Aside from being a vintage Martin from a sought-after era, the 1943 000-18 that sold in Acoustic Guitar’s May 2021 auction came with a story that was too good not to share. The instrument’s first owner was Lorenzo Monzo, a Spanish immigrant to Monterey, California. Monzo was a regular performer along that city’s famed Cannery Row, and in 1943 he received the 000-18 as a gift from his wife.
Decades after Monzo’s 1956 passing, his daughter showed the guitar to her physician, Alexander Holmes, an amateur musician in Monterey. When he opened the chipboard case, he was surprised to find not just the guitar in pristine condition but also artifacts like a blow-horn pitch pipe and an Anacin aspirin tin containing abalone guitar picks Monzo had apparently fashioned by hand. After an appraisal, Holmes purchased the guitar and kept it until the sale earlier this year.
Like other Martins built between 1942 and 1945, this example’s neck has an ebony support block instead of a steel T-bar. Wartime steel shortages meant that the guitar maker had to drop the T-bar, which had been in use since 1934, for a rectangular ebony rod. As a result, the Martins from this era are known for being very lightweight and responsive.
When the digital gavel dropped, the auction’s winner was Jay Shapiro, a longtime AG reader who had been looking for an unaltered prewar or wartime Martin. As the third owner of serial number 84603, Shapiro acknowledges that one of the things that appealed to him most was the instrument’s condition. “It’s been refretted, but it’s immaculate,” he says, adding that he loves the mahogany guitar’s direct and unintrusive sound. It’s always great to hear about fine guitars still turning up, and when they’re in excellent condition it makes one hopeful that a chance encounter might someday lead to a guitar as special as this 000-18.
This article originally appeared in the November/December 2021 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.