C. F. Martin 0-45 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1913), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 11671, natural varnish finish, Brazlilan rosewood back and sides, spruce top; Spanish Cedar neck with ebony fingerboard, black hard shell case.

This is an extremely beautiful and special Martin guitar, part of a select group of the fanciest instruments produced in Nazareth over 100 years ago and arguably the finest American made guitars of their time. The 0-45 model was close to the top of the line, with only the similarly styled but larger 00-45 and 000-45 listed above it. All of these Style 45 instruments were produced in miniscule quantities even by Martin's low production standards of the period. All of 3 of these were made 1913 and prior to 1919 only between 1 and 3 examples of the model were sold in any given year. Less than 160 0-45 in total were built in the pre-war period, most of them in the opulent 1920s.

These early style 45's are not only lovely in themselves but are the stylistic precursors to the most sought-after flat tops ever made, she steel string Martin 000-45's and D-45's of the 1930's. Like nearly all pre-1920's Martins this guitar was built for gut strings; while it is possible to use light-gauge silk & steel on many we would not recommend it on this instrument due to the genuine ivory bridge fitted. Many of these fine instruments have been damaged by having had the heavy gauge steel strings common from the 1920s to 1960s fitted; this one remains in fine structural condition showing no signs of such trauma.

The Style 45 was originally a fancy upgrade to Martin's 19th century Style 42, which had been the top-of-the-line since at least the 1870's. Early in the 20th Century, Martin began offering an even fancier custom style with pearl inlay on the sides and back as well as the face and soundhole ring. The first was an 00 sized guitar built in 1902 which additionally featured a vine fingerboard inlay and inlaid mandolin style pickguard. A couple of other similar custom Style 42's were built with varying features in1903; in 1904 Martin codified the new top-of-the-line guitar as the Style 45, and built samples in several different body sizes from the small size 1 to the largest 000.

This 1913 0-45 remains in original and fully playable condition and is absolutely lovely to behold. The Brazilian rosewood used for the body is the finest, tightest grain imaginable; at the time Martin considered evenness of grain preferable to dramatically figured wood. The large elaborate torch inlay in the headstock practically glows with multi-hued pearl and abalone, the delicate green abalone body trim is similarly impressive. The bindings and bridge are genuine ivory, even at the time an expensive and luxurious material only used on very high-end guitars and mandolins. The tuners are the Louis Handel & co. machines with engraved baseplates and inlaid buttons similar to those used on Gibson mandolins of the time.

While by modern standards the 0 is a relatively small instrument this was a standard sized guitar at the time. It is a substantial feeling instrument, even with gut and silk core strings has a very sweet sound but considerable projection. The scalloped X bracing under the top is very light, the neck is fairly shallow with a soft "V" profile. Most of the musical stylings now played on older flat tops were not in existence when this guitar was built; for the sentimental parlor songs of the Victorian era to the light classical arrangements, dances and schottisches of the time this gut-strung Martin would have been just the ticket.

The gilded pre-WWI era was soon to end when this guitar was built around mid-1913. The list price then was $110, a sum that seems a bargain even compared to many contemporary offerings. At the time pearl-trimmed guitars were considered showpiece or "ladies" instruments, intended as were many trappings of wealth to be seen as much as heard. While Lyon & Healy's Washburn brand offered even more ostentatiously fancy pearl-encrusted guitars, no one ever built a finer or more tasteful high-end model than Martin in this period. This 0-45 is not only a rare instrument but a testament to Martin's highest standards of quality. The guitar is currently set up with genuine gut treble strings and has a lovely if obviously old-fashioned sound. This is simply a superb example and an enchantingly beautiful piece of Martin history.

Overall length is 38 in. (96.5 cm.), 13 1/2 in. (34.3 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 7/8 in. (632 mm.). Width of nut is 1 13/16 in. (46 mm.).

Overall, this 0-45 has been kept in very nice shape over the last century, showing some restoration repairs but not too much actual wear. The original very thin varnish finish on the body was been lightly oversprayed a long time ago, while the neck finish appears original. The top finish shows small dings, dents and scuffs and one patch od light strum wear right below the high E string, just behind the sound hole. The remainder of the finish has only fairly light wear with small dings, dents and flakes.

The only crack repair on the top is to a couple of tiny grain splits along the curve of the lower bout on the bass side, sealed but not touched up. The back has no cracks or repairs. The upper side however has several long grain splits to the rosewood, extending back from the waist in one case nearly to the endpin. All have been cleanly sealed and finished over, internally reinforced with several strips of rosewood run perpendicular to the side grain. The treble side has a much smaller rosewood grain split repaired on the curve of the upper bout. These repairs look quite old and well done, and are likely the reason previous finish work was done at all.

Internally the original very thin scalloped braces and tiny maple bridgeplate remain in near-perfect condition. The original ivory bridge (with the original drop-in saddle and bridge pins) is in excellent shape but as is common has been reglued, probably more than once. There is typical scuffing and wear to the top around the bridge base with some old finish work evident. All of the original mother of pearl inlay and ivory binding are in immaculate shape, the ivory endpin is still intact.

The neck appears to have been very cleanly reset, and the guitar shows very little wear to the fingerboard or the back of the neck. The superbly delicate original inlay in the fingerboard is completely intact, the original bar frets have been lightly recrowned with plenty of height left. The beautiful engraved and inlaid original strip tuners are intact and fully functional. This is a lovely playing and sounding guitar, a real trip back to another age especially with genuine gut strings installed. Even allowing fo

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Listed2 months ago
ConditionExcellent (Used)
Excellent items are almost entirely free from blemishes and other visual defects and have been played or used with the utmost care.Learn more
  • 0-45
  • natural varnish
  • 1913
  • None
Model Family
  • Martin 0-45
String Type
  • Steel
Right / Left Handed
  • Right Handed
Number of Strings
  • 6-String
Back Material
  • Rosewood
Sides Material
  • Rosewood
Finish Style
  • Gloss
Top Material
  • Spruce
Body Shape
  • 0
Fretboard Material
  • Ebony
Color Family
  • Natural
Active Preamp
  • No
Number of Frets
  • 20

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Retrofret Vintage Guitars

Brooklyn, NY, United States
Joined Reverb:2015

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