Martin F-7

Martin moved with uncharacteristic speed in recognizing the growing popularity of archtop guitars at the beginning of the 1930s.

The first Martin archtops appeared in 1931, the same year Epiphone mounted the first serious attack on Gibson’s domination of the archtop market. The Martin line quickly grew to include three different sizes, the largest of which was the 16-inch F-series, with the F-7 second from the top.

Martin’s archtops did not appear to have been fully developed. The bodies were the same as those of Martin’s flat-tops and were made of mahogany or rosewood rather than maple. They had their own unique sound, but it was not what players were looking for. A bigger problem was the neck.

Martin seems to have been unwilling to redesign it’s neck joint for the arched top, so the neck angled off awkwardly behind the player. The archtops did introduce the vertically oriented, all-caps peghead logo, as well as a 16-inch body that would later be appropriated for Martin’s M-size flat-tops, but none of the models lasted past 1942.