We present to you this one-of-a-kind guitar which was born during the dawn of Martin’s Golden Age. A total of 61(!) 14-fret D-28 guitars were made in 1936, the third year of production of what was called the “OM Dreadnought,” as opposed to the 12-fret version made a few years earlier. Only one year prior, in 1935, was the dreadnought finally featured in the Martin catalog and considered a popular model.
One might wonder what makes a pre-war Martin D-28 so legendary. It wasn’t any one thing. Back then the Martin Company used what is now considered to be the finest materials to construct the best possible sounding guitar. Those included an Adirondack spruce top which had braces that were hand scalloped. The “X” brace pattern was placed relatively far from the bridge & closer to the sound-hole compared to later models. The back and sides were made of quarter sawn Brazilian Rosewood which created a sweet and balanced “dry” sound while the dreadnought size of the body added a bellowing bass response compared to smaller models. Often advertised as “big bass cannons” the guitars were quite light in weight and had a crisp & responsive treble tone as well. All of these factors combined along with the passage of time, created a “vintage sound” and with that, the D-28 became one of the most sought after Martin guitars ever made.
In 1938, Martin discovered that making such a lightly built guitar under steel string tension was in conflict with their lifetime warranties; they just didn’t stay structurally sound indefinitely. So, they moved the X brace under the top about a half inch towards the bridge to reduce warping; in 1944 the scalloping of the top braces was eliminated and in 1947 for economic reasons they stopped using the herringbone trim around the top. All of those changes made a sturdier instrument, if a slightly more subdued one.
Okay, so let’s talk about this particular guitar. At some point (probably in the 60’s), this guitar was re-topped with Sitka and over sprayed. The “X” brace is rear shifted, the braces are unscalloped and the binding is alternating black and white celluloid - all of which is very Martin-esq of the 60’s. We recently contacted the Martin Company to see if they had any record of doing the work, but unfortunately there was nothing in their current files. In addition to the top being replaced, this guitar has replaced Grover tuners with bulls eye back (the holes from the original set of Waverly tuners have been filled, but leave behind a visible foot print), bridge (the original resides in the case pocket) and we have provided the guitar with a new Geib hard shell case. Other previous repairs include: several glued cracks on the back, a repaired crack on the treble side of the nut extending approximately one half inch down the neck beneath the fretboard. There is a patched pickup hole on the treble side rib. The headstock has a repaired crack down the middle of the top; said repair is concealed by what may be a replaced headstock plate. It appears as though the inlays have been removed from the fretboard and glued back in. Some of the diamonds do not appear symmetrical. The frets that currently reside on the guitar are oversized (Martin never used frets this big); these will be replaced when we do the work stated below. The guitar arrived here already having had its neck reset at least once. At some point, possibly when the neck reset/refret was previously done; the fretboard was shaved, likely from extensive truing, and is now thin. Aside from everything stated above, the guitar shows normal signs of use and wear such as minor scratches, light checking, and dings. There is wear around the bottom of the headstock possibly from its former hard shell case (which was not the original).
We have had the following repairs performed which made this guitar wholly functional, playable and sounding its best: Neck Reset and re-fret, repair several open cracks (one under the pickguard, one on the back adjacent to the center seam and three on treble side rib), glue a crack at the bottom of the fretboard extension and another at the top of the soundhole.
In spite of the changes made to the guitar that are considered less than ideal by vintage guitar lovers, it sounds nothing short of phenomenal. It’s got a boomy bass, crisp full mid-range and a crystal clear treble that can be so hard to come by with other more available rosewood varieties. We expect it to sound even better (not to mention easier to play) when the repairs have been completed by our dedicated (nearly fanatical) fangists. Without these changes, this 1936 D-28 might have sold today for $90,000! You, lucky person, can have this delectable one-of-a-kind confection for only: WAS $17,995 BUT NOW: