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Thread: 1917 Martin Bitting Special

  1. #1

    Default 1917 Martin Bitting Special

    I am looking to buy a good quality soft and sweet sounding Mandolin. I saw and played this 1917 Martin Bitting Special in NH a few months ago, it's it great condition, and the price was recently lowered from $1200 to $995. If someone on the forum buys it... cool, i was just wondering if anyone out there in MandoCafe World has some familiarity with this kind of instrument and could give me some pros and cons.
    http://www.gbase.com/gear/martin-bit...7-natural-wood

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: 1917 Martin Bitting Special

    I own one from the year before. It's a terrific sounding mandolin. One of the loudest Martin flat backs I've played (and I've played and owned more than a few). Mine also has what I'd call a "sweet" sound. These are the only Martin flat backs that were built with maple back and sides, and they do sounds different than the mahogany, rosewood, or koa ones.

    That said, it sounds more like a Martin than anything Gibson ever made. When you ask if anyone's familiar with this kind of instrument, do you mean this particular model, or Martin flat backs in general? If it's the latter, the consensus is that these are not suitable for bluegrass. They lack the projection that you get with a carved top. I mostly play Celtic fiddle tunes on mine, and I think it works really well for them.

    They are seriously rare. I think that price is okay, FWIW. They rarely come up for sale. The last two I've seen sold for less, but had neck issues. Mine had a little twist that required planing the fingerboard and re-fretting. So it wound up costing me more than that.

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  4. #3

    Default Re: 1917 Martin Bitting Special

    Thank you for your insight and willingness to share, clearly you are wise and experienced. If you have a moment please compare that 1917 Martin Bitting Special with this 1918 Gibson. And yes i would be playing celtic and old time music with them.

    http://www.kijiji.ca/v-string-instru...ationFlag=true

    Thank You!

  5. #4
    Registered User
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    Default Re: 1917 Martin Bitting Special

    They're very different kinds of mandolin. The Gibson has a carved top and is built somewhat more heavily than the Martin, which has a bent flat top and is lighter and more delicately built. The Gibson has a 7/8" longer scale. They sound quite different. If you do a search of the threads on the cafe, you'll find a lot of commentary on Gibson As and Martins. As I said before, although the Bitting is different than most other Martin mandos due to the maple back and sides, it's generally pretty similar in sound.

    In my opinion, each would be suitable for old-time or celtic music. But there are lots of opinions. Again, you'll see a lot about this in other threads if you search, and there are some Martin aficionados on the Cafe who may have something to say

    Here's link to a guy selling a Model B Martin Mandolin (the music starts around half way through). It's very similar to the Bitting Special, except that back and sides are rosewood instead of maple.

    And here's one of a guy playing a Gibson A very similar to the one you're looking at. (The music starts at 4:08
    Best of luck!

  6. #5

    Default Re: 1917 Martin Bitting Special

    I purchased the 1917 Bitting at Retro Music in August. The strings are a little high - I just changed the strings to a lighter gauge (Elixir) to see if it makes a difference - not sure yet. I have a Martin 1917 (not Bitting) which has cracks...and has been repaired a few times. The Bitting seems to be "louder"; the 1917 - mellower...due to different wood of course - but both sweet and have a wonderful resonance. I'll experiment with strings....I have a feeling the D'Addario EXp74 might be a better match. I play the mandolin in a church which really accentuates the timbre of the mandolin.

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