From 1942-1945, the war effort and ensuing material shortages disrupted US manufacturing accross the board. Nevertheless, C.F. Martin & Co.—America's oldest guitar maker—continued to build instruments throughout the war. While production was extremely limited and the model catalog was streamlined, many of the Martins produced during the war are exceptional instruments. War-era Martins are also particularly interesting because of the minimal use of metal parts. Most have ebony reinforcement bars instead of metal truss rods, and metal tuner buttons were substituted with plastic (some don't even have tuner bushings!).
This 1943 Martin 000-18 is an incredible relic of the wartime era. What's obvious is that someone played it. A lot. The good ones get played, and someone love this one enough to put it through the paces time and again. What's especially interesting, though, is how well it held up to the test of time. In many ways, it is a testament to the structural integrity of Martin guitars. Though its finish is worn and the Martin decal is worn and faded, this old box has stayed solid, and oh man would you believe the sound it produces!
This '43 000-18 has the seasoned, nuance-rich tone of a well-loved Martin guitar. Under the hood, its Adirondack Spruce top is supported by scalloped bracing—just like prewar examples—but because of the Ebony reinforcement in the neck, it has a lightweight, resonant feel. Its tone is balanced and inspiring. It's a comfortable mid-size guitar that produces beautiful sounds for both fingerpicking and flatpicking. Sure it doesn't pack the power and bass presence of a dreadnought, but it makes up for that in balance, versatility, and subtlety.
Over the years, the only necessary repair work have been efforts to maintain the playability. Much like tires on a car, guitars need neck resets, frets, setups, etc. if you want to continue to play and enjoy them. On this 1943 000-18, the neck has been reset, the frets have been replaced, the bridge has been replaced, and the saddle and bridge plate as well. There is evidence that a larger/oversized pickguard was used at one time, but the current pickguard is either original or a convincing period replacement. The tuners are original with no bushings, but the plastic buttons have probably been replaced (these buttons deteriorate over time, so they're unlikely to be original). That's it! No structural repairs, no finish issues, no modifications—just a fantastic player.
The current setup on this 1943 000-18 is excellent—playable action with light gauge strings. Notes ring clear and true all the way down the fingerboard. Its tone is remarkable. This 000-18 is a top-tier Martin guitar, and it includes its original Lifton case.