Dear Trash or Treasure,
In August I obtained my grandfather’s Martin that has been
in my family for many years. I am unsure of when or how
my grandfather got the guitar, but after he passed away, my
uncle played it for a short while before it was retired to various
closets and attics. When I rescued the guitar it was in
an attic that was over 100
degrees! As you can see,
the guitar is in very rough
shape and is unplayable
to say the least. The only
markings on the inside are
0-18 and 52335. Although
this guitar may be
trashed, it is a true treasure
to me and I would
like to get it repaired and/
John Larry Carter
It absolutely breaks my heart
to see a guitar in this condition!
It’s very unfortunate
that this guitar wasn’t stored
in a better way. Since most
attics are not insulated, the
extreme temperature changes
can make your guitar
crack and bend in unimaginable
ways. When it comes
to heirlooms, I understand
how important this can be
to you and your family. Let’s
shed a little light on the
guitar and how to go about
getting it fixed.
Your guitar is a 1932 Martin 0-18. The 0-18 was a very popular
model for Martin that was produced consistently between 1898
and 1995 – nearly a century! The top is spruce, and the back and
sides are mahogany. Your specific model has a dark top that was
a special option. This was also one of the first guitars to have a
solid headstock and a fingerboard with 14 frets clear of the body.
In 1932, they built over 500 of these guitars and in excellent condition
it would currently be worth between $3,700 and $4,200.
Unfortunately, your guitar isn’t in excellent condition – in fact, it’s
what we refer to as unplayable. The years this vintage Martin
spent in closets and attics weren’t kind. The most noticeable
problem is the large gaping crack on the side of the guitar. Other
problems include the cracks in the top, the unattached bridge and
the overall poor condition of the guitar’s finish.
The good news is that guitar
restoration has never been better,
and you’d be surprised at what a
good guitar repairman can do. This
0-18 will probably require many
new pieces and calling it anything
short of an overhaul would be
undermining the process. This
will be a very inexpensive repair
job, but if the history of the guitar
is more important to you than a
monetary figure, it is well worth it.
There are two Martin-authorized
repair centers near Washington
D.C. that may be able to help you:
Atlantic Woodworks in Annapolis,
MD and Steve Carmody
Instruments in Silver Spring, MD.
There are also several Martin dealers
within a close proximity to
you that may have a few ideas. I
recommend getting a few quotes
before committing to a repairman.
Hopefully this guitar will continue
to be a treasure to you after you
get it restored!
(Source: Mike Longworth, Martin
Guitars, A History).
Zachary R. Fjestad
Zachary R. Fjestad
is the author of the Blue Book of Acoustic Guitars, Blue
Book of Electric Guitars, and the Blue Book of Guitar
Guitar Trash or Treasure Questions can be submitted to:
Blue Book Publications
Attn: Guitar Trash or Treasure
8009 34th Ave. S. Ste #175
Minneapolis, MN 55425
Please include pictures of your guitars.