A Virtual Museum of

Vintage Martin Guitars

and free e-book

Illustrating and Exploring the Development of the
Martin Acoustic

Created by Folk and Roots Music Photographer

Robert Corwin


"perfecting the art of 'guitar porn' ... 

This site is an amazing labor-of-love, quite possibly the most in-depth, photo-intensive look ever at old, pre-war (and in many cases antique) Martin guitars … All online and for free."

--Jason Verlinde
The Fretboard Journal

"Without any hesitation I can say that in my opinion, the website that Robert has created is the most valuable source of information on Early Martin Guitars in existence today, in or out of print."

Bill Cappell, Early Martin Researcher

Robert's photographs can also be seen in the books "Martin Guitars, a History"
and "Martin Guitars, a Technical Reference" by Johnston, Boak & Longworth

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A Note About this Web Site...

I've chosen to present this information on the web for free, rather than publish a printed book, to make a comprehensive resource available

...at any time,

...any place in the world,

...even on your smartphone,

...regardless of your means. 

Publishing on the web allows me to show you the latest information immediately, without waiting for publication, without missing information obtained after a book is
published, or including information found to be obsolete.   Fortunately, careful choices have allowed me to self-fund this project and share the results without charging.
If I should ever decide to publish a physical book, I still have no plans to replace these free web sites. 

I've learned that the instruments produced under C.F. Martin Sr. in his first dozen or so years in America and his 22 year old grandson Frank Henry Martin, who led
the company for 67 years, during the productive Hawaiian boom of the teens, through the influential depression era, to the "golden" pre-WWII years, virtually define
the evolution of the acoustic guitar as we know it today, so I've focused on collecting and studying these transitional guitars. 

Martin's greatest achievement may have been listening well.  Virtually all of the greatest advancements in the development of the acoustic guitar were conceived of not
at the Martin factory, but at the suggestion of Martin's customers.  Martin's longtime distributor, John Coupa, lived in the classical world, who's players were attracted
to the influential guitars of Spain.  Madame DeGhoni commissioned guitars with prototypical X bracing, a necessary precursor to steel strings, from both Martin and
Schmidt & Maul.  Steel strings first appeared on the Hawaiian guitars commissioned by the Southern California Music Company.  The modern guitar shape is the result
of the neck meeting the body at the 14th fret as requested to attract former banjo players by Al Esposito of the Fischer Music Stores.  The Dreadnaught body style was
suggested by Harry Hunt of the Ditson Stores.  Martin Shop Foreman John Deichman helped realize many of these ideas.

Having guitars in hand has allowed me to to let the guitars speak for themselves, observing, measuring, and documenting, with exterior photos and images that
allow us to take a virtual walk through their interiors, and to present as often as possible the results of direct observation rather than speculation and debatable opinions. 
Simple observation has allowed me to correct errors in several of the most important elements of the narrative as presented by some major books on the subject, leading
me to question who was responsible for building the first Martins, adapting fan bracing, for "inventing" X bracing, and proposing the 14 fret neck design that informs
the shape of the modern guitar.

C.F. Martin & Co. has produced exquisite guitars, and I've been fortunate to assemble a number of the most beautiful, but I realized early on that any attempt at serious
research should also take the less expensive "bread and butter" examples seriously, rather than fall into the trap of relying on the "eye candy" of less typical "presentation
guitars" merely because they impress.  Unfortunately, while many more of the affordable guitars were produced, they were far less likely to survive their tough years.

I'm also fortunate to have lived life as a President's Fellow in Photography and Design at Rhode Island School of Design, in over 50 years of photographing musicians,
and as a professional designer with a background in publishing, so I've worked to apply my learnings to set a higher bar for graphic, vivid detail photos that I'm flattered
to find have been emulated already.  Producing the photos myself has also allowed me to avoid the industry funding used to help other projects cover the significant costs
of paying a commercial photographer, keeping this project independent and free of outside influence. 

While many of the foremost experts on vintage Martins are friends, and I owe thanks to all of them, I've been careful to avoid owing favors to friends, or to anyone in the
industry, that might interfere with my objectivity, or keep me from presenting my findings fully, letting the chips fall where they may, and not having to worry about who
might be offended and who will "look good".

www.earlymartin.com contains 67 chapters.  www.vintagemartin.com is 139 chapters and growing, including more detail, photos, and free, full-size downloadable diagrams
than any book could include. 

I don't believe that producing a web site rather than a book is a compromise in any way.

More than simply a free e-book, I would not be surprised to see this inclusive personal experiment of creating in public to become commonplace in the future.   

This web site will always be a work in progress.  Not all sections are complete, and more may appear.  Hopefully, all of the links are working now.  I've reorganized the entire
site and the pieces continue to come together, but there are still holes and place holders.  Feel free to enjoy what's here, and check back for further additions, refinements,
and corrections as you wish.  Thanks to your suggestions, I've added an index.  I've also added more bracing diagrams, which are now cleaned up nicely thanks to the CAD
skills of luthier Per Marklund in Sweden.  I look forward to adding specific thanks to the many other friends and experts who have helped make this web endeavor possible,
along with links to other helpful resources.  On this platform, the possibilities are limitless.

I recently presented and videotaped a workshop in partnership with Fretboard Journal, with the help of friends including Noel "Paul" Stookey of Peter, Paul & Mary, playing
a number of my guitars to demonstrate the differences in the sounds of their various features.  I hope to add this as well as other videos and sound clips to the web site soon.

I've also purchased several other wonderful early Martins that I'll be adding soon, including the unique and legendary double body Model America, and another fancy transitional early Martin with experimental bracing.

  No project is perfect.  Perhaps my biggest asset is having you as partners, in daily communication, alerting me to new information, and providing an unprecedented team of proofreaders, rather than have me grit my teeth over a newly published book filled with typos that will annoy forever.  :)  Thanks!

I thought you might want to take advantage of what we have so far.

Please let me know what you think.

Robert Corwin

- Please note -
Yes, this is a work in progress, as promised!  I'm in the process of adding several exciting new instruments to this web site.  
The new chapters for these instruments have not all been completed yet, so the associated links are not all operable at this time.
I also have not yet adjusted the index to reflect the new added chapter numbers, so the index is not now accurate.
I hope to finish making these changes in the coming days.  Thanks for your patience and understanding in the mean time!

  January 1, 2020

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One of the most gratifying aspects of this project has come in the form of notes received from luthiers I admire telling me that the site has provided information useful for
the restoration or repair of vintage instruments or the building of innovative new ones.

"The internet is another good source of reference.  One website with good close up photos of vintage instruments... that I particularly like is vintagemartin.com. 
It is possible to extrapolate measurements from some of these photos if you already know the dimensions of other details in the photo.  That type of thing can be very useful..."

Guild of American Luthiers, 2011 Convention Keynote Lecture by Joe Konkoly, Head of repair at Elderly Instruments.

Please let me know how the site may be more useful in the future.

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Start here if you're looking for help Identifying C. F. Martin Acoustic Guitars

A Martin Timeline

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~ Download the above headstock image as a 1680 pixel Screensaver, free for your personal use as my gift to you! ~

~ Click on the headstock image below and download a hi-res file to create a high quality 11" x 14" photographic print, suitable for framing, free for your personal use as my gift to you! ~

~ Download any of nineteen full size 1:1 diagrams, with precise measurements of fifteen important early Martin, Panormo, Recio of Cadiz, Schmidt & Maul guitars,
a 1917 Martin/Ditson Standard "baby Dreadnaught", a 1929 12 fret 000-28, an early 1930 OM-28, and a 1944 000-18, all free for your personal use. ~

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

Obtaining Proper Permits for Shipping Vintage Instruments Overseas from the USA

Complying with

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

and the Endangered Species Act (ESA)

'  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '


I absolutely love these, but I really do need to make just a bit of room for new ones.

Instruments for Sale

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A Few Words on Photographing Guitars

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Truss Rods and Necks

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~ PART 1 ~

 ~ The Nineteenth Century ~


Before the Styles Were Defined


Stauffer "Renaissance" Style Legnani Model Guitar

Long before C.F. Martin came to New York from Markneukirchen, Saxony and established his music store on the lower East Side of New York City,
Martin is said to have apprenticed in the acclaimed workshop of Johann Georg Stauffer of Vienna, builder of the Stauffer "Legnani" Model,
perhaps the most modern of European guitars.  

Ironically, early Martin guitars are known for their "Stauffer headstock",  a distinctive headstock with six tuning machines in line on a single side of the
headstock, as emulated today on Fender guitars, and which were referred to by Martin as "Vienna Gears".  In actual fact, more Stauffer guitars have a paddle
shaped headstock with ebony friction pegs than what has come to be known as the "Stauffer" head.

Stauffer guitars typically have a thin, wide "figure 8" shaped body with an upper bout more equal in size to the lower bout, also seen on the earliest
Martin guitars, as opposed to the guitars of Spain, with a smaller upper bout on a narrow body, as later adopted by Martin and still prominent today.

The unique one of a kind "Renaissance" Style Stauffer guitar seen here, with a body that flows seamlessly into the neck, is clearly the model for the
unique one of a kind "Renaissance" Style Martin guitar seen below, so we're lucky that both have survived.


Chapter 1.

Martin Stauffer Style Guitar

The history of the Martin begins with this guitar.  Several books show this guitar, labeled as a Stauffer, along with what has been considered to be the
earliest existent Martin guitar, to show the influence of the Viennese Stauffer workshop, where Martin once apprenticed, on the first guitars built by
Martin in the new world.  A large photo of this instrument is displayed in the Martin Museum
next to the early Martin to illustrate this connection.

When I compared the two guitars side by side and photographed their interiors, the DNA emerged of two near identical siblings, obviously conceived
by the same hands at the same time with minor cosmetic variation,
a fact now accepted by other Martin experts.  As you'll see as you read further, it was
typical in the early days of Martin, when they had an order for one guitar, to build a second with minor variation in trim. 
The two instruments feature
small, shallow, figure-eight shaped bodies
with large upper bouts and identical dimensions, and spruce tops and maple veneer backs over spruce with
maple sides.  Both have
Stauffer style headstocks with Vienna gears, necks with inlaid stripes of ebony and ivory, raised angled fretboard extensions,
abalone soundhole designs set in mastic,
and intricate ivory and ebony ice cream cone heels with clock key adjustments and hand shaped neck blocks with
identical hardware.
Each guitar is ladder braced with
a similar "buttress" under the fretboard extension of each.

This guitar has no stamps or label
, adding to the belief that it came from the workshop of Stauffer, not Martin.  Once I recognized that it came from
the same hands as the Martin, the question was raised of whether this guitar and the Martin stamped example might both have been built by others in Europe,
and one was
imported by Martin, with the Martin stamp added, along with a label proclaiming Martin as an "importer of musical instruments".  Perhaps both
were made by a fellow immigrant living in New York City.  Mr. Martin, after all, was a busy owner of a Manhattan music store.  Martin's records, however,
show that Martin imported only more affordable guitars, and
Martin moved to this country with his friend Heinrich Schatz, a well trained luthier who worked in
Martin's New York shop, and who's later work was similar to and every bit as skilled as the finest early Martins. 
o it's likely that these two guitars were
both built in Martin's shop after all.

It's traditionally been assumed that all early C.F. Martin guitars were built by C. F. Martin.  We now know that Mr Schatz, at a minimum, had a hand in building
the guitars.  Schatz was a fine builder, and Martin a busy shopkeeper.  Did Schatz do all the building of the early fine Martin guitars?  Perhaps we will never know.

These two guitars, if not typical, are the pinnacle of guitars offered by C. F. Martin when he first came to America.


Illustrated in Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker":

"The similarities between these two guitars are startling...  Note the almost identical bridge, soundhole rosette, and angled cut at the end of the fretboard,
as well as the adjustable neck with fretboard floating above the soundboard.   Both guitars also have maple backs and sides, though Martin would soon
shift almost exclusively to rosewood."

Illustrated in Gura, "C. F. Martin and His Guitars, 1796-1873"

Illustrated in Bacon, "History of the American Guitar"


Chapter 2.

 Early C.F. Martin "Ferrani" Hudson Street Viennese Style Guitar

While the earliest Viennese influenced Martins had rather small figure-eight shaped bodies with large upper bouts, the "Hudson Street label" Martins built later in the
could be surprisingly large and deep guitars reminiscent of the later Gibson Nick Lucas.  These guitars, like their Viennese predecessors, had simple ladder bracing.

This guitar appears to be in the Style Mr. Martin referred to as a "Ferranti".

"In October, for example (Coupa) ordered two "small DeGoni” at $20 each, two large ones with pegs, and one "Ferranti"...The "Ferranti" was named for another well known
player, Marc Aurelio Ferranti, guitarist to the king of Belgium.  His instrument was also described as large, of a more "circular” form - that is, with both bouts about the same width.”

Gura, p 76.  Coupa to Martin, New York, October 15, 1849.

While a typical Martin of the period might be 11 5/8" wide and 3 1/4" deep, the Ferranti Martin is 12 5/8" wide and 4 1/4" deep, close to the depth of the famously deep Nick Lucas.

This guitar is typical of what Martin was building in the late 1830's before leaving New York for Pennsylvania.  While most people associate the Viennese influenced Martins with
Stauffer style headstocks with Vienna gears, many of these originally had slotted headstocks with machines, some of which have been improperly replaced due to misunderstanding.

While the back and sides appear to be Brazilian rosewood, the back is in fact a rosewood veneer over spruce.  Most early Martins were built in this fashion, with
the customer's choice of a variety of quality hardwood veneers over either spruce or mahogany.
Most of the Hudson Street Martins have a top border of "thumbprint" inlays as well as the "herringbone" trim that has distinguished Martins for many years.  The inlays may
have been crafted from halves of button blanks from neighboring lower East Side garment dealers.


Illustrated in Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker":

"Martin ledgers from the 1830's suggest that most of C.F. Sr.'s guitars were small and plain.  The eye catching inlays on this fancy model probably
ensured it's survival, while most of the simple guitars from this period were discarded long ago."

Chapter 3.

 Martin & Schatz Guitar

One of the most significant early Martins, this Martin & Schatz labeled guitar resided in a glass case at the new Martin factory in the years
preceding the addition of a formal Martin Museum. 

During his first decade of operations in New York City, C. F. Martin's discovery of the fan braced guitars of Cadiz, Spain greatly influenced the
direction of the design of his guitars. 

Built in the old world tradition with
Viennese gears, and one of a handful of Martins with an ivory fingerboard and a small few with an ivory
shield shaped bridge
, this was also
one of the first one or two Martins built with a variation of fan bracing and the narrow early Spanish
"plantilla" or body shape.

This instrument was built with a rosewood veneer over mahogany and rosewood sides.


Illustrated in Gura, "C. F. Martin and His Guitars, 1796-1873"

Illustrated in Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker".

Illustrated in "Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre–Civil War Innovations of C. F. Martin and His Contemporaries", where a diagram erroneously shows a
significantly different bracing pattern than the photo above shows to be true, and the narrative implies an evolution from ladder to fan bracing, while fan bracing
was not "evolved" by Martin, but copied from the Spanish guitars he observed.

Illustrated in "The Martin Story: A Brief History of the Martin Guitar Company", .C.F Martin & Co.

Illustrated in Carter  "Acoustic Guitars and Other Fretted Instruments".

Illustrated in Bacon, "History of the American Guitar"

Chapter 4.

Jose Recio, Cadiz Guitar

The developing shape of the Martin guitar, with a smaller upper bout, was influenced by the guitars of Cadiz, Spain.  The "Spanish" style Martin guitars of
the 1840's copied many of the features of guitars of Cadiz, including fan bracing, the cedar neck with thin curved heel, square headstock with "volute"
tuning pegs
, "Spanish foot", two piece sides, rosette with thinner outer rings, and tied bridge with ivory or bone inset.

Chapter 5.

 Martin & Coupa Brazilian "Tigerwood" Guitar

Once the Martin family moved from New York City to rural Pennsylvania in 1838, distribution of the guitars remained in New York, handled by guitar teacher John Coupa,
and the guitars
were either affixed with a "Martin & Coupa" label, or continued to be stamped "C.F. Martin, New York".

This is a typical early Martin parlor guitar, showing a mix of Viennese and Spanish influenced features:  Still with the Stauffer Style headstock and Vienna gears, ebonized neck
and "ice cream cone" heel, combined with Spanish fan bracing, an early precursor of Martin's faux Spanish foot, extending the width of the upper bout, and an early version of
Martin's typical Spanish influenced body shape, with a smaller upper bout than the Viennese influenced guitars, and a flatter base of the lower bout than is found on later Martins.

This instrument has been noted in several books as an early illustration of Martin's use of Hawaiian koa wood, long before koa was first thought to have been used during
the Hawaiian craze of the teens.  Recent testing has shown this wood to in fact be Goncalo Alves from Eastern Brazil, commonly referred to as "Tigerwood".

The back
is a Goncalo Alves veneer over mahogany.


Illustrated in Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker":

"You don't often find Hawaiian koa on mid-nineteenth-century guitars; in fact, you don't find much koa on anything at that early date.  Around 1915,
when the Hawaiian music craze swept the nation, Martin began to make lots of instruments from this beautiful wood, but one can only speculate
why C.F. Sr. chose to try it on this Martin & Coupa from the 1840's."

Illustrated in Carter  "Acoustic Guitars and Other Fretted Instruments":

"Stuck over the Martin & Coupa label is one indicating that the guitar was "Sold by John F. Nunns".  Martin & Coupa claimed the largest assortment of
guitars that can be found in the United States."

Chapter 6.

Martin Bird's Eye Terz

This guitar was likely built at close to the same time as the Tigerwood Martin and Coupa above but with three differences.  It is a smaller "Terz" guitar. 
It was built with a bird's eye maple veneer over mahogany rather than Goncoa Alves.  And it has a single Martin, New York stamp in place of the Martin & Coupa label.
The Terz is a small guitar, still made by Martin today, and made popular more recently by Marty Robbins.


The dimensions are:

22 1/8" scale

18 1/4" body length

11 3/8" body width

32" total length

3 3/8" depth at upper bout

3 3/4" depth at lower bout

1 3/4" nut width

2 5/16" string spacing

4 29/32" wide bridge

6" x 1 7/8" x 3" headstock

3 1/4" soundhole

Ebony pegs

Ice Cream Cone heel

Black binding

Broad foot under wide rounded neck block

Three rounded back braces at 4", 3 3/4", 3 3/4"

Three strut fan braces

Bridge plate

While this guitar was build at approximately the same time as the Martin & Coupa, the Martin & Coupa label was used only on guitars distributed from New York by John Coupa while Martin was also selling
a smaller number of guitars directly from the workshop at their new home in Cherry Hill, Pennsylvania.

Chapter 7.

 Martin & Coupa Spanish Style Guitar

This example epitomizes the Martin guitar at a critical point in it's evolution.  The "Spanish" Martin is a distinct style with specific features clearly
showing Martin's awareness of the pre-Torres guitar of Spain.  This guitar retains features of Martin's earliest Viennese influenced guitars,
including the "Stauffer Style" headstock with "Vienna Gears", while adding features of the Spanish guitar.

This fine example of perhaps the earliest of Martin's versions of a Spanish guitar has many prototypical Spanish features:  cedar neck with
elegantly curved Spanish heel, Spanish style interior false foot, tie style bridge with ivory inset, fan braces, two piece rosewood sides with simple
lengthwise center strip dividing the two pieces, and both bindings and simple back strip with straight lines
made of holly extending into the heel.

This guitar is also an early example of features which would become hallmarks of Martin design for years to come, such as the ebony pyramid style
bridge, and Martin's version of the Spanish body shape with a smaller upper bout than the Viennese influenced guitars.

This could be the earliest Martin we've seen to have solid Brazilian rosewood backs and sides in place of a back of rosewood veneer.


Illustrated in Evans, "Guitars: Music, History, Construction and the Players, from Renaissance to Rock"

While interviews related to a
recent museum exhibit of early Martin guitars infers that the "Spanish Connection" is a recent discovery, the
importance of this instrument in illustrating the significance of the influence to C.F. Martin of the "Pre-Torres' guitars of Cadiz, Spain was
recognized here by Evans, in these words published 46 years ago, in 1977, and reprised in the 1997 writing of Washburn and Johnston: 

"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 Stauffer.  The body,
however, does not have the Stauffer-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 Martin 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 into 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."

Illustrated in Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker":

"The most interesting parts of this Martin & Coupa are what you can't see.  The neck has a Spanish-shaped heel, with the sides slotted into a
neck block with an interior "foot".  The top is also fan braced, a feature this guitar shares with several other Martin & Coupa instruments.  Other small
details from this experimental period at Cherry Hill strongly suggest that C.F. Sr. was turning away from Northern European guitar design and
incorporating ideas found on Spanish instruments predating guitarmaker Antonio Torres's guitars.

Illustrated in "The Steve Howe Guitar Collection"

Chapter 8.

Schmidt & Maul Spanish Style Guitar

The Martin & Coupa above has been touted as containing a singularly unique combination of features not found on any other known Martin guitar,
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. 
guitar shows us that Schmidt & Maul were also influenced by Spanish guitars at an early date.  



 It is inconceivable in the small community of German immigrants
that one builder would have so blatantly "ripped off" the work of another, especially considering
that Schmidt and Maul were formerly both employees of Martin, and
retained a friendly relationship into the 1850's. It was likely John Coupa, Martin's partner,
distributor, and
a classical guitarist who introduced Martin to Spanish guitars, also introduced the Spanish guitars to
Schmidt & Maul, who
worked upstairs at the same address as Coupa.

Chapter 9.

Early Transitional Viennese/Spanish
Style Martin & Coupa Guitar

Some folks studying early Martin guitars make a point of presenting the guitars in chronological order to establish a sequence of events.  This can be a difficult
endeavor with somewhat unsatisfying results.  Once Martin introduced a new feature, it was added to his menu of available options for customers to choose from, so
not only do features show up far after one would have thought them to be obsolete, but guitars keep popping up with features that we thought to have come far later.

This guitar has some features associated with the Martin & Coupas, including the ebony pyramid tie style bridge with inset ivory saddle, the "shelf" style of
"Spanish foot", and five strut fan braces.   The wide, open rosette is more reminiscent of Panormo or the guitars of Cadiz, Spain.  This guitar has a Viennese
influenced ebonized neck with "Stauffer Style" head with Vienna Gears and ice cream cone heel.  We see the herringbone border on the sides that are usually
found on Martin's earliest guitars from the Hudson Street days.  And we are surprised by a wide marquetry top border of the style generally found on a Style 34,
after Martin's styles were established in the 1850's.

Not surprisingly this guitar shares features with some of Martin's simplest guitars, while the herringbone side trim is seen on Martin's most decorative guitars,
and the delicate back border is only seen on a handful of early Martins.  The back is rosewood veneer over mahogany.

By comparison, the Spanish Martin & Coupa above looks similar from the front with it's Spanish shape, "Stauffer" head, and ebony tie bridge with inset,
but has an "earlier" three strut fan, which generally defines the era, and a
later Spanish heel, while this guitar has the earlier ebonized neck with ice cream
cone heel and herringbone side trim, and
a later style of marquetry.


Chapter 10.

Martin Spanish Style Guitar

This guitar is a uniquely fine example of Martin's version of the Spanish guitar, with many of the typical features:  cedar neck with elegantly curved Spanish
heel, large, square headstock flared to a wide end, with pegs, nickel silver nut, Spanish style interior false foot, tie bridge, fan braces, two piece rosewood sides
with decorative side filets and a decorative lengthwise center strip with marquetry dividing the two sections, and back with rosewood veneer over mahogany.

With the fancy appearance of perhaps the most jewel-like Martin "presentation" guitar existent, with a top border of pearl diamonds set in mastic, and a
version of one of the
three basic pearl diamond-adorned soundhole designs with two rows of
glittering tiny pearl diamonds surrounding a solid band of colorful
abalone, this example was clearly built to be played, with a large, long scale, modern feeling neck, which gives this guitar the feel in-hand of a much larger guitar.


Illustrated in Gura, "C. F. Martin and His Guitars, 1796-1873":

"This instrument has rosewood sides and back (laminated); marquetry on back and side edges and through the center of it's sides; pearl trim around the
center of it's sides; pearl trim around the top, and an abalone rosette.  Note in particular the beautiful abalone soundhole and top trim, found on Martin's
highest-style guitars, and the ivory tie bridge."

Matt Umanov, Umanov Guitars, New York:

"Most interestingly, it also has a longer scale; at 24.5" it is nearly that of a grand concert size Martin.  This suggests possible construction for concert use,
as it gives the guitar an amazingly sonorous tone, far out of proportion to it's size."

Chapter 11.

Martin Renaissance Style Guitar

This guitar shares many features with the 1840's Spanish Style guitar above, including the ivory bound headstock with pegs
and thin ebony lines
delineating all edges of the headstock, volute and neck
, cedar neck, elegant heel, nickel silver nut, fan bracing, identical ivory tie block bridge, 2 piece sides
divided by a longitudinal strip of marquetry, details of internal construction, and a long modern feeling neck.  This unique "Renaissance" shape,
however, can be seen on only a handful of early Martin guitars.

But the unique details go further than that.  This is the only known example of a Martin with sides tapered to fit the contour of the neck heel in a
most elegant fashion.  The neck is a full 2" wide, with a 24.75" scale, and this is one of only two Martins known to have a unique peak at the
tip of the ivory bound headstock.  Besides being one of the most unusual Martin examples known to exist, the condition is breathtaking, all original
and looking like an almost new guitar.

This is another early example with solid Brazilian rosewood backs and sides in place of a rosewood veneer back.


Richard Johnston, co-author "Martin Guitars, a Technical Reference":

"This is the earliest Martin guitar I have seen in many years, and without doubt the most unusual. Words like “unique” and “extremely rare” get tossed
around frequently when describing vintage guitars, but in this case we’re not exaggerating. Only seven of these unusual “Renaissance” shape Martins
have surfaced to date, and only this one has the sides tapered to fit the contour of the neck heel."

Illustrated in Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker":

"This elegant peghead has been seen on only a handful of early Martins...  The ivory sides... later evolved into a thin border on only the uppermost
edge of the peghead."

"The compound curve of the guitar where the sides meet the neck is sure to inspire admiration from any serious woodworker...no other Martin
guitar has surfaced in which the sides form a continuous, smooth transition into the neck.  The low-profile shoulders would make playing in
upper positions on this guitar almost as easy as on a cutaway guitar.

Please note:  I'm proud to say that the "Renaissance Martin" shown above, as well as it's "likeness" or image, are the sole property of the Corwin Collection. 

Sadly, numerous images of this important guitar were knowingly reproduced in the book "Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre–Civil War Innovations of
C. F. Martin and His Contemporaries" by Szego and Shaw without proper attribution, and without obtaining the necessary permission requested and required
to legally reproduce it's image for commercial use.

The image and "likeness" of this guitar are the sole property of the Corwin Collection, and may not be legally reproduced without permission.


Chapter 12.

Martin & Coupa "Small DeGoni" Hybrid X Braced Guitar

It is believed by many that Martin developed X_bracing.  X braced guitars, in fact, were ordered by Madame De Ghoni from both Martin and Schmidt
& Maul.  The similarity of the treatments show more than similar interpretations of the same request.  An investigation into the development of X bracing
on Martin and Schmidt & Maul guitars leaves us wondering again about the relationship between the two firms.

Besides Henirich Schatz, we now know that Louis Schmidt was also an employee as early as 1834 or 1835.  The longer we study this guitar, the more we
must wonder if Mr. Maul also played a large part in building early Martin guitars, and perhaps continued to consult with Martin after Martin left New York
and moved to Pennsylvania, playing much of the role in the development of X braces and the modern guitar, that Mr. Deichmann played in the development
of the 14 fret guitar and the Martin Dreadnaught.  Schmidt & Maul were certainly familiar with Martin guitars, and if a customer of John Coupa returned a guitar
for repair, it certainly would have been more convenient to deliver the guitar upstairs for repair rather than return it to Nazareth!

This Martin was built with what I believe was the first experimental variation of X-bracing, appearing at about the same time on a handful of Martin and Schmidt
& Maul guitars.  One Schmidt & Maul, not necessarily the earliest, is dated 1845, while the example produced by Martin for Madame DeGhoni is dated 1843. 

"Coupa could be much more specific in his requests.  In October, for example he ordered two "small DeGoni” at $20 each, two large ones with pegs, and one "Ferranti".  The “DeGoni"
was a model named after Delores Nevares DeGoni, a well-known performer who occasionally appeared on the stage with Coupa.   When she came to the United States in 1843 she
brought a large patterned Spanish guitar, copied by both Martin and Schmidt and Maul, which thus may have provided Martin with the incentive for producing some guitars
in what was termed the"Spanish style”.

Gura, p 76.  Coupa to Martin, New York, October 15, 1849.

This guitar appears to be what Martin called the "Small DeGoni"  While most DeGoni Style Martins were Size 1, this example is quite close in size to a standard
Size 2 Martin.  This guitar also foreshadows a standard Martin Style 21, with simple, tasteful appointments including a herringbone rosette and back strip and
a top border consisting of simple light and dark lines.  The back is a rosewood veneer over mahogany.


Illustrated in Carter  "Acoustic Guitars and Other Fretted Instruments":

"By 1839 Martin had moved his workshop from New York to Pennsylvania, and this relatively plain example of a Martin & Coupa guitar was
probably made at the new location.  Note also the squared off headstock with rear-facing tuning pegs rather than the old Stauffer-influenced design."

Illustrated in Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker" with Schmidt & Maul Guitar:

"The mystery of which is the first X-braced guitar will probably never be solved, but these two early candidates were clearly made by builders who were
aware of each other and may have even been acquaintances.  The fact that two very similar guitars - both sold in New York in the latter 1840's and
both made by German immigrants - have nearly identical X-patterns under the top suggests that there was a considerable pool of talent at work.  Whether
X bracing was a concept shared among compatriots or pirated by competitors is the only question left unanswered. (This) guitar bears a Martin & Coupa
label, and Martin historian Mike Longworth's research into insurance policies held by C.F. Martin Sr. on Coupa's 385 Broadway address suggests that
Martin had guitars there as late as 1851 and certainly for several years before that.  Regardless of which came first, Martin was the firm that went on to
make X bracing a standard feature of the American guitar."

Chapter 13.

Ornate Martin "DeGoni" Hybrid X Braced Guitar

The Martin produced for Madame DiGoni is one of several that were rather plain, while some were quite fancy.  This example has a number
of high end features, including the jewel like rosette, fancy marquetry side filets, and a few unique features.   This is a rare example with
marquetry on all borders.  A handful of other Martins have fancy wood marquetry on the top and side borders, but surprisingly, not on the
back border as on this one.  A handful of other Martins have the headstock edge sheathed in ivory.  This rare example has a handsome contrast
of ivory sheathing on a black faced headstock, finished off with pearl inlaid ivory pegs.  Like other Martins of the period, this example has
the faux Spanish foot and nickel silver nut.  This example also has an ivory pyramid style pyramid bridge with the vestigal scooped back.


Chapter 14.

Schmidt & Maul 1847 Alternate X Braced Guitar

This Schmidt & Maul, dated 1847, has another experimental form of bracing, consisting of fan braces, with three struts, and a tone bar that extends past the
treble end of the bridge and across the treble strut to form a small X under the treble side of the top.

The Schmidt & Maul contains many
elements similar to the Martin, including herringbone trim, a Spanish false foot, ebonized neck with ice cream cone
heel, ebony
tie style pyramid bridge with ivory inset, and a similar company stamp on the upper back near the heel, not surprising since Louis
Schmidt worked for Martin ten years earlier.


I suspect that this variation was an early one, as it contains a complete three strutted fan, while the other variation, seen on Martins, Martin & Coupas, and
Schmidt & Mauls, contain only the outer struts of the fan in combination with a large X.

Chapter 15.

Size 3 "Small DiGoni" Hybrid X Braced Spanish Martin Guitar

While the instrument made for Madame Di Goni is thought by some to be Martin's first X  braced guitar, this size 3 Martin,
which fits the description of a "Small DiGoni" has the same hybrid of X and fan bracing with a number of Spanish influenced features
that precede those on the Di Goni guitar, which has no features indicating an earlier age.. 


While Martin often mixed older features with newer ones, this guitar, an early version of a Style 3-24, has an early tie style bridge rather
than a later pyramid pin bridge, an early elegantly curved Spanish heel, a back strip of straight holly lines, an early wide version of the slotted
headstock with large bone rollers, a rosette more reminiscent of a Martin & Coupa with tiny dentils, rather than the more standard Style 21
herringbone, and a broad full 2" wide neck width, along with a faux Spanish foot, and an earlier rounded popsicle brace.

Chapter 16.

Size 1 Hybrid X Braced Spanish Martin Guitar

This Martin, with the exact same experimental variation of X-bracing appearing on the Martin & Coupa in Chapter 11, also has several distinctive 1840's
features, including a Spanish foot, Spanish heel, nickel silver nut, and large abalone fretboard markers on the side of the neck, as well as the colored diamond
backstrip, outer rosette rings with a tiny rope pattern, and checkerboard binding sometimes seen on early Martins.


This early Spanish Style Martin appears in a larger Size 1, with a variant of the classic three ring soundhole rosette with double ivory center
rings that later distinguished the Style 28.

Chapter 17.

 Early Hybrid X Braced Schmidt & Maul Guitar

This Schmidt & Maul also has the "Hybrid X" bracing identical to that in the Martin & Coupa in Chapter 11 and Martin in Chapter 13.

This instrument includes many of Martin's features of the period, including a Spanish cedar neck with slotted headstock, a pin style pyramid bridge, a Spanish
false foot, neck block and center strip stamps, a three ring rosette with green "tooth" inner ring and small "rope" outer rings, "half arrowhead" marquetry top and
side borders, and an "arrowhead" marquetry back strip.


Chapter 18.

 Martin Mid-1840's Alternate X Brace Spanish Style Guitar

This Size 1 Martin has another experimental variant of X bracing,
similar in concept the Schmidt & Maul in Chapter 12, with a large X, and a tone bar below
the bridge crossing the treble brace of the X
to form another, smaller X.  
Following a similar train of thought as the Schmidt & Maul, with a tone bar crossing on the treble
strut of the fan to form a smaller X, this appears to be the first of the variants to contain a large, complete X.


The soundhole of this guitar has another variation of the diamond rosette, with a tasteful single center ring of alternating long and short abalone diamonds. 
This example also has
features typical of a mid-1840's Martin, including a Spanish foot, Spanish heel, nickel silver nut, large abalone fretboard markers
on the side of the neck, ebony pyramid bridge with a "scooped" or "lipped" back, and a large diamond end strip and outer rosette rings with a tiny rope pattern
of early Martins and arrowhead backstrip of later 19th century Martins.

Chapter 19.

 Martin Mid-1840's X Braced Spanish Guitar

This Spanish Style guitar has been called perhaps the earliest known Martin to feature a mature X brace, 
essentially the same as it has appeared for many years since. 
Still with the earliest typical Spanish features such as
cedar neck with Spanish heel, two piece rosewood sides with a simple lengthwise center strip dividing
the two pieces, distinctive holly binding, and simple back strip with straight lines extending into the heel.
  The heel on this guitar is thicker and not as elegantly
curved as on earlier examples, and the Spanish foot has been eliminated.


Bill Capell, from the essay "Early C.F. Martin Guitars":

"This is the earliest known example of this style bracing that would go on to become the standard for all modern acoustic guitars."

Images of this important guitar were also included in the book "Inventing the American Guitar: The Pre–Civil War Innovations of C. F. Martin and His Contemporaries"
by Szego and Shaw, without the required permission, and were erroneously attributed to the Martin Collection, which has never owned this guitar.

The image and "likeness" of this guitar are the sole property of the Corwin Collection, and may not be legally reproduced without permission.

Chapter 20.

 Martin 1840's Spanish Style Guitar with Ebonized Spanish Neck

This highly unusual guitar is the only example of a Spanish Style Martin known to have a Spanish heel neck with an ebonized finish and no volute, with the exception of an early Martin
harp guitar who's ebonized neck could easily have been designed to match the ebony support.  This may be an extremely early example, and perhaps the first incarnation, of a Spanish
neck Martin.  Being identical in many aspects to the Martin in Chapter 11 with "Hybrid X" Bracing, this is likely to also be one of the earliest examples of a Martin with "mature X" bracing.

This is also an early example of a Martin with a solid ring of pearl in the rosette.  Many of the finer early Martins had elegant decorative rings of "white pearl" diamonds and/or squares. 
By the early 1850's, the jewel like rings of pearl are replaced by a thin central ring of solid abalone.  This example has an elegant, somewhat wider 7/64" solid ring of pure "White Japan
Pearl", most likely a transition from the white pearl diamonds and squares, to the 5/64" wide solid abalone ring found on the standard Style 27 and Style 30 and higher Martins.


George Gruhn:

"An incredibly rare and historically significant instrument.  I do not recall having seen any with a Spanish heel, lack of a volute on the back the peghead, and black neck finish like this one."

Chapter 21.

Martin 1840's Mahogany Size 3 Guitar

C.F. Martin Sr. did not generally use mahogany for backs and sides of his guitars, choosing instead Brazilian Rosewood, maple, and even "Tigerwood".  The first cataloged
model with mahogany was the Style 17 when it was reintroduced in 1906 by Frank Henry Martin.

In the 1840's
, however, before standardizing models, Martin did build a number of Size 3 guitars selling for $16 with mahogany backs and sides.

The typical $16 size 3 Martin had no binding on the back.

This highly unusual example has a rare combination of ebonized neck with a solid headstock and pegs, beautiful figured mahogany
, rosewood fingerboard, and fancy binding
on the back, as well as a Martin stamp on the upper back, an original scooped back pyramid bridge, and strap pin on the back.


Chapter 22.

 Martin 1850's Ivory Fingerboard Stauffer/Spanish Style X Braced Guitar

Martin sometimes held over features for many years, offering guitars with a mix of features from many periods on request.  One such set of features is
the Stauffer Style headstock with Vienna gears on an ebonized neck with ice cream cone heel.  This fancy, small size 3 presentation guitar with ivory
fingerboard and Vienna gears
was most likely built in the 1850's.

This example has the third of the three basic pearl diamond soundhole designs, with twin bands of tiny alternating long and short pearl diamonds, as
well as fancy wood marquetry on the top border and
on the sides adjacent to the top and back binding, and rare, gold plated frets.  With beautiful Brazilian
rosewood veneer over spruce on the back, the earliest features such as the
ebonized neck and ice cream cone heel are combined with mature X braces. 
The back is a rosewood veneer over spruce.


Illustrated in Bacon, "History of the American Guitar":

"Gradually, Christian Martin began to bring to the guitars he made more of his own ideas on construction and design.  The most obvious visual
change when comparing this example to the earlier Stauffer-style is the narrower upper body, giving an overall shape that is more like a modern guitar."

Chapter 23.

 Martin 1850's Pearl Rosette and Pendant Guitar

This final example combines decorative details typically found on earlier Martins with construction elements that would be standard for years to come.  With
a beautiful decorative pearl rosette that is possibly one of the earliest examples to contain a version of the continuous thin band of pearl seen on the rosettes and
borders of pearl Martins until WWII replacing the rows of tiny pearl diamonds found on the finer Martins of the mid-1800's, and an abalone pendant similar to
the ones adorning the bridges of early Hudson St. Martins.  The guitar is spruce lined.  The Jerome tuners, with uncommon, large bone rollers, have intricately
carved pearl buttons of the type appearing on only the smallest handful of Martin guitars, while more typically seen on ornate 19th Century presentation banjos.


The body is a size 2 1/2, and the basic appointments follow the form of a Style 30, making this perhaps a $32 guitar.  This guitar is possibly one of
the last before Martin models would become standardized.

Chapter 24.

Henry Schatz, Boston

In the second half of the 1840's, after working with Martin in Pennsylvania, Henry (Heinrich) Schatz moved to Boston where he
produced guitars under his own name.

This is one of a number of Schatz guitars with pearl inlaid in a white mastic, as opposed to the black mastic used in the Martins he helped
produce in the previous decade, creating a distinctly different effect.

'  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '

~ PART 2 ~

Defining the Acoustic Guitar in the 20th Century ~


Chapter 25.

Martin 1902 00-42S / Style 45 Prototype

In 1902, three custom ordered Style 42 guitars were built with pearl inlay added to the border of the sides and back, as well as having an inlaid "fern"
design added to the peghead.  The first of these had a fancy inlaid pickguard of the style common on the higher end Martin mandolins of the time, and an
intricate vine pattern inlaid on the fretboard. 

The example below was the first to have the more prototypical fingerboard inlays of the type seen in 1904 when this design was introduced as the C. F. Martin Style 45 Guitar.

More on Style 45


Illustrated on p. 2 & 28 of Johnston, Boak & Longworth, "Martin Guitars, a Technical Reference"
Subject of full page article by George Gruhn and Walter Carter on page 42 of May, 2008 Vintage Guitar Magazine

"This 1902 guitar features the first version of the Style 45 peghead inlay, which is sometimes referred to as the “fern” pattern. Martin pictured a
Style 45 guitar with this inlay in the 1904 catalog and the same photo appeared as late as the 1909 catalog, but Martin had actually begun using
a simpler pattern, known today as the “torch,” by 1905, and that version lasted until about 1927."

"The initial designation – Style 42 special – understated just how special Style 45 Martins would become. In the pre-World War II years, it was
only surpassed briefly by the OM-45 Deluxe (produced only in 1930), which featured additional inlays in the pickguard and bridge. In today’s
vintage market, Style 45s follow the same pattern as they did in their original listings."

"Although Martin has offered models in recent years with higher model numbers than Style 45, along with many limited-edition, commemorative or artist
models with fancier appointments, Style 45 remains today as it was when this “pre-45” guitar helped to get the Style 45 ball rolling – simply Martin’s top style."

Chapter 26.

Martin 1902 000-21 10 String / Martin Grows in Size to a 000


I look for important transitional guitars for this web site to illustrate the development of the steel string guitar, and this is an essential one. As a harp guitar, or
more accurately, a "10 string 000-21" ( Martin only used the term "Harp guitar"
to refer to instruments with 2 complete necks ) this is a curiosity, although a
fabulous one.

More importantly, this instrument plays an integral part in illustrating the history of the 000 size Martin.
This guitar was the first 10 string 000-21 designated as a 000,
making it the second Martin of any type ever designated as a "000" size Martin.

In January 1901, Martin built an "Extra Large Style 21" with a 15" wide body that was 5'16" deeper than what became a standard 000, followed by an extra large 10 string guitar.   
In 1902, Martin built one 9 string 00-21, and shortly after, built a 10 string 000-28 followed by two 10 string 000-21, apparently believing that the 000 size body was necessary
to accommodate the wider bridge needed for a 10 string guitar.

The 000 was slow to catch on as a standard size.

In 1903, Martin built a single "standard" 000-21, their first six string 000, and three more were built in 1904.

From 1902 to 1910, Martin built only 23 "000" size guitars. Ten were "harp guitars". In 1907 and 1908, the only 000 built was a 000-45 Harp guitar. 

In total, only 13 standard six string "000" size guitars were built in these first nine years.

Illustrated on p.84 of Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker"

Subject of a full page article by Richard Johnston on page 106 of July, 1997 Acoustic Guitar Magazine

Chapter 27.

The 000 Expands

Chapter 28.

Martin 1905 00-42S with Pearl Fingerboard

This singular original example disproves the myth that C.F. Martin, unlike their competitors, never lavishly embellished their fingerboards with pearl.

Entire fingerboard made of genuine white pearl, with intensely designed abalone on frets five, seven, nine, and twelve.

Subject of a full page article by George Gruhn and Walter Carter on page 42 of February, 2009 issue of "Vintage Guitar Magazine".

Chapter 29.

Responding to the "Hawaiian Craze" with Martin's First Production Steel String Guitars

Southern California Music Company Guitars

Martin 1916 Southern California Music "Rolando" Model 1350 Prototype

No serial number


One of six samples made for the California Musical Instrument Company, the first Hawaiian Guitars made by the Martin Company.

To meet the demands of the "Hawaiian Craze", Martin built three models of Hawaiian guitars with koa wood supplied by SoCal.  The first samples were made with spruce tops. 
Thefirst batch of production guitars used koa for the tops as well, and introduced specially designated serial numbers taking into account the early samples previously produced.

Chapter 30.

Production SoCal Guitars

Martin 1916 Southern California Music "Nunes" Model 1400

Serial number 28

The first production
"Nunes" Model 1400 made for the Southern California Music Company in 1916.

Illustrated on p.113 of Washburn & Johnston, "Martin Guitars: An Illustrated Celebration of America's Premier Guitarmaker"

Illustrated on p. 247 of Johnston, Boak & Longworth, "Martin Guitars, a Technical Reference"

Martin 1916 Southern California Music "Rolando" Model 1500

Serial number 181

Chapter 31

Martin Develops the Dreadnaught

Ditson Ukes

Martin 1916 Ditson Style 3 Ukulele


In the early 20th Century the Ditson Company operated the Oliver Ditson & Co. Store in their home base of Boston as well as the Charles H. Ditson & Co. Store in New York.  Ditson was a large Martin dealer that ordered many standard Martin models as well as special models designed specifically for Ditson.  The Ditson stamp was applied to both the regular Martin models, otherwise identical to Martin instruments sold elsewhere, and the special Ditson "Dreadnaught" guitars.

Martin used the Dreadnaught shape on ukuleles and tipples as well as guitars in three sizes, defined by Model designations with one, two, or three digits, and three levels of trim, designated as 1, 2, and 3.  The Dreadnaught guitars were originally Hawaiian guitars which, interestingly, used fan bracing to support their steel strings, as did the Hawaiian guitars built for the Southern California Music Company.

Note that on this website uses the traditional spelling of "Dreadnaught" with an "A", since we are speaking here of pre-war examples, as opposed to the more recent spelling of "Dreadnought" with an "O", as commonly used today, but only since it's adoption in the 1960's.

Chapter 32.

Ditson Hawaiian Guitars

Besides the standard range of Ditson Hawaiian Guitars, Martin produced a small number of the distinctively shaped Ditson Standard Guitars with the appointments of typical Martin Styles 18, 21, 28, 30, 42, and 45.  The 1-45 is often referred to as a "baby D-45".

This is one of 26 Ditson Standard Style 21 guitars.

Martin 1917 Ditson DS-21 (1-21)

Martin 1916 Ditson Model 11

With the tremendous demand in production in 1916, Martin sourced Chicago style bridges for the early Ditson guitars.

Martin 1920 Ditson Model 33


Martin 1919 Ditson 3/4 Size Terz Guitar


One of two 3/4 size guitars made for the Ditson Company that were likely the prototype for the "Travel Guitars" of today.

Chapter 33.

Martin Learns from the Teachers

Martin 1916 Foden Special Models C, D and E


William Foden ordered guitars with several levels of trim for his students.

The Style E combines the fretboard extension with no pearl of a Style 40 with the inlays on the backs and sides of a Style 45.  The Style E also used the same
"propeller" fingerboard inlay found on the SoCal 1500.

It is said that Foden was the first to request 20 fret necks for his guitars, but I've also noticed several Martins made in 1902 with 20 fret necks.

Martin used single ring rosettes for the Foden guitars similar to those used for Ditson, Wurlitzer, and other private label guitars, but not on the top of the line Style E.

Chapter 34.

Martin 1922 Vahdah Olcott-Bickford Style 0-44 Soloist


Vahdah Olcott-Bickford requested the finest Style 45 level material in the guitars she ordered for her students, but shunned ostentation, ordering guitars with simple
straight line borders and no fingerboard inlays.

Chapter 35.

The Model America


Chapter 36.

Pearl Makes the Transition from the "Ladies Parlor" to the Stage

Martin 1918 Ditson 000-42


In 1918 Martin produced the first two 000 size guitars with their top of the line 42 style trim.

From the earliest years, Martin used fancy pearl inlays to adorn "ladies size"parlor guitars.  The idea of adding pearl to a "man's" guitar must have seemed
unthinkable at the time.

The 1918 000-42 illustrated here was built for the Ditson Company as
a steel string Hawaiian guitar with fan bracing, the same build as a "Ditson Dreadnaught". 
This guitar ends the myth that steel strings were never meant to be used with a pyramid bridge, never mind one made of ivory!

This guitar is an early example of a Martin with a pickguard.  The early guards were inlaid into the top.

Illustrated on p. 41 of Johnston, Boak & Longworth "Martin Guitars, a Technical Reference"

Chapter 37.

An Early First Appearance of Western Spruce

Martin 1919 0-45

In 1945 Martin began to have difficulty sourcing suitable Eastern red spruce of suitable size for guitar tops and switched to the huge Western Sitka trees for top wood.

It is little known, however, that in 1919 Martin experimented with the use of what was then referred to as "airplane spruce" for guitar tops.  By the time World War II ended
in November, 1918, production of Sitka spruce for aircraft by the Spruce Production Division of the Army had reached 10,000 sq. ft. per month, and left the newly built
infrastructure and 1 billion board feet of Spruce.

Illustrated on p. 80 of Johnston, Boak & Longworth, "Martin Guitars, a Technical Reference"

Chapter 38.

Martin 2-45

Chapter 39.

Martin Ships it's First Production Steel String "Spanish" Guitar

Martin 1922 2-17 With Steel Strings

The first Martin guitars to ship with steel strings were the Hawaiian guitars built for the Ditson and Southern California Music Companies.

In 1922, Martin built the all mahogany model 2-17 with steel strings, the first production steel string Martins for standard "Spanish" style guitar. 

Martin began the process of shipping their standard guitars with steel strings as standard equipment with two Martin Style 2-17 guitars, #16879 and #16887, shipped to the John Wanamaker
Department Store in Philadelphia on March 27, 1922.

This guitar is #16879.

Chapter 40.

Martin's Experiments Resonate

1930 Wm. L. Lange Paramount Style L Hawaiian Six String and Tenor Resonator Guitars


Martin made approximately 32 resonator guitars in 1930 with the Paramount name for William Lange. 

The Paramount Guitar was offered in three styles, all built with a double rosewood body:

Regular Spanish Guitar, a Hawaiian Steel Guitar, and a Tenor Guitar

These guitars varied greatly, some natural top and some shaded tops, some with pickguards and some without, some with soundholes, but most without.

The Tenor and Hawaiian Styles both had a moveable bridge and fixed tailpiece.  The Spanish Style guitar had a permanent ebony bridge with ivory saddle.

Chapter 41.

Martin Enters the Market for Catalog Guitars

Martin 1030 Montgomery Wards 0-17S

While Gibson and other large makers built many Recording King and other guitars for the lucrative Montgomery Ward Catalog market, Martin built only a few small
batches of this distinctive model, the 0-17S, for Montgomery Ward

Chapter 42.

Developing the Contemporary 14 Fret Guitar

Chapter 43.

The first 14 Fret

The Carl Fischer Tenor

Martin 1929 Carl Fischer Model Tenor Guitar

Credit for the 14 fret Martin design has been given to Perry Bechtel, the buyer for the Cable Music Company in Atlanta who requested the 14 fret OM guitar. 
In fact, it was Al Esposito of the Carl Fischer Store in New York City who first requested a 14 fret design for tenor guitars as suggested by two local orchestra leaders
to appeal to banjo players.  Mr. Bechtel's contribution consisted primarily of going fishing with Mr. Martin.  When Bechtel showed up to meet Mr. Martin for their fishing
trip, he noticed the Fischer Model tenor guitars on the factory floor, and asked if the same could be done with six strings to give greater access higher on the neck.

Chapter 44.

The Orchestra Model

Martin 1929 000-28 - 12 fret

Martin considered the 12 fret design to have a superior sound, but understood the practicality of the 14 fret guitar.

Martin 1929 00-28 G.P.

Martin built a small number of transitional guitars, such as this "00-28 G.P.", for "geared pegs", which still had a 12 fret body, but had the solid style headstock and
"banjo style tuners" of the OM.  Pickguards and "belly bridges" were not used until 1930, but many Martins built before 1930 sat in the factory unsold, unfinished,
"in the white", due to the slow economy of the time
, and were given a tortoise Celluloid pickguard and "belly bridge" before leaving the factory in the following years.

Martin 1930 OM-18P Plectrum Guitar

To appeal to long neck banjo players, Martin also began to produce a long neck plectrum guitar in the OM Style.

Featured on the Television Show "Pawn Stars"

Martin 1930 OM-28

January, 1930

The first few OM guitars built for Cable Piano in 1929 and early 1930 had a pyramid bridge before the belly bridge, generally associated with the contemporary
flat top guitar, was used.  The small teardrop pickguard and banjo style tuners were soon replaced by a larger pickguard and modern guitar tuners.

Chapter 45.

The Orchestra Model Expands

Martin 1932 O-18 and 1933 0-17 Model 32


With the "Model 32" 0-17 and 0-18, Martin extended the 14 fret body further into the product line.

Chapter 46.

Taking Ornamentation to the Next Level

Martin 1930 OM-45 DeLuxe


Featured in an article by Joe Konkoly

In 1930, Martin built only about a dozen "DeLuxe" style 45 guitars, the highest level production Martin to ever be made, before shortages of the high quality materials forced Martin to
cancel all future orders after November 28th.

This example was built in September 25, 1930.

Chapter 47.

Martin Responds to the Call for the Archtop Guitar

Martin Archtop Guitars

The first Martin archtops

Martin 1931 C-1 Prototype - Martin's First Archtop Guitar

Serial number 47368


Chapter 48.

Martin 1933 R-18

Chapter 49.

Martin 1932 C-2 12 String Archtop Guitar

Martin's first 12 String archtop guitar.

Serial number 50223


Illustrated on p. 172 of Johnston, Boak & Longworth, "Martin Guitars, a Technical Reference"
Illustrated on p. 193 of Carter, "Acoustic Guitars and Other Fretted Instruments"

Chapter 50.

The Last Martin Archtops

Martin 1942 F1

- from the last batch of Martin F Style Archtops -

Serial number 82431

Martin 1942 R-18

- from the last batch of Martin R Style Archtops -

the final Archtop Guitars built by Martin
Serial number 82855

C. F. Martin's interest in archtop guitars was relatively short lived, beginning with the 15" carved top, round hole C-1 above, #47368, and five other examples, the first archtop guitars ever to
grace the work tables at Martin, on June 20, 1931. 

By November of 1932, the C-1 was first built with F-holes as it's former position in the lineup was filled by the slightly smaller 14 3/8" pressed top roundhole R-18.

By the end of 1933, the R-18 had also become an "F" hole guitar. 

By mid-1936, the R-18 was also built with a carved top.

The F-1 and R-18 above, #82431 and #82855, were from the last two batches of archtop guitars ever to be built in Martin's North Street Factory, stamped on September 18 and November 20 of 1942.  

Before building flat top 12 string guitars in the 1960's, Martin built only six individual 12 string guitars, three flat tops and three arch tops.

The 12 string above, #50223, was the first 12 string arch top ever built by Martin.

Chapter 51.

Responding to the Limits of War


Martin 1939 D-28

Martin 1944 D-18 - with scalloped bracing and red spruce

These examples illustrate the changes necessitated by shortages of materials and personnel during the war years, as well as an effort to build stronger guitars to handle heavier strings. 
Due to strictly enforced limits to the amount of metal to be used, the neck reinforcements in war time Martins returned from metal to ebony rods similar to those used decades earlier,
necessitating a bulkier but lighter weight neck with a different feel.  The tuners were redesigned to use significantly less metal, and the nut material changed from ivory to ebony, all of
which contributed to a change in balance as the "top end" of the guitar became lighter in weight.

Due to a change in finish formulations, many of the guitars produced in 1944 developed a cloudy problematic appearance, necessitating in many examples being oversprayed.

On February 24, 1943, Martin built a batch of 000-42 guitars, the last batch of pearl inlaid Style 40, 42, or 45 Martins.  With the last batch of D-28 in 1945 Martin exhausted their supply of
fingerboard inlays and began using dots.  With the first batch of D-28 in 1947, Martin exhauted their supply of Germand made herringbone marquetry, and instituted the use on D-28
of the straight line borders first used on Martin's archtops.

Chapter 52.

Tapered Braces

Martin 1945 D-18

Martin 1946 000-18


When old guitars became "vintage guitars", players looked more carefully and noticed the "scalloped" top braces of pre-war Martins, shaved to form peaks and valleys, as opposed to the
earlier "straight braces".   More recently, folks have noticed that "War Year" Martins have transitional "tapered" braces.

Looking more closely,  I've discovered that guitars built in 1945 are distinctively different from those of other war years, with their braces considerably more tapered, creating a signature
loud and "punchy" sound.  The photos above illustrate the slender braces of 1945 in constrast to the heavier, rounder braces of 1946.  I would not be surprised if the more highly tapered
braces have even less mass than the scalloped braces of preceding years.

Chapter 53.

Martin's First Electric Guitars
#180644 and F-65 #179835 Electrics


While Martin produced flat top guitars with DeArmond pickups in the 1950's, in September of 1961 Martin made their first freshly designed "thin body" electric
guitars, starting with three prototypical examples of each of three variations, of which this top of the line, two pickup, double cutaway F-65
#179835 is one.  In
November of 1961, Martin produced the first production run of 12 of each style, of which this single cutaway, single pickup F-50
#180644 is one.  
Larger production in batches of 24 each began in 1962.

Chapter 54.

The NY Folk Revival 



'  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '

~ PART 3 ~


The Introduction of Features
of the Contemporary Steel String Acoustic Guitar

Chapter 55.

Border Patrol

Chapter 56.

 The Head of the Class

Chapter 57.

Tuner Sandwich

Chapter 58.

A Stamp of Approval

Chapter 59.

 Pearl Jam

Chapter 60.

Arrowheads and Other Hidden Treasures

Chapter 61.

 The End Is Near

Chapter 62.

The Spanish Foot

Chapter 63.

 On Guard!

Chapter 64.

 Speaking Volutes

Chapter 65.

 Feel Like a Heel

Chapter 66.

 A Bridge to Somewhere

Chapter 67.

All Tied Up

Chapter 69.

 Back in the Saddle

Chapter 70.

Hear a Pin Drop

Chapter 71.


Chapter 72.

Something to Fret About

Chapter 73.

Strung Out


Chapter 74.

 Photo Finish

Chapter 75.

Knock on Wood


Chapter 76.

 Does Size Matter?

Chapter 77.

 The Shape of Things to Come

Chapter 78.

 We've Got Your Number


Chapter 79.

  X Marks the Spot

Chapter 80.

Your Biggest Fan

Chapter 81.

Safe at Home Plate

Chapter 82.

 Case Closed


Chapter 83.

A Final Nail in the Coffin



Chapter 84.

 Tune Up

Chapter 85.

 Hawaiian Punch

Chapter 86.

 The Tenor of the Times

Chapter 87.

 The Orchestra Model


Chapter 88.

 The Dreadnaught


Chapter 89.

 Double Your Fun

Chapter 90.

 Classical Gas

'  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '

~ PART 4 ~


As They've Been Defined Since the 1850's

Chapter 91.

 Styles 15, 17 & 18

Chapter 92.

 Styles 20, 21 & 22

Chapter 93.

 Styles 23 & 24

Chapter 94.

 Styles 26 & 28

Chapter 95.

 Styles 27, 30 & 34

Chapter 96.

Style 35

Chapter 97

 Styles 40 & 42

Chapter 98.

 Style 45

Chapter 99.

 Style 45 DeLuxe


Chapter 100.

 Martin Archtop Guitars

Chapter 101.

Martin Terz Guitars

Chapter 102.

 Martin Mandolins


Chapter 103.


Chapter 104.


Chapter 105.

Harp Guitars

Chapter 106.

 Martin Tenor Banjo

Chapter 107.

  7 String Hawaiians

'  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '
~ PART 5 ~


Chapter 108.

Bacon Banjo Company 0-21

Chapter 109

Buegeleisen & Jacobson S.S. Stewart 2-17 Special

Chapter 110.

 Oliver Ditson Company Style 2-17, Style 1-21, Style 2, Style 11, Style 22, Style 33, Style 111, and 3/4 Size

Chapter 111.

 Carl Fischer Model Special Tenor

Chapter 112.

 William Foden "Foden Special" Models C, D, and E

Chapter 113.

C.H. Gaskin's Harp Mandolin


Chapter 114.

 Grinnell Brothers "Wolverine" 2-17 and 0-18

Chapter 115.

 Wm. L. Lange Paramount Style L Six String and Tenor Resonator Guitars

Chapter 116.

 Montgomery Wards 0-17S

Chapter 117.

 Vadah Olcott-Bickford Style 0-44 Soloist

Chapter 118

Perlburg & Halpin "Beltone" 2-17

Chapter 119.

Wm. J. Smith Music Company Tiple

Chapter 120.

Southern California Music Company 1350 and 1500 Samples, "Nunes" Styles 1350 & 1400 and "Rolando" Style 1500


Chapter 121.

 Rudolph Wurlitzer Styles 2087, 2088, and 2092

Chapter 122.

 Bitting Special Mandolin

Chapter 123.

 Briggs Special Mandolin

Chapter 124.

 Ditson Style A Mandolin

Chapter 125.

 Ditson Standard Style 1 and Dreadnaught Styles 1, 2, and 3 Ukuleles

Chapter 126.

  P. H. Louis Brachet Martin Zither

'  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '  '

~ PART 6 ~


Chapter 127.

 James Ashborn Styles 1, 2, and 6 for William Hall & Son and Firth, Pond & Co.

Chapter 128.

Joseph Bohmann Early Presentation and Harp Guitars, and Guitar and Mandolin with Interior Drone Strings

Chapter 129.

Dyer Harp Guitars



Chapter 130

 Orville Gibson Guitars and Mandolins


Chapter 131.

The Gibson Company

Chapter 132.

The Larson Brothers

Chapter 133

Louis Panormo

Chapter 134.

Jose Recio, Cadiz

Chapter 135.

Rickenbacher, Gibson and Other Early Electrics


Schmidt & Maul Guitars with fan and Experimental X Bracing


Albert Shutt Style D#2 Mandolin


Johann Stauffer

Chapter 139.

 Tilton Improvement


If you would like to buy a nice Martin or Gibson Guitar...

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Acoustic Instruments for Sale

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I am not in the business of buying and selling guitars, but am interested in purchasing specific unique instruments to round out my collection to present you with a web site with as complete a picture as possible to help you learn.  I am interested in substantially original examples made from the 1800's to 1960's by Stauffer, Panormo, Schmidt & Maul, C. F. Martin, Martin & Coupa, Martin & Schatz, Martin & Bruno, Martin & Zoebisch, John Coupa, Oliver Ditson, Southern California Music, John Wanamaker, Wm. J. Smith, Wurlitzer, S.S. Stewart, Orville Gibson, the Gibson Company, and the Larson brothers.  I am not hunting for bargains, but seeking quality intstruments at a price that is fair to the buyer and seller alike.

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Updated 1/1/20

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