Steve Swan Guitars
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Early 1945 Martin D-18

Price: $7500

This well-loved and played early 1945 Martin D-18 (90565) is one of 475 made that year, and one of less than half made that year that got the renewed use steel T-bar neck reinforcement (my preferred choice). This guitar received the new radically tapered style of brace voicing that first made its appearance at the end of 1944 and gives the guitar a liveliness in all ranges, but an especially colorful upper midrange and treble response compared to the wartime era darkness of the scallop voiced bracing. The wear and repairs are extensive, so I will list them comprehensively by sections. I don’t want to have any surprises for the prospective customer !!

 

– The FINISH is quite worn and original on the top, back, and rear of neck. The sides and the entire headstock has been over sprayed. Large bare patches on the top and back were very lightly sealed with alcohol soluble shellac.

-The TOP has a much shorter than usual version of the common pickguard shrinkage “B string” crack, barely extending from the edges of the pickguard itself. Over the decades I have taken note that 1945 Martin Ds almost never have a B string crack. There are two small areas on the widest part of the bass-side lower bout that have been filled over with wood dough. These could be repeated case bite damage underneath. The bridge is a well done replacement with a replacement pin set. The interior bracing and bridge plate are pristine and unmolested.

-The BACK has lots of finish dings, but no cracks on the treble side (only a 6″ black felt pen mark). On the bass-side area of the back there is an area of impact damage that left a repaired 9″ crack and other repaired interconnected cracks. The back bracing is pristine and unmolested.

– The TREBLE SIDE repaired cracks include:  two closely parallel 1″ cracks in the center of the waist, a 3″ crack in the area between the waist and widest part of the lower bout, two unassociated 3″ cracks in the are just north of the widest part of the lower bout, a repaired punched-in area at the widest part of the lower bout near the top, and a 3/4″ impact crack just south of the widest part of the lower bout. The endpin has been replaced.

-The BASS SIDE repaired cracks include: a 5″ impact crack extending from the edge of the neck block south, a rectangular patch 3/8″ by 2″  near the top that extends down from the widest part of the upper bout, three cracks, 3″, 7″, and 4″, that extend through the waist area, 2 cracks, 1″ and 2″, that are in the area between the waist and widest part of the lower bout, three cracks, 1″, 2″, and 2″, in the area of the widest part of the lower bout, a deeper impact injury, about 1 1/2″ long near the area of the interconnected cracks on the back, and three cracks, 1″, 2″, and 2 1/2″ that extend from the tail block.

-The BINDING is all original and in good condition, even in the heavily repaired area of the impact damage to the bass-side side and back in the lower bout.

-The PICKGUARD is original and in good condition.

-The NECK its share of capo marks and “lean against a table” dings on the back surface. A compound tearing break at the headstock was repaired with two dowels and what looks like a replacement headstock overlay. The matching of the C.F. Martin decal is good enough to fool most people, including me at first.

-RECENT REPAIRS BY ED CLAXTON include: Neck reset, refret, replace one 12th fret position marker, lift and regale pickguard, seal bare spots on top and back with light shellac, and install contemporary Waverly versions of the Grover G-98 style tuners.

 

For tone and response, Martin could regain any lost ground in building Dreadnoughts simply by copying everything about this guitar and making this the standard version of a D-18. The voice is spectacular, large and open on the bottom and richly colorful on the top. I believe that having a steel T-bar neck reinforcement really gives this guitar the added sparkle and boost in treble complexity that would be lost if it had the ebony neck reinforcement. Don’t let the ragged looks trick you into thinking that this old guitar is well past its prime, this is one very special postwar D-18. With AVS hard case.

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