Retrofret Stock # 4174. C. F. Martin C-2 Model Arch Top Acoustic Guitar (1936), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 62717, sunburst top, natural back and sides finish, Brazillian rosewood sides and back, spruce top, mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, original black hard shell case. One of C. F. Martin & Co.'s more unusual but often overlooked guitars, the f-hole C-2 represents the company's noble but ultimately doomed attempts to challenge Gibson and Epiphone for the swing-era archtop market. The C-series were Martin's earliest production archtop guitars, introduced in 1931 sporting a mix of flat top and arch top style features. While Martin arch-tops have never been well-appreciated compared to the same period's flat tops, viewed simply as a guitar (not as an OM-28 that wasn't!) this C-2 is a good-playing and interesting-sounding instrument.In 1930-31 when this guitar was being designed, arch top guitars in general were still a relatively unformed concept. Gibson led the way, and by the late 20's their $275.00 16" wide L-5 was the emerging standard of the professional guitar with f-holes, a 14-fret neck, and a raised fingerboard. Lesser Gibson archtops, along with other maker's early attempts, still stuck to the familiar round soundhole. Unlike Epiphone and eventually many others, Martin chose not to copy the L-5 (which was much more expensive than even a pearl-bordered OM-45) but essentially took their 15" wide OM-body, pitched the 14-fret neck way back, and gave the top a gentle carved arch while retaining the round soundhole. Similar guitars emerged around this time from Washburn, Vega, and Weymann, among others. The C-2 was the most successful of these hybrids, selling over 250 units before being redesigned in 1933.This f-hole version of the C-2 was produced from 1934 up through the end of the decade. This model stood at the middle of the Martin arch top line, listing at $125 in 1936, which was just under the cost of a 17" Advanced Gibson L-7. The features are distinctly Martin with a Brazilian rosewood body and relatively fancy trim similar to an OM-28, but lacking the herringbone top border which may have been considered too old-fashioned for such a modern guitar! Like all prewar Martins the workmanship is impeccable and all woods on this instrument are top-notch, with the Brazilian rosewood back and sides being particularly fine with a tight but well-defined figure. The single-bound ebony fingerboard has a delicate slotted diamond inlay and the top is multibound in 5-ply celluloid. The inlaid pearl headstock logo reads "C. F. MARTIN". The tuners are Grover Sta-tites with "butterbean" buttons and the tailpiece is the same "strung over" piece used by Gibson on the early L-5, but with an engraved Martin logo. The adjustable bridge is a lovely carved two-piece unit that is a work of art in itself. Only 36 of the model C-2 were shipped in 1936, making this quite a rare find especially in this unaltered condition.The sound of this C-2 is bright and punchy but not as big as the typical mid-1930's higher-grade Gibson. The feel is halfway between the typical arch top and flat top, with the smaller body making the feel comfortable to a typical Martin player. While perhaps still a minority taste, we find these Martin arch tops can be a fun guitar to play and are quite suited to some string band or similar playing applications. There is a practice of pulling the tops of these 1930's Brazilian rosewood arch top Martins and converting them to flat tops. While the motivation is understandable, we hope this one can be appreciated as it is; a particularly nice example of Martin's carved top experiments.Overall length is 39 3/4 in. (101 cm.), 15 in. (38.1 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 4 1/8 in. (10.5 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 24 3/4 in. (629 mm.). This is an extremely fine example of this rare pre-war Martin guitar. It remains exceptionally well-preserved with only some minor wear and tear from use -- primarily light bumping and scratches about the side of the headstock, and some light dings and scrapes and finish pitting overall. It appears all original, although there is a small extra screwhole under the original tailpiece indicating something may have been moved around there at some point. The bridge is original but shows some slight undercutting to the saddle to allow the adjustment wheels to be set for a lower action. The guitar plays extremely well and the sound is tight but fairly powerful, with an unusual character to the tone due partly to the non-arch-top-like rosewood body. It sounds great for early jazz, ragtime, and hokum and does a pretty fair job with more modern styles as well. Includes a very nice original HSC with some edgewear but completely solid. Overall Excellent + Condition.
|1936||Excellent||sunburst top, natural back and sides||Original Hard|
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