This information is presented in the hope it will be useful. I make no guarantees of accuracy.
Please PM me on the U MGF if you have any comments/additions/corrections/requests.
-Mike (AKA elephantfan85)
Martin Timeline * Bryan Kimsey 1920's Martin transitions away from pyramid long bridge to standard long bridge on 18 & 28 series. Happens gradually starting in the early 1920's. 17 series either never had pyramid bridge or transitioned earlier. 1922-1923, Martin makes guitars for Wurlitzer. Some lack Martin Serial #'s or markings of any kind. 1929 18+ series Martins fully switched over to nitro cellulose laquer finish. Transition started in 1926 with O-17H according to Longworth. 1929 Martin switches from long to belly bridge (Longworth 2nd ed page 84) 1930 Oct, first time size & model number stamped on neckblock. Happens at or before serial number 44362 1932 Some 17 series models transition to 14 frets clear of body & non slothead 1934 Most models switch to 14 fret clear of body and non slothead. Sometime around here Martin starts putting the Matin decal on the front of the peghead. For a short period of time they continue to stamp the back of the peghead as well. 1934 Martin ends their use of bar frets on most models. (Most other guitar makers had done so around the end of the 19th century) Martins Hawain style guitars retain bar frets until at least 1938. * 1938 D-18 #71539 has the rear-shifted X-brace with no popsicle brace * 1938 change to rear-shifted X-brace * 1939 D-28 #71968 has the rear-shifted X-brace with no popsicle brace * 1939 D-18 #72618 and has a 1 3/4 nut with no popsicle brace * 1939 switch to narrow necks (1 & 11/16ths) at serial #72740 1939 The #1 brace, inside near the neck block changes from 5/16ths of an inch wide to 1/2 inch wide, making it roughly twice as wide. * 1944 last scalloped brace guitar was #89926 * 1946 Sitka replaces Adirondack on the tops * 1947 Last Herringbone D-28 #98233 in 1947 * 1947 Kluson deluxe tuners appear * 1948 Sealed Kluson tuners appear 1953 "magic" spruce? (Stolen from "Jack"/JDE1776 of the UMGF) Then, in reading the UMGF Vintage section today, I noticed that luthier John Arnold has provided a copy of a short piece by luthier Dana Bourgeois concerning an interview with C. F. Martin III in 1984. The interview was in preparation for an article by Eric Schoenberg and Bob Green on the history of the OM model and was published in the March 1985 issue of Guitar Player. Bourgeois was asked to sit in on the interview, and I found the last two paragraphs of his recollections especially interesting: "One footnote that I do remember distinctly is that Mr. Martin said that in '52 or '53 the Martin Co. bought a large supply of Engelmann spruce in the form of government surplus of building material. Though he preferred Red Spruce, it was no longer available after the mid-40s because all of the large stands had been decimated. Mr. Martin would have liked to switch from Sitka to Engelmann because he felt that Engelmann was closer to Red Spruce than Sitka was. He could not, however, find anyone who was cutting Engelmann commercially, so they went back to Sitka." This nugget of information caught my attention because for many years I have owned a '53 D-28. I have always puzzled over the rich golden color of its top. I have also seen a few Martins from that year on various dealers price lists labeled as having tops made of Appalachian or Adirondack spruce. Of course, aside from the color of the tops, the anecdote does not in itself prove anything. But it at least suggests how the story might have gotten started. More from gabarnier at the UMGF "Aircraft spruce must meet these specifics: For Sitka spruce to meet government specification MIL-S-6073, it goes through a series of inspections, starting with experts who supervise the sawing and milling of the lumber at the source. The lumber is kiln-dried to another government specification, AN-W-2. This spec says the wood must is that the bridge plate change did not apply to smaller body instruments (at least not universally). I've had several 000-18, 000-28 and 00-18 instruments from 1968 into the early 70s and all of them had SMALL MAPLE bridge plates. I recently had a '71 000-28 in that had a large rosewood plate, but it appeared to be a replacement." 1965 Martin switches to short drop-in saddle (On D-18's, likely others as well) 1966 Boltaron binding started. White replaced ivoroid and black replaced tortoise. 1967 Black acetate pickguards first used. Replace tortoise colored celluloid Following two entries from 1988 Longworth pages 57-58 "1968 rosewood bridgeplates on all guitars #235586" and "1969 rosewood bridgeplates are larger on "D" guitars #242454 * 1969 Brazillian rosewood is replaced by Indian. The first Indian guitars were 4 D-28's ser# 243644-47. The change in regular production started with #254498 John Arnold on the UMGF made the following observation in regards to BRW on 6/24/05 at 12:27 am Re: Any 1970 Brazillians?? I have personal knowledge of two 1970 Brazilian rosewood D-28's. The first one I saw was #265783, which I retopped with red spruce in 1993. I showed the guitar to Mike Longworth around that time, since he claimed to have never seen one. He noted the serial number. I saw the second one about a year later. It is serial number 265941. There are reportedly several D-35's with mixed woods in the 3-piece back. I saw D-35 #258962, which has a Brazilian rosewood center wedge in the back. FWIW, many post-1969 Martins have some Brazilian rosewood....in the bridge, bridgeplate, fingerboard, or peghead veneer. Link 1972 Starting in 1972 Martin includes cases in the base price of most/all of their guitars. Prior to this they cost extra, and thus you'll see many different cases with Martins before this time. It is possible that the thermoplastic cases were the first ones Martin offered as part of the base price as they were first offered around this time. 1985 Martin finishes phasing in adjustable truss rods. 1988 Maple bridgeplates on all guitars #478093 (This entry from 1988 Longworth pages 57-58) 2001 (From mac1588 on the UMGF 3/12/2005) Here's my unbderstanding about the first use of Micarta fingerboards and bridges on standard production 16 Series GT models: Unbound fingerboard: serial no. 832338, a D-16GT. Bound fingerboard: serial no. 836629 Both were made in 2001. As far as I know, the full gloss models such as the SP's have never used Micarta. 2003 Martin converts from glued in to drop in long saddles. Happens before serail # 942xxx Glued in saddles have square/straight ends, dropin have rounded. ~2003 Martin starts producing guitar necks with "wings". Basically The pegheads have wood splices on the portions that stick out. This is not easily visible from the front due to the peghead veneer. As with many other changes, this one is made to preserve dwindling wood supplies. In this case Mahogany. 2005 Martin switches to bone nuts and saddles as of the following serial numbers. STYLE STARTING SERIAL # OOO18 1017801 OOO28 1015735 D18 1014107 D28 1014117 D35 1014309 D40 1014167 D41 1013985 D41SPEC 1015921 D42 1014360 D42K 1016124 D42K2 1014177 D45 1014362 D1228 1015871 HD28 1014131 HD35 1014145 J40 1014181 J41SPEC 1025243 OM21 1016278 OM35 1021237 OM42 1015753 OO18V 1016465 OOO28EC 1014184 OOO28VS 1014345 D18V 1014297 D18VS 1017372 D45V 1014364 HD28LSV ALWAYS BONE HD28V 1014138 HD28VS 1018703 OM18V 1014156 OM28V 1015728 MINI 1013968 2005 Martin starts using Spanish Ceder in many necks rather then Mahogany.