1947 Martin 5-18
Size-5 Martin guitars were the smallest they made and were called Terz guitars, “terz" meaning “third” in German, for smaller instruments that were tuned a musical third higher than standard. The heyday of the 5-18 was from the 1930s to the 1980s, when it was last made as a standard model. What many people did with them though was to tune them standard and have a totally great time with them. Either way, the main appeal was to have a much smaller steel-srtring instrument of the highest quality; Martin, of course. Most notably, in the 1950s and 1960s they were very visibly played by Marty Robbins and Bobbie Gentry, both with number one top hits.
While I've had several of this model over the years, I fell totally in love with this particular 1947 Martin 5-18 the instant I opened the case. Something about it, the look, the overall tremendous charm, made me take in my breath. I am normally not given to reactions like this, having seen, and handled, and owned literally thousands of Martin guitars over the last sixty years, including many 5-18s, and this one's story matches it so well. It came to me from the son of a woman who had gotten it as a child for a birthday present back in the late 1940s and taken beautiful care of it all these years. It still has its little colored, braided strap, one of the very few kinds you could buy in a music store back then, tied to it, one end on the strap button and the other through the slots of the peghead. This is probably, BTW, one of the very last 5-18s Martins ever made with a slotted peghead before switching over to the solid peghead design which was considerably less expensive to produce. Oh, and those tuning machines! Quite standard for the day but with beautiful clear buttons as opposed to white or black. I have never seen that before in all my years at this. And its sound! Clear and bright all the way across the tonal range and it is LOUD! The overall condition of the guitar is quite remarkable, with not a single crack nor any other issue. The genuine ivory nut and saddle are original and untouched, and there is virtually no fret wear. Setup by us is complete and thorough, with an .012 sting set tuned to standard pitch. And its case, also original, makes the picture complete; black heavyweight chipboard and still with its original maker's label on the accessory compartment lid. It simply does not get any better than this in an earlier Martin and in my experience, it just couldn’t. This much charm and love in one Martin guitar is beyond rare; it's a keeper. $5995 w/ossc