C. 1980 CF Martin MC-38 Cutaway R & D prototype

This is an unusual guitar, and most likely unique, the only one of its kind. It was built sometime around 1980, though the exact date cannot be pinpointed. The guitar is M sized (0000), and the first M size guitars were put into production in '76. The first cutaway guitars (a DC-28 and an MC-28) went into production in 1981, so it can safely be assumed that this prototype pre-dates production of those models. But both of those models, and every Martin cutaway since, had Venetian (rounded) cutaway. This Florentine cutaway prototype may be the only of its kind to exist. Note that this cutaway is consistent with Martin's early cutaway designs, that is, it has the oval soundhole and 22 fret board rather than the standard 20 fret board. The guitar bears no production serial number, though it is stamped on the neck block with an R & D number "236", and that number appears in ink on the inside of the dovetail joint both on the neck block and the tenon of the neck along with the marking "R & D" for Research and Development. According to the folks at Martin, the R & D guy most likely responsible for building this guitar was John Huber, who is known for a number of other interesting prototypes that have shown up over the years, including a steel string 12 string guitar built with the body of an N-10 that I had and sold a few years back.

This guitar, first and foremost, is just a great instrument. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides, solid Sitka top, mahogany neck, ebony board and bridge, recognizable Martin craftsmanship and design throughout. The headstock has the factory decal but the body has none of the other typical Martin markings or brands. Nevertheless there is no doubt as to its origin. The back strip is the same multi color marquetry strip used on the M-38 and the top binding package is similar to an M-38 as well and the top has a pearl rosette like the M-38. However, the neck and headstock are not bound. The guitar appears to be entirely original, though there is some question as to whether the pickup/electronics in the guitar are factory original. The guitar has one tiny pickguard crack under the B string that has been repaired and no cracks anywhere else. The top finish shows some play wear but nothing serious. It has been played but not abused. The back and side finish is clean as is the neck. The original bridge is in good shape and tight to the top. The top is flat under tension and all of the interior bracing is intact and secure. The bridge plate is in good condition.

The guitar has just had its neck reset and refretted. The neck is straight under tension and the angle is good. The action is set at just a shade above 6/64" at the low E measured at the 12th fret and 4/64" at the high E with saddle showing above the slot. 25.4" scale, 1 11/16" nut width and 2 1/8" pin spacing. The guitar plays well all over the neck with no buzz though someone with a heavy attack may want the action raised a bit. Excellent set up for finger style but can be played with a pick and moderate attack with no problem. The intonation is good. The pickup works fine and is equipped with on board volume and tone controls that are mounted at the bass shoulder of the body. The acoustic voice of the guitar is huge...big volume and projection, fast to respond and excellent sustain. The guitar exhibits excellent balance across its range. Very responsive to a finger style attack but robust enough to take the flat pick. This is an excellent guitar all around. As rare as rare gets...comes with its original hard shell case. $2650

Kovacik Guitars and Fretted Instrument Repair

Kovacik Guitars and Fretted Instrument Repair

C.F. Martin & Co.
Original Hard
10 Year Member
Kovacik Guitars and Fretted Instrument Repair
Steven Kovacik
Scotia, NY
6:46 PM
By appointment

Money order, personal check (must clear before item ships), cashier check, wire transfer, Paypal.

I generally ship by UPS and will ship an item within 48 hours (usually the next day) of having received or cleared payment. Exact shipping costs will be added to the total for the buyer once the buyer has provided a shipping address. I insure everything for fulll purchase price.

Items are sold with a 48 hour approval period unless clearly marked "AS IS" in the listing. AS IS items are not returnable. If an item is going to be returned it is at the buyer's expense and the item must be shipped within 24 hours of the buyer notifying Kovacik Guitars of intent to return. Any returned items must be shipped in the original packaging and MUST be fully insured when returned. Once an item is returned to Kovacik Guitars and judged to be in the same condition as when originally sold a full refund will be issued.