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- 1970 Martin OM-42 C-2 Conversion
1970 Martin OM-42 C-2 Conversion
The things we did when we were young. I have just gotten back, from the person who originally bought it from me in 1970, a 1934 Martin C-2 that I converted to a flat-top OM-42 Special, and he has kept it well. Hard to believe that was fifty years ago but it really was. Martin C-2 models of the 1930s had outstanding Brazilian rosewood of a much higher quality than anything that’s been available the last 50-60 years, dark in color and 100% straight-grained. They had 000, or OM-size bodies, with carved F-hole tops and slightly more arch to the back than standard Martin flat-tops, and the shorter 24.9” scale. When I first got the guitar the original top had been irreparably broken, making it an ideal candidate for conversion. This was the second archtop Martin conversion I ever built, after the F-7 I did for David Bromberg, in 1967, which was what led Martin to (finally, ten years later), come out with their now-legendary M-size models.
The top is done 42-Style with abalone trim around the edge, the fingerboard end, and the soundhole rosette. The neck is inlaid in complete 45-style, with a full “45 snowflake” pattern on appropriate frets 1 through 17. The fingerboard inlays themselves are not copies; they are original, never-used 1930s Martin inlays, which I had gotten in the early 1960s from the person who had made them for Martin before WW II. They look absolutely perfect, which they should; somehow, copies never look quite right. The peghead has the abalone CF Martin block-letter inlay and peghead veneer taken from the original C-2 neck. The fingerboard and peghead are bound in NOS Ivoroid, also unused original older Martin material that I had, and the body is bound in same, with additional b/w lines beneath it around the sides and matching Ivoroid heelcap. Neck dimensions and contour are to 1930s OM-spec: 1-3/4” at the nut (or maybe a teeny bit under) with traditional 25.4” scale and that great, great neck shape found only on original 1930s Martins. Truth be told, I amaze myself that I did all this while still in my early-20s; made the top and the neck, did all the inlay work, made it into a truly great guitar. The original nitrocellulose lacquer finish I put on fifty years ago is also still beautiful, in 99% condition. There has been one top crack, very well repaired a very long time ago though I don’t know by whom, and the minor back cracks that I took care of as part of the original job, fifty years ago, are still 100% solid and barely visible. The guitar comes with a Mark Leaf case with built-in hygrometer, the very strongest made at the time.
It is a terrific-sounding instrument, has all the richness, clarity, and strength that only an OM with Brazilian rosewood of this quality can have. The action is exactly as I set it up fifty years ago, totally unchanged, and the original frets I put in, using fret wire gotten from Martin at the time, are literally unworn. There is a label inside with the address of my first store at 35 Bedford Street here in Greenwich Village, New York, and the underside of the top is signed and dated, with my signature in ink. Fifty years. I feel pretty good about that. Price $6995 w/Leaf hardshell case