It's been a long time since Gryphon had a F-9 for sale, and this is an excellent example of Martin's top-of-the-line archtop that was the most expensive standard model in their pre-WWII catalogs. At $250, fifty bucks more than a D-45, the F-9 was clearly Martin's attempt to compete with the top f-hole models marketed by Gibson and Epiphone. Of course Martin's hybrid, a carved top on the rosewood body like that of a flattop, was not a commercial success and only 72 of this model were sold before it was discontinued in 1942. But if you play this example with an open mind it's a loud guitar with an impressive tone, crisp response and a unique sound, as long as you're not expecting it to sound like a Gibson L-5. In retrospect, it's unfortunate that so many F-9 models, along with its slightly less expensive sibling the F-7, have been converted to flattops. Not many original F-9s have survived, and while we don't know the number there certainly can't be many left in this condition.
This guitar is all-original with the exception of the following: It was refretted by Gruhn Guitars a little over ten years ago. The pickguard is an accurate replica of the original, which probably succumbed to celluloid rot. The tailpiece shows signs of repair at it's hinge. There's a bit of lacquer touch-up to the top where the player's pick hit the top just left of the low E string (see photo #11). Yes, this guitar saw some serious use, but the player was careful and the guitar survived in remarkably good condition. There are no cracks to the body, for instance, and no deep or serious wounds to the lacquer finish.
George Gruhn wrote an excellent essay on Martin's F-9 for the October issue of Vintage Guitar magazine. The photos shown in that article are of this instrument, which Gruhn had sold a few years earlier. To read that article check the link belowhttp://www.vintageguitar.com/3729/martin-f-9/
Another impressive bit of provenance that comes with this guitar is shown in photo 45, an October 13, 1939 letter from C. F. Martin III to the original owner of this instrument.
stock no. 51363
|Back and sides||Brazilian rosewood|
|Frets to body||14|
|Nut width||1 11/16"|
|Tuners||Original Grover G-98|