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1917 Martin Fan Braced Guitar, can it take silk and steel?

Hi Frank Ford, 

I’ve got an old Martin 0-18 in the shop for some repair work that I’m trying to identify and learn more about.  I have some questions that I’m hoping you have time to respond to.

The serial number dates it to 1917 (according to the Gruhn guide).  It appears to be fan-braced like the early Hawaiian Martins on Robert Corwin's website.  It has a very tall nut with deep slots that doesn’t look original to me, a Lyon and Healey style bridge (apparently original according to Corwin's website), radiused fretboard (14” and flattening out to 20” over the body) and regular bar frets.  It’s branded “Martin” etc… on the back of the headstock and on the spruce at the center seam.

The guitar could use a neck reset and refret.  There are some rough-looking repairs that were done to the top and sides at the lower bout a long time ago that are structurally stable.  The customer wants to string it with silk and steel (or steel strings if possible, although I think that would be dangerous).  Can the top take it?

Can you identify this guitar?  Is it an early steel string Spanish guitar that was once converted to Hawaiian style with a tall nut?  Is it a Hawaiian guitar converted to Spanish style, perhaps with a new fretboard?  

I can upload more photos if there's a particular part of the guitar that you want to see.

Anyone else in the frets.net community have experience working with Martin guitars like this?

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Bracing looks pretty heavy for a classical instrument but I don't have any details for you about this model. I can tell you that steel or silk and steel strings will not play in tune with that straight across saddle on it. You could also try posting at the Unofficial Martin Guitar site, lots of Martin Geeks/Buffs over there.

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