Up for sale, a 1930 Martin OM-18 in excellent condition, complete with the original Harptone case. A holy grail Pre-War Martin, this OM-18 hails from the introductory year of this model's production, visually distinguished by the banjo tuners only used on the earliest models. The instrument has received all the maintenance essential to an Martin of this vintage including a professional neck reset, new carved bone saddle, and a fret dress of the original bar frets.
The debut of the OM-28 model in 1929 coincided with the introduction of the 14th fret body joint, and the OM-18 joined Martin's lineup the following year. Only 89 OM-18s were produced in 1930, less than half of the total of any subsequent year, and with the model discontinued in 1933, a first-year example as well-kept and original as the OM-18 seen here is a true rarity.
The instrument is featherweight at 3lbs 2oz, boasting the tonewood pairing of an X-braced Adirondack spruce top and mahogany back and sides, with an ebony fingerboard and bridge. Positively brilliant, harmonically rich and crisp in its response, this OM fills a room with a single strum. Each string has equal presence and exquisite definition, and for fingerpicking there’s no better voicing. The trebles have a sparkling refinement and are very present, while the bass register has a sweet punch and subtle growl with a surprisingly tight sound and high volume ceiling without distortion. The midrange character is balanced yet restrained, and we simply cannot heap enough accolades and adjectives on this extremely lively and vital-sounding Pre-War Martin. We've had this instrument dialed in to play its best here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with comfortable action and fresh 12-53 bronze strings.
The mahogany neck has a prominent V profile carve, very easy playing and deceptively slender feeing despite its overall depth, measuring .870" deep at the 1st fret and .920" at the 9th. The ebony fretboard retains the original bar frets which have been leveled and crowned, quite low yet showing virtually no wear and playing cleanly with notes that ring out and sustain in every register. The scale length measures a full 25.4", and the longer scale of the OM provides ideal string tension on the top to ensure ample projection and power. The original ebony nut measures a full 1 3/4" in width, and the headstock features the original dark Brazilian rosewood veneer on the face, fitted with the original banjo pegs. The banjo tuners turn extremely smoothly and reliably, and the headstock has the Martin name stamped on the back, a cosmetic feature which would be phased out between 1931-33.
The original ebony bridge sits flush with the top and the new carved bone saddle has more height on the treble side, with action currently sitting at 7/64" at the 12th fret on the bass side, and 4/64" on the treble side. String spacing at the bridge measures 2 3/8". Remarkably clean internally, all of the original bracing is intact, as is the original maple bridge plate. The serial is cleanly stamped on the heel block and in the 43,000 range. Repairs include one small 1 1/2” by 3/4” oval-shaped patch on the treble side lower bout, with one related and professionally addressed side crack in this area as well. The center seam on the back has been reglued, and there is one additional 4 1/2” back crack on the bass side of the lower bout, cleanly repaired.
The finish is 100% original save for one spot of targeted touchup on the small treble side patch, and there’s also some light heat-related spots of wear through the gloss in this area as well. Cosmetic wear is quite restrained, with some requisite pick scuffing across the soundhole and beyond the original teardrop tortoise pickguard as well as tight, faint lacquer checking extending in all directions across the body. There are a few small dings and scuffs on the lower bout on the back, and some additional minor marks across the body, all consistent with a very well cared for, lovingly played Pre-War Martin.
The original Harptone hardshell case is included, boasting a clean purple interior, original functional latches, and the stock handle.
A note on shipping: Shipping in the continental USA will be $350, fully insured and shipped via FedEx Overnight, fully insured. We happily ship worldwide.