Too clumsy to be called "forgeries"
Three Fake Martins

© Frank Ford, 2001; Photos by FF

Here are a few real winners. Three early Twentieth Century instruments that have been clumsily rebranded as having been made by C.F.Martin. Imitation may be sincere flattery, but this kind of thing is more along the lines of opportunism.

The first is clearly an Oscar Schmidt made guitar (along the lines of the early Stella instruments) which has been stamped with the C.F.Martin brand. There is absolutely nothing at all similar about this guitar and a real Martin instrument except the general configuration of the end of the headstock. No interior or exterior features match the Martin style.

Please click the small image

The fingerboard is dyed maple, Martin's were always ebony

Martin headstock slots were wide, and square at the ends.

Virtually all guitar manufacturers used the "squared-off" headstock shape in those days.

Martin never used white celluloid in the early years. It would have been ivory before 1914, then ivoroid.

The real C.F.Martin & Co. brand has a straight line separating the two lines of text.

The body shape does not match any Martin model.

The headstock shape is not similar to Martin from any view. The neck is poplar - Martin used Spanish cedar or mahogany.

Martin did not use binding on the edge of the soundhole. There is no Martin brand stamped on the neck block inside. Oops!

Notice that both brands appear to have been struck very hard, or twice. All the interior bracing is made with different material and design than that used by Martin.

The second instrument is a bit more obvious. It's a circa 1900 mandolin, and a rather generic looking one at that. Its workmanship is of a lower quality than the cheapest Martin instrument, and, like the one above, it has a dyed maple fingerboard.

Inside is a giant paper label, unlike any used by Martin.

And, here's the best part. A little stamping left behind, with the original brand clearly identified.

The last one is a late 19th Century antique style guitar of unkown manufacture. I took these pictures at Joe Glaser's guitar repair shop in Nashville (3/21/01). The owner had brought it in for restoration, believing it to be a priceless old Martin guitar. It, too has esentially none of the Martin trademark styling, and is made of the cheapest materials, including a body with simulated grain painted over generic hardwood back and sides, a nd a black dyed maple fingerboard. The stamping on the end of the neck is certainly the worst I've seen. Obviously done with loose dies, and the date is wrong!

Yes, that's the world famous Dan Erlewine holding the neck on the body for us.

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