Prior to the fall of 1969 when C F Martin Company built a guitar specified to have rosewood back and sides the standard wood was Brazilian rosewood, Dalbergia Nigra, and this is considered the finest tonewood from which the back and sides of a guitar can be made. Brazilian rosewood has been identified as a rainforest product whose continued existence needs to be protected. It is included, now, on Appendix 1 of the CITES Treaty, which states that such wood (that comes from the harvesting of trees) can no longer be exported from Brazil and also cannot be shipped from country to country without special permits.
We say this so as to explain that this guitar is said to have suffered un-repairable damage to its top (its face) and so that part was replaced, we were told, around 14 years ago. When one has a Martin guitar made with Brazilian rosewood sides and back, salvaging the piece by replacing the top can make a great deal of sense.
We believe, based on the distance between its soundhole rosette, that the person who installed this top took the liberty of spacing the concentric rings which are more widely spaced than they would be on a Martin D-35 top. There are minor disruptions in the installation of the bindings – finish drop-outs, spaces and in several places discolored wood is present adjacent to these bindings. The side binding on the top is closer to white while the back binding is nicely yellowed (as it should be; the neck binding is white – signifying replacement. There is what appears to be a small separation on the bass edge of the fingerboard extension which must remain. Where the neck reset was performed (where the neck joins the body) the finish is disturbed (uneven surfaces) but sometimes you see this when a neck has been reset.
Our well-established workshop has performed of their earth renowned “set-up and restrings” and so, when you try it, she will play delightfully easily.
This guitar’s top was of course refinished; the sides, back and back of the neck were oversprayed or refinished. Said finish is not congruent with Martin Company work – it is neither as glossy nor as transparent; there are a few glue drips on the back side binding. The front of the headstock was probably not refinished (since the “C F Martin & Co., Est. 1833) decal remains) but it may have been oversprayed. There are nicks along the edges of the headstock (not uncommon). Tuners are the original Grover Rotomatic with large “D” shaped chrome plated buttons and the six individual back plates bear the “Pat. Pend. U.S.A.” etching. There are some nicks on the headplate, and nicks overall on the rest of the instrument, most “under” the newer finish. There is a top layer of finish worn away in an oval shape on the back of the neck behind frets 1 to 3; there are some smallish “chemical burn marks” from contact with a vinyl strap on the back of the neck; the replaced pickguard, which is black, is over the finish and straight edged (vertically). The top braces were, of course, also replaced (had to, you know, with a new top) and one thing we find interesting is that the new top bracing had a hole in the brace above the soundhole through which, on a modern Martin, one can access the adjustable truss rod (which, being made in 1968 this doesn’t have). Consequently, this hole has been filled.
The action on this guitar is within limits for normal playing; the bridge saddle is not set to its lowest possible height -- there is more saddle left to lower it further, but we don’t recommend that since you might lose the greatly desired “angle from the bridge saddle to the bridge pins.” The guitar is, right now, comfortable to play.
Normally speaking, when a Martin Brazilian rosewood D-35 from 1968 is in original condition, it can, today, have a market value in the range of $5,500. We are, for example, currently offering a 1967 D-35 in “excellent minus” condition for $5750. However, we reasoned that if this guitar were priced “right,” in spite of its deficiencies there are going to be lots of people who want to own a vintage Brazilian rosewood Martin dreadnought – and because of this our price is most appealing.
You, mein Freund, get a thousand dollar discount: