Vintage Guitars: Story Behind 1928 Martin 000-45

Founder of the legendary Norman's Rare Guitars tells the story behind 1928 Martin 000-45.

Ultimate Guitar
Vintage Guitars: Story Behind 1928 Martin 000-45

Ever wonder where the world's top players go when they're in the market for a new axe? For more than 30 years, Norm Harris, owner and founder of the legendary Norman's Rare Guitars, he has sold some of the finest fretted string instruments to the biggest stars in the world, including George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and many others. To celebrate the release of his book, Confessions of a Vintage Guitar Dealer - an intriguing memoir about extraordinary instruments and artists - Norm invited behind the scenes for an inside look at the world's leading vintage guitar store. This week, Norman Harris shows the 1928 Martin 000-45 and explains the details of this guitar, its history and tells us what this 12-thread model is worth. 

YouTube preview picture

This guitar here is a 1928 Martin 000-45. Now at the time this was before they actually had a d45 so this was the top of the line and the largest of the guitars that were available steel-string. This is when they actually were able to accommodate steel strings and handle that little heavier tension that a steel string would provide as opposed to the gut or nylon strings. Anything that you see from Martin that has the mother-of-pearl around the outside always indicates that it's a top-of-the-line model. They only did that on their best guitars and most expensive guitars. It was just a lot of bling and flash at the time. These guitars were probably back in the day in 1928 maybe a hundred and fifty-two hundred dollars this guitar right now is ninety thousand dollars. It's just a really beautiful example it has the permit bridge which is you know as you can see this stair step thingy over here has the Pearl rosette, has the bound neck with a mother-of-pearl around the outside of the neck and also has the Pearl around the back and the sides. It's a 12 fret model so the neck joints at the 12th threat rather than the fourteenth and later on most of the guitars became 14 fret guitars where they still made 12-fretters but generally not as in high numbers as they did and it just became the fourteenth fret models became more typical in common place and were more in demand. This is wonderful sounding guitar, as you look at the top you see the beautiful inlay pattern at the headstock.

It's really a tremendous piece of workmanship and it's one of the finest pieces of American art I can think of, as I say these are functional art and not only do they look beautiful and are they historic but you can actually play them and they make beautiful music still and were built to last. The guitar was made in 1928 and we're in this day and age and this guitar is every bit as functional as it was back in the day, this is something that we did really well here in the states – guitars. When you think about cars throughout the years, we had some years where we did really well with cars/ but like in the seventies and eighties,  manufacturers  kind of lost their way but in and that happened a bit with the guitar manufacturers but they continued on and the thing and what's really kind of nice about this kind of stuff is the manufacturers kind of paid attention to why are these old guitars going for so much and a lot of the manufacturers reissue these models so you'll see a reissue this model but this is an original one and it's just hard to believe that something made that long ago is still in totally functional condition, it's not mint but it's very nice and this was also part of this big collection that I bought back and I'm proud to say that we have it here in Norman Rare Guitars.

One of the most famous people that's known for playing these, actually, there are a few of them, but Jimmie Rodgers had a guitar that was very similar to this and he was just a huge star in the day and Stephen Stills has had a number of these guitars back in the day as well and he is also just very known for playing these and then there was Joan Baez who had a little bit smaller version of this guitar and I just recently saw special where she had her 75th birthday and a lot of people from Paul Simon to Jackson Browne to the whole lot of people came up and played with Joan and she was kind of known for these very light guitars are likely braced and the top really vibrates when you play it so it just sounds terrific. It's just it's amazing that it's been able to stay in this kind of condition for so many years. This is a guitar that I sold years ago sold it to this one collector and then I bought it back for a lot more money so sometimes you know I hate doing that but if you don't do it you miss another opportunity and buying stuff that you can resell once again and enjoy it and again I wouldn't mind being buried with a guitar like this.

This is a fantastic instrument, one of the top-of-the-line models  guitars are fantastic a lot more delicate with how you can attack them because of the pyramid bridge with the twelfth fret neck you get a little bit more with the nut one and three quarters at the nut with which for fingerstyle playing just give you a little bit more of that space to get around so you don't get cramped in that first position, the tone of these things are just articulate piano-like, bell-like and the clarity of everything is just unprecedented with any guitars that are being built today.

What’s your favorite acoustic body wood? Leave your comments and post pics!

4 comments sorted by best / new / date

    90k? Fuck people who jack up the price of guitars to those levels. The only people who can afford them at those prices are people with fuck you money that probably don't even play them.
    So you're mad that the market is dictating the price? Something is only worth what somebody else will pay for it. If somebody will pay for it, then it is worth that much. And you're faulting somebody for getting market value when selling something? If it isn't worth $90k then nobody will pay that. Are you also saying that there is a right and a wrong way for somebody to use their own private property? That's ludicrous. Do you hate everything that is in museums and all of the people that own that stuff that they aren't even using?