Martin (used, 1913) 000-18 Twelve-String

Tag No 59-0884 Used

#11610, THE FIRST MARTIN TWELVE-STRING EVER MADE, in Brazilian rosewood and Adirondack, with a newer hard shell case.

This is one of the rarest C F Martin guitars we have ever offered for sale in our 38 years in show biz.   From a discussion with Dick Boak and based on occult information discovered in the deepest, most impenetrable, archives of The C F Martin Guitar Company – in 1913 -- the year Alan Ladd and Sammy Cahn were born, abolitionist Harriet Tubman died, and Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, The Rite of Spring, premiered in Paris, causing a riot --  C F Martin Company made this guitar as a special order for a customer.   It is made with an Adirondack spruce top, and Brazilian rosewood back and sides.

Eighty eight years later, the instrument, which was purchased at an auction that took place near the Martin factory in eastern Pennsylvania, was sent to a California repairperson/restorer – mainly to have a replacement neck carved and installed because the original neck had been thinned to 1 ¾” at the nut by a prior owner, and also there was an attempt to convert this to a six-string neck by filling the tuner holes in the top three positions and removing the top six tuners from the headstock.    The original neck exists and accompanies this instrument.   The reproduction neck, made by Stewart Port, Luthier, of Oakland, CA is accompanied by a copy of his “Survey and Repair Report” dated Nov. 13, 2001.  His neck is a first class duplication of what the original would have been, prior to thinning, with a proper nut width -- a comfortable 1 7/8”.  It retains the original neck’s pattern of three mother of pearl dotmarker inlays of decreasing size at frets 5, 7 and 9.   The original neck, like the reproduction, is slotted with rounded slots on top and bottom end; its tuners are open-gear, like the 6 tuners that remain on the old neck are, and like the old neck, each tuner has an ivoroid buttons.  The nut on the new neck (the nut is missing from the old neck) is carved from bone and properly fitted.  While on the original neck the 12th fret occurs at the joint of the neck to the body, on the new neck the connection occurs approximately 3/16” below the 12th fret -- this was apparently done for proper intonation.   The scale length, from nut to saddle, is long at 25.4”.  


Mr. Port reports that this guitar is made from Brazilian rosewood and spruce, and has no back binding; he notes that the headstock is long [it measures 8 5/16” above the nut] and that this model has typical Style-18 appointments for this period.  [Until 1917 Style -18 guitars were rosewood on the back and sides, and following 1917 they became mahogany.]  He continues that when the guitar came to him it had several minor cracks – one near the tailblock -- and that the back was loose from the sides.  The sides had displayed numerous cracks, some poorly repaired; the face showed moderate playing wear on the treble side of the strings [it still does].  His description of incoming condition is extensive and detailed, which is why we will provide the buyer a photocopy of it.    He did not mention (for some inexplicable reason) that there is a light colored, simple backstripe down the center seam of the back. 

On page two of his document Mr. Port says that he had hoped to restore the body without removing the back, but ultimately he was required to do so.  His workmanship was, in our opinion, exemplary.  His fee for this work, on an invoice dated November 13, 2001 was $2,628. 

Around eight years after Mr. Ports work was completed, the guitar was brought to C F Martin Guitar Co. and, per their repair quotation dated April 8, 2009, they glued top cracks, glued back cracks, filed and re-rounded the frets which were sticking out of the neck due to dryness.   This work totaled $286.20 with tax.  We thought you’d want to know.

On the inside, under the guitar’s top, is a handwritten annotation that states the serial number, the date 3/15 (March 1915), and then the initials of then President Frank Herbert Martin (“F.H.M.”) as was common to find under the tops of instruments made in the 19th century and early 20th

We have spoken by phone with Dick Boak, C F Martin Company Historian and Archivist, who went into his master log book (now transferred to computer) concerning Martin Serial numbers 8002 through 32898 and then found the entry for #11610 which is shown in the book as a “000-18, steel strings in pairs,” and then the entry “Per 6-26-15.”  Mr. Boak feels that the “6-26-15” information was taken from the guitar’s “shop order tag” at the time it was in the factory.    Our thought is that this might possibly be the date it was shipped. 

Mr. Boak referred me to page 275 in his recently published book (by Richard Johnston and Dick Boak), titled Martin Guitars: a Technical Reference.  On this page, in a footnote, is the statement that “The following very early one-of-a-kind 12-String models are not listed in the above totals [of all the postwar Martin 12-strings made by Martin].    000-18 12-string, made in 1913, 000-21 12-string, made in 1921, 000-28 12-string, made in 1936, C-1 12-string, made in 1932, C-2 12-string, made in 1932, F-1 12-string, made in 1941.”    The last three guitars listed are archtops, the first three are flattops.

One interesting anomaly upon which we are compelled to comment is that C F Martin guitars made prior to 1928 were braced (under the top) to accept gut strings (today we use nylon strings) as do classical guitars.  This guitar has X-bracing appropriate to steel string guitars, which tells us that even back in 1913 to 1915 the C F Martin Company knew how to brace for an steel string instrument they would not make in production until approximately 1928.  

The bridge that is presently on the instrument is the prewar style ebony, rectangular, “pyramid” style with a raised pyramid carved into both bass and treble sides.  The earlier bridge on this instrument was wider, and the shadow or footprint of the original bridge remains visible.  

A photocopy of a letter dated December 5, 2001 from Fred Oster, Vintage Instruments, in Philadelphia, PA states that this guitar is what we have stated above, that it has “no pickguard (as originally manufactured), and a replacement pyramid bridge in ebony with six double-slotted pin holes; the one-piece replacement neck of mahogany with a slotted head stock and Brazilian rosewood overlay, later nickel-plated six-on-a-plate tuners; the ebony fingerboard with twelve frets to the body and three graduated abalone dot position markers; the guitar is accompanied by the original, although modified, neck; restoration of the neck, fingerboard and bridge accomplished in 2001 by Stewart Port of Oakland, California.  The first 12-string made by the Martin Company and the only one made of this model.    Measurements:  Upper Bout:  10 ¾”, Center Bout: 8 7/8”, Lower Bout:  15”, Length of Back:  20 3/8”, Scale Length:  25 ¼”.”  . . [All punctuation his.] 

Finally, and in conclusion, being that this is the first C F Martin 12-string, this guitar is unique aspect of C F Martin history, and a major collectible.  Although the neck has been replaced, the work was done to an extremely high level of quality and attention to detail, and so was the restorative work performed on the body.  The purchaser of this fantastic piece will acquire the original neck, the old bridge plate and some wooden detritus that was removed from the interior.   In consideration of its rarity, the excellent restoration and commendable playability of the instrument, and the simply unbelievable sound quality we commend this guitar to you as being one of the most desirable C F Martin instruments to cross either our path or your path at any point during the 21st century.  

ON SALE:   USED TO BE $35,085 or at our cash discount price $35,000, but NOW ON SALE for WAY less!  CATCH THIS: NOW only: 

Our SALE Discount Price is $18,553.00 and Our SALE Cash Discount Price is $17,995.00.

This item cannot be purchased online.
Please call or email us to arrange for purchase.

Sorry, this item has been sold.
You may still add it to your want list, and we will contact you if your desired instrument comes in!

Additional Photos (click for expanded view)

8542 8544 8545 8546 8547 85508551 8552 8553 8554 8555 85568557 8558 8560 8561 8562