Catch of the Day: 1940 Martin 000-45

1940 Martin 000-45

A while ago I wrote about a very nice 1930 12-fret Martin 000-45 so I was quite pleased when this 1940 14-fret 000-45 showed up because it gives me a chance to write about the differences between the two body styles. As I mentioned in the earlier post, Martin’s 12-fret 000s are just about my favorite flattop guitar but the 14-fret version is no slouch when it comes to tone and appearance. When Martin decided to start building guitars with more frets clear of the body in 1929, they sort of squashed the upper bout and squared off the shoulders, making the body a little smaller. They also scooted the bridge a little closer to the soundhole, which moved is away from the center of the top, the more flexible part of the soundboard. The upshot of these changes is that in exchange for being able reach the upper frets a little more easily, you lost some volume and bass response. But you also got a guitar with a brighter, more focused sound. They both sound great when flatpicked and fingerpicked, with the 12-fret version working a bit better fingerstyle and the 14-fret shining a bit more under a flatpick. As I mentioned earlier, I do prefer the 12-fret style but I wouldn’t mine owning this 14-fret. But as it is priced at $125,000 at Carter Vintage Guitars I suspect that I won’t adding to my collection any time soon.


The 1940 000-45 next to the 1930 000-45. As you can see the 12-fret 000 has a slotted headstock, a straight bridge and a longer upper bout. The 14-fret has a solid headstock, a belly bridge and a more squared-off upper bout. It also has a pickguard. Can’t make up your mind? Why not get both? They are both for sale at Carter Vintage Guitars. I bet if you get the pair, they’ll throw in a couple of sets of free strings.