Johnny Cash and the Martin D-28
Little doubt anywhere that Johnny Cash was one of the most loved singers and songwriters to have ever graced the United States of America by birth. Johnny has lived and died now, and left behind a ton of well loved songs, memories, and well, some guitars too.
Of course a man like Johnny Cash, despite never actually being known as a guitarist, would have owned a lot of very fine guitars, and that is exactly how it should be. I personally own an old Acoustic Guitar Magazine issue with Johnny on the cover, and when the man interviewing Mr. Cash referred to him as a guitarist; ever humble, Johnny replied something like,
"Sir, it's mighty kind of you to call me a guitarist. I can't pick at all. I just strum and sing."
Strum and sing he surely did, and he did so exceedingly well and to the benefit of us all, and he did so particularly on one Martin D-28 guitar that you never saw, it was his personal guitar he kept at his ranch, and he did not perform with it, he kept it secluded and tucked away. The Bon Aqua, he called it, and it was the guitar that he strummed while writing many a timeless song.
"The Bon Aqua," Johnny Cash's Martin D-28
The Book Matched East Indian Rosewood Two Piece Back Of Johnny Cash's Bon Aqua D-28
Johnny Cash's 1971 Martin D-28
Now The Bon Aqua was not just John's guitar, it was also the name of his ranch in Tennessee South of Nashville, and he kept the guitar there, and so he gave it the same name, and the name was very fond for him. Said Johnny Cash about the place, and why he'd retreat there after touring:
“to cook my own food, read my own books, tend my own garden, water my own land, and think, write, compose, rest, and reflect in peace.”
Johnny Cash was a superstar, and I personally can't comprehend the rigors of touring, and the mental strain of having thousands and thousands of adoring fans yelling and screaming affection at you night after night - one must surely realize that such things affect a person, and not in an entirely positive way either. Johnny Cash used The Bon Aquaranch and guitar to get himself back into the proper state of mind following tours, and without that ranch and guitar, who knows? Perhaps he'd had burned out like so many others have. This exact guitar was the one he used to keep him sane, and it is the guitar most intimately connected to the late superstar, despite the hundreds or thousands of guitars that surely passed through his hands.
Now the Johnny Cash Bon Aqua Martin D-28 is very similar to the D-28 guitars owned by Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin. These Martin D-28 guitars were not theHigh X herringbone style D-28 guitars played by persons such as Clarence White or Tony Rice, these guitars were constructed very differently.
Traditional Martin D-28 guitars were herringbone guitars, and this one is not such an instrument, rather, it is constructed much more heavily for durability whereas the herringbone instruments were constructed very lightly for tonality. C.F.Martin & Co. did it right by simply always having the herringbone trim on one style and not having it on the other, and this makes it something more easily identifiable and less confusing.
So far as these 1970's era Martin D-28's go, there are tons of them out there, and you can get them for less than you can a good one from the days when Martin reverted back to their classic designs. These guitars will still have that fine Martin sound, and if you find one that doesn't need any work done to it, you can get a real deal. This one, however, can only be seen at the National Music Museum.