C.F. Martin Archtop Guitars
15" Martin 1931 C-1 with 14 3/8"
1933 R-18 Roundhole Archtop Guitars
The "C" Style Martin Archtop Guitar
In June, 1931, Martin produced
their first archtop guitar, the C-1.
This C-1 example is from the very first batch of Martin
1931 Martin C-1 Prototype:
Serial Number 47368
The pearl Martin
headstock logo first appeared on this first Martin archtop
The earliest Style "C" archtops were built with the same long
scale neck as the OM of the period. The neck was shortened from 25
1/4" to 24 3/4" in 1934 when the 000 neck was altered.
In addition to the mahogany C-1, Martin produced a rosewood Model C-2
with pearl "diamond and square" neck inlays and a backstrip similar to a
Style 28, and two months later added a C-3, with gold plated metal
parts, a bound pickguard, and Style 45 inlays and backstrip.
The alternating black and white Celluloid lines on the top border of the
Martin C-2 archtops are said to be the inspiration for the top border
consisting of plain straight lines that would later appear on the post
war Style 28 to replace the long lived herringbone top border in
1947. In fact, the flattop Style 44 Martins produced for Vahdah
Olcott-Bickford preceded the Martin archtops with the same design, with
the C-2 merely making the same natural progression from ivory to
Celluloid that occurred on herringbone trimmed guitars.
The "R" Style Martin Archtop Guitar
The 15" carved top roundhole C-1 was essentially replaced by the
slightly smaller 14 3/8" pressed top roundhole R-18 at about the same
time as the C-1 became an "F" hole guitar in late 1932.
By the end of 1933, the R-18 had also become an "F" hole guitar.
By mid-1936, the R-18 was also built with a carved top.
The pressed top "F" hole R-18 had three piece "F" holes, while the
carved top R-18 had one piece "F" holes.
The "R" Style guitar never had a the longer scale neck of the Style "C".
1933 Martin R-18 Guitar
Serial Number 53100
1942 Martin R-18 F hole Guitar
Serial Number 82855
In September, 1933, Martin built their first batch of archtop
guitars with "F" holes, a batch of R-18's.
In November, 1934,
Martin produced their last batch of archtop guitars, a batch of
This R-18 example is from the final batch of Martin archtop
In December, 1934, Martin added a Model R-17, with a mahogany top.
The "F" Style Martin Archtop Guitar
The Martin archtops found great popularity, accounting for nearly
28% of Martin's guitar output in 1933, almost 20% of which were the
R-18 alone, in a
critical period after Martin's production had lost 25% in a single
year in 1931.
Within a short time, the round hole archtops gave way to "f-hole"
models, the most sophisticated of which was the "F" series, with a
large 16" body, introduced as the F-7 and F-9 in 1935, with the F-1
and F-2 added in 1940.
The Model F-2 archtop
was built with similar appointments to the C-2.
The F-7 was produce with rosewood back and sides, bound pickguard
and pearloid inlaid headstock, 45 Style backstrip, and the large
hexagonal fingerboard inlays that were later added to the Style
45. The F-5 was essentially a maple version of the
F-7. The F-9 was built with gold plated metal parts, two
additional frets of hexagon inlays, white lines about 1/4" from the
edges of the fingerboard, extra lines on the pickguard and top
border, and a headstock inlay in real pearl.
The popularity of the
Martin archop, however, was short lived, as production ceased in
Only 401 "F" Style
guitars were built, 91 of which were the F-1 model, with mahogany
back and sides.
The last Style "C" guitar was produced in August, 1942.
This example is from the
very last batch of "F" Style guitars to leave Martin's workshop,
built in September, 1942.
1942 Martin F-1 Guitar
Serial Number 82431
The larger 16" body size of the "F" Style was later revived for the
Martin M-36 and M-38 models in 1977.
The size designation was changed from "M" to " 0000" between 1997
C.F. Martin Archtop 12 String Guitars
Martin built a total of only six 12 string guitars in it's entire
prewar history, three of which were built as archtop guitars, all in
This is the first of the three archtop 12 string guitars to be
produced by Martin.
1932 C-2S 12 String Guitar
Serial Number 50223
By 1932, the initials "CF" had been added to the pearl Martin
From "Martin Guitars, a Technical Reference", by Longworth, Johnston
This guitar was owned by Mark O'Connor and used to record his CD
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