Martin Flat Top Body Sizes

Martin Flat Top Body Sizes

“Size” is the body size designation that Martin uses, as stamped inside the guitar on the neck block starting in October 1930. All measurements are in inches. “Frets” represents the frets clear of the body. “Introduced” was the year of introduction. All sizes are in inches.

Size   Frets   Width     Depth    Body Len   Tot Len   Year Introduced
----   -----   -----     -----    -------    ------    --------------
1/4    12      6 3/16    2 7/8    12                   (early version)
1/4    12      8 15/16   3 9/16   12 1/16              (later version)
1/2    12      10 1/8    3 3/8    15 1/16
7      12      13 11/16  4 3/8    17 1/2
5      12      11 1/4    3 7/8    16
4      12      11 1/2    3 3/4    16
3 1/2  12      10 11/16  3 7/8    16 7/8
3      12      11 1/4    3 13/16  17 3/8
2 1/2  12      11 5/8    3 7/8    17 7/8
2      12      12        4        18 1/4
1      12      12 3/4    4 3/16   18 7/8
O      12      13 1/2    4 3/16   19 1/8               1852
O      14      13 1/2    4 1/4    18 3/8     38 3/8    1932
OO     12      14 1/8    4 1/16   19 5/8               1877
OO     14      14 5/16   4 1/8    18 7/8     38 5/8    1934
OOO    12      15        4 1/16   20 7/16              1902
OOO    14      15        4 1/8    19 3/8     39 3/8    1934
OM     14      15        4 1/8    19 3/8               1929
D      12      15 5/8    4 3/4    20 15/16             1931
D      14      15 5/8    4 7/8    20         40 1/4    1934

Standard       6 3/8     2 5/16   9 7/16     21
Concert        7 3/4     2 3/4    11         23 1/2
Tenor          8 15/16   2 15/16  12 1/16    26 1/4
Baritone       10        3 3/8    14         30 11/16

    Certainly the most desirable of the Martin body size is the 000, 0M, and D sizes. Many consider the 000 (and OM, which is essentially a 000) to be the ultimate guitar size, where others feel the “D” size is the best. It’s personal preference. There are some interesting facts though about the 000 and OM sizes. (In Martin’s 1934 catalogue, any flattop guitar that had a 14-fret neck was named an “Orchestra Model”, while the older 12-fret design was named a “Standard Model”.)The OM Body Size.

Martin Orchestra Model OM

    Martin’s OM, or “Orchestra Model”, available from 1929 to 1933, has a rare combination of features. The joining of a long-scale (25.4″) neck with a small body makes it an extremely responsive and playable guitar. In many ways the OM models were the first truly modern flattop guitars. They were the first Martins to have necks with 14 frets clear of the body. The OM has a wide neck (1 3/4″ as opposed to the dreadnought’s 1 11/16″) which appeals to fingerstyle players. The string spacing is slightly greater at the bridge than on other models too, although not as wide as a classical guitars. The neck shape of old OMs is a bit unique too, although this is variable since each neck was handmade. OMs have a wide but thin backshaped V-shape which is very comfortable. Finally, the OM’s smaller body size makes the guitar easy to hold, especially in the seated position. Compared this to the D dreadnought which is larger both in body depth and width (dreadnought players seem to use straps and stand up so the guitar’s size is less of a factor).The OM model came about due to Perry Bechtel, who was a virtuoso plectrum banjo player. Perry came to see the Martin family in the early summer of 1929. He wanted Martin to make him a guitar which he could easily adapt his banjo style (remember by the late 1920s guitar was the hot instrument, replacing the banjo). He requested 15 frets clear of the body and a 27″ scale in Martin’s largest standard body size (which at that time was the 000, with 12 frets clear of the neck). The 27″ scale would retain the fret spacing of the plectrum banjo, and 15 frets clear of the body would closely resemble the length of a banjo neck.

    Martin began with a 000-size guitar, which had 12 frets clear of the body. They rejected the 27″ scale idea, as this would have been impractical since the high string tension on a guitar would have made the instrument hard to play. Instead they used a 25.4″ scale length. To accommodate Bechtel’s request for 15 frets clear of the body, they squared the body’s shoulders to add 1 5/16″ to the clear part of the fingerboard. This allowed 14 frets clear of the body. Since they felt aesthetically the bridge should remain halfway between the center of the soundhole and the endblock, there really was no way to make the guitar have 15 frets clear. The bottom bout was reshaped slightly to match the new shape of the upper bout (note when the 000 went to 14 frets in 1934 it retained this initial OM body shape).

    To make the OM more suitable for banjo players, the neck was made narrower and less V-shaped than previous Martins. The fingerboard was narrowed from the then-standard 1 7/8″ to 1 3/4″ at the nut. In addition to make the OM more banjo-like and to give it a distinctive look, banjo style tuning pegs were used. To do these, the headstock had to be made solid, instead of slotted. Previously Martin headstocks had all been slotted with tuners attached to the side mounted on a single plate for three tuners. No single-unit guitar tuners were available, so banjo pegs were a natural.

    In late 1929, Martin built a prototype batch of six OM guitars. The very first of these had pyramid bridges and no pickguard. Martin soon realized that with the vigorous strumming required in a band setting, a pickguard would be required. Hence all OMs after the prototype batch had a small teardrop-shaped pickguard. The new OMs were not highly sucessful. They sold, but not as well as Martin had hoped. In 1933 the OM designation was dropped and was now called the “000” model. But infact the 1933 “000” models were the same as the 1933 “OM” models, retaining the OM body style and 14 fret neck. Then in 1934 the standard 000 models were modified to the shorter 24.9″ scale (for unknown reasons, as the 12 fret 000 body had a 25.6″ scale length its inception in 1902 to its demise in 1931). Yet the OM’s longer scale was a major factor in the OM’s tone. The strings on an OM must be tuned to a higher tension to get concert pitch. This extra tension translates into more drive on the top, hence providing more volume and tone. The OM’s scalloped braces and a small maple bridgeplate give the OM a great sound. Although these features were common to other Martin models of the time, the OM’s top brace under the fingerboard was missing. This design is unique to OMs making the top very lightly braced. This does lead to some problems with cracks in the upper bout along the side of the fingerboard, but it also contributes to the great sound of the OM models.


Style 40 flat top – Martin Guitar, Vintage

Style 40 flat top – Martin Guitar, Vintage

Collectibility Rating: B (would be higher but most models were made in Hawaiian style).

    • German silver tuners with pearl buttons.
    • Ivory bound fingerboard and peghead.
    • Ivory bridge

    • Ivoroid bound top and back.
    • Snowflake inlays beginning at 5th fret.
    • Unbound fingerboard and peghead.

    • Style 40 discontinued.

    • Style 40 reintroduced.
    • Ebony bridge.
    • Most often seen as the Martin 00-40H (hawaiian) with 12 frets clear of the body and a sloted peghead. The 00-40H maintained this configuration until 1941 when it was discontinued.

    • Style 40 discontinued. Reintroduced in 1985 with slightly different specs.
  • Rosewood back and sides, abalone (pearl) inlay around top edge and soundhole (but not on top around the fingerboard like a style 41,42,45 would have), inlaid bridge pins. Fancy backstripe of horizontal lines between two rows of diagonal lines (like style 45). Most style 40 models made were hawaiian style with flat fingerboard radius, flat flush frets, high string action, and no bridge saddle compensation. Most popular was the OO-40H (though they did made 2-40, 0-40, 000-40 and 000-40H models prior to WW2). Sometimes these are converted to regular “spanish” style guitar (fingerboard radiused, refretted, neck reset, bridge saddle angled). Made from the 1860s to 1917, then 1928 to 1941, then 1985 to present. 1860s Style 40 Introduction specs:

    1909 Style 40 specs:

    1917 Style 40 specs:

    1928 Style 40 reintroduction specs:

    1941 Style 40 specs:

Martin Guitars – History and Overview

C.F. Martin & Company is one of the oldest, if not the oldest guitar company in the United States. Christian Frederick Martin founded the company in 1833. After years of developing their guitars and setting a standard for excellence, it is easy to say that Martin is one of the most popular acoustic guitar companies in the world.

Despite the fact that the company was founded around 175 years ago, it still remains a family operation. The current company chairman and CEO is ‘CF’ Chris Martin IV. He continues the tradition started by his family in creating high quality acoustic guitars. As a side note, they also produce some electric guitars and basses.

Christian Frederick Martin, Sr. was actually born in Germany. His family made cabinets for a living, and that was to be his future. But at the age of 15, he left Germany and traveled to Austria to apprentice with Johann Stauffer who was an expert luthier. He learned his trade well, and returned to Germany to set up shop.

He was met with serious resistance. Not from his family, but from the Violin Makers Guild. Martin wasn’t the only cabinet maker who was showing an aptitude for making stringed instruments. The violin makers feared it would hurt their business. Eventually, Martin left for the United States, where he started his illustrious guitar making company.

Martin has both a regular line of guitars and a custom shop. The Dreadnought is possibly one of their most popular guitar series and many consider Martin’s Dreadnought series to be amongst the best. Other acoustic guitars include their Limited Editions, The Backpacker, the Road Series, the X Series, the Golden Era Marquis, and the Vintage series. They have plenty of other styles and options so you may want to visit their website to take a look.

A lot of guitarists swear by Martin guitars. These include Beck, Jimmy Buffet, Eric Clapton, Sting, Nancy Wilson, Norman Blake, Bob Shane, Steve Miller, the late Johnny Cash, Buddy Guy, and Paul Simon. However, this is an incomplete list. Visit their website for more names and their profiles.

Here is what people have to say about their Martin Acoustic Guitars.

About the Martin HD-28 Acoustic

Simply, the guitar sounds amazing. Very well balanced, bass, mids, and treble all come out very clearly but don’t step on each other at all. Sounds especially nice capoed up a few frets. I got the guitar about 2 and a half years ago and I have noticed it starting to open up since I play it a lot.

About the Martin D-18

This is without a doubt the best guitar I have owned or played. Over forty years of playing I have had the opportunity to play many guitars. I can’t think of one that I would consider trading for my D-18 including my 1962 Stratocaster purchased from the same music store as my Martin. The strat is long gone but the D-18 is still here…thank God.

Bill McRea is the publisher of Guitar Warehouse the best place to Buy Guitar and learn Guitar Playing Techniques. Visit our site for over 60 Free Guitar Lessons and Information about playing Guitar.

Article Source:

Martin D-35 Dreadnought

D35MARTINI think the heart of every guitarist falls in love instantly upon seeing a Martin 1833 logo decal upon an acoustic guitar’s headstock, no matter how it looks there’s something that makes it irresistible to play and hear how it sounds. Although the factory may not put as much time and effort into every guitar they build these days they still are capable of producing wonderfully beautiful instruments and in this article we’re going to have a look at the Martin D-35. It’s got a price tag so is worth it?

Well the first thing that strikes you is it’s appearance with a 3 piece rosewood back, it looks gorgeous enough to eat! Adding to it’s overall appearance is a bound ebony fretboard. It’s a dreadnought and with such a huge top the bass in its sound is strong and punchy without being overbearing. To balance this Martin have used ¼” bracing which actually makes the treble sing out more.

Let’s take a quick run down of the woods behind much of this guitars beautiful tone. There’s a spruce top and 3 piece rosewood back, the sides are also of rosewood and the fingerboard is ebony. Like any good acoustic guitar maker Martin take much care in their wood selection and the quality is consistently good across the range.

Martin guitar cases are always of a high quality and the case which comes with the D-35 is a deluxe case. The guitar fits into it perfectly and of course anyone who owns a Martin acoustic guitar and case will know what I mean when I mention the smell! Delicious right? It’s something only us devoted guitar players can understand and appreciate.

So if you’re looking for a Martin dreadnought be sure to add the D-35 to your list of models to check out.

Payo Perry is an expert online author for guitar lessons. Be sure to visit his website for free sample acoustic guitar lessons. The website also contains lots of lessons for easy guitar songs.

Article Source:

Martin Arch Top C-2


The size of the Martin Arch Top C-2 body is equal to the 000 size of the flat top type and it is 15” wide. The top is carved but the back is arched. The sides and the back are made of rosewood. The vintage Martin guitar has a trapeze styled tail piece and all its parts are made of nickel.

The scale of arch tops of the C-series was long just like the 000 model, till 1934. In some cases, the arch top was converted into 000 styled flat top in a C model. The conversion of the short scale C-2 will not be similar to the 000 style if it was made after 1934. The neck of Martin Arch Top C-2 creates the entire difference, since it has to be shortened in length to get the desired shallow angle to have a flat top. Thus, the fret of the neck must be 1/3, but the guitar, in the process, gets a 13 2/3 fret. This causes the bridge on these vintage instruments to be at a lower position just like the OM bridge. However, it is not precisely same. Even the back arch and also the back braces are not the same in the Martin C models as compared to Martin 000 models. The arch top contains more arches in their backs and has tall #3 and #4 back braces. The neck inlay is pearloid of the C-2 models that are made in the year 1939 or later. They also don’t have abalone.

Martin Flat Top Style 28

HD-28_fThe Style 28 Martin guitar includes the D-28, 000-28, OM-18, 0-28, 00-28 models which have a spruce top and a rosewood body. This theme has been the most popular line of vintage Martin guitars since the late 1800s.

It has an awesome sound which is the main reason why these guitars have been the favorite of several big stars as well. All the style-28 models including the D-28 model have been higher-end models which have a rosewood body along with a great sound. All the Martin style 28 vintage instruments models which were made before 1947 have a herribone trim look that appears extremely trendy. All the models which are made from Brazilian rosewood look more sleek and better than the models which are made from Indian rosewood. The number ‘28’ indicates the style of the guitar model. The letters that are prefixed before ‘28’ mark the body size. 0-28 is the smallest in the range, 00-28, OM-28,000-28 are bigger than 0-28 and D-28 is the largest of the lot. Considering today’s music trends, D-28, OM-28 and 000-28 are considered to be the best sized models.

The OM-28 was manufactured between 1929 and 1933 and is a very interesting model because its novel design bears some impressive modern features. There are some other 18 models like the OO-28C (1966-1976), OOO-28C (1962-1966), and OO-28 G (1936-1962), which are actually different from other Martin guitar lines. OO-28K is the coolest of them all and the most desirable. The classical tenor and gut models are especially popular among people throughout the world.

Martin Guitars | Purchasing Vintage Martin Guitars

Purchasing a Vintage Martin Guitar

If like millions others, you too are a fan of the vintage Martin guitars and are planning to buy one for yourself, then you need to take care of some important points before making the deal.

Observing the Manufacturing Year:

It is very easy to determine the year of making in case of the vintage Martin guitars. The year should be 1898 or later. There is a unique serial number inside every guitar. The year can be determined by this number.

Considering the Guitar Type:

‘Flat Top’ is a trademark of the Martin guitars. ‘Flat Top’ means that these guitars have a sound hole in the centre of the guitar along with the “pin” type bridge. Along with the ‘Flat Top’ models, Martin also created some novel Archtop models in 1930s. These guitars either had a one sound hole or two “f” style holes, one on either side of the arched top, along with a bridge that was “trapeze” styled. There were other famous vintage styles manufactured by Martin like the Ukuleles, the Tenor Guitar, and the Taropatches.

Determining the Authenticity of the Guitar:

The originality and authenticity of a guitar is the most desired component for the collector. Any change or any modification in the original will not be liked by any Martin fan. Once you have determined the year of the martin guitar, you can look for the snap of the original model on the net and then compare the guitar and the snap and thus, find the difference (if any) all by yourself. It is the bridge, tuners, or the frets which are generally replaced or modified.

Martin Made other brands

Martin Guitar’s Other Brands

Since 1900, Martin did make guitars, mandolins and ukes for other brands and guitar studios. No, this was not “common”. Just because your guitar looks like a Martin, doesn’t mean it is. Even if your instrument is one of the brands listed below, that does NOT mean it was necessarily made by Martin either! Just keep that in mind.

  • Bacon: a few made for Bacon Banjos in 1924.
  • Belltone: fifteen guitars, ten mandolins and twelve Style 3k ukes were made for Belltone.
  • Bitting Special: Martin made some mandolins for this Bethlehem, PA teacher in 1916 to 1919.
  • Ditson: in 1917 to 1919, and 1923 to 1930, Martin made some guitars for the Ditson company in Boston. Early models only have a “Ditson” stamp, later models have both the “Ditson” and “Martin” stamps. The 1923 to 1930 models have Martin serial numbers. Prior to this, 483 guitars of the original 1917 to 1919 series have been documented.
  • Foden: In 1912 to 1917, Martin made guitars for concert guitarist William Foden. These are similar to the standard Martin models, but have simple soundhole rings and a 20 fret fingerboard (instead of 19). Made in sizes 0 and 00, the styles were similar to Martin’s Style 18, 21, 28, and a pearl trim model. Only 27 of these guitars have been documented to date.
  • Jenkins: Martin made Style 1 and 2 ukes for this Kansas City mail order company.
  • Olcott-Bickford: 32 guitars made for this guitarist.
  • Paramount: Around 1930 Martin made about 36 guitars with strange construction. A style 2 size body mounted into a larger rim and back of rosewood, small round soundholes around a “lip” that joins the outer rims to the inner rims, no soundhole in the top, 14 frets clear, dot fingerboard inlays to the 15th fret, rounded peak peghead with standard Paramount banjo peghead inlay, banjo-style tuners, four or six strings.
  • Schoenberg: In 1987 to 1994, Martin made some guitars similar to their OM-18, OM-28 OM-45, some 12 fret 000 models, and a few D models. The last Schoenberg/Martin was made in October 1994, serial number 541742.
  • S.S. Stewart: Martin made ukes for this company in 1923 to 1925.
  • Rolando: In 1916 to 1918 Martin made 261 guitar (numbered 1 to 261), and some later guitars with standard Martin serial numbers.
  • Vega: Martin bought Vega Banjos in 1970 and moved production to their property in 1971. In 1979, Martin sold the Vega name. Some guitars were made under the Vega name during this period (but they mostly made banjos).
  • Weymann: Around 1925 Martin made some Ukes for this company, but no guitars.
  • Wurlitzer: In 1922 to 1925, Martin made 297 standard Martin models (but with a simplier soundhole rosette) for Wurlitzer. These have the Wurlitzer name and model number on the back of the peghead.

As you can see, Martin did not make very many guitars for other companies. So the chance that your non-Martin guitar is really a “Martin” is very unlikely!

1932 Martin C-1 Archtop – Vintage Martin Guitar

A 1932 Martin C-1 Archtop with round sound hole.

Style C-1 arch top.
Collectibility Rating: D–

Arch top body size is equivalent to the flat top 000 body size, 15″ wide across the top, carved spruce top, back is not carved but is arched by bracing, mahogany back and sides, style 18 flat top trim, trapeze tail piece, rosewood fingerboard, nickel plated parts, sunburst top finish.

  • 1931 Style C-1 specs:

  • Vertical pearl “Martin” peghead logo on early models.
  • Round sound hole.
    • f-holes introduced instead of round sound hole. Made either way this year.
    • Decal style peghead logo (vertical pearl logo dropped).
  • 1932 Style C-1 specs:

    1933 Style C-1 specs:

    Round sound hole completely dropped in favor of f-holes.

    1935 Style C-1 specs:

    White body binding instead of tortoise.

    1942 Style C-1 specs:

    Style C-1 discontinued.


History of the Banjo – Part 1 – Early stages

TBL-X5_0 banjoEARLY STAGES – by William Reese

Banjos belong to a family of instruments that are very old. Drums with strings stretched over them can be traced throughout the Far East, the Middle East and Africa almost from the beginning. They can be played like the banjo, bowed or plucked like a harp depending on their development. These instruments were spread, in “modern” times, to Europe through the Arab conquest of Spain, and the Ottoman conquest of the Balkans. The banjo, as we can begin to recognize it, was made by African slaves based on instruments that were indigenous to their parts of Africa. These early “banjos” were spread to the colonies of those countries engaged in the slave trade. Scholars have found that many of these instruments have names that are related to the modern word “banjo”, such as “banjar”, “banjil”, “banza”, “bangoe”, “bangie”, “banshaw”. Some historians mention the diaries of Richard Jobson as the first record of the instrument.. While exploring the Gambra River in Africa in 1620 he recorded an instrument “…made of a great gourd and a neck, thereunto was fastened strings.” The first mention of the name for these instruments in the Western Hemisphere is from Martinique in a document dated 1678. It mentions slave gatherings where an instrument called the “banza” is used. Further mentions are fairly frequent and documented. One such is quoted in Grove’s Dictionary of Music and Musicians from a poem by an Englishman in the British West Indies in 1763: “Permit thy slaves to lead the choral dance/To the wild banshaw’s melancholy sound/”. The best known is probably that of Thomas Jefferson in 1781: “The instrument proper to them (i.e. the slaves) is the Banjar, which they brought hither from Africa.”

1942 Martin C-2 Archtop

A 1942 Martin C-2 Archtop.

Style C-2 arch top.

Arch top body size is equivalent to the flat top 000 body size, 15″ wide across the top, carved sruce top, back is not carved but is arched by bracing, rosewood back and sides, unbound elevated tortoise pickguard, style 28 type multiple bound top and back with white outer layer, zipper zigzag backstripe, trapeze tail piece, rosewood fingerboard, vertical “Martin” peghead logo, nickel plated parts, sunburst top finish.

The C-series archtops were long scale until mid-1934, same as the 000 models. Sometimes a C model is converted from an archtop to a 000 style flat top. A conversion of a short scale C-2 (mid-1934 and later) won’t exactly be a 000 either. The neck must be shortened to get the shallower angle required for a flat top. This amounts to about 1/3 of a fret, so the guitar ends up having a 13 2/3 fret neck. This puts the bridge position a little lower on the top, closer to the OM bridge position (but not exactly the same). The other feature on the C models that is different from a 000 is the back arch and the back braces. The archtops have more arch in the back and taller #3 and #4 back braces. Note the 1939 and later C-2 models have no abalone, the neck inlays are pearloid.

    • Round sound hole.
    • Unbound fingerboard.
    • Slotted diamond fingerboard inlays.

    • f-holes introduced instead of round sound hole. Made either way this year.

    • Round sound hole completely dropped in favor of f-holes.

    • Bound fingerboard.
    • Scale length shortened (much like the 000 models).

    • Fingerboard inlays change to hexagonal pearloid inlays at frets 3,5,7,9,12,15.
  • 1931 Martin C-2 guitar introduction specs:1932 Style C-2 specs:

    1933 Style C-2 specs:

    1935 Style C-2 specs:

    1939 Style C-2 specs:

    1942 Martin Style C-2 guitar discontinued.

Vintage Martin Guitars – High Action and Neck Sets

The only right way to make a “high string action” Martin guitar play correctly is to do a “neck set”. This repair involves removing the neck on the guitar, and refitting the neck at a slightly increased angle, which lowers the string action. If done correctly, this does not affect the value of the guitar (and in fact can make it more valuable, as the guitar is much more playable). Generally speaking, most players would agree if the “string action” is more than 3/16 inch (5 mm) at the 12th fret, the guitar needs a neck set. This measurement is taken from the bottom of the low-E string, to the top of the 12th fret.

This is a somewhat expensive and delicate repair. But it is a repair often needed on many vintage Martins. A proper neck set not only makes the guitar play better, but also will make it *sound* better too.

Because a neck set is expensive, some owners/repair people will take “short cuts” to avoid doing a neck set. These short cuts are usually temporary at best, and never give the best outcome. These include lowering the bridge saddle and lowering the bridge.

    Lowering the Saddle.
    The original saddle is desirable on a vintage Martin. So when lowering the saddle, remove the original saddle (and store is safely away), and have a new lower saddle installed (removing material from the saddle is required to lower it, so don’t mess with the original saddle).
    The problem with lowering a saddle is this: the lower the saddle, the less “drive” there is across the bridge and the top of the guitar. The less “drive”, and the guitar won’t usually sound as good as it could.

    Remember, on a flat top guitar the strings “drive” the bridge, which vibrates the top of the guitar. This is where the sound and tone come from. The lower the bridge saddle, the less “drive”, and the less potential tone. The ideal bridge saddle height should be about 1/8″ to 3/16″ (4 to 5 mm) above the top surface of the bridge.

    Lowering the Bridge (yikes!)
    Again, as with the bridge saddle, too low of a bridge will decrease the “drive” of the strings. Thus the sound and tone will suffer. Also a low bridge is structurally not a good idea, as the bridge can more easily crack (and damage the top of the guitar). Most original Martin guitar bridges are about 3/8″ tall (from bottom to the highest part of the bridge).

    After lowering the bridge (usually in a failed attempt at getting lower string action), the owner will eventually realize this is not the best solution. When this happens and a neck reset is preformed, the original bridge will now be *useless* (because it is too low!) The repair guy won’t reset the neck to a low bridge, so a new replacement bridge will be installed. At this point the originality of the instrument is compromised.

Again, if a Martin guitar needs a neck set, don’t try and solve the problem of high string action any other way! Take the guitar to a *good* repair person, pay the money, and have a proper neck set done. A good neck set will make the guitar play and sound the best it can. With the correct neck set and bridge and saddle height, the guitar strings will drive the top of the guitar best, giving the best sound possible, and at the ideal playing action. And after all, isn’t that what it’s all about?

Martin Guitars: Introduction


    Martin has been making some of the best flat top acoustic guitars since the mid 1800’s. Martin’s other lines of instruments (electrics, archtops, mandolins) is not nearly as desirable or collectible as their flat top models. Because of this, any models other than flat tops (such as Martin’s archtops and electrics) are not very collectible.

Brazilian rosewood on a 1965 D-28. Note the rich
color and wavey figuring which is typical of
Brazilian rosewood. Indian rosewood, as used
from late 1969 and later, is much paler in color;
not nearly as rich looking. Indian rosewood is also
very straight grained, without the figuring and
waveyness of Brazilian rosewood. Acoustically, they
sound nearly the same.

    Flat top Martins from the 1840’s to the 1920’s represent the earliest generation of the modern flat top design. They have great workmanship, but small bodies designed for gut strings only. Because of this, these models have limited appeal and hence are less collectible than steel string models.

    Twelve and fourteen fret steel string models from the mid 1920’s to 1944 are the most collectible of all Martin instruments. They have excellent craftsmenship, sound, and playability, and these model are of great interest to collectors and players. Some musicians prefer the sound and feel of 12 fret models, and these are close in value to 14 fret models of the same size and period. The larger size 14 fret 000 and “D” sizes from the 1930’s are considered by most collectors and musicians to represent the golden era of the flat top Martin. Note war-time models (1941 to 1944) aren’t quite as desirable as the 1930’s models. Lack of materials, manpower, and general social uncertainty during the war contributed to this.

    Flat tops from 1945 to 1969 are considered good quality and have good sound, although they are not as collectible as the 1920’s to 1944 steel string models. This is largely due to the change in bracing and materials Martin started using in 1945. Rosewood models of Brazilian rosewood are most collectible from this era. This is because Brazilian rosewood was basically unavailable since 1970 due to export problems. Because of this, these models are considered more collectible.

Martin D-35 from the 1970’s.
Note the Indian rosewood’s color
is much lighter and not as rich
as Brazilian rosewood. Also the
grain is much straighter and boring.
This three piece back was used on
D-35’s to allow Martin to use
narrower rosewood that would
otherwise go to waste.


    Flat tops from 1970 to present are considered to be excellent utility instruments, but are not collectible. Staring in 1976, Martin has been undergoing many changes with numerous reissues, new models, limited editions, etc. Workmanship has improved greatly from the early 1970’s, and Martin is now producing some of its best guitars in over 20 years. While not currently collector’s items, these intruments have excellent workmanship, sound, and playability. Classical guitars by Martin are equal in craftsmenship to their steel string models. But unfortunately, their sound and feel is not what classical players seem to want. Therefore they do not have the collectability of the steel string models. I group Martin classical models to include the “NY” series and gut string models made from the 1930’s and later.

1965 Martin 00-21 NY model. A classical model
because of the open peghead style, no fingerboard
inlays, and bracing for gut (nylon) strings only.
The Style 21 model is a combination of the
Style 18 and Style 28 models: The body uses
rosewood (like a 28), and a style 18 neck
(with no “ice cream cone”). This particular
model has nice Brazilian rosewood. The back of
the (style 18 like) neck can clearly been seen
with no “ice cream cone” volute.


    Acoustic archtop by Martin, again, have craftsmenship that matches their flat top instruments. But as with classical model, Martin archtops do not have the look, feel, or sound of traditional archtop models as defined by Gibson or Epiphone. They may be quite rare, but they are not collectible, especially compared to Martin flat tops. Ukuleles by Martin are considered amoung the best ukes made. Though ukes in general aren’t particularly valuable, Martin ukes are worth more than most other makes.

    Tenor guitars (4 strings) by Martin have little to no collectibility. Tenor guitars were marketed as a way to get banjo players in the 1930s to the 1950s to convert to guitar. There is very little need for this today, hence these four string guitars have little value.

    Electric guitars by Martin (any variety: flat top, archtop, solid body) are not sought after and have little to no value.

Learn to play guitar in ONE WEEKEND!

Martin Guitar Serial Numbers, Find the Year – Lookup Martin Serial

Martin Guitar Serial Numbers: Find the Year – Lookup Martin Serial

    All Martin guitars since 1898 (except solidbody electrics from the 1970s, basses, and tiples) are numbered in consecutive order. Ukuleles do not have serial numbers. Mandolins use a different serial number system than guitars. Martin guitar serial numbers start at 8000 in 1898 because Martin estimated they made 8000 instruments before 1898. Model Numbers stamped above the Serial Number starting in 1930.
    Starting in October 1930, Martin also stamped the model number just above the serial number. Martin model numbers are straight forward too. The first set of characters are the body size. Next there is a “-“. The last set of numbers are the ornamention style.

    For example, “OO-28″ stamped above the martin guitar serial number tells use the body is “OO” size (14 5/16″ wide for a 14 fret model, 14 1/8″ wide for a 12 fret model), and the ornamention style is “28” (rosewood body, ice cream cone style neck).

Left: The model and serial numbers, as seen through the sound hole on the neck block of this 1950 D-28. Prior to October 1930, the model is NOT stamped on the neck block (you have to figure it out yourself!).
Right: The model and serial numbers, as seen through the sound hole of this 1944 D-18, serial number 90067. Notice the “1” in the “18” does somewhat look like a “2”. This confuses a lot of people who think their style 18 guitar is a style 28. Also the “D” is sometimes confused for an “0”.

    On round hole martin guitars, the serial and model numbers are stamped on the neck block inside the instrument. The number can be seen by looking inside the sound hole. Look at an angle towards the neck. All f-hole Martin archtops have their serial and model numbers stamped on the inside center of the backstripe, roughly under the shadow of the bridge (and best seen from the bass side “f” hole).

    The numbers listed here show the LAST serial number produced for that year. Martin produced all guitar serial number sequentially. These serial number apply to all Martin guitars, flat top and arch top. It does not apply to ukes (except for the first year, they do not have a serial number). Does not apply to Martin mandolins either (they have their own serial number system).

Year    Serial# Range (produced)      Year    Serial# Range (produced)
----    ------------------------      ----    ------------------------
1898    8001-8349 (347)               1950    112962-117961 (4999)
1899    8350-8716 (367)               1951    117962-122799 (4837)
1900    8717-9128 (411)               1952    122800-128436 (5636)
1901    9129-9310 (181)               1953    128437-134501 (6064)
1902    9311-9528 (217)               1954    134502-141345 (6843)
1903    9529-9810 (281)               1955    141346-147328 (5982)
1904    9811-9988 (177)               1956    147329-152775 (5446)
1905    9989-10120 (131)              1957    152776-159061 (6285)
1906    10121-10329 (208)             1958    159062-165576 (6514)
1907    10330-10727 (397)             1959    165577-171047 (5470)
1908    10728-10883 (155)             1960    171048-175689 (4641)
1909    10884-11018 (134)             1961    175690-181297 (5607)
1910    11019-11203 (184)             1962    181298-187384 (6086)
1911    11204-11413 (209)             1963    187385-193327 (5942)
1912    11414-11565 (151)             1964    193328-199626 (6298)
1913    11566-11821 (255)             1965    199627-207030 (7403)
1914    11822-12047 (225)             1966    207031-217215 (10184)
1915    12048-12209 (161)             1967    217216-230095 (12879)
1916    12210-12390 (180)             1968    230096-241925 (11829)
1917    12391-12988 (597)             1969    241926-256003 (14077)
1918    12989-13450 (461)             1970    256004-271633 (15629)
1919    13451-14512 (1061)            1971    271634-294270 (22636)
1920    14513-15484 (1335)            1972    294271-313302 (19031)
1921    15485-16758 (909)             1973    313303-333873 (20570)
1922    16759-17839 (1080)            1974    333873-353387 (19513)
1923    17840-19891 (2051)            1975    353388-371828 (18440)
1924    19892-22008 (2116)            1976    371829-388800 (16971)
1925    22009-24116 (2107)            1977    388801-399625 (10824)
1926    24117-28689 (4572)            1978    399626-407800 (8174)
1927    28690-34435 (5745)            1979    407801-419900 (12099)
1928    34436-37568 (3132)            1980    419901-430300 (10399)
1929    37569-40843 (3274)            1981    430301-436474 (6173)
1930    40844-45317 (4473)            1982    436475-439627 (3152)
1931    45318-49589 (4271)            1983    439628-446101 (6473)
1932    49590-52590 (3000)            1984    446102-453300 (7198)
1933    52591-55084 (2493)            1985    453301-460575 (7274)
1934    55085-58679 (3594)            1986    460576-468175 (7599)
1935    58680-61947 (3267)            1987    468176-476216 (8040)
1936    61948-65176 (3228)            1988    476217-483952 (7735)
1937    65177-68865 (3688)            1989    483953-493279 (9323)
1938    68866-71866 (3000)            1990    493280-503309 (10032)
1939    71867-74061 (2194)            1991    503310-512487 (9177)
1940    74062-76734 (2672)            1992    512488-522655 (10167)
1941    76735-80013 (3278)            1993    522656-535223 (12567)
1942    80014-83107 (3093)            1994    535224-551696 (16472)
1943    83108-86724 (3616)            1995    551697-570434 (18737)
1944    86725-90149 (3424)            1996    570435-592930 (22495)
1945    90150-93623 (3473)            1997    592931-624799 (31868)
1946    93624-98158 (4534)            1998    624800-668796 (43996)
1947    98159-103468 (5309)           1999    668797-724077 (55280)
1948    103469-108269 (4800)          2000    724078-780500 (56422)
1949    108270-112961 (4691)          2001    780501-845644 (65143)
----    ------------------------      ----    ------------------------
Year    Serial# Range (produced)      Year    Serial# Range (produced)

Important Serial Number Milestones.

  • 439xx to 44362: October 1930 first time both the body size & style number stamped on neckblock above the serial number (exact serial number change unknown).
  • 57305 = T frets first used and T bar first used (1934)
  • 59044-61181 = Martin stamp in back of peghead discontinued (1935)
  • 72740 = Change in nut width on 14-fret models from 1 3/4″ to 1 11/16″ (late 1939) on all non-slotted peghead models. Style 17 models with 14-fret body may have changed earlier.
  • 80585 = Ebony neck reinforcement started to be implemented during WW2 (1942)
  • 83107 = Last pre-WW2 style 45 guitar (1942).
  • 89926 = According to Martin, this is the approximate last scalloped braced guitar made (late 1944). Though some models have been seen after this number with scalloped braces, and before this number with tapered braces. (For example #90014 appears to be the last D28 with scalloped braces, and D-28 #88112 had tapered braces.)
  • 90021 = Snowflakes on D28 discontinued (1944). This is an approximate serial#.
  • 98223 = Last style 28 guitar made with Herringbone trim (early 1947).
  • 99992-100240 = Last style 28 guitars made with a “zipper back” center seam (mid 1947).
  • 197207 = Bridge pin holes moved back 1/16″ (1964).
  • 200601 = short saddle bridge (1965).
  • 205251 = 102C Grover machines on all “D” guitars (1965).
  • 211040 = Boltaron bindings on D-28 and D-35 (1966).
  • 212100 = Boltaron bindings on D-18 (1966).
  • 213775 = Boltaron rosettes (1966).
  • 215253 = New tape strips on sides (1966).
  • 216736 = Bridge pin holes moved to center (1966).
  • 217215 = Tortoise guards discontinued (1966).
  • 220467 = Last hand stamped serial/model numbers (1967).
  • 224079 = Kluson K324 tuners on all style 18 models (1967).
  • 226969 = Grover v100 tuners on all 0,00,000 models (1967).
  • 228246 = Square truss rod bar on D models (1967).
  • 235586 = Rosewood bridgeplates on all guitars (1968).
  • 242454 = Larger rosewood bridgeplates on all guitars (1969).
  • 254497 = Last style 28 guitar made with Brazilian rosewood (late 1969).
  • 254498 = East Indian rosewood introduced (1969, a model D-21).
  • 255717 = First D-41 model with Indian Roseood.
  • 256366 = First D-45 model with Indian Rosewood.
  • 350287 = Plastic saddles on D-18 models (1975).
  • 355357 = Plastic saddles on D-28 models (1975).
  • 360970-365831 = Rosewood vertical sidestrips (1975).
  • 370976 = Micarta nuts and saddles (1975).
  • 447004 = Self-adhesive pickguard trial (1984).
  • 447501 = Last glued-down pickguard in regular production (1984).
  • 453181 = Adjustable truss rods gradually implemented (1985).
  • 478093 = Maple bridgeplates on all guitars (1988).
  • 737277 = Last HD-28LSV with an Adirondack top (2000). Sitka spruce was used in regular production thereafter.

Vintage Instruments – Martin Guitars – Overview

Most Martin guitars made are “flat top” models. That is, they have a round sound hole in approximately the center of the flat top of the guitar, with a “pin” style bridge. Martin also made some vintage instruments like archtop models during the 1930s. These can have a round sound hole, or two “f” style sound holes (one on each side of the top of the body), and have an arched top, with a “trapeze” style bridge. Martin also made ukuleles. If a guitar only has four strings (and is not a ukulele), this is known as a Tenor guitar. Uke size instruments with ten string are Tiples. Uke size instruments with eight strings are Taropatches. Martin also made mandolins, which have eight strings. To summarize:


  • 4 Strings: a ukulele or tenor guitar.
  • 10 Strings: Tiple.
  • Uke size with 8 strings: Taropatch
  • 8 strings (not a Uke): Mandolin.
  • Archtop: an arched top to the guitar with either a round soundhole, or two “f” holes on either side of the body. Trapeze style bridge. Made only during the 1930s.
  • Flattop: a flat top to the guitar, and a single round sound hole under the strings. Pin style bridge.



1947 Martin 0-17T Tenor guitar

Body Size

Martin flat top guitars were made in various sizes. The bigger the vintage instrument body, the better and more collectible the guitar. This is why guitar body size is so important to identify on a Martin flat top guitar. Starting in October 1930, Martin stamped the guitar body size right above the serial number inside the guitar. This makes identifying body size on October 1930 and later guitar very easy. Body sizes, pretty much from smallest to biggest, include O, OO, OOO, OM, D.

Martin Vintage Instruments – Styles

Nearly all Martin instruments come in different styles. The higher the style number, the more fancy (and collectible) the instrument. Again starting in October 1930, Martin stamped all flat top guitars with the style number, directly after the body size (and above the serial number). Style numbers can range from 15 to 45. A letter can follow the style number too, giving some additional info about the instrument. For example, a “T” after the style number indicates a Tenor guitar.

Determine the Originality

Originality of an instrument is very important. Modifications (any modifications), are a bad thing in the eyes of a collector. This will greatly influence value. Modifications can often be determined by looking at the model specs for a particular year guitar in this web page, and compare to your instrument. On flat top martins, the most common modifications are a replaced bridge, replaced tuners, or replaced frets.

1962 Fender Jazz Bass

jbass_front_backFirst introduced in 1960 as the “Deluxe Model”, the Fender Jazz Bass was marketed as a stablemate to the Jazzmaster guitar which was also marketed as a “Deluxe Model” in its own right; however, it was renamed the Fender Jazz Bass as Fender felt that its redesigned neck – narrower and more rounded than that of the Precision Bass – would appeal more to Jazz musicians. The Fender Jazz Bass has two single coil pickups with two pole pieces per string. This gave the bass a stronger midrange sound to compete with the Rickenbacher bass, which had been introduced in 1957 and which was famously “bright.” As well as having a slightly different, less symmetrical and more contoured body shape (known in Fender advertising as the “Offset Waist Contour” body), the Jazz Bass neck is noticeably narrower at the nut than that of the Fender Precision Bass. While the Precision Bass was originally styled similarly to the Telecaster guitar (and, after 1957, the Stratocaster), the Fender Jazz Bass’ styling was inspired more by the Jazzmaster guitar, with which the Jazz shared its offset body and sculpted edges that differentiate it from other slab-style guitar bodies.

1956 Martin D-21

Martin D-21 guitarFirst made in 1955, the D-21 is a rosewood dreadnought that’s just the same as a D-28 except for a few cosmetic elements. Where a D-28 has ebony fingerboard and bridge, the D-21 has rosewood. The D-21 has plainer soundhole rings, and black or tortoise colored binding instead of the white or ivoroid featured on the D-28. In all other regards, including playability and tone, the D-21 is the equal of the D-28. Basically, the D-21 has all the
appointments of the D-18, with Brazilian Rosewood back and sides instead of mahogany. The only exception is that the center decoration on the back of the D-21 and D-28 are identical.
The D-21 was discontinued right at the time the Brazilian rosewood supply ran out in early 1969, so all of the D-21s except the very last 24 were made of Brazilian rosewood.
Interestingly, because of the bridge and fingerboard a D-21 has far more Brazilian Rosewood1956-d-21
than a D-28. Less than 3000 D-21’s were made.

In today’s market the D-21 remains an underappreciated model. If you’re looking for a vintage Martin dreadnought made of Brazilian rosewood, the D-21 is the one to consider if you’re watching your budget. Whereas a 1950’s D-28 will cost as much as $10,000, you can
purchase a D-21 for far less.

Share Your Passion: Lowest Price Guaranteed + Free Shipping at