Steel String Martin Hawaiian Guitars
In July of 1916, with Hawaiian music all the rage, the
C. F. Martin Co. shipped six samples each, of Hawaiian koa wood guitars
with appointments generally similar to Martin's styles 0-18, 0-21,
and 00-28, to the
Southern California Music Company of Los Angeles, a chain of Southern
California music stores, and one of Martin's largest accounts.
SoCal provided Martin with the koa wood from Hawaii, and asked that the trim on these guitars, designed for playing in the Hawaiian style, be
as close as possible to those of SoCal's popular ukuleles. To
appeal to the Hawaiian market, SoCal asked that the Martin stamp be
replaced with the Southern California Music Company stamp,
and affixed decals on the headstocks bearing the name "M. Nunes
& Sons, Hawaii" and labels inside with either the name "M. Nunes
& Sons" or
"Rolando". These early samples had koa wood back and sides and
tinted spruce tops, but after seeing the samples, SoCal decided to
offer all koa guitars, and to market the three models as the 1350,
1400, and 1500. The first of the new SoCal models was shipped in
November of 1916.
These guitars, and those Hawaiian guitars designed at about the same time for
the Oliver Ditson Company, were the first Martins to be built for steel
strings. And while Martin had previously used fan bracing
only for their gut string guitars in the Spanish Style, and had since
switched it's production to X-bracing, Martin curiously decided to
build these early heavier steel string guitars with braces in the shape
of a fan. The Model 1500, however, for reasons we may never know,
has X bracing.
"M. Nunes & Sons" and "Rolando" Models 1350, 1400 and 1500
1916 Model 1400 #28, 1919 Model 1350 #14001, 1917 Model 1500 #181, and 1916 Spruce Top Sample with no serial number
The guitars designed for SoCal had serial numbers of their own.
The Model 1400 shown here, from the very first batch, is number
28. Their numbers started with number 19, apparently allowing for
the eighteen samples which were sent without serial numbers. The
latest Southern California Music Company Hawaiians have trim similar to
a regular Martin, and Martin serial numbers. While earlier SoCals
bear the Southern California Music Company name on the
headstock, later examples have either both the SoCal and Martin
names or the Martin name only.
The early Model 1350 and 1500 examples I've seen have the "Rolando Koa
Wood Guitars" label, while the 1400 has the "M. Nunes & Sons, Royal
Hawaiians" label inside. The later examples have the Martin stamp
C.F. Martin/Southern California Music Company Model 1400
1916 Southern California Music Company Model 1400
Beautiful original condition variation of a style 21 guitar made for
the Southern California Music Company, and sold as the Model 1400.
From the first batch of production SoCal guitars, this was also
one of the first batch of Martins to utilize all Koa wood construction.
Along with the early Ditson dreadnaught, also made with fan
bracing, this was also one of the first production Martins made
for steel strings.
The pyramid style bridge is a replacemement.
C.F. Martin/Southern California Music Company Model 1350
1919 Southern California Music Company Model 1350
Fan style braces similar to a Ditson dreadnaught.
Stamped inside, "C.F. Martin & Co., Nazareth, PA"
Stamped on back of headstock "Southern California Music Company, Los Angeles"
Both the initial samples for the Model 1350 and the earlier 1350 with
the Rolando label have a single ring rosette like some of the guitars
Martin made for others such as Ditson, Wurlitzer, and Foden, but
the later examples with Martin serial numbers have a standard Martin
three ring rosette.
Serial numbers 14001 and 14003.
In 1919, Martin began selling their less expensive
guitars with rounded slots in the headstock. Previously, all
Martins had square slots, a process that took extra time which was in
short supply as as Martin's production was doubling yearly.
Curiously, these two guitars, two serial numbers away and both
from the same batch, have different style headstocks, which is not
surprising if you follow Martin history. No doubt, the necks were
made first, and different styles appeared when the worker reached into
the pile when it came time to attach a neck.
14003 and 14001
C.F. Martin Guitars Hawaiian Guitars Made for Oliver Ditson & Co.
The "Standard" size Ditson Model 1-21, "Concert" size Ditson
Model 11, and "Extra Large" (Dreadnaught) size Ditson Model 111 reissue.
Martin's "Ditson Model" guitars, with their wide waisted body shapes reminiscent of early European guitars, were made
expressly for the Ditson Stores and came in three sizes, Standard, Concert, and Extra Large.
The Standard Model has a width at the lower bout of 11 1/8"
The Concert Model has a width at the lower bout of 12 3/4"
The Extra Large Model has a width at the lower bout of 15 5/8"
The Extra Large model, requested by Harry Hunt of the Ditson Company,
and designed with the help of Martin shop foreman John Deichmann,
became known as "the Dreadnaught", and was the first Dreadnaught
guitar ever made.
The Ditson Models had their own model
designations, and unlike other Martins, their trim level was designated
as 1, 2, or 3, but their size was designated by the number of
ie. 1, 11 or 111.
All of these regular Ditson Models were made with a spruce top and mahogany back and sides.
Some Ditson Model guitars have
either lighter orange tinted tops or dark stained tops. In some years the stained top was an option.
While fan bracing is generally associated with lighter guitars made for
gut or nylon strings, the Ditson models have the same style of fan
bracing as seen on the koa wood guitars made for the Southern
California Music Company, which were
originally made to be played with heavier steel strings in the Hawaiian
The Models 1, 11 and 111 have dark binding on front, none on the
The Models 2, 22 and 222 have white binding front and back.
The earlier Ditson models had bridges
supplied by Lyon & Healy of Chicago with raised flat topped squares
on the wings rather than the pyramids typical of many of the
better vintage Martins.
The 3 and
33 were fancier models which changed a bit through the years. These
had pearl inlaid bridges supplied by Lyon & Healy, and the earliest
examples had fancy fingerboard inlays. The extra large 333 was
catalogued, but none seem to have been made.
Ditson Model 2 #144 and Model 22 #160, both from December, 1916
Ditson Model 22 #160 from December, 1916 with white binding, standard
tinted top and Chicago style bridge, and one from the very last batch of small Martin "Ditson Model" guitars, a Model
11, #565 from January, 1921 with dark binding on top only, optional
dark tinted top and standard Martin pyramid bridge. The Model 111 was
revived in 1923, and 19 more were made between then and 1930, with standard Martin X bracing replaing the earlier fan bracing.
also sold guitars which combined the trim levels of regular Martin Styles with the same small, narrow
body shape of the Ditson "Standard" size, an example of which is the Style 1-21 shown here. The 1-21
has standard Martin Style 21 trim, including herringbone design marquetry in
the rosette around the soundhole and in the center strip on the back.
Besides the 1-21, this Ditson size was also available as Ditson Models 1-18, 1-28, 1-30,
1-42, and 1-45.
Ditson Model 1-21 #433 from July, 1919 and Model 11 #565 from January, 1921
Ditson was a large music retailer
with stores in New York and Boston (and earlier in Philadelphia), and
was one of Martin's largest customers, selling guitars and other instruments, including many mandolins.
Besides the "Ditson Model" Martins, a large number of regular
Martin models, stamped with the C. F. Martin name only, were sold by Ditson.
A number of the regular Martin models were also sold by Ditson with the
Ditson stamp on the back of the headstock and/or on the inside center
strip. And many other models, such as the Empire, were
made by other manufacturers for Ditson. So finding an instrument with
the Ditson stamp does not necessarily mean you've found a "Ditson
Model" Martin, or even an instrument that was made by Martin at all.
C.F. Martin 1934 00-40H
One of 12 made in 1934. Excellent original condition aside from
conversion from original Hawaiian style.
Abalone pearl border inlaid on the top of the guitar and into the
soundhole ring. 45 style wood marquetry in backstripe.
Back and sides of Brazilian Rosewood, with top of red spruce, and
fingerboard in ebony with abolone inlays.
56430 with 56433
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