Originally inspired by 4-string Irish banjos, the Tenor Guitar is often misunderstood and too often overlooked. The earliest origins of the tenor guitar are somewhat unclear, but by 1927, Tenor models appeared in the Martin catalog.
In those days, tenor guitars provided a familiar neck and tuning for plectrum banjo players who were hired for guitar gigs. After a burst of popularity during the folk revival of the '60s, tenor guitars were back in fashion. Even though sales dwindled through the mid-'70s, Martin has continued to build them in limited quantities. Nowadays, they have found a home in bluegrass, Americana, folk, Celtic, and many other genres where a resonant, articulate tone is desired.
This Martin 0-18T is one of 150 made in 1964. The 0-18T was introduced as a 0-size guitar with a 4-string tenor neck. But at some point along the way, its body became smaller than a standard 0. The "squashed" 0-size body measures 17-3/16" long—that's over an inch shorter than a 14-fret 0. Something about the smaller body balances perfectly with the 23" scale and the shorter tenor neck. Relative to other Martin tenors, the 0-18T feels just right.
This 1964 Martin 0-18T produces a rich, warm sound tuned in low G like an octave mandolin. The action runs a little on the high side, but there is still some room for adjustment on the saddle. With the lighter-gauge tenor strings, it's actually really nice where it is. It has three repaired top cracks (one by the treble edge of the fingerboard, pickguard crack, and a one running from the bridge to the end block) and two repaired back cracks. A strap button has been installed in the neck heel.
This 1964 Martin 0-18T packs a sweet, nuanced tone. It is such a fun tenor guitar, and it's in nice shape for its age. It includes an unimpressive chipboard case—it fits the '60s vibe, but not exactly heavy duty.