In 1931, the Martin guitar company
entered an already well-established archtop guitar market with their
C-Series archtops, an experiment that proved to be one of their
less successful product lines. Using their usual combination of
superior materials and a high standard of craftsmanship, the C-Series
was not all that different from the other guitars Martin was building
at the time; essentially, they took a 000 flattop and put a carved
arched top on it. The back was not carved, but arched similar to
a flattop model. While other successful makers were suspending the
fingerboard over the top, allowing for a larger and more effective
soundboard, Martin glued their fingerboard to the top.
This odd mix of archtop and flattop features could not compete with the more sophisticated designs of the era.
While decent guitars in their own right, they simply were not what
archtop players were looking for.
When the desire for what today
we call “vintage guitars” started to become evident
in the 1960’s, adventurous repairmen and builders began converting
these undervalued archtops into more desirable flattops.
A number of factors combine to
make these archtop-to-flattop conversions a practical – and
more valuable – alternative. The Martin OM has long been established
as the pinnacle of traditional flattop fingerstyle guitar design
– but a genuine Martin OM-28 from the early 1930’s is
not only difficult to find, but prohibitively expensive for many
of the players who yearn for one. The high quality of the 1930’s
era Brazilian Rosewood found in the bodies of both the C-Series
guitars AND their flattop cousins is all but impossible to find
in today’s marketplace, while the wonderful Adirondack Red
Spruce Martin used in their classic pre-war flattops has become
increasingly available in recent years. Why not keep that magnificent
Brazilian Rosewood C-Series body and put a new Adirondack Red Spruce
top on it to make an OM conversion that very much approaches an
If you have a Martin archtop guitar you would like converted, please contact me. An instrument with
a damaged top is the most likely candidate, but I will consider
all possibilities. Martin C-2 guitars from 1931 to early 1934 came
with an OM style 25.4 “ scale length and a 1¾”
wide nut. From 1934 to 1941 (when they discontinued the C-2) the
scale length and nut width were changed to 000 specs (24.9”
and 1 11/16”). To achieve a true OM conversion on these later
instruments a new wider, longer neck must be made for the guitar.
The Conversion - A complete photographic
tour of the process.
In order to better understand the process I have included a step-by-step
tour of the conversion of a 1939 Martin C-2 to 000-28 Custom flattop.
OM Conversions pricing
OM Conversion Gallery