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20th Century Guitar
Rara Avis -- 1933 Martin
Round Hole Archtop C-3

March 1999
by Bianca Soros

Link to 20th Century Guitar Magazine

he C-Series guitars were created by Martin as the result of a growing demand for carved top guitars in the early 1930's. This Martin C-3 archtop was designed to compete with Gibson's L-5 and Epiphone's DeLuxe. The C-3 was mainly owned by professional musicians and used for country, blues and jazz. The C-3 has tremendous power and volume, while the round sound hole creates smooth tonal qualities, ideal for vocal accompaniments.

   It was made of some of the best materials: a carved red spruce top with a high gloss lacquer finish, multi-line celluloid buildings and gold plated engraved gears. The guitar was constructed in 1933 of beautiful straight-grain Brazilian Rosewood and built under tension. It came with Style-45 features. The bound headstock with the famous CF Martin vertical logo was originally designed for Martin's C-series archtops in 1931. That same vertical logo design is still in production today! The guitar has the same 25 inch scale length as the OM series.

   It is mistakenly thought that Gibson is attributed for creating the first x-braced archtop guitar. Actually, Martin produced the first x-braced archtop guitar in 1931 with its C-series, while Gibson developed the x-brace in 1934 with its Advanced L-5 and Super-400. The x-brace is a favored method of bracing an archtop today. The modern x-brace is based on the early Martin design of 1931.

   The C-3 round-hole archtop was Martin's top-of-the-line instrument and most expensive, listing for $200. Martin went from a light violin sunburst finish in 1931, to a two-tone dark sunburst finish in 1934. Unfortunately, many of the Martin archtops have been converted to flattops, due to fashion, ignorance and greed. End

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