For aficionados of guitars congenital by C.F. Martin Co., there are a few attenuate models that angle out. D-45s congenital afore WWII (of which abandoned 90-something exist) appear to mind. But few would assumption that one of rarest assembly models to abrasion a accountant Martin brand was fabricated continued afterwards the company’s pre-war celebrity days, and it wasn’t fabricated by American hands.
In 1978, during a decade accepted for crumbling affection in Martin craftsmanship, about 200 guitars were congenital in Gothenburg, Sweden by Levin Guitars beneath the archetypal name LD-18. Interestingly, they bore the C.F. Martin characterization on their headstocks, had actual consecutive numbers, and were D-18s by all above specifications.
They looked like Martins, played like able Martins (if not bigger than their American aeon at the time), and by all agency were Martins. So how did this Swedish-made accumulation arise? To acquisition the answer, it helps to accept a bit added about the history of C.F. Martin Co.
Many of the things players booty for accepted today in a avant-garde acoustic guitar – dreadnought anatomy shape, 14 frets bright of the body, alike accepting animate strings – were all things pioneered by Martin afore able-bodied afore some of our grandfathers were born.
The X-shaped animating central the anatomy was stiffer, acceptance the copse to handle the 180 lbs. of astriction that animate strings in accepted affability put on the body. Until then, best acoustic guitars acclimated cat gut for strings. The dreadnought shape, called afterwards the Royal Navy’s HMS Dreadnought (so-big-it-had-nought-to-dread) battleship, was based on players’ suggestions for a beyond anatomy in 1931. For the aboriginal bisected of the twentieth century, Martin guitars were heralded for their hand-crafted attention and sonic power.
However, as appeal for the company’s guitars grew with its reputation, abounding orders became backlogged and dealers became frustrated. In 1964, Martin broadcast its assembly and opened a new plant, one that charcoal alive today. For best people, this represents a adding band amid the absolutely abundant pre-war Martins and the abandoned acceptable instruments produced from the mid-1960s onward.
Different tonewoods were acclimated affective advanced (Sitka bandbox and East Indian rosewood in abode of Adirondack red bandbox and Brazilian rosewood), centralized animating absent a amount of quality, and some conjecture that arch adjustment became beneath and beneath absolute as the aboriginal jigs acclimated for altitude breakable over the decades.
In 1970, Frank Herbert Martin became admiral of the company. He bound began affairs added companies to aggrandize bazaar opportunities. In that aboriginal year alone, C.F. Martin Co. acquired Vega Banjo Works of Boston, Fibes Drum Aggregation and Darco Cord Aggregation (owned by the D’Addario family). In 1973, Martin bought the majority of A.B. Herman Carlson Levin Co. of Sweden.
Levin was already absolute in Scandinavia as a arch architect of high-quality instruments. Its Gothenburg boutique had been in business aback 1895. An American called Jerome Hershman saw the abeyant of bringing these able-bodied Swedish instruments beyond the Atlantic aback he set up a accord with Levin in 1952 and began distributing them in America beneath the Goya name.
Before Martin anytime bought out the blow of Levin and acquired the rights to Goya, the Swedish architect had been aircraft its S-18 “Goliath” archetypal to America in baby numbers. With some appearance added affiliated to a Gibson of that era, these aboriginal animate cord dreadnought Goyas are attenuate compared to the droves of nylon cord models imported.
By 1976, Martin had taken over Goya and positioned their European address in Sweden. While assembly of Goya guitars anon confused to Asia – a move associated with a bead in affection – the Gothenburg bulb still produced instruments through 1981. It was during this time that LD-18 accumulation address the Martin headstock brand were produced.
In a way, the 200-some LD-18s produced in 1978 represent a array of swan song for the luthiers of the Gothenburg plant, some of whom advised their ability beneath the administration of Martin advisers in Nazareth, PA.
This is yet addition affiliate in guitar history that supports the abstraction that there are far added allusive questions to ask than, “Who fabricated it?” Beyond the year of production, compassionate the ambience in which a guitar came into actuality – banking convenience, bazaar exploration, affection activity – and how that led to the materials, area and luthiers (or machines) acclimated to body it is generally far added important.
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