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1931 Martin C-2 Archtop, Brazilian Rosewood
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Serial #: 48230, stamped on neck block
Body size at lower bout: 15" Scale length: 25 1/2" Nut Width: 1 3/4" Body depth: 3 3/8"- 4 1/8"
Materials: Handcarved bookmatched solid Adirondack spruce top; solid bookmatched Brazilian rosewood back and sides; solid one piece mahogany neck; solid ebony fingerboard; mother of pearl peghead logo and fingerboard inlay; bound fingerboard, triple bound body.
Hardware: Original hardware includes engraved nickel trapeze tailpiece, Grover Stat-Tite open back tuners, and adjustable ebony bridge. Vintage correct thick dark celluloid tortoise pickguard.
Notes: Prized for its superlative tone, incomparable appearance, and scarcity, Brazilian rosewood has been the gold standard for acoustic guitar builders for centuries. So where are all the Brazilian archtops?
With only the rarest of exceptions, Brazilian rosewood has never been employed by any of the major manufacturers, or independent luthiers, of archtop guitars. Several reasons suggest themselves. The first is cost: a carved archtop requires tonewood up to a full inch in thickness, to properly form the curve and recurve of the back alone. By contrast, a slab of Brazilian of this dimension might provide a half dozen or more back plates for flat tops or classical guitars. Second is workability: the hard, dense and oily consistency of rosewood could put a mighty strain on rough-carving machines, and give cramps to the poor souls completing the graduation with hand planes. And last but not least: simple tradition. As fretted cousins of the venerable viol family, archtops have since their inception been built customarily with maple bodies, the more highly figured the better.
Enter C.F. Martin and Co. Founded in 1833, the firm had over the course of a century become the pre-eminent producer of flat top guitars. But nearing its centenary, Martin realized that its hopefully designated Orchestra Model instruments were being used everywhere else but on the bandstand. By mid 1931, company designers responded with two dramatic innovations: the first Martin-branded dreadnoughts, and the new models C-1 and C-2: Martin's first archtop guitars.
Like Gibson's venerable L-4 model, the C-2 was originally built with a round soundhole, in a carved solid Adirondack spruce soundboard. Martin's most popular and longest running archtop model, the C-2 was offered in an f-hole version as well by 1932, which continued in production for another decade. Though regarded today by most players as acoustically superior, the round hole C-2 was produced for only three years until it was retired in 1933. This remarkable instrument is one of only 104 round hole C-2 archtops from the first model year, and must certainly be among the finest of surviving examples today.
The gently arched back and sides are constructed of exceptionally attractive bookmatched quartersawn Brazilian rosewood, of a hue and grain structure virtually unobtainable today. The 15" body is virtually identical in shape to Martin's legendary OM models, tapering in depth from a little over 3" at the heel to over 4" at the endpin. A particularly versatile instrument, the C-2's carved Adirondack soundboard lends projection and clarity far in excess of comparably sized flat tops, while its X-bracing produces a warmth and sustain unusual in conventional archtop guitars. With it's generous 1 3/4" nut, the C-2 is particularly congenial to fingerstyle play, yet responds like thunder to a good stiff pick. At a phenomenal 4lb. 6 oz., the guitar is exceptionally light in weight and well balanced, another clue to its distinctive power and resonance.
This remarkable guitar has been preserved in magnificent condition, with all original sunburst finish, engraved nickel Martin trapeze tailpiece and original adjustable ebony bridge. As befits its premium status, the peghead is graced with a 45 style vertical Martin logo, the solid ebony fingerboard inlaid in the traditional diamond inlay pattern, and the back stripe set with 28 style zig-zag purfling. The guitar has been maintained without pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear, and shows only minor scattered finish nicks in the original lacquer. A single grainline crack has been soundly cleated near the pickguard long ago, and a vintage correct dark tortoise pickguard installed, along with a single replacement tuner. Action is smooth and low with immaculate recent fretwork, over a comfy light V profile neck.
Of the few Martin archtops made, fewer still survive today, especially the Brazilian models, as many have been converted to flat tops over the decades. This handsome and versatile guitar is a rare opportunity: call now.
Setup: The frets have been precision leveled, recrowned and polished as necessary; trussrod tension and neck relief adjusted; bridge height adjusted; bridge compensation set; string slots at nut and bridge inspected and recut as necessary; bridge foot contour inspected and fit to top as necessary; bridge radius inspected and recurved as necessary; bridge wheels and tuners lubricated; fingerboard and bridge oiled; body and neck cleaned and hand polished.
This instrument is strung with medium gauge bronze strings (.013-.057). The guitar will accommodate lighter or heavier gauge strings, according to preference. String action is set at 5/64" to 6/64" at the 12th fret, with moderate relief for acoustic playing with medium strings. The action may be lowered or raised to your requirements with the adjustable bridge.
Case: Deluxe black arched plush lined hardshell case.
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