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1935 C.F. Martin F-7 Archtop, Brazilian Rosewood
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Serial #: 60943, stamped on neck block
Body size at lower bout: 15" Scale length: 24.9" Nut Width: 1 11/16" 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, 5-ply bound body, multi-color backstrip, original polished bone nut.
Hardware: Original hardware includes Grover Martin-logo trapeze tailpiece, Grover Stat-Tite open back tuners, and two piece ebony bridge. Vintage correct bound 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 almost never been employed by either 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 violin family, archtops have traditionally been built 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 but on the bandstand. In mid-1931 the company introduced their first archtop guitars, the C series, with round soundholes and 15" bodies. F-hole soundboards appeared the following year, and in 1935, Martin debuted their largest. most ornate archtops ever: the premium F series models.
With its solid Brazilian rosewood back and sides, and solid carved Adirondack spruce soundboard, the Martin F-7 also boasted an extra-deep 16" body. With a depth at the endpin of over 4 1/8", the tapered sides of the Martin archtops were almost a full inch deeper at the tailblock than the Gibson L-5 as well. Martin archtops introduced the vertical peghead inlay and pearl fingerboard hexagons, soon iconic in the top-line D-45 dreadnought, and at up to $250 in Depression dollars, the F series archtops were the most expensive instruments in the entire Martin catalog.
This remarkable instrument is one of only 91 examples of the F-7 from the first year of production, and one of only 187 total in the model's brief seven year history. The precious prewar Brazilian rosewood and the comfortable body size made these already rare guitars prime candidates for flat top conversion, so popular they became the prototype for Martin's own M series (0000 size) flat tops, starting in 1975. The late Stan Jay of Mandolin Brothers guessed that perhaps as many as three-quarters of all original F series archtops had been converted by the present time. Whatever the actual number, there's little doubt that original F series archtops are now among the rarest instruments the C.F. Martin Company ever produced. And this stunning example must certainly be among the finest of those precious few still surviving in original condition.
The gently arched back and sides are constructed of exceptionally attractive bookmatched quartersawn Brazilian rosewood, of a hue and grain structure virtually unobtainable today. A particularly versatile instrument, the F-7's carved Adirondack soundboard lends projection and clarity far in excess of comparably sized flat tops. And at a feather-weight 5lb. 3 oz., the guitar is also one of the lightest archtops of its size ever built in regular production.
This stunning example has been preserved in magnificent condition, with all original sunburst finish, brilliant chrome Martin-logo Grover trapeze tailpiece and tuners, and original two-piece ebony bridge. Carefully maintained, the instrument shows no cracks, and is remarkably free of pick, buckle, thumb or fingerboard wear, showing only minor scattered finish nicks in the all-original nitro lacquer finish. Even the normal age checking usually seen in instruments of this vintage is almost completely absent. Bridge height and neck angle are both excellent, and the original binding remains tight to the body. Action is smooth and low over brightly polished recent fretwork, with a solid multi-bound ebony fingerboard on a comfy light V profile neck.
The voice is bright and open, with the clarity and projection the most powerful dreadnoughts could only dream of. Handsome, vibrant, and rare as they come, this guitar sits at the pinnacle of Martin's vanished era of art-deco glory. And all in its original plush lined hardshell case. Don't wait: 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: Original Martin deluxe black arched plush lined hardshell case.
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