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Don Rickert Musician Shop

Replica of the Martin 1840s “Spanish Guitar” Type


Replica of the Martin 1840s “Spanish Guitar” Type

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Product Description

Replica of the Martin 1840s "Spanish Guitar" Type

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 1840s until well into the 20th Century, they were simply called guitars, as this size was the standard size for the time.

Based on a nice non-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 completely reshaping the head stock to the Martin style trapezoidal shape, adjusting the truss rod for the lower tension strings you will be using, and fitting the type of tuning pegs you choose so that tuning is a smooth as possible with period violin type pegs (unless you choose the PegHeds internally geared pegs option…then we properly fit the PegHeds tuners!).

What it replicates

Replicates the Martin “Spanish Guitar” of the 1840s, as well as various later Martin models that were made until the 20th Century

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.

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.

One more consideration for playing style and stringing

If you do opt for higher tension strings (silk and steel or silk and bronze), it will be exceeding difficult to tune the instrument with either ebony or bone violin type friction pegs. You should consider the PegHeds internally geared planetary pegs essential in this case.

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: herringbone
  • Soundhole rosette: classic mosaic
  • Bone nut and saddle
  • Tuning pegs:
    • Ebony flamenco guitar pegs (same as viola pegs)
    • Peg upgrades:
      • PegHeds internally-geared planetary pegs for flamenco guitar (look just like ebony pegs and cost about $150)


      • Genuine bone (not endangered ivory) flamenco guitar pegs (about $200)


  • Frets: 18
  • Scale: 24.4”
  • Strings: Aquila Nylgut™
    • (Optional) Genuine period gut strings by Gamut ($55)

Neck Dimensions

      • Scale                          620mm (24.4”)
      • Width at Nut               42mm
      • Width at 14th Fret      54mm
      • Thickness at 1st         20mm
      • Thickness at 7th         21mm
      • Radius                        250mmR

Body Dimensions

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

Images of Actual Antique Instruments Similar to this one

Martin1896_2.542front  MARTIN2-000-28   Martin1870_2.526_020


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