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Don Rickert Musician Shop

Replica of the 1850s Martin Slotted Head Type Guitar


Replica of the 1850s Martin Slotted Head Type Guitar

Copy of Guitar19C3
4.00 LBS
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Product Description

Replica of the 1850s Martin Slotted Head Type Guitar

You will find this new custom instrument by D. Rickert Musical Instruments in the "Custom Shop" category at the Don Rickert Musician Shop.

Today, people call such a guitar, with its small body, a parlor guitar. In the 1850s until well into the 20th Century, they were simply called guitars, as this size was the standard size for the time.

This is one of the types of guitar that would have been common during the American Civil War (early 1860s). It is a favorite of Minstrel Period enthusiasts, especially Civil War re-enactors.

Based on a nice slotted head parlor guitar by a top Japanese manufacturer

As is the case with all of the instruments in this current group, the guitar is an extremely well-made modern guitar, which is modified to take it back to an authentic earlier form.

The base instrument is highly modified by D. Rickert Musical Instruments and sold through its online store, Don Rickert Musician Shop. These modifications include reshaping the head stock to the Martin style trapezoidal shape and other modifications s so that is performs well with either real gut or Nylgut strings. We also add the "torch" inlay similar to that used on some early Martin guitars. 

What it replicates

The Martin “slotted head” guitar of the late 1850s, as well as various other Martin models and guitars by a plethora of other makers that were made until well into the 20th Century. The slotted head has become a necessary element of "parlor guitars" in the minds of many people.

Anyway is exemplary of one of the types of guitar (there were the "violin peg" types as well) that would have been common during the American Civil War (early 1860s). It is a favorite of Minstrel Period enthusiasts, especially Civil War re-enactors.

Note about playing style

Guitars of this period were designed strictly for finger style (without finger picks) playing. That being said, if you opt for the standard Nylgut strings rather than upgrading to real gut, a plectrum can be used, despite the fact that “flat picking” on Nylgut strings would be frowned upon by the string maker, Aquila. We know from the experience of a number of our customers that Nylgut withstands the use of a plectrum better than classical guitar strings.

If you are going to use a pick, seriously consider a ukulele picks. These are typically made of stiff felt, leather or rawhide. 

If you DO go with real gut strings, do not even think about using a plectrum, as you will be breaking these expensive strings frequently.

String option for flat picking

An option for the flat-picking Minstrel or Civil War re-enactor is to have us adjust and string this guitar with either silk and steel or silk and bronze strings. While anachronistic for the mid 19th Century, the guitar does have a truss rod and is X braced (the Martin innovation of the 1840s that made use of steel strings possible) so as to take the higher tension 20th Century strings without risk of damaging the guitar.

We Can Even Sell you a Proper fitting Hard Shell Case ($140) GCEV-0F_case-open

Generally, the best you are going to do for a small parlor sized guitar like this one is a cloth gig bag. The manufacturer of the base instrument does not even offer a proper hard shell case for this or similarly sized instruments.

It was not easy, but we found a source for the right case. Keep in mind that our case is a modern hard shell case. If you want a period case, you would commission us or someone else to make an appropriate case.


Key Specifications

  • X bracing
  • Solid Sitka Spruce top
  • Solid mahogany back and sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Rosewood fingerboard
  • Rosewood bridge
  • Body binding: synthetic ivory
  • Purfling: wooden marquetry
  • Soundhole rosette: classic mosaic
  • Bone nut and saddle
  • Tuning machines:
  • OEM plain chrome tuners w/Ivory color knobs on slotted headstock
    • Tuning machine upgrades (see choices at bottom)
      • Variety of Stewart-MacDonald Golden Age Restoration Slotted Head Tuners ($50 - $85)
      • Variety of Waverly Slotted Head Tuners ($225 - $250)
  • Frets: 18
  • Scale: 24.3”
  • Strings: Aquila Nylgut™
    • (Optional) Genuine period gut strings by Gamut ($55)

Neck Dimensions

  • Scale                          618mm (24.3”)
  • Width at Nut               43mm
  • Width at 14th Fret      55mm
  • Thickness at 1st          21mm
  • Thickness at 7th          22mm
  • Radius                        400mmR

Body Dimensions

  • Length                           18 1/4"
  • Lower Bout Width          12"
  • Max Depth                     3 1/2"

Tuning Machines for Slotted Head Upgrade Choices

Stewart-MacDonald Golden Era Restoration

  • Square End with White Cream Knobs ($50)
  • Square End with Black Knobs ($50)

Golden_Age_Restoration_Tuners_for_Slotted_Peghead_Guitar_-_Square-end  Golden_Age_Restoration_Tuners_for_Slotted_Peghead_Guitar_-_Square-end (1)

  • Incised Plate Bell End Relic Brass with Cream Knobs ($55)
  • Incised Plate Bell End Relic Nickel with Cream Knobs ($70)

  Golden_Age_Restoration_Tuners_for_Slotted_Peghead_Guitar_-_Bell-end (3)  Golden_Age_Restoration_Tuners_for_Slotted_Peghead_Guitar_-_Bell-end (2)

  • Engraved Bell End Relic Nickel with Cream Knobs ($85)

Golden_Age_Restoration_Tuners_for_Slotted_Peghead_Guitar_-_Engraved_Bell-end (1)


  • Iveroid Knobs ($225)
  • Ebony Knobs ($230)
  • Snakewood Knobs ($235)


 Images  of Other Slotted Head Parlor Guitars

Most of these have a slightly larger OM type body, typical of the late 19th Century

Washburn gold leaf parlor 499  Washburn Parlor 349  Washburn vintage series parlor 649  Washburn Parlor 299 dollar  Alvarez parlor


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