1963 MARTIN 0-16NY

A pretty little Martin 0-16NY from 1963, in very good condition.

Introduced in 1961, the 0-16NY was designed as a guitar for playing with steel or nylon strings: to this purpose, its construction and in particular its bracing is lighter than the “modern” steel-string Martins of the time, which gives it a particularly open and surprisingly powerful sound considering the size of the instrument. The satin finish and the decorative elements are kept to the minimum (note among other things the absence of a pickguard), the guitar is built with the same materials as the style 18: a spruce top, a mahogany body and neck with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The example presented here, produced 2 years after the model’s introduction, is one of 525 identical instruments shipped off in 1963, the price stated in the catalog at the time being a modest sum of $139.50 ( without the case).

In reality, this Martin is among the first examples of what we could call a vintage reissue, that is to say a contemporary instrument incorporating the characteristics of an older model. Although Martin did not initially advertize it as such  and simply gave the model the suffix NY (for New Yorker, in reference to the place where it all began for C. F. Martin & Co), the 0-16NY bears the qualities of the Martin guitar as it was built from the 19th century until 1929, before the advent of the OM and dreadnought models, 14-fret necks and the use of steel strings. We thus find a reduced body size, the size 0 being the smallest before entering into the so-called parlor formats, a neck with 12 frets outside of the body, a slotted headstock and a somewhat increased fingerboard width.

These construction choices came in response to the craze that arose in the early 1960s for traditional-style Martin guitars: Joan Baez in particular was very influential in this regard, her iconic use of a 12-fret 0-45 having aroused in many musicians the desire for a similar instrument. Ultimately, although designed for a specific setting and audience, the 0-16NY proved to be a successful model for Martin during almost two decades, well beyond the folk boom of the early ’60s.

The guitar reaches us today in very good condition, presenting a beautiful patina testifying to decades of playing. We note on the soundboard the ancient traces of a golpeador, which allows us to imagine the use it may have had in the past (we are a long way from American folk song!). After going through our workshop for refretting and the making of a new set of bone nuts, it is perfect for playing with low action, a good string angle on the saddle and ideally adjusted intonation. A true gem!

Sold in a non-original case.


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