Martin (used, 1936) D-18 acoustic guitar

Tag No 32-3236 Used
This item is NOW ON SALE!

#65137, in excellent condition with the original hard shell case.

We rarely see finer and more desirable collectible prewar Martin dreadnought instruments. 

According to our beloved Wikipedia:  The Holy Grail is a dish, plate, stone, or cup that is part of an important theme of Arthurian literature. A grail, wondrous but not explicitly "holy," first appears in Perceval le Gallois, an unfinished romance by Chrétien de Troyes: it is a processional salver used to serve at a feast. Chrétien's story attracted many continuators, translators and interpreters in the later 12th and early 13th centuries, including Wolfram von Eschenbach, who makes the grail a great precious stone that fell from the sky. . . . The legend of the Holy Grail combines Christian lore with a Celtic myth of a cauldron endowed with special powers.    (This guitar has special powers.)   Nowhere in Wikipedia does it mention that a C F Martin 1936 D-18 that has remained in “wholly excellent original condition” is also considered The Holy Grail.   One more thing.  In the Japanese version of Monte Python and The Holy Grail the term was translated in that version of the movie as the “Holy Sake Cup.”  This is precisely that Sake cup. 

We need to talk about how rare and isolated in history a 1936 D-18 actually is.   According to the biblical tome, Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference, by Johnston, Boak and based on the historical research of Longworth, C F Martin had made a few 12-fret Dreadnoughts in the early 1930s.  The company didn’t put them in a catalog!   They promoted the new OM models and archtop line, but the large-body Dreadnoughts were “hidden behind the counter” and sold promotionally.  Then, the Dreadnought “evolved from 12-fret to 14-fret models in early 1934 – the first serial number specifically mentioned as a 14-fret was D-28 #55260. . . .   The new 14-fret “Orchestra Model” Dreadnoughts soon underwent another series of minor changes.  The extreme string tension of heavy gauge strings prompted Martin to move the X-brace down, away from the soundhole, which put the bridge closer to the intersection of the X and strengthened that portion of the soundboard.  This began with a batch of a dozen D-28 models (713578-69) begun on October 13, 1938.  That same day a batch of 25 D-18s (71370-94) was begun with the same new top bracing.”    

Okay, then, the first year of production, 1934, saw only 42 D-18s made; the second year, 1935, saw 133; the third year, 1936, resulted in 258 produced; during the fourth year – 1937, 426 were shipped, and an additional 309 were exuded in 1938.  Since the changeover to standard bracing occurred around ¾ of the way into 1938 it may be possible say that Martin could have made around 232 in 1938 (just a casual extrapolation) with the early bracing.  If that’s the case then Martin made around 1091 total D-18 fourteen frets with Advanced X bracing, and of those, just 433 were made up until the end of 1936.   Now, this guitar’s serial number is #65137 and the last guitar made in 1936 was 65176 – this was the 39th guitar made prior to the New Year’s Party at the end of 1936.  It is an end-of-year guitar, and so we can safely say that this is one of the first 433 D-18 fourteen frets ever made.

This is where it gets scary.  Let us presume that as many as half the guitars made in the prewar period were destroyed and lost.  That would mean that this could be one of only something like 217 D-18s from its period, or, if you count the entire “Advanced X bracing” period, then one of only 546 remaining total.   This is, of course, just a guess – but in our experience the large body guitars were killed off the fastest.  They were apt to be the ones that were “played hard and put up wet” and/or the ones that took the brunt of the domestic violence, or the wrath of a curmudgeonly bar patron.  

This is one of those legendary instruments that, like our March 31st, 1924 signed Loar mandolin, have had only one family as its prior owner.  Its current owner’s father was the original purchaser of this guitar.  He purchased it, in 1936, brand new, in New Hartford, Connecticut .  During the Great Depression this guitar survived both a house fire and the Hurricane of ’38.  The house fire started because a young child was playing with matches, burned off the entire top of the building.  The guitar made it out unscathed but because of the hose and the water from the firefighters, the owner says, the lid of the case received some fabric damage.  Although the case looks a bit torn up, it is original, and equally importantly, it is fully functional.  All latches and hinges work.  It has a replaced handle.  On the inside of the pocket is one of those red and creme braided old fashioned straps you see back in the 1930s (we love that).

Here are the comprehensive notes of our head of repair, Mr. Rocco Monterosso.    He says that the tuners are the original Grover open-gear, nickel-plated with oval buttons.   (The tuners are, admittedly, somewhat stiff - but they hold tune.)   He says that in the past the nut was replaced; the guitar was refretted.   However, the bridge plate underlying the top is original; the bridge is original and the original saddle now resides in the case pocket.  It has no visible cracks and no loose braces inside.   There was, however - when it came in - a tiny hairline crack running along the bridge pin holes - which we have fixed, and I am told that there was a small crack at the end of the fingerboard extension (I’m not sure where that is – I’m looking at the instrument and can’t see it) - but we fixed that also.  The finish on this guitar is wholly original and the case is original. 

Work that was just completed by noted expert repairperson, Leroy Aiello, includes  a neck reset and a refret and a bridge reglue.  We used all appropriate fret materials. 

THE COSMETIC CONDITION:   The headplate is Brazilian rosewood.  In this period the fingerboard and the bridge are ebony.  The headplate, which displays a few string changing marks, retains its shiny and vivid “C F Martin & Co., Est. 1833” logo.  Each of the capstans from the Grover tuners has its hexagonal grommet.  The fingerboard is inlaid with 6 mother of pearl dotmarkers of decreasing size in five fret positions.    This is normal pickwear evident on the face but mostly above the pickguard.  The back and sides, however, show far less than normal signs of use and playing time, but where the body contacted the back at the bass waist some finish is eroded and the same can be said for the back of the neck below the fifth fret.  Top and back are bound in black and the heel cap is ebony as well.  The top has an additional circumscription of four plies of black-white purfling, and the soundhole has the three-concentric ring rosette with 8 plies of contrast comprising the center ring.   And that is all we can say about the condition, which is extraordinary.   This guitar is in shockingly original condition - and it sounds explosive, full, rich, resonanant and full of presence and color.   This Advanced X, Forward shifted scalloped braced D-18  is an ideal fretted instrument - fulfilling all of the promise of what it means to be a pre-1938 Martin dreadnought.  

You need to hear this; you need to play this.   Prepare yourself for the finest acoustic experience it may be possible to have.   We feel that there is somebody out there who wishes to indeed own what is unquestionably one of the finest examples of a 1936 Martin D-18 extant.   The only method of payment is Wire Transfer of Funds.

NOW ON SALE.  THIS WAS $75,000.   Now it's lower . . .  

Our SALE Cash Discount Price $55,000.00.

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