1951 Martin D-18 Sitka Spruce and Mahogany Modded by Dan Lashbrook ID-5767
1951 Martin D-18 Sitka Spruce and Mahogany Modded by Dan Lashbrook
It is said that at times during the 50's and 60's, Martin had a 3 year backlog in instrument orders! Nothing else sounded like a Martin and nothing else would do, it was the prestigious guitar to own. This backlog would lead Martin to build their new factory in Nazereth in 1964 where they continue to build today. This 1951 Martin D-18 was built in the original factory, before the production was greatly increased in '64.
The D-18 is famous for it's dry, woody sound. Built with Mahogany back and sides and a spruce top, it was famously easy to record and many years after it's introduction would become the quintessential guitar for flatpickers such as Doc Watson and even Clarence White. Even though Clarence made a D-28 famous, he is known for recording with the D-18, as it offered a more direct and balanced tone long before the days of EQ and "fixing it in the mix." Point a good D-18 into a microphone at the right spot and your done!
This particular D-18 has a Sitka Spruce top, which replaced the Adirondack tops of the pre-war guitars. Adirondack was nearly non-existent after the war, since it was used for just about everything due to its strength and rigidity. Sitka Spruce, however, was very plentiful and as it turns out, a very nice tonewood in it's own right!
Sitka Spruce isn't as stiff as Adirondack and has a lower stiffness-to-weight ratio. A positive side-effect of this more flexible soundboard is that it doesn't take near as much strength to produce tone. A player with a lighter attack or even fingerstyle players will find Sitka Spruce much more suited to their playing style. The fretboard and bridge are Brazilian Rosewood.
This guitar has been modified by Dan Lashbrook. The tuners have been replaced with Waverlys, which were modified so that the buttons are closer to the headstock and the posts are shorter, see pictures. According to Lashbrook, this increases downward pressure on the nut, making the overall sound of the guitar larger.
The nut has been replaced with an ebony nut. Lashbrook feels that ebony produces a rich, bass-heavy, woody tone. The spacing on the nut is closer to that of a traditional 1 3/4" guitar, even though the nut width is 1 11/16 inches, putting the high and low e strings closer to the edge of the frets.
The tongue brace has been removed. The earliest Martin's did not have them and Lashbrook feels removing them makes the guitar sound more like the original ones, increasing the power and volume.
Lashbrook also added side reinforcements. According to him, "they step up face to back transmit if made out of the right material made the right size, and put in the right places."
The saddle is non-original and has custom intonation carvings. The bridge has been reshaped to make it more lightweight. Lashbrook feels the heavier bridges reduce the sound of the guitar. The bridge pin slots have been modified so that the pins are near flush with the bridge, see photograph.
The neck has been reset. The frets have been replaced with jumbo frets. Lashbrook feels that larger frets transmit more tone and offers better playability. His most commonly used frets are Dunlop 6000 series, the same frets Stevie Ray Vaughn played.
Lashbrook is also known for cutting the headstock down to decrease weight, but it is unclear if this was done to this guitar.
The resulting tone is very rich and warm, with a great bass thump and lots of power. The high end is mellow and very round in tone. Those looking for a mahogany Martin with a larger than life bass response, look no further... this guitar is thunderous!
This guitar shows wear throughout, as the photos will demonstrate. Non-original hardshell case included.
- Shipping Weight: 57
- Serial: 121638
- Top Wood: Sitka Spruce
- Back Wood: Mahogany
- Nut Width: 1 11/16"
- Scale: 25.4"
- Year: 1951
- Neck Wood: Mahogany
- Fretboard: Brazilian Rosewood
- Nut Material: Ebony
- Bridge: Brazilian Rosewood
- Bridge Pins: Ebony
- Tuners: Modified Waverlys with Ebony Buttons
- Pickguard: Tortoise
- Headstock Shape: Solid square
- Headstock Overlay: Rosewood
- Headstock Inlay: Martin Decal
- Frets To Body: 14
- Case: Non-Original Hardshell Case
- Misc. 1: Tongue Brace Removed
- Misc. 2: Side Reinforcements Added
- Misc. 3: Custom Nut and Saddle
- Misc. 4: Neck Reset
- Misc. 5: Jumbo Frets
- Misc. 6: Modified Bridge
- Misc. 7: Custom String Spacing at Nut