If you’ve ever wanted to add the power of a 12-string to your gig list or repertoire, here may be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. The Martin D-12-20 was made from 1964 to 1991 (when its last MSRP was $2,480—twenty-five years ago!). This guitar’s serial number (269911) indicates it was made in 1970, after Martin had changed the original tortoise pick guard to the classic black Martin teardrop design seen here.
When you read the almost reverent reviews of D-12-20s on Harmony Central or the many other websites (just Google “Martin D-12-20”), you’ll see why this model has attained almost legendary status. As one reviewer said, “It’s like holding an orchestra in my hands!” This guitar is an excellent example of the classic Martin D-18 dreadnought design, but with rounded shoulders, a slotted headstock, and only 12 frets to the body. It has tremendous versatility, as you can play it hard for its booming bass, or you can play it softly for the delicacy of a harpsichord—a versatility which is enhanced with its undersaddle pickup accessed through the end pin jack.
There is abundant evidence of Martin’s high quality in this 12-string’s solid spruce top and beautiful solid mahogany sides, neck, and back. The D-12-20 has a multi-stripe rosette, a fully bound body, and a 12/19-fret rosewood fingerboard with pearl dot inlay. The mahogany slotted headstock is accented by the vintage-style open tuners, while the rosewood bridge and white black-dot bridge pins reflecting the pure black teardrop pick guard and binding outer layer are all Martin trademarks. While the D-12-20 does not feature a lot of fancy inlays and such, check out the pictures: this is one impressive-looking guitar!
It is also in good playing condition, considering its forty-six years of playing hard-driving music. I suspect that the previous owner(s) have been working very hard to keep their beloved companion playing, because there’s evidence that a good bit of work has been done over the years. It looks like the bridge and saddle have been replaced and/or altered, I think the tuners have been upgraded (note the one whiter button), and the only real structural issues have been dealt with: a glued and cleated crack on the treble side of the fretboard extension, and apparently a neck re-set (including an added bolt through the neck block visible in picture 10).
Cosmetically, there is some pick wear above and below the pick guard, a couple of filled small screw holes near the end of the fret board (presumably for a pick-up), there's some slight fret wear, and there is some finish crazing and orange peeling. Most conspicuously, there’s an imperfect but very solid patch on the back lower bout, visible in pictures 7 and 8. Yeah, I know it’s kinda ugly, but it’s in the back where nobody can see it but you—and of course it has no effect on structural integrity, playability, or sound.
Like most vintage Martin 12-strings, the action is a bit high for my pudgy arthritic fingers at a hair under 5/32” at the 12th fret low E—but if you have a kinda heavy pick hand, you will probably prefer it where it is. Further, the frets are in good shape, the bridge is solid, the top is flat, and the tuners work fine. And of course, the sound is phenomenal! Forty-six years of seasoning does great things for tonewoods—especially when you start with the quality woods Martin used to create this guitar! Add to that resonance the capabilities of the electronics and you’re good for gigs at Yankee Stadium—or at least for domination of your local jam!
The Martin hard shell case is structurally perfect: naturally the hardware all works, the plush interior is clean and fits this guitar like the proverbial glove, and the handle is solid. While this case looks kinda new to be “original,” it certainly provides outstanding and authentic protection for this valuable instrument. This will be a good thing: everybody will want to play this 12-string, and you will not want anybody to touch this guitar without asking!
Buyer pays a flat rate of $55 for insurance and shipping to the lower 48 states; shipping costs elsewhere will be negotiated as necessary. Payment by Paypal is preferred; cashiers and personal checks are acceptable, but checks must clear before the guitar will be shipped.
I have made every effort to describe and illustrate this vintage guitar and its case with scrupulous accuracy. Its return will not be accepted unless it can be shown that it was egregiously misrepresented in this listing. Please ask any questions you might have before bidding.
Thank you for your interest in this classic Martin guitar.
Payments by Paypal, cashier’s checks, money orders, or personal checks are acceptable, but all payments must clear my bank before the guitar will be shipped. I will CONSIDER reasonable offers, even including installment payments and trade-ins, but generally since I already attempt to price my guitars very competitively, unusual deals must be unusually sweet.
From henceforth [that's how retired English teachers talk], insurance and shipping to the lower 48 states is FREE; shipping costs elsewhere will be negotiated as necessary. I have sold guitars to Russia, Japan, Australia, and over 50 other countries, as well as almost every state in the USA. Since some of my guitars travel thousands of miles, I take care to use lots of packing materials, protect the neck inside the case, and of course de-tune the strings.
I make every effort to describe and illustrate each guitar and case with scrupulous accuracy. However, many of my instruments are well-played vintage items which are many years old, and I am not a luthier. One should assume that any guitar will require some set-up to satisfy your personal requirements, and that not every flaw or ding will be seen/recognized/described in the listing. Thus the return of an instrument will not be accepted unless it can be shown that it was egregiously misrepresented in this listing. Please read the listing carefully, check out the pictures, and ask any questions you might have before offering to buy.