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Every time she shakes, some man's dollar's gone - Blind Boy Fuller, Meat Shakin' Woman

Author Topic: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?  (Read 5704 times)

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Offline RobBob

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The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« on: April 14, 2009, 10:10:12 AM »
I recently bought a Martin 0-18.  It was purportedly a 1929 but my luthier says it is a 1931 on the cusp of 1932 by the serial number.  He checked that out because the bridge was in bad shape and the shape of the bridge apparently changed in 32.  I knew that the bridge was at least lose  and  paid a seemingly good price for it.  But now I also know that three back braces are loose, the fingerboard has bar frets and they are worn out and the luthier is recommending a new fingerboard with modern frets for playability.  The bridge plate is broken and neck is bowed as well.  I got an estimate of $740 to fix the guitar into playing condition.

Can anyone give me an idea what this thing is worth?  The fingerboard is the old style that is over 2" wide so the bridge and fingerboard, which is a short scale not made today,  will have to be made for it.

I am at a loss with this thing. Do I repair it or try and sell it as is?

Thanks for any help.

RobBob


Offline Slack

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #1 on: April 14, 2009, 10:22:39 AM »
Here is an opinion that says value is between 2-4K depending on condition (further down the response lsit is value for O-18 )
http://guitarbench.com/index.php/2008/07/02/1931-martin-0018/

My concern would be with replacing the fingerboard.  Does the luthier want to do this in order to straighten the neck?  ..or to avoid dealing with the wide slots of the bar frets?

Offline Stuart

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #2 on: April 14, 2009, 11:08:45 AM »
A luthier who builds guitars should have no problem repairing or replacing the bridgeplate, bridge and fingerboard. While he has the fingerboard off, he should be able to rout a slot in the neck and install and adjustable truss rod, the kind that adjusts through the sound hole with an Allen or hex wrench. It's a standard retrofit for older Martins and can come in handy down the line. I had it done on one of mine for about $100. The loose braces are an easy fix. The Stew-Mac catalog has what seems to be every conceivable speciality tool for every conceivable problem.

As to what it is worth, well that's what a buyer is willing to pay for the specific instrument. But the work that you are going to have done is definitely going to move it from the "everything original" category. Why not have the necessary work done to whip it into playing shape and enjoy playing it? If the day ever comes that you feel that's it's not the guitar for you, then hopefully you'll be able to get back what you put into it--and then some. If you don't have the work done, it remains a "project with potential," something that I tend to steer clear of.
« Last Edit: April 14, 2009, 11:14:37 AM by Stuart »

Offline eagle rockin daddy

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #3 on: April 14, 2009, 11:21:13 AM »
Umm, I'm not sure about how easy these fixes are.  Warped neck, damaged bridge, bridgeplate, these are all serious issues, and unless you find a good luthier, well, the guitar could be damaged further.  To find out about this go to the unofficial martin guitar forum, and look at the vintage corner.  I would post pictures and see what the experts over there say.  Currently, there is a great thread about bridges there.

http://theunofficialmartinguitarforum.yuku.com/forums/3

This could be a great guitar, but with all these issues I'm not sure what it would be worth.  But no matter what, be careful who you take it to. Where do you live?

Mike


Offline Slack

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #4 on: April 14, 2009, 11:43:41 AM »
I agree with Mike, be careful who you take it to.  It is a historical and rare guitar.  I think I'd send picture to and get an opinion from Frank Ford, no matter who you end up taking the guitar to. 

Offline Stuart

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2009, 12:32:30 PM »
Not all luthiers and repair people are the same--something I unfortunately know from experience, so I assumed too much in my initial post. Thus, I agree with Mike and Slack on this one: Make sure the person who does the work knows what he's doing.

That said, I still think that all of the repairs are not going to be a problem for someone with the skills and experience to do them properly. However, you don't want this guitar to be a vehicle for on-the-job training.

Have you called Martin?

« Last Edit: April 14, 2009, 12:35:09 PM by Stuart »

Offline lindy

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2009, 01:34:50 PM »

A first for me, responding to a thread on guitars . . .

but when I saw Slack's post about Frank Ford I thought I'd find out something about him. I found this page, and thought I'd share it for the picture that's at the very bottom.

http://www.frets.com/fretspages/Musician/Guitar/Setup/SteelStrings/Stringing/ststringing2.html

What was that guy thinking, drinking, or smoking?

Nothing to do with a 1931 0-18.

Lindy

Offline Richard

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #7 on: April 14, 2009, 02:17:05 PM »
 :)
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline onewent

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #8 on: April 14, 2009, 02:29:30 PM »
RobBob.. '31 0-18 Martins are  nice little guitars and have a following, and late 20's/ early 30's are the best period.  .. shouldn't be too hard to sell either way, fixed or 'as is', you just have to be aware of how condition/repairs affect value..My guess, in excellent original condition this is ~ $3500 guitar, +/- $500

..the repairs outlined, place the guitar in playable condition, a plus, but at the same time devalue the guitar on the open market, especially the bridge plate.  Personally, I'd avoid the adjustable truss rod.  Martin's of this period have a good rod inlaid, and many aficionados swear by them in terms of both support and sound, so I'd leave well enough alone.  I'd also revisit the new f-board, too..I'd need to see it, though, to make a final evaluation.

Here's what I'd do:  Where are you located?  Someone here could recommend a good Martin luthier for an eval, or, as stated above, check on umgf.com on either Vintage or Technical board, and ask for a reliable luthier near you.  You could also ship it to one of the A-list luthiers (the umgf folks will tell you who they are, and several of them read the board) for eval and repair.

It's a great guitar, and, I suspect once playable again, you won't want to give it up..good luck.  Tom


pakhan

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #9 on: April 14, 2009, 02:49:17 PM »
I recently bought a Martin 0-18.  I knew that the bridge was at least lose  and  paid a seemingly good price for it.  But now I also know that three back braces are loose, the fingerboard has bar frets and they are worn out and the luthier is recommending a new fingerboard with modern frets for playability.  The bridge plate is broken and neck is bowed as well.  I got an estimate of $740 to fix the guitar into playing condition.
Can anyone give me an idea what this thing is worth?  The fingerboard is the old style that is over 2" wide so the bridge and fingerboard, which is a short scale not made today,  will have to be made for it.
RobBob

Hi Robbob, congrats on being the owner of a nice, historic guitar!

I should introduce myself, I'm Terence and I help run the guitarbench.com online magazine- I happened to follow a linkback here!

I would strongly advise you to seek a second opinion on the repairs and to definitely get the guitar repaired. The back braces and loose bridge should be fixed before anything else, and I highly recommend refretting with bar frets because it will retain the original specs and because without the compression from bar frets, the neck set and neck action will be off. A lot of repairmen will not deal with bar frets because they are difficult, finicky and rather technically demanding. Where are you based?

Here is an opinion that says value is between 2-4K depending on condition (further down the response lsit is value for O-18 )
http://guitarbench.com/index.php/2008/07/02/1931-martin-0018/

Slack, the price quote is for Gene's O18K which is a rather different guitar!

Currently without seeing pics, it is very difficult to give an estimate for this O18. Visual aids are very powerful in vintage quotations.

Warmest regards,
Terence
www.guitarbench.com

Offline Slack

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #10 on: April 14, 2009, 02:57:15 PM »
Thanks Terence, appreciate you dropping by - did not see it was a O18K!

- and welcome to Weeniecampbell.

Offline RobBob

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #11 on: April 15, 2009, 07:53:35 AM »
Thanks to all for your feedback on this guitar.  I am near Greenville, SC and there is a luthier here I have used extensively in the past.  I think that he is not keen on the bar fret thing, but two people have told me to keep the bar frets.  The luthier found the year of the guitar during his first evaluation of the instrument, as it was bought as being a 1929.  This came out as he researched it for the type of bridge to put on it.  His work has always been first rate and fairly priced.  I just was blown away but the extent of the damage that had been wrought through a somewhat oblivious previous owner.  This luthier has put my 1949 0018 back to rights after it had been stored in a house with electric heat up north and strung up for 5+ years.  It has been a player ever since.

This guitar was bought twenty years ago by a fellow who got it in pieces for cents on the dollar.  He used Jeff Hosetter in New Freedom, PA to put it back to rights.  He sold it to the fellow whom I bought it from who took it on the road for the next ten years playing old time music.

I want to keep as original as possible and also as a player.  You all have given much to think about and since really, my wife has invest her cash in this, I am trying to handle this whole thing while she is in the UK.  It is a great sounding guitar that will hold its value but now I must figure out what reparis really need done, etc.

RobBob

Offline Rivers

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #12 on: April 15, 2009, 08:31:01 AM »
Quote
I want to keep as original as possible and also as a player.

I think that is an excellent objective, you have a good vision and should stick with it. Which would mean bar frets I guess. Are the tuners original and in good shape?

Offline Stuart

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #13 on: April 15, 2009, 08:40:24 AM »
Glad to hear that you have someone local who you have confidence in.

Without knowing the specific history of the guitar, it's difficult to know how the previous damage and repairs have affected its value. For example, what does "in pieces" specifically refer to?

Since financial resources are limited with respect to repairs and also a sensitive issue, this is probably one of those "stop and think" moments. Trying to keep it as close to its original specs as possible is understandable, and Rivers makes an excellent point--but is it the wisest choice in the long run, given that the previous damage and repairs have already put some distance between the original state of this instrument and it's current state? The reason that I mentioned putting in an adjustable truss rod is that if the neck bowed once, what's to keep it from bowing again, even with the old style Martin rod ?--And if it does, then what? If the original Martin design was a perfected design, then why did Martin change? Why did the neck on this guitar bow? The other side of the argument is that all of the pieces of a guitar work together and that putting a rod in the neck can change the sound. Same goes for the other parts, especially the bridge plate and bridge.

So I guess what I'm saying is that one has to go into this kind of thing with both eyes open, something that you probably already knew. Best of luck and keep us posted, as we're all in this together.

Offline RobBob

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Re: The value of a 1931 0-18 Martin Guitar?
« Reply #14 on: April 15, 2009, 12:29:49 PM »
The tuners are good, only one screw missing and they work well.  I talked to the luthier and he is doing the bridge and will wait for me to tell him what I want to do about the fingerboard.

I will talk to him about a rod, I have a friend who builds banjos and put carbon fiber rods into the neck.  He works with curly maple which is a wood prone to moving and has good luck doing this.

The luthier doesn't seem to think that the newer fingerboard would hurt the value since a couple of the sides had cracks repaired.  I never saw this guitar as it was bought at the guitar show almost two decades ago, but it apparently was pretty rough as far as parts not being glued together and needing TLC.  I know everyone who had done work on it and I could not afford to have one of them do more work.

They don't make these guitars anymore and this thing has lots of volume and presence even with the bridge and bridge plate in bad shape.  Every time this luthier has returned an instrument, it was better sounding than when he took it in.

I'll keep if bar frets if it to be an investment.  With the new bridge, which he'll make, it should sound good either way.  If we go on playing it perhaps other changes will be made later.

Thanks for all of the input,

RobBob

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