1934 Martin 000-18 Guitar

Value (2009) | $15,000 Retail$16,000 Retail

GUEST:
This actually was my grandfather's guitar. He passed away when I was really young, and he gave that to my father. And my father had it for a number of years, and I learned how to start playing guitar on this when I was about six, seven years old. My father passed away about eight years ago and it was left to me.

APPRAISER:
These guitars have a serial number that's stamped on the neck block, where the neck attaches to the body. And there's a model designation stamped right above that. And so we know this guitar was made in 1934.

GUEST:
Okay.

APPRAISER:
And it's a Model 000-18. This is really the first of the modern-style Martin guitar, with a longer neck, frets clear of the body, the solid headstock with right-angle tuning machines. Now, 1934 was hard times.

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
And this guitar was in the $60 - $70 range, so it was not an inexpensive piece of equipment. You could have fed a family for a long time on what your grandfather paid for this guitar.

GUEST:
Interesting.

APPRAISER:
The 000-18 falls about in the middle of Martin's price range. They made a number of guitars that were a lot more expensive, for instance, the ones played by Roy Rogers and Gene Autry and those guys, but they made a lot of instruments that were much less expensive, and they really depended on those during the Depression because people didn't have a lot of money. So this would have been in the top 20% in terms of value of what Martin was selling in 1934. And what makes it valuable is that despite the number of people who've owned it and all the different transitions in ownership, it hasn't really been changed much. So it still has its original tuners. Martin had only been using this type of tuner for about two years when this guitar was made. They first show up in 1932. And all the finish is original. It has lots of wear from belt buckles and shirt buttons and things like that. In this business, that's what we call honest wear. It still has its original celluloid pick guard and original bridge. There's one bridge pin that's been changed…

GUEST:
Right.

APPRAISER:
As you can see, and what also helps this guitar's value is that it doesn't have any cracks, and Style 18, being made in mahogany, it's a fairly fragile wood when you make them as lightly as Martin was at this time. And they usually have just multiple cracks. But the thing that is interesting about this guitar is that right after this was made, Martin shortened the scale length, the distance between the nut and the saddle. And so this has the long scale, which they only did on this size guitar for about four years. So this has the 25.4-inch scale rather than the 24.9, which they've done ever since. So because of that, it's much more desirable to the modern guitar player. It's much more limited in terms of numbers. There's several hundred total, but that's not very many in the scheme of things, because not very many of them have survived.

GUEST:
Wow. I didn't know that.

APPRAISER:
So in a specialty retail shop, a guitar like this would sell for probably $15,000, $16,000.

GUEST:
Whoa... really? That's fantastic.

APPRAISER:
So, thanks for bringing it in.

GUEST:
Thank you very much.

Appraisal Details

Appraiser
Gryphon Stringed Instruments
Palo Alto, CA
Appraised value (2009)
$15,000 Retail$16,000 Retail
Event
San Jose, CA (August 15, 2009)
Period
20th Century
Material
Mahogany, Wood

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