As with nearly every aspect of his music career, Marty Robbins’ acoustic guitar of choice was anything but ordinary. Instead of something big and flashy, he often played a Martin 5-18, a tiny mahogany “terz” guitar, so named because it was designed to be tuned a minor 3rd (three steps) higher than standard. His appearances with the diminutive Martin guitar beginning in the 1950s, at the Grand Ole Opry and in concert, caused a spike in the production of that model that lasted for nearly a decade.
The Martin Guitar Company stopped making the 5-18 in 1989. Between 1898 and 1989, Martin made 2,774 small bodied 5-18 Terz or “parlor” guitar models. In 1956 there were approx. 175 Martin 5-18's made in with a list price of $90, not including the case. With their solid spruce tops and genuine mahogany back and sides, these beautifully crafted instruments were alive with sound and immensely fun to play. They remain highly collectable to this day.
Designated by Martin as size “5,” which is smaller than the average 3/4 guitar, the Martin “Terz” is the highest quality small/baby/mini guitar ever made. Famously played by Marty Robbins, as well as, Michael Hedges, Will Ackerman and Dolly Parton to name a few, the Martin 5-18 is celebrated for its specific and unique voicing.
Do not be fooled by the 5-18's petite frame, as this child’s size proportions were constructed using the exact same high quality materials and superior craftsmanship as all other Martin acoustics. The 5-18, much like a D-18, features: a spruce top, mahogany back/sides/neck, a Brazilian rosewood fingerboard, a double-bound body, a Brazilian headstock overlay and bridge, original open-back Kluson tuning machines, and original tortoise pickguard.
This instrument has wear consistent with a 1925 era guitar. Detailed photos below show most of the wear including scratches, dents and cracks to the top, sides, back, neck and headstock. Additionally, the finish as seen in photos below has a slight yellow tint in some places and is checking all over the top. It has very minor fretwear and includes a hardshell case.