A Brief History from our Tech Writer
The ‘70s are often remembered as a dark time for the major American guitar manufacturers, and C.F. Martin and Co. were no different. The acoustic instruments giant had some major odds to face up when production ramped exponentially, and there are many who believe that quality slipped in the tumult of orders. Issues arose including oversized bridges, a switch to Indian rosewood from Brazilian, and perhaps most seriously, a lack of quality control in bridge placement which led to intonation problems for many guitars. Another issue, though not a new one for the ‘70s, was Martin’s incredibly late coming to adjustable truss rods, which meant any relief in the neck was semi-permanent and not easily fixed unless by a luthier. All this to say that not every Martin guitar suffered from these problems, and many ‘70s Martins are fabulous pieces made even better by often fortuitous price to quality ratios. As with this piece, not all of them had oversized bridges and the intonation issue was also not universal.
This is a 1971 D-18 with a spruce top, mahogany back and sides, and a rosewood fretboard. As mentioned above, this piece was lucky enough to receive a normal sized bridge, but it does suffer from some slight intonation issues due to saddle placement. The neck does have some relief to it, but not terribly so and certainly not enough to hinder play. The top is spruce and the lacquer does have some checking, and the back and sides have some clouding from age as well. There are also some scuffs and scratches, especially on the binding and a few on the sides. Perhaps the biggest cosmetic issue would be some top cracking around the pickguard, a consequence of Martin finishing over the pickguards in the ‘70s. Soundwise, this guitar is warm and rich, with plenty of age to really open up the sound. The bass has nice sustain but it does not overpower, allowing for a great balance overall; this guitar has a wonderful character for having such a bad reputation. All told, this guitar is a beautiful piece with a unique character despite its quirks, with a little love and care it will provide beautiful tone for years to come. Ships in its original hard-shell case.
Weight: 4 lbs. 7 oz.
Nut Width: 1 11/16”
7/10 (very good condition) 1971 Made in the USA
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