1944 Martin D-18

With fabulously attractive playwear, crazy-good tone, perfect playability and no repairs that render it undesirable, this Wartime Martin D-18 is a perfect player and a thing of beauty.

We purchased this guitar a few months ago from the daughter of the original owner, John, who bought it in the northern mining town of Timmins, Ontario in 1944. His initials, JZ, can be seen stamped on the headstock. John was a miner who played music on the side and came from a family with a strong musical tradition. He hosted a radio show in Timmins in the early post-war era and taught all of his children how to play guitar on this D-18. After his passing in 1999, the guitar was used by his daughter until she found her way to Folkway early in the year.

We put a lot of love into this guitar’s restoration after purchasing it, having not much of an idea of how it would turn out. The guitar’s bracing and bridgeplate are perfect and without any repairs so, despite the heavy playwear, a number of not-terribly-well-done crack repairs that needed redoing, heavy brushed-on finish over the original back’s, sides’, and neck’s worn lacquer, terrible fretwork and a not-so-great-looking replacement bridge, we felt this guitar was a worthy recipient of some monumental effort.

The overbrushed finish was painstakingly and carefully removed from almost all of guitar (this took countless hours), the various misaligned and poorly repaired body cracks were undone, opened back up, and repaired properly; The bridge was reprofiled and contoured to look like a mid 1940s Martin bridge, the original tuners and nut were restored, and we refretted the ebony-rod neck with proper compression to offset string pull.

The end result is incredible, and the guitar far exceeds our original expectations.

Wartime D-18s are famous for their light build and weight, gorgeous overtones, and breathy mids. For a lot of us, there’s no better guitar than a Wartime D-18. This guitar is all that; it’s quite a beguiling instrument.

Scalloped-braced red spruce top, mahogany back and sides, ebony fretboard and bridge. Ebony neck support, original Kluson tuners (with added headstock bushings), original nut. Replacement bridge of the correct size (it’s actually a hair undersized), modern bridge pins, original bridgeplate. Excellent neck angle, full height saddle. Set-up in shop with 13s and an action of 5-6 64ths. The neck has a small feel, measuring under 1-11/16” wide at the nut and with a 1st fret depth of .778” thanks, somewhat, to having its fingerboard thinned a bit at the nut-end during a previous refret. It thickens nicely to .970” at the 9th fret.

With 1970s hardshell case