C. F. Martin 0-21 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1928)

C. F. Martin  0-21 Flat Top Acoustic Guitar  (1928)

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Item # 8604
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C. F. Martin 0-21 Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1928), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 35135, natural finish, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, black hard shell case.

The 12-fret, steel string Martins of the late 1920s are some of our very favorite guitars. For only a few years at the end of that decade -- just before Martin altered nearly all their designs to the 14-fret neck "Orchestra Model" pattern -- the company crafted a relatively small number of Brazilian rosewood-bodied flat-tops braced for steel strings instead of the gut used previously. The other features are pretty much as they had been since the last century, with a wide fingerboard on the neck which joins the body at the 12th fret. These guitars were the final evolution of the original 19th Century Martin patterns before the "modern" 14-fret design became the standard just a few years later.

The Style 21 designation signifies a midline instrument, the 0-21 being the smallest and lowest-priced rosewood model in the company's line. Models beneath this were built with mahogany back and sides instead of the even-at-the-time costly rosewood. It is still built of the finest grade materials, to the same quality workmanship standards as the highest-grade instruments. The superb straight-grained Brazilian rosewood on the back tends to be a bit less dark and patterned than the top-line guitars, but the straight-grained Appalachian spruce top is still lovely premium wood. The famous Martin "herringbone" trim ornaments the backstrip and sound hole ring instead of around the top edge as with a Style 28; the outer binding is rosewood and the ornamental position markers in the ebony fingerboard are small and discreet.

This 1928 0-21 is one of just 76 made that year when this lovely guitar was priced at $55.00, which seems like an incredible bargain even calculated in period money. Even though produced in the larger quantity than some of the highest grade models, this is still a very rare guitar. Late 1920s Brazilian rosewood Martins were made in very small numbers by later standards, and although the original price seems laughable today they were some of the most expensive flat-top guitars of the period.

This one has not seen nearly as much use as many, and remains in far better and more original condition than most period survivors. It is simply a wonderful playing and sounding instrument, a testament to its builder's skill and reputation and at least as fine a 12-fret 0-sized model as anyone has ever made -- then or since.
Overall length is 38 in. (96.5 cm.), 13 5/8 in. (34.6 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/4 in. (10.8 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). Width of nut is 1 7/8 in. (48 mm.).

This guitar is in extremely fine condition for its age, with less wear and far less repair work than most. The top has a fairly large spot of pickwear through the finish below the sound hole rim; the rest of the finish has numerous small dings and scrapes, especially to the edges, but no other large areas of damage. The ebony bridge is a very accurate reproduction with a slightly compensated saddle; there is some minor finish loss around the edges. The guitar has certainly had a cleanly executed neck reset and there is plenty of saddle for the future.

Everything else on the guitar appears original including the openback Waverly strip tuners and the tiny maple bridgeplate. There are some very small, thin cleats under the top behind the bridge; we can see no crack associated with these and they may have been added as a preventative measure long ago. If there was any grain split here, it is so well-sealed as to be invisible. There is one small back crack off the bass side of the heel block, well-sealed but visible. We can find no other cracks to this guitar.

We rarely see the 12-fret steel-string Martins from this period this well-preserved anymore. Playability is excellent and this is a huge-sounding guitar for a small-body instrument, with power and articulation in perfect measure. Includes the original chipboard case in vaguely functional condition, and a recent HSC. Excellent - Condition.