1954 Martin D18

1953 Martin D18

My main acoustic guitar, serial 134590, which makes it the 89th guitar built in 1954. Bought from Ken Cartwright in the summer of 1998. It is beat up, loose, and funky; just how I like them!

I wasn't really looking for a guitar when I saw this, but I just loved the charm and feel of this one. It fits in my hand perfectly. I didn't have the cash at the time, but after selling a couple other guitars, and with the help of my rockin' family, I scrounged it up and grabbed it.

This is a tremendous guitar with a lot of personality, although it does need some work now, the bracing has come unglued. That'll happen with old instruments I guess. But she still plays and sounds deep, clear, strong; you know, like a classic Martin. The bridge is replacement, I also replaced the tuners with Grovers, although I have the originals tucked away. When I fix the bracing, I may go back to the old style long saddle bridge, I dig those.

The finish is worn away all over the place, a few repaired cracks in the sides, the headstock has been split and repaired, there are stains and scratches all over it, and the back is dinged up to hell. The smell in the sound hole is like a 100 year old barn. She's beautiful. Obviously, I am not one of those guys who goes for pristine, shiny instruments.

The neck is that thick, tree-trunk style Martin neck, since this was before they added truss rods to the necks. I really feel like neck construction and composition is a huge factor in acoustic guitar tone. Stick your ear directly on the neck of an acoustic neck some time and strum. Then remember all that sound is being transferring to the body via the neck joint. (in this case, the classic Martin dovetail).

The fingerboard is the original Brazilian rosewood, the replacement bridge looks Braz, but hard to tell for sure. I made the saddle out of a chunk of bone, assuming bovine. She's due for a nut replacement.

The back has the initials M.O. carved into it by the heel joint. I have always wondered the story behind this instrument, and who M.O. was. It clearly has lived a long, interesting life long before I grabbed it. I tried researching it, but to be expected, nothing.

I may buy other acoustics, but will never sell this one.

I string it with GHS .13s, phosphor bronze. I use a Fender (or anything similar) celluloid tortoiseshell extra heavy pick. I like to drive that spruce top.

I will mic it if possible, but if I plug it in, I use a K and K Pure Mini pickup going into a Baggs PADI. I may use an Acoustic Amp (that's the brand name, acoustic) for monitoring, which sounds fine I guess.

The mysterious M.O.

Who is M.O.?