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 Post subject: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:06 pm 
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A Martin model 5-18???? WTF is that??? :?

I literally had to look it up. I even called my good Bud, Dave Smith, who I consider a vintage expert, and he'd never seen one, nor knew a thing about it!! :shock:

But, I digress.............

I've had a small sign up in all of my offices for about 5 years that says "We buy old guitars and amps". In five years, I've not got many significant results from these signs. But, about three weeks ago, I got a phone message from a woman saying that she had this old 5-18 she'd gotten from her Mom when she was a child. Her Mom had bought it used, and she'd never really taken to playing, and since none of her kids, or grandkids (she's 62) had any interest in playing, she'd been trying to sell it.

I looked it up, and found out that it's a little "Terz" guitar, small in stature, and tuned a third higher than standard tuning. So, the open 6th string is a "G", not an "E". Some of my books incorrectly described this guitar. I think that there weren't many made, in spite of it having been manufactured from 1898 thru 1989. It started as a Braz Rosewood body, but changed to Mahogany in 1917 and onward). It's got 12 frets free of the body, and the early ones had a slotted headstock. It was braced for steel strings beginning in 1923.

I remember reading about "Terz" guitars, but in all honestly, didn't have a clue what that meant. So, I looked it up. It's not easy to find a lot of information about "Terz" guitars. But, I found a cool description of how these guitars are oftened strung and tuned by Dick Boak, who was the driving force behind what I think was one of the last times Martin issued 5-18's. The following is from a pamphlet that was in the case of the Martin 5-18's in what I think was the last regular run of them;

Dear Martin Enthusiasts,

The fact that you are reading this letter means you are probably one of a select group to have in your possession one of the Size 5 “Mini-Martin” guitars. These little instruments are very close to my heart and I am proud to have played a part in reviving them for this special Martin edition. As many of you know, Size 5 Martin models came to be known as “terz” guitars because the instrument was invariably tuned to a minor third (3 half notes) above standard guitar tuning or G, C, F, Bb, d, g.

The Mini-Martin is equipped from the factory with Martin MSP-4050 Custom Light “SP” Phosphor Bronze strings. I recommend that you first tune your Mini-Martin to standard pitch (E, A, D, G, b, e). You’ll see that the strings are not stretched quite tight enough. Play the bass “G” note at the third fret, then tune the low “E” string up to that note. Accordingly, tune all of the remaining strings up three half steps to achieve the terz tuning: G, C, F, Bb, d, g. Now the strings will feel more correctly tensioned.

I personally prefer to string my personal Size 5 instrument with a customized “high string” or “Nashville tuning” set. This is similar to using the high strings only from a 12-string set. The first four (bass) strings are thus an octave higher while the two treble strings remain unchanged. I first saw such as string set when I visited Paul Simon. I was so impressed, I came back and experimented with a variety of gauges. My clear preference is:

Standard Pitch Gauge Terz Tuning Bb Tuning
E .025” wound G (one octave higher) F
A .017” plain C (one octave higher) Bb
D .013” plain F (one octave higher) F
G .008” plain Bb (one octave higher) Bb
B .012” plain d d
e .010” plain g f

I have enclosed a customized set of these “high” strings. They have an extremely sweet, almost “piano-like” tone. I encourage you to experiment with both standard and alternate tunings using these strings. For example, tuning the two G strings down a full step to F and the C string down to a Bb, yields an open Bb tuning. These string sets are not yet available in stores, so if you fall in love with this tuning, you might want to pick up individual string gauges to make up your own sets. I hope you enjoy the Mini-Martin as much as I do!

Sincerely,


dick boak
C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.


I called my Bud, Danny Brown, who's in Martin's Custom Shop, and of course Danny immediately knew about 5-18's, and Terz guitars. I'm more and more convinced that Danny knows EVERYTHING there is to know about Martin guitars..........He said that they were cool little guitars. It seems that with their unique voicing, that some artists use them in conjunction with standard tuned guitars to achieve some very interesting harmonies. Apparently the Custom Shop has done a limited run of signature 5-18's, one for Marty Robbins, and apparently another for Nick Lucas.

As the above "blurb" from Dick Boak explains, the guitar is often strung with the "upper" strings from a set of acoustic guitar strings meant for a 12 string acoustic. And then, the open 6th is tuned up a third to "G". Several of the strings are then tuned up an octave. It makes for an interesting sound. I think that this is called "Nashville tuning"????

Anyhow, so I looked up the "book value", and not having a big interest in such an unusual guitar, figured I'd call her anyway. I mean, it couldn't hurt to check it out, right?? :wave:

She told me all about the guitar, and that it came with it's original case. After a second call, she admitted she'd tried to sell it on eBay without success.

So, I got Dave Smith to accompany me to go check out this old Martin. We literally traveled "over the hills and thru the woods" to a remote horse farm, off of a dirt road, in the middle of almost nowhere.............

I get out of my truck, and several dogs come up to greet us. The woman comes out on her porch, and I KNOW HER. :shock:

She looks at me inquisitively, and says "I know you from somewhere". I say, "you should, I'm your eye surgeon". In fact, I'd just taken her husband's cataracts out. He was due for his 10 day post op visit with me the very next day!!!

So, in her home we go, and check out this little old guitar. It's immediately obviously that it needs a neck reset, which is NOT surprising on a 1958 acoustic guitar. It's got old (and I mean OLD) strings on it. I get it as close as "in tune" as I can manage, and it's a cool little guitar. It's got a really cool thick mahogany neck. The Adirondack spruce top is VERY COOL. And, it is is decent shape, although there are a bunch of scratches on the back of the body, and one one on the side. I can find no cracks, no repairs, and the open Grover tuners look virginal.

So, I told her it's not a guitar I'd normally be in the market for, but it's a cool and unusual, if not particularly collectable, guitar. So, I asked her what she needed for the guitar. She immediately got to the bottom line, and I agreed, and cash was exchanged.

I'm actually very very happy that I bought this guitar. I've only had it for about 2 weeks, but I've learned a ton from it already. I've taken the Grovers off, and throughly cleaned and lubed them. I've cleaned the guitar up, and strung it properly. I even THINK I've got it properly tuned up!! LOL I will post a separate thread with photos of how I cleaned the tuners, and cleaned the guitar's body and neck soon.

In the mean time, here are some photos;

Image

I took this next photo next to a couch/chair in order to give some perspective to the size of the guitar;

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Image

Videos to come................. :rawk:

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"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:19 pm 
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A quick video that will give you an idea of the tone of this old 5-18. It needs a neck reset, so the action is high. Consequently, it's a bit tough to play smoothly. The tone comes thru, however.

BTW............I've been searching for some way to video live concert footage and get decent audio. I may have found the solution, and will post in detail soon. In the meantime, suffice it to say, I recorded these videos with a Zoom G3.

http://www.amazon.com/Zoom-Q3-Digital-C ... =8-2-fkmr0

Here's some video of the old 5-18;





Edit; To keep it accurate, the last four strings are tuned an octive up. And, the strings are the "upper" string taken from a 12 string acoustic guitar string set.

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Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:23 pm 
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As a point of comparison, here's that video of another 1958 model 5-18 that I THINK is tuned to standard tuning (i.e. not Nashville);



I REALLY like the tone with it tuned this way, and may eventually just cave, and go to "standard" tuning (except a third up which I THINK this is).

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Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:24 pm 
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That is a really cool little guitar! :thumb: :thumb: I've never heard of a "Terz" guitar before. I really like the way it sounds!
:thumb: :cool:

Oddly enough, after the USA/Ghana World Cup match, there was a Time/Life '60s Pop CD infomercial on that showed a small clip of a song and the woman singing was playing one that looked exactly like yours!! And dammit, wouldn't you know that I can't freaking remember the song or even the singer!!! I was going to post up a YT clip of it, but can't for the life of me remember who it was!! If I can remember, I'll post it up, I'm relatively sure that everyone will know the singer and the song.

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"Turning your amp up will solve most of your problems" - Bugs Henderson


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Sat Jun 26, 2010 7:31 pm 
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When I called DAnny Brown before going to see this guitar, he said that the pros that use it, do so because of the interesting sounds possible when playing it along with a standard guitar. He said that works out well, so long as you can transpose chords and such from standard tuning to the "Terz" tuning.

I said "what does transpose mean?" :shock:

LMAO.........actually, of course, I know what it means to transpose. I just don't know how to do it............. :geek:

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Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:13 am 
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Don't know if you're still on here, but maybe I'll revive this thread. I can't find anything on the internet about the later productions of the 5-18. I am the lucky owner of a 1988 5-18...what do you think it's worth? (Though, I'll never sell it, as it has been passed down through the family.)


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 6:19 am 
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Wow, I'd missed this thread before. What a cool little guitar, Doc! :D

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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:29 am 
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lovemymartin wrote:
Don't know if you're still on here, but maybe I'll revive this thread. I can't find anything on the internet about the later productions of the 5-18. I am the lucky owner of a 1988 5-18...what do you think it's worth? (Though, I'll never sell it, as it has been passed down through the family.)


First, WELCOME TO OUR FORUM!! :wave: :wave: :wave:

Visit us often, and post!! And, BTW, I love my Martins too!! :thumb:

1988 was the second to last year of the "re-appearance" of Martin's little Terz guitar. According to The Vintage Guitar Price Guide, a 1988 Martin model 5-18 is worth between $1200 and $1500.

How do you tune yours? What strings do you have on it, and what guage?

I bumped a thread about another old Martin in "Doc's Pub".......check it out!!

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Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:33 am 
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Vince wrote:
Wow, I'd missed this thread before. What a cool little guitar, Doc! :D


It really is pretty cool, Vince. Most "little" guitars around, even high quality ones like a Baby Taylor, still feel like a "little guitar". This one has a substantial feel to it. It's got a totally solid body, and a surprisingly solid and pleasingly thick neck.

I'd really like to try to multitrack record a tune with a guitar in standard tuning, and the 5-18 in Nashville, and hear what that harmony sounds like. It's supposed to be pretty cool.

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Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 12:01 pm 
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mdrs wrote:
I'd really like to try to multitrack record a tune with a guitar in standard tuning, and the 5-18 in Nashville, and hear what that harmony sounds like. It's supposed to be pretty cool.


I bet that will sound really cool!!! Can't wait to hear it!! :thumb: :thumb: :cool: :cool:

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"Turning your amp up will solve most of your problems" - Bugs Henderson


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 8:11 pm 
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mdrs wrote:
It really is pretty cool, Vince. Most "little" guitars around, even high quality ones like a Baby Taylor, still feel like a "little guitar". This one has a substantial feel to it. It's got a totally solid body, and a surprisingly solid and pleasingly thick neck.


Yeah, it even looks like a solid little guitar.

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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Sun Jan 23, 2011 9:49 pm 
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It really needs some "set up" work. I'm pretty sure it needs a neck reset. However, Danny has begun building me a Danny Brown D-45, and I don't want to interrupt him............. :whistle:

I will get it done, and do eventually hope to have some recording capability again so I can do multi track recording. I just KNOW this little guitar will sound great with a standard guitar in harmony. Also, I bet it sounds very cool with standard strings, and in standard tuning.

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Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 11:00 am 
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I was going to say why not just tune it standard or at least an open tuning closer to standard? The upper mid range punch the guitar seems to have should work well standard.....is the scale length such that at standard the string tension is too slack?

It is a nice little guitar Don. Is it too valuable/expensive to treat as a travel companion, if you have a nice case to take it in?


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 Post subject: Re: 1958 Martin 5-18
PostPosted: Wed Jan 26, 2011 1:41 pm 
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Fingers wrote:
I was going to say why not just tune it standard or at least an open tuning closer to standard? The upper mid range punch the guitar seems to have should work well standard.....is the scale length such that at standard the string tension is too slack?

It is a nice little guitar Don. Is it too valuable/expensive to treat as a travel companion, if you have a nice case to take it in?


I got it a top shelf new Martin hardshell case. So, it could travel well. And, it's small enought to be a carry on too!!

I have not tried it in standard tuning to date, although I do need to!! I also need to bring it to Danny for a neck reset. I really like this little axe!! Back "in the day" apparently a lot of the Nashville songwriter types used this guitar as their travel companion, so that when the spirit moved them, they could use it when writing a song while on the road.

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Don

"There once was a note, Pure and Easy. Playing so free, like a breath rippling by."
"The guitar is such a great friend... If you play guitar, you are already blessed."

http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemus ... dID=574296


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