I have what appears to be a Martin 21/2-40.  I bought it for $25.00 at auction many years ago.  It is in pristine condition, except for an indentation on the back plate.  It is not a split, but it is better described as a crease.  I am wondering if it is worthwhile to fix it, or to leave it as is.  I play it regularly and it has an angelic tone quality.  I have nylon strings on it, although for years strung it with metal strings.  I aam attaching some pictures for your reference. 


In the back side photo, the crease is just above the centerline of the photo.


Anyone have thoughts/opinions/or other input.


I have no real idea of what this guitar is worth, but I have had it since the mid 1960's.  I would be curious about value opinions also.



Tags: 21/2-40, Martin

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That's the worst contrast(IMO) for a bridge I've ever seen.Is it Ivory or Maple?Still gotta be worth way more bucks as we're sure you know! i like it neway.....what year??.

Mike, you might have a style 34 there. I own one and the appointments look identical. Is the herringbone pink/white/green? Mine is a size 2. If yours is also, we have the only two of them made.

It's ivory, Tim.

Hi Michael.

Wow...what a beautiful specimen. What you have is a VERY valuable & collectible instrument. I agree with Greg that this is a 2-34. The lack of fingerboard inlays would place it in the late 1880's

The value of that guitar can only be given by a certified guitar appraiser.  There are usually 2 kinds of values: insurance value and fair market value.  The insurance value will most always be the higher figure and has no influence on the market value. The original case will contribute significantly to its value.

Here's how I would approach it:

If you're going to keep the guitar for yourself, a repair is not out of order.  Given the EX++ condition, I'd have this repair done by someone like Frank Ford, TJ Thompson or the crew at Gruhn's [read: a shop with years of proven expert experience in repairing & conserving turn-of-the-century Martins].  A sub-par or less than perfect (and perfectly blended) job will devalue the instrument by a thousand...or more.

If you're thinking about putting the instrument on the market, leave it as is and simply note the issue in the description details.  Essentially, buyers of these types of instruments like them 'as is' and they will want to pick the repairperson of their choosing to restore their find.

Whatever path you choose, may you have the very best of luck,


Beautiful guitar. I would at least add a small cleat with hide glue as insurance against cracking. Can always be reversed and preservation is key.

 Mike;looks like a very fine guitar.Since the neck joins the body at the 12th fret I would advise to keep the steel strings off of it.they are used on guitars where the neck joins the body at the 14th fret.Looks like a willie nelson guitar.As far as value?I saw one in a music store in Reno 1984.They were asking 800.00 bucks for it.I didnt stick around to see if any body gave them that much.Who knows whatever the market will bear.


I just looked up your guitar in the bookMartin Guitars:A Technical Reference.published by Martin.  It appears you do have an original 1880"s guitar.  A quick google search lead me to an article that Frank Ford wrote on a repair he has done to another one like yours.  Maybe you should email him direct about the repair.  You may want to contact Greg Mayo at to get an idea of the value of the guitar.  That instrument was built WAY before steel strings so I wouldn't put them on this one. ( BTW Greg Mayo does appraisals for the Discovery Channels version of Antiques Road Show and has written several articles for Premier Guitar Mag, so he should be of help to you.) Its my guess that you have a real treasure here!  I hope your sitting down when you get it appraised!

Good Luck!


Mike;good advice Dale gave you about the strings.Check with Matt at'll fix you up with a set of strings more appropriate for that guitar.They even have gutylon strings,probably closer to the strings that guitar was designed to use.Sounds like you hit the lottery buddy,congrats:Lonnie


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