19th century Martin parlor guitar. This lovely sounding Martin 2 1/2-17 features solid Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, Adirondack spruce top, and original Jerome tuners. This particular instrument has a beautiful, lyrical voice. It was made probably circa 1867-1870. There are several clues to establish that: the original coffin case with the guitar has attributes of an earlier case: the small brass handle, and the label inside the case has font and other attributes of late a 1860s case. Also, the particular style of the original Jerome Tuners. Kerfing inside is also indicative of an 1860’s Martin. And, the best clue of all: the 1 ¾ inch nut width.
Of course, it’s post-1867, because of the “CF Martin & Co” stamps inside.
The top is fan braced, typical of this style. Measurements are: body length 17 7/8″, lower bout width 11 5/8″, overall length 36 1/2″; scale length 24 ½ inches. 4 inch body depth at end pin; 3 3/8 inch boy depth at neck joint. 1 ¾ inch nut width– may have been a custom order, or just a slightly narrower nut width (from the 1 7/8 more common later) from the factory.
12 fret cedar neck/ebonized, with ice cream cone heel.
All original finish, everywhere.
A fair-to-low amount of playwear (see photos).
Original bar frets in fine condition.
Several small hairline cracks in back, repaired. Top and sides also have a couple or repaired cracks. Reproduction ebony bridge– just made by Dick Dubois.. Original bar frets. Original bracing. “C.F. MARTIN &CO/ NEW YORK” hot stamped on back strip inside, and heel block. CF Martin New York stamped on back, by heel joint.
Original Jerome tuners, with original buttons– note, one of the sun gears (on the G string tuner) has been replaced, with a different 19th century Martin sun gear (see photo).
Historical interest aside (these just-post-civil war Martin guitars are more rare than the 1870’s/1880’s/1890’s examples), this guitar plays wonderfully. It projects glassy brazilian trebles, and clear mids and bass notes. It’s just a joy to play, and it just floats in your hands (due to its very light weight). Action is good, and it plays in tune even on the higher frets.
(Note: 19th century Martins can be fitted with: gut strings, classical guitar strings, or sometimes silk and steel/tuned down–depending on the guitar. It’s really a case-by-case basis. One size does not fit all. And different 19th century Martins sound better with different strings. In this case, with this particular guitar, our favorite strings if you want a “classical” style string but more brightness and volume than nylon classical strings: Savarez Alliance composite High Tension strings (note, “high tension” by classical standards– fine for this instrument). This instruments sounds wonderful with those strings.
In is original coffin case (and case has all the original hardware, as well as its original cloth interior lining).