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Author Topic: ALL!!! small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17  (Read 18144 times)

JGauthier

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I had a life changer again, which has been consistently happening for me sonically with guitar over the past few years. The first change was switching to small 50s Princeton amps. The second came this week with my purchase of  1955 Martin 00-17 all Mahogany/Rosewood fret board small bodied guitar. Its the best strumming guitar Ive ever played.

I review this specifically to address an issue Ive had my entire playing life- 99.9% of acoustic guitars sound like sh*t to me. From the cheapest POS to brazilian rosewood hand crafted- like crap. My issue has always been the bottom end. Its uneven. Its always uneven. Too much. The highs just cant compete. I hate mud. Acoustics, to me, have an innate muddy issue. The only reason it doesn't matter is the player. A great player can lessen the effect and overcome. Im tired of working so hard and Im NOT a great player.

So Ive been tracking a band whos guitarist plays a Martin 0-15 for tracking. He has numerous guitars but it the 0-15 that comes out first... I had been considering a small body Martin, but had no real experience with one for more than a day. After a few months of this guy tracking, I HAD TO HAVE ONE...

Its the dream tracking guitar. Its small and easy to play. It sings with the 50 year old wood and the small body rolls off the bass/bottom just PERFECTLY. I know this isn't a secret and these models have increased in price drastically over the past 10 years. But its got a perfect natural EQ- all of the roll off of a high pass with NONE of the slope issues.

My point is if you have NOT hunted one down to play for yourself, you are making a mistake.  Mine was 2200 with tax and I am already shopping for another to back it up.  I have never played an acoustic where I felt it gave me what I put in but this little guy does just that. And I took it to studio A (tuned wood room for orchestras) and put a small chair in the middle of the room. My Mentor couldn't believe his ears and neither could I. An orchestrator working that day even stopped and wanted to know what the hell I was playing. It was the sound he heard in his head for a tune he was working on. Hes also one of the best orchestrators (musically not technically) we work with...

Im the guitar tracking tech as well as a house engineer and I think I just firmed up more work and maybe even some more as a session player. Im not a phenomenal player by any means but the guitar sounds that good...

And Im to the point these small bodies beat ALL OTHER MARTINS Ive heard... Including the 20 granders. The sizes that rock are 0 and 00 and Ive been crazy for the 0-15 and the 00-17 specifically. Literally D-28s can kiss my ass!

Note- this is recording, low volume playing. These can definitely cut through the mix but the bottom disappears completely. Some think its also not the best guitar for solo w/vocal- too small on the bottom. I disagree but the point is 100% valid and relative. And of course some styles wont fly with this guitar but not many!

So I literally stopped to take a break (Ive been slammed, what bad economy???) and played it for a bit then decided to write this review. I wanted to let others know they need to go PLAY one. Then RECORD it. Then send me a small thank you email if you weren't privy prior! I knew it was supposed to be that way but I had never gone to see! Literally kills my favorite prior Brazilian Rosewood 6 grand acoustic (not mine, but it was my favorite sonically).

This thread is open to any and all vintage Martin lovers and guitars. Would love to hear opinions on bodies sizes and styles and benefits sonically of prewar martins? I got mine because the prior owner got a prewar he liked better. I cant possibly imagine better...

Would love to focus on guitars youve tracked that dont need any eq or mic to roll off the bottom end. BTW my Mentor thought I was insane, and I assume whiney, when we would track my other Martin. I would bitch and complain and make excuses on why I couldn't get it- but Im a fussy bitch as a player. I know he finally understood once I played this 55 in studio A. He understood completely...
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seedyunderbelly.com

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #1 on: June 07, 2009, 05:40:48 pm »

I have 2 1940 0015's

Those are a perfect laying around the house type of guitar

small nice to play  interesting sound  the all mahogany has a thing

for whatever reason I have found songs fall out of those things fairly easily

j






jstuart

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #2 on: June 07, 2009, 06:23:17 pm »

Is a mid 60's O-16NY too new to talk about, 'cos it is a very sweet guitar....
j
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JGauthier

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2009, 01:27:29 am »

Nothing is forbidden... Even late bloomers like the 60s! hehehe I left out the 60s simply because I haven't fallen in love with any. I also haven't PLAYED ANY! So, of course ANY guitar you think has that perfect out the box sound- feel free.

Agreed on the song writing fun. Its the small comfortable body and great tone.

But again, this is absolutely the best tracking guitar Ive ever heard for strumming. And I know how ridiculous hating all acoustics bottom end sounds but once you play one of these, whether you agree or not, you understand what Im flipping out over. And Ive been really lucky to see some incredible very well known acoustic players come through- and this little guy beats them all... And Im not the only one who thinks so!

Though mine was owned prior by a luthier so its been maintained and plays ridiculous. He put in a bone nut, refinished it but otherwise its stock. Its also almost flawless and has no repairs or cracks. Perfect neck and action. Like a fender closet classic... Without the stupid fact its actually new...

Funny I really wanted an 0-15 but sonically I prefer the 00-17... A touch sweeter. But I still want an 0-15 for the air...
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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #4 on: June 09, 2009, 01:44:57 pm »

My wife's '64 0018 is amazing.

JGauthier

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #5 on: June 09, 2009, 04:05:19 pm »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Tue, 09 June 2009 10:44

My wife's '64 0018 is amazing.


And I know you're familiar with amazing for sure!!! So its good to hear from you on this.



I wanted to cover 4 things in my studio instrumentally (since they are what I play)-
Piano
Synth
Electric guitar
Acoustic Guitar

I have found my holy grails-

Piano- ( I dont have one but my Mentors C7 would be my pick )
Synth- 1970s Minimoog (mono but perfect. Best is paired with 2 linked JD990s)
Electric- 98 strat and 50s tweed Princetons
Acoustic- the 55 Martin

Its VERY different making records with these than what I used prior- which wasn't bad by any means. Now I worry less about tone and more about performance. And I still have a bunch of synths and guitars- But for me, and of course its a personal preference, these are the magic beans...

And the Martin has more "magic" than the others for me since the age and wood work seem more pertinent to the tone than its innate design.


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Bob Olhsson

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #6 on: June 09, 2009, 05:42:39 pm »

Steinways vary a lot but NOTHING is as good as a good New York Steinway B. The bottom note works and the top note works.

A great Les Paul is unmatched as is a great Fender Telecaster

I like a Deluxe or a tan Bassman feeding a Hi-watt cabinet.

I'm bored with synths. Roland made a great little modular I liked better than a mini-Moog at the time but I was recording session musicians and never a player. At least it said Roland on it.

Haolemon

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #7 on: June 09, 2009, 07:55:35 pm »

After years of playing a great D28, I got interested in the smaller model Martins, and now my favorite is a 00-21GE (as in golden era).  It is basically the size of a classical guitar, with 12 frets free of the body.  It sounds great and is very well balanced.

I prefer rosewood on a smaller body guitar, as it has better bass response than mahogany.  Horses for courses!  
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rick-slo

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2009, 11:05:13 pm »

"1955 Martin 00-17 all Mahogany/Rosewood fret board"

That could be my old guitar. I bought this model used somewhere around 1966. I don't remember it that glowingly but it was not a fifty plus year old guitar at that time. There are a zillion great guitars being made today but congrats on your find of an oldy you really like.

JGauthier

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2009, 01:47:15 am »

Bob Olhsson wrote on Tue, 09 June 2009 14:42

Steinways vary a lot but NOTHING is as good as a good New York Steinway B. The bottom note works and the top note works.

A great Les Paul is unmatched as is a great Fender Telecaster

I like a Deluxe or a tan Bassman feeding a Hi-watt cabinet.

I'm bored with synths. Roland made a great little modular I liked better than a mini-Moog at the time but I was recording session musicians and never a player. At least it said Roland on it.


I agree on the deluxe! I run the princetons in stereo so I can get some space but the Princeton is just a wanna be low volume deluxe for sure!

The Roland 100 series modular I assume? AWESOME SYNTHS!



Thanks rick-slo, I do like it as you can tell! All the top with almost none of the bottom. I understand MOST people like bottom, but I just cant stand it! Thats why I don't like the 99% of the great guitars being made today.


And Haolemon, I would hope you like a guitar you paid 6+ grand for! It would be interesting to hear it now, and extremely interesting to hear it 50 years from now!
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jstuart

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2009, 09:37:10 am »

I have a '64 0-16NY. a lovely guitar that songs seem to fall out of....

How it came to me is a rather odd, and sad, story. When I was a freshman in high school,(1967) a girl, named Mary Jane, sat right in front of me in home room. She was quiet, but we were friendly, and talked a bit because we were both learning to play guitar. Fast forward to the folowing summer, where she was riding her bike home and took  a tumble, and died of head injuries.

FF 12 or so yrs, after traveling around, gigging, and engineering I got offered  a job in Noel Stookey's  ( "Paul" of  peter paul and mary) studio, where I'd done some freelance work, and which was  sort of close to where I grew up. One day we get a call at the studio asking if  someone  could take a look at a guitar.  I said come on over and I'll take a look and see if I know anything useful.


They show up with a chipboard case, and I'm thinking " cheap yamaha beginner guitar". I talk with them for a few minutes and figure out it was the parents of this girl I'd known, they tell me it was Mary Jane's guitar, and I tell them about MJ and I being in home room and talking about guitar. So, I open up the case and, surprise, there's this nice little Martin. I had no idea what it was worth, so I called a guy who ran a music shop where I bought stuff. He said " probably 5-7 hundred, retail". I told them. They asked if I'd like to buy it... I said sure, but I don't have anywhere near enough money.

" How much do you have?"

I looked in my check book: "A little over $250."

"It's yours for $225. if you want it."

It has  sweet soul to it. I run it with nylon right now ( Savarez), and often use alt tunings. it is very clear , but has a much bigger sound than I would have ever expected . not flabby at all, just big. it records great: solo it needs no eq, and in a mix, just whatever needs to be downplayed for the other insts.

I don't think these models are particularly collectable, and I'm glad, 'cos I think they belong in player's hands.

anyhoo, that's my little martin tale.
j



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JGauthier

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Re: Pre 1960 small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #11 on: June 10, 2009, 12:45:04 pm »

jstuart wrote on Wed, 10 June 2009 06:37

I have a '64 0-16NY. a lovely guitar that songs seem to fall out of....

How it came to me is a rather odd, and sad, story. When I was a freshman in high school,(1967) a girl, named Mary Jane, sat right in front of me in home room. She was quiet, but we were friendly, and talked a bit because we were both learning to play guitar. Fast forward to the folowing summer, where she was riding her bike home and took  a tumble, and died of head injuries.

FF 12 or so yrs, after traveling around, gigging, and engineering I got offered  a job in Noel Stookey's  ( "Paul" of  peter paul and mary) studio, where I'd done some freelance work, and which was  sort of close to where I grew up. One day we get a call at the studio asking if  someone  could take a look at a guitar.  I said come on over and I'll take a look and see if I know anything useful.


They show up with a chipboard case, and I'm thinking " cheap yamaha beginner guitar". I talk with them for a few minutes and figure out it was the parents of this girl I'd known, they tell me it was Mary Jane's guitar, and I tell them about MJ and I being in home room and talking about guitar. So, I open up the case and, surprise, there's this nice little Martin. I had no idea what it was worth, so I called a guy who ran a music shop where I bought stuff. He said " probably 5-7 hundred, retail". I told them. They asked if I'd like to buy it... I said sure, but I don't have anywhere near enough money.

" How much do you have?"

I looked in my check book: "A little over $250."

"It's yours for $225. if you want it."

It has  sweet soul to it. I run it with nylon right now ( Savarez), and often use alt tunings. it is very clear , but has a much bigger sound than I would have ever expected . not flabby at all, just big. it records great: solo it needs no eq, and in a mix, just whatever needs to be downplayed for the other insts.

I don't think these models are particularly collectable, and I'm glad, 'cos I think they belong in player's hands.

anyhoo, that's my little martin tale.
j






Very cool tale!!!!

And I agree- LOVE the fact they aren't too collectable...YET... Sadly I dont see that lasting for much longer. They sound too good to be overlooked because they are student models! And prices have easily doubled over the past 10 years... I almost didn't want to start this thread in regards to adding more fuel to the little body fire...

Again, very cool story!
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Jeff Roberts

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Re: ALL!!! small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #12 on: June 10, 2009, 02:11:44 pm »

While I am not a lover of old Martins, I certainly agree about smaller bodies being better (as long as we're talking guitars).

My five year search for an ultimate "layering" acoustic ended with Santa Cruz.

My little Santa Cruz Model "O" has delighted everyone that has played it. It has acoustified many songs with multiple distorted electric guitars, and I usually don't have to whack off much bottom....

It sounded great out of the box, and I expect even greater things from it as it mellows with age.

Congratulations to everyone that has an old Martin that they have kept or found.

And everyone with valuable wooden instruments, don't let those suckers dry out in winter.

While guitar shopping and reading some literature from Santa Cruz Guitar Company I noted that their wood drying kiln operates at 40% humidity. Therefore, if your relative humidity is below 40% in winter, you might as well store your instruments in an oven. Ouch.
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Jeff Roberts
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Reese Boisse

C.Cash

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Re: ALL!!! small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #13 on: June 10, 2009, 02:44:31 pm »

Slightly O T.

Ive got a 64 B-25 3/4 Gibson.
This guitar has blown away a few expensive bigger guitars.
For strumming it is tops, not too much low end but very full.
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compasspnt

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Re: ALL!!! small bodied Martin acoustic guitars 0-15 0-17 00-17
« Reply #14 on: June 10, 2009, 02:49:51 pm »

I will bet that Mary Jane is proud about where her guitar ended up.
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