with an X bracing and only one tone bar.

These guitars were advertised as being able to handle steel or nylon strings. Most owners string them with very light guage steel string. But after returning 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.


miguelli said...

I own and love this box. It doesn't travel well, but is a beautiful sounding guitar. Singer songwriters preferred it because the output of the instrument never overshadowed their voices. Particularly when the PA systemes were so bad.

Anonymous said...

I got my Martin 0-16NY for my 12th Christmas in 1956 and still ahve and treasure it. It has some battle wonds since I had it in Vietam in 1967-68 and around the world several times. UNlike myself it sounds as good or better now than when I received it.

Of course I like to think that I play better after so many years.

I've had offers to buy it, but it is all I have of my parents and my youth.

Thank you for the history and making my day.

hlg said...

I thought that the 0-16NY was first made in 1961? I have a 1968 in very good condition used exclusively for song writing.

fresh1 said...

Hi Mid-Westerners?:
I bought a 0-16NY new in St. Louis in 1969, loved it for the pure sound and playability. But it got a cracked top when smashed in the trunk of a car on the way to Denver and I ultimately gave it away to a fellow named Paul (I have his last name, but probably shouldn't post it here). I recently found the original receipt with serial number etc. (239680) and would love to know its whereabouts today or even if it still exists. This was a great guitar and I taught myself alot of John Fahey slide blues on it. It's a 12-fret, no pick guard, white plastic pegs, embroidery style rings about the sound hole and very nice action. The top (if it hasn't been replaced) has a poorly repaired crack running from the peg saddle down toward the bottom, on the right side (treble side).
Anybody out there know about this? Guitar was last seen in St. Louis in 1973. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Would anyone know if the design specs for the 0-16 NY changed in the 80's? Specifically, did the nut width on the 1988 become narrower or wider?

safricanplayer said...

Great guitars. I own a '62 and it's simply a superb finger style guitar.

Cameleye said...

My first guitar, I bought an 0-16NY in the late Summer of '61. Today I play a '71, my main guitar and I play daily. Tone to die for, comfort galore, and a funky, good looking box to boot.
Other than the maple to the larger rosewood bridge plate and tortoise to black binding somewhere in late '67, I don't think the 0-16NY has experienced any changes in the specs.
That said, I have seen one with a solid peghead.
This guitar will stay with me 'till long after I can't play anymore, then my son will have it.

Anonymous said...

Joni Collins?

Surely you mean Judy Mitchell!

Dave B said...

I acquired my O-16 NY late in '63. I'm told it was the last O-16 built in the old factory.My girlfriend, at the time, bought it for me in New York. I think that her family ran Terminal Music at the time. I remember wondering if I should spend so much money on a guitar; $112.00 w case, shipped to Bloomington Indiana. It arrived a day or so after Christmas and I fell in love. It has just had a warranty neck reset and general clean-up this last year. After two years not playing due to a broken wrist and more years due to a high action, I'm playing again on a lovely old friend that sounds better now than 50 years ago.

Anonymous said...

Isn't this guitar Ben Howard is playing here?

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