Video: 11 Rare Martin Guitars From the Company's Vault

The oldest Martin known to exist. A 000-18 that Leo Fender turned electric with a honking pedal steel pickup. Kurt Cobain's first, gifted vintage D-18, which set the stage for his iconic D-18E.

These are just a few of the incredible guitars in Martin's own collection. And last month, we got the chance to see, play, and get the stories behind these historic instruments.

Jason Ahner, Martin's archive and museum manager, kindly showed off 10 of the rarest, most storied Martins in the collection, and we got so excited he decided to show off one more.

The guitars in the video include:

  • An 1834 Martin—the earliest known, if not the very first—built just months after C.F. Martin, Sr. arrived in the United States, in the style of his mentor Johann Stauffer.
  • An 1843 Madame De Goñi Size 1, built for the virtuosic female guitarist Madame Delores Navarres De Goñi. It features the earliest known example of an X-braced top.
  • Hank Williams' 1947 D-18, used by Williams in the later years of his career and then by his bandmate Curley Williams for decades, after Hank gave it to him as a gift.
  • A 1930 OM-45 Deluxe, an ornate example of Martin's craft, with gold flourishes and pearl inlay designs across the guitar.
  • Richard Konter's 1926 1K Ukulele, which was "smuggled" onto the plane that first flew over the North Pole. It's signed by Amelia Earhart, Charles Lindbergh, President Calvin Coolidge, and Thomas Edison, among others, from the reception held for the endeavor.
  • A 1929 Ditson 111, the world's original dreadnought guitar.
  • A 1931 D-28, the first D-28 Martin ever built.
  • A 1926 00-18, autographed by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, while campaigning for presidential candidate Al Smith.
  • A 1942 D-45, the 80th of only 91 built before World War II restrictions halted production
  • Kurt Cobain's 1953 D-18, a gift from artist Mary Lou Lord that inspired his purchase of the D-18E he famously played on MTV Unplugged.
  • A 1943 000-18, modified by Leo Fender, who affixed a pedal steel pickup to the guitar for Southern California country guitarist Fred Clay.

Hear the full stories behind all of these guitars in our video, and then find your own Martin on Reverb.

comments powered by Disqus

Reverb Gives

Your purchases help youth music programs get the gear they need to make music.

Carbon-Offset Shipping

Your purchases also help protect forests, including trees traditionally used to make instruments.

Oops, looks like you forgot something. Please check the fields highlighted in red.