1844 Schmidt & Maul Spanish Style Guitar
The "Spanish" Martin is a distinct style with specific features,
including a line though the middle of the sides, a delicate tapered heel,
fan bracing, and a Spanish Foot.
& Coupa above has been touted as containing a singularly
unique combination of features not found on any other known Martin
including elements showing Martin's Viennese and Spanish
influences, as well as the beginnings of his own
style. When I purchased this 1844 Schmidt
and Maul guitar at auction from Christie's, I was shocked to
discover that it contained every single one of the unique elements
recognized by Evans in the
Martin & Coupa above, including Viennese gears and Spanish fan
bracing, split sides with marquetry, simple holly borders and back
strip following through
the Viennese Style headstock with gears, and Spanish Style cedar
neck with a distinctive raised volute that has been flattened to
fit under the gear plate. This
Maul were also
guitars at an
in the small
the work of
and Maul were
Martin, and retained
John Coupa, Martin's
guitars to Schmidt
1844 Spanish Style Schmidt & Maul
This Schmidt & Maul has virtually every feature of the rare Spanish
Martin & Coupa from the Howe Collection which was thought by students
of the early guitar to be extremely unique, as described here:
The importance of this particular example as a transitional guitar with
the head design of the Viennese Staufer, the fan bracing, cedar neck with
Spanish heel, interior foot, tied bridge, and two-piece sides of a
pre-Torres Spanish guitar, and Martin's new body shape and pyramid bridge
design, is described by Evans:
"This instrument has a combination of features that is, to our knowledge,
unique on a Martin guitar. The head design is similar to that used
by Martin in the 1830's, with the tuning machines concealed under a metal
plate and buttons on one side, after the manner of Staffer. The
body, however, does not have the Staufer-inspired, wasp-waisted shape of
the 1830's, but is closer to the mature Martin style of twenty years
later. The shape suggests strongly that Marin had had the
opportunity to examine a Spanish-made guitar of about 1840, and was
experimenting with Spanish-style construction."
"This supposition is reinforced by the presence of Spanish features such
as we have seen on no other Martin guitar, including simple fan bracing
with three radiating struts, and a Spanish head and slipper foot into
which the sides are slotted. The division of the rosewood sides by a
narrow decorative hardwood strip is another feature borrowed from the
nineteenth-century Spanish guitars. The presence of this strip
weakens the sides; to give them strength, Martin fitted several vertical
braces int which the cross struts of the top and back are notched, framing
up the body."
"The design of the bridge is very modern for it's date. In shape it
conforms to the "pyramid" bridge pattern used by Martin throughout the
latter half of the nineteenth century and the first quarter of the
twentieth. But this is one of the very few nineteenth-century Martin
guitars to be made with a tied rather than a pin bridge. The strings
pass over a broad, backward sloping ivory saddle-piece before being
secured at the rear of the bridge."
"This guitar proves that C.F. Martin was one of the few makers outside
Spain in the early nineteenth century to be aware of the possibility of
fan strutting on the guitar, and that he experimented with it before
developing his own famous X-bracing system. It shows the American
gut-stringed guitar, the ancestor of the steel-sting guitar, at a critical
point of it's evolution, about to break away from the diverse European
influences to which it owed it's beginnings."
The unique headstock design of this example further reinforces the
transitional nature of this guitar. The Staufer style head with
Viennese gears combined with this style of attachment to the neck, with
the volute common on Martins to this day, is quite the surprise, never
seen on another Martin. All other Viennese gears seen on Martin
guitars to date have had metal tuning buttons.
The primary distinction between these guitars is the body shape, with the
Martin & Coupa having the more typical wider waist, flat bottom
Spanish shape which was adopted by Martin as a trademark of his 12 fret
1844 Spanish Style Schmidt & Maul Guitar
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have two piece sides
divided by a straight lines of holly, matching the holly binding.
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have a simple back
strip of straight lines of holly, which extends to the cap of an elegantly
curved heel on a cedar neck.
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have a 24" scale.
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have long headstocks
with Viennese gears.
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have the unique
combination of Viennese Gears on a headstock joined with a raised volute
with flattened ends to make room for the gear cover.
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have an ebony tie style
pyramid bridge with flat, broad inset ivory saddle.
The Schmidt & Maul bridge is larger than the Martin & Coupa
bridge, but the Spanish Martins that followed tended to have a larger than
usual bridge for a Martin.
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have a broad, thick
false Spanish Foot extending from the neck block.
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have mahogany braces
extending from the top and back braces to a cloth strip joining the center
of the sides.
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have thick beveled
blocks with bolts between the three rounded blades of the fan in place of
a bridge plate.
Both the Schmidt & Maul top is signed underneath the top: "George
Maul, New York, January 30, 1944"
Both the Schmidt & Maul and Martin & Coupa have simple fan bracing
with three blades, with a popsicle brace below the fingerboard.
The popsicle brace on the Schmidt & Maul has been beautifully crafted
Schmidt & Maul
Martin & Coupa
The Schmidt & Maul weighs 2 lbs, 9 oz.
12" 8 1/8"
3 5/8" 4 1/8"
1 1/8" x 6 1/2"
Neck at Nut
Neck at 12th Fret
The Martin & Coupa weighs 2 lbs. 8.8 oz.
11 3/8" 8 1/4"
3 3/8" 3 13/16"
7/8" 5 7/8"
Neck at Nut
Neck at 12th Fret
Washburn & Johnston p 35.
The Steve Howe Guitar Collection pp. 77, 78, 79
Evans pp. 235-236
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