The Martin E-18 Series
Martin’s E series electrics were produced in two broad series, the 18 series (E-18, EM-18 and EB-18 bass) and the 28 series (E-28 and EB-28 bass). All the Martin labeled instruments were made in the USA.
The E series guitars have interesting stories, made more vivid by the fact that the key people involved in their design and production helped me immensely when I was researching the history. The various books and articles previously available vary in their accuracy, and it has taken quite a lot of detective work to build what I believe to be a complete and accurate picture. My thanks to Dick Boak, John Marshall, Pete Entstasser and of course CF Martin and Co, my history would be a lot less interesting without their enormous contribution, not least of course that they made all these instruments in the first place.
Starting with the 18 series, we’ll look at the instruments and the production facts.
The 18 series was Martin’s first solid electric guitar, and was designed by Dick Boak. Unusually, a new 4-digit serial number was used for the 18 and 28 series instruments, starting at 1000. The first production instrument shipped was an EM-18, serial number 1004, in December of 1978. The last was 3645, an EB-18 at some point during 1980. A total of 341 E-18’s, 1,375 EM-18’s and 874 EB-18’s were manufactured, a total of 2,590 instruments. Of course if the first were 1004 and the last 3645, that should be 2,642, so we should probably assume a numbering skip or some instruments rejected in QA, or a combination thereof.
Many people believe (because many books are unclear about this) that the 18 and 28 series were manufactured concurrently, this is not the case. The last 18 series was made before the first 28 series went to production – however because there was some inventory 18 series instruments were sold into the 1980’s by distributors.
The 18 series comprised three models: two six strings (E-18 and EM-18) and the EB-18 bass. The E-18 and EM-18 were virtually identical, with some minor electronics changes. The EB-18 was Martin’s first production electric bass as well as it’s first solid electric bass. Despite appearances, these instruments are not neck-through but set neck.
Myths and Legends
1. Two higher specification 18 series basses were produced, designated the EMB-18. I have no idea if this is true or not, I have only seen it referenced once. If anyone knows more – let me know!
2. The 18 series was produced 1979-83. Not true – Dec 78 to Late 1980/Early 1981.
3. The hard case was actually a modified gun case. True.
(To be continued)
The Martin E-18 models made in the USA:
The various non-USA made derivates:
The Martin E-28 Series
Some additional E-28 information (courtesy of John Marshall) CF Martin original typescript E-28 series marketing