Sunday, March 24, 2013

Wayne Henderson Guitars

Wayne Henderson Guitars.

I'd already become aware of the name Wayne Henderson, but I had no idea the man made such amazing guitars. I might have been told that he was a luthier, I just don't know. I'd bought a guitar book out of Acoustic Guitar Magazine, and I believe the book, which also came with a cd, was called High On A Mountain.

I've still got both the disc and the book. If I remember correctly without looking, then I'll make a leap and say that Steve Earl with the Del McCoury Band are on the cover of the thing - and Wayne Henderson performs a super fast, and extremely tasteful version of the old fiddle tune called Back Up and Push.

I also recall from memory that that particular track had some super nice jazz piano in it - very nice to hear a fiddle tune duet with a piano!

Well, Wayne Henderson doesn't pick with a pick, he often does flatpicking using his thumb for down-strokes  and his first finger or index finger for the upstrokes. For all the world though, it sounds like he's using a tortoise shell pick.

This webpage, however, isn't so much about the great guitar playing that Wayne Henderson can do - it's about the great guitars that Wayne Henderson DOES make. I read somewhere in some magazine that he'd started making guitars because he couldn't afford to buy a good one! Gosh don't we acoustic guitar lovers understand THAT? The other thing I recall reading was that Eric Clapton had heard of these amazing guitars - and decided he wanted one. Well, Mr. Henderson, not to be the type of guy to play favorites, put Eric on the two year waiting list - as he had a nice log of orders to fill already!

To me, that's integrity!

So how did I find out about the Wayne Henderson guitars? Not in a magazine. I'd went to Winfield, Kansas - the second time that I'd gone, and went to see the Walnut Valley Festival. I'd brought my Santa Cruz guitar, and I'd been far too shy to play with folks, but my chops were up, and so I'd play out in the campground, and I did, indeed, get some audiences going.....and lots of free beer, a few offers to play on stage five, or six, or whatever the public stage in the campground is - and more than anything, lots of compliments on my Santa Cruz model D.

But of course I'd went to the Walnut Valley Festival to hear music, and especially exciting for me - to see the Flatpicking Championship.

My Uncle had drove us there, and we were watching all the championship contests together, and we couldn't figure out what kind of guitars it was that this one guy in particular was playing. The guy was just killer on the guitar, and his name was Scott Fore. After one of his rounds in the contest, my uncle Tom and I managed to have a word with Mr. Scott Fore, an accountant, as I recall - from somewhere, and ask,

What kind of guitar are you playing?

The answer was - he was playing a Henderson.

Wayne Henderson And One Of His Henderson Guitars!

Wayne Henderson Fine Acoustic Guitars.

Now as for myself, my uncles- we're fans of fine acoustic guitars, and we have been since my grandfather instilled it into us. Well, as the Walnut Valley Festival went on that year, we realized we'd been left in the dark about these instruments, but that time was over, and the time or recognition was here. The only conclusion one could make after absorbing it all was that some of the finest flatpicking guitarist in the USA preferred Wayne Henderson guitars to all others, and so, they were worthy of all the same respect given to Martin Guitars, to Santa Cruz guitars, to Collings guitars, and to any other brand of guitar as well.
What was so noticeable about Henderson guitars? Well, the headstock is entirely different in shape, "headstock," being the term I and others use to describe the wooden piece at the furthest end of the guitar's neck, and where the tuning machines are mounted. Headstocks are often heavily inlay-ed with abalone, and these guitars certainly were too. Some might notice the Henderson guitar headstocks are reminiscent of Mossman guitars, I think they are, and besides that, these are going to be some very rare and very sought after guitars...just like those, but even more so, produced by Mossman.
Of course Mr. Henderson models his guitars after the greats by Martin, but he's not limited to guitars, he makes Gibson F style mandolins, and the occasional banjo or fiddle, it's all custom work, and there is, of course, the rather long waiting list for getting one of these very much in demand instruments. Finding one for sale on the used market is iffy, and though I've seen some Henderson guitars for sale on the web, most often I see a lovely page with gushing details and images, and then up top, the tease, sold, no longer available.

Dierks Bently, and The Martin HD Dierks Bentley Guitar

Dierks Bentley?

Over the years, and of my own volition, I have done very little in the way of listening to what is commonly thought of as new country music. Well, when there is work out there that needs doing this Fall and Winter, I've been working as aresidential electrician, and, and in the course of spending time with co-workers, I wind up listening to nothing BUT new country music, and strangely enough, I've come to find that I actually can and do enjoy some of it.
Well, who the heck is Dierks Bentley? He's a modern country star, and enough of one to have a rather substantial Wikipedia page dedicated to him. Of course he also has his own website, but I'd say it's more impressive when you've got a nice large Wikipedia page. Over the past few months I've become familiar with some of the man's music, but even before then I'd become familiar with his name, and the reason for that was - he's an official C.F. Martin & Company Ambassador.
What is a Martin Ambassador? Well, when you're probably the most renowned and respected acoustic guitar manufacturer on the entire planet, you don't exactly need any major advertising, but suffice it to say, getting your own signature series instrument designed for you over in Nazareth, Pennsylvania at the Martin factory means you've made a name for yourself in music, and it also means you're doing a fine job of bringing the tradition of fine Martin guitars to the younger generations.

Dierks Bently, and His Signature Series Martin Acoustic Guitar.

Dierks Bentley With His Martin Dierks Bentley Guitar!

The Martin HD Dierks Bentley Guitar!

Dierks Bentley, The Music, The Guitar.

How would I describe the music of Dierks Bentley? Well, the first thing that came to my mind was the legendary country rock of the band,The Eagles. Of course the music of The Eagles is all over the place, and so is the music of Dierks Bentley, some of it is more pop, and some of it is more country, but I'd say Dierks Bentley takes his music a bit more in the direction of Southern rock.
Did I just say Southern rock? Well yes, yes I did, and Dierks doesn't just play acoustic, he's also well known to play a Fender Telecaster, the ultimate electric guitar for country and western music, and doubling just fine for rock and roll music. This article, however, is going to focus not on electric, but on the fine acoustic guitar by C.F. Martin & Company that is endorsed, and designed in collaboration with Mr. Dierks Bentley.
So what is a Martin HD Dierks Bentley?

Well, to cut to the chase, the Martin HD Dierks Bentley is really a customized Martin D-28, that is really exactly what it is, it does, however, feature some very nice upgrades from the standard issue D-28, or even the very very nice Martin HD-28VR. Now there is no bones here in regards to what is most important regarding the upgrades the HD Dierks Bentley has to offer, all day long and every day of the year, the Adirondack red spruce top wins the day, and is the singular specification that makes this guitar a cut above the norm.
Why is Adirondack Spruce so special? Well, it is largely believed by all to provided a louder, a clearer, and a longer sustaining tonality to the instruments so lucky as to be graced with it as a top, or soundboard. You'll run into very few people who don't think of Adirondack spruce as special, that isn't to say that other particular spruce soundboards aren't just as wonderful, but by and large, Adirondack spruce is a holy grail sort of wood in acoustic guitar building, and it always will be.
There are two other attributes that make this guitar a cut above a standard HD-28, and those two points of hot rodding of acoustic guitars are the bone nut and the bone saddle. Whenever a bone nut and saddle are combined with an Adirondack spruce top, and forward shifted, scalloped, high X bracing, what you are dealing with is an instrument built to provide a VERY loud and clear tonality, and instrument built to not sit in the background of a studio mix, but to shine, and to sing to the listener, and to the player. This guitar is just such a guitar, and besides all of that, there is the nice bit of abalone inlay, a phoenix at the twentieth fret, and then the lovely and patriotic red, white, and blue, in what is being described as bold herringbone, and in place of the standard rosette of a HD Martin guitar of the D-28 style. A very beautiful and lifetime guitar, priced to sell at four thousand dollars, and with the traditional limited lifetime warranty to the original owner.

  • Model: * HD Dierks Bentley
  • Construction: * Mahogany Blocks/Dovetail Neck Joint
  • Body Size: * D-14 Fret
  • Top: * Solid Adirondack Spruce
  • Rosette: * Style 28/Red, White, and Blue Herringbone
  • Top Bracing Pattern: * Standard ''X'' Scalloped, Forward-Shifted (Golden Era Style)
  • Top Braces: * Solid Adirondack Spruce 5/16''
  • Back Material: * Solid East Indian Rosewood
  • Back Purfling: * Bold Herringbone - Red, White & Blue
  • Side Material: * Solid East Indian Rosewood
  • Endpiece: * none
  • Endpiece Inlay: * none
  • Binding: * Grained Ivoroid
  • Top Inlay Style: * Bold Herringbone - Red, White & Blue
  • Side Inlay: * none
  • Back Inlay: * Black/White Boltaron
  • Neck Material: * Select Hardwood
  • Neck Shape: * Modified V
  • Nut Material: * Bone
  • Headstock: * Solid/Long Diamond/Square Taper
  • Headplate: * Solid Madagascar Rosewood
  • Heelcap: * Grained Ivoroid
  • Fingerboard Material: * Solid Black Ebony
  • Scale Length: * 25.4''
  • Number of Frets Clear: * 14
  • Number of Frets Total: * 20
  • Fingerboard Width at Nut: * 1-11/16''
  • Fingerboard Width at 12th Fret: * 2-15/64''
  • Fingerboard Position Inlays: * Style 28 - same size dots, Phoenix inlay @ 12th fret - MOP
  • Fingerboard Binding: * none
  • Finish Back & Sides: * Polished Gloss
  • Finish Top: * Polished Gloss w/ Aging Toner
  • Finish Neck: * Satin
  • Bridge Material: * Solid Black Ebony
  • Bridge Style: * Belly
  • Bridge String Spacing: * 2-1/4''
  • Saddle: * 16'' Radius/Compensated/Bone
  • Tuning Machines: * Waverly Nickel Open-Geared w/ Butterbean knobs
  • Recommended Strings: * Martin SP Lifespan Phosphor Bronze Medium Gauge (MSP7200)
  • Bridge & End Pins: * Bone w/ Tortoise Color Dots
  • Pickguard: * Delmar Tortoise Color
  • Case: * Geib style
  • Interior Label: * Signed by Dierks Bentley. Numbered in Sequence w/o Total
  • Electronics: * Optional
  • Other Options: * Available left-handed at no additional charge
  • Other Comments: * All prices & specifications are subject to change without notice.

Dierks Bentley Discusses His Martin Signature Series Guitar.

The Music Of David Grisman

David Grisman, Mandolin Master

Now in the world of Bluegrass, Folk, and Jazz music there are a lot of virtuoso musicians, and even in jazz there are probably a lot of great mandolin players, but nobody in American music has expanded the boundaries of traditional music, or the boundaries of mandolin music so much as has David Grisman. David Grisman, master mandolin player that he is, isn't even known as David Grisman so much any more - and neither is his music known as jazz, or bluegrass, both David and his music are known as Dawg, and in the case of the music, Dawg music.
If you wanted to get right down to it, then you could say that David Grisman practically created the Dawg Grass, or as Tony Rice calls it, Spacegrass music genre. It's not that the idea behind those kinds of music is so unique, it isn't, it's the implementation of the music that is unique. Basically, Grisman brought Django Reinhardt and Jazz to the Bluegrass music of Appalachia, and used traditional American folk instruments to create Jazz Grass.

A Younger David Grisman With Jethro Burns(Left) and Tiny Moore(Right)

David Grisman - NOT Bluegrass

Now the mandolin has always been one of the dominant stringed instruments in any musical genre. Basically, a mandolin is the same as a violin, but it has dual strings where the violin has single strings, and the mandolin is fretted, and meant to be played with a plectrum. The mandolin is also designed to primarily be tuned just as the fiddle is, with the exception of the dual strings, which give you an extra four to tune, and the wonderful chorus effect that you hear when enjoying listening to or playing a mandolin.
Mandolins have always been present in classical and folk music, and especially in Celtic folk music from the British Islands, and as we all know, when that music crossed the Atlantic in the minds and hearts of the U.K. and Irish immigrants, they brought it and their mandolins to the new world where, in time, Bluegrass music was formed.
Make no mistake, David Grisman started off his mandolin playing career as a top notch bluegrass player such as his contemporary Ricky Skaggs, but while Skaggs was always a traditionalist, Grisman was always an alternative type.
But let's hear David Grisman now, shall we? Yes we shall. This music by the super group of absolute virtuoso musicians was where I first became acquainted with the music of David Grisman, but Muleskinner is not Dawg Music, or Spacegrass, but rather, it's a bunch of extremely talented hippies playing Bluegrass.

David Grisman in Muleskinner - New Camptown Races.

David Grisman And The Grateful Dead

A lot of people who are casual fans of The Grateful Dead aren't aware that Jerry Garcia, prior to heading The Dead, had been a bluegrass picker. It's really hard to miss the traditional music influence on the music of The Grateful Dead, but folks more in tune with American musical forms always pick up on that with great ease. David Grisman had always been a huge friend of the late Jerry Garcia, and he appeared on what is probably the most known and loved album that The Grateful Dead had every recorded, the album American Beauty. Though The Grateful Dead was never a F.M. radio hit machine, that band put out many timeless songs that will in time become absolute staples of American Folk Music, and one of the songs most likely to never leave the consciousness of the American mind is Ripple, which features the mandolin playing of David Grisman.
Besides David Grisman working with The Grateful Dead, he has also recorded with the late Jerry Garcia in projects such as Old And In The way, and with both Jerry Garcia and the absolute modern master of flatpicking acoustic guitar, Tony Rice, on obscure and amazing albums such as The Pizza Tapes, which were basically just three friends hanging out and playing together while letting themselves be recorded....and the tapes were stolen by the pizza delivery man!

"RIpple," Featuring David Grisman - By The Grateful Dead.

David Grisman With His Gibson F5 Lloyd Loar Mandolin, "Crusher."

David Grisman And The Gibson F5 Mandolin

Now David Grisman plays a Gibson F5 Mandolin, and I have to say, there's nothing the slightest bit unique about that. Almost every single last major American musician that plays the mandolin plays a Gibson F5. Don't think that this is strange, it's a timeless instrument, and there isn't really a better kind of mandolin made.
If a mandolin player isn't playing an F5 by Gibson, then you can well bet they want to own one, or in fact, are playing a smaller manufacturer's copy of an F5. There are lots of small manufacturers making fine copies of the legendary Gibson F5, and Collings Guitars out of Austin, Texas comes to mind here.
There's more to David Grisman's own Gibson F5 though, David's primary instrument is an F5 made by the legendary luthier that created the design of the Gibson F5, and that man's name is Lloyd Loar - a man who's mandolins will be remembered in such a way as is equal to the violins of Stradivarius.
Like many other musicians who've taken a famous instrument and made it more famous, David has a pet name for his Lloyd Loar Gibson F5 Mandolin, he and the whole world now call his instrument Crusher.
So far as a comparison to David Grisman - there is Ricky Skaggs to consider. While David Grisman is a mandolin master that has expanded the genres of music that mandolins are played in by incorporating a lot of jam band style free form ideas and the jazz of Django Reinhardt, Ricky Skaggs is purely an Appalachian country boy that can play the fire out of the mandolin, but does so primarily in traditional styles, but also writes his own music in those traditional styles, and also covers many a public domain tune - bringing those old tunes back into the front of the folk consciousness. I consider David Grisman and Ricky Skaggs equals on the mandolin, and they're definitely contemporaries and peers. One is primarily a country boy, and the other is really a hippie. I like them both very much.
So far as the hippie space jazz bluegrass on mandolin is concerned, I'd like to round this out with my very favourite two tunes composed by David Grisman, and also featuring another of my favourite musicians, his primary guitarist of choice, and fellow gasoline brother, Tony Rice.

The David Grisman Quintet "Pneumonia."

The David Grisman Quintet, "E.M.D."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Breedlove Passport and The Breedlove Atlas - Two Great Breedlove Dreadnoughts For Under A Thousand Dollars


The Breedlove Guitar company started as an offshoot of American giant Taylor Guitars. Master craftsmen Larry Breedlove and Steve Henderson started the company after moving to Oregon from California, where they'd worked for Bob Taylor making Taylor instruments.In 1991, the first models of Breedlove guitar became available on the market. The builders at Breedlove are known for experimental bracing patterns, and also being very environmentally conscious - they do not wish to contribute to deforestation, and especially in regards to woods harvested from rain-forests.
Breedlove Guitars offers a model of guitar in a number of price ranges - and on their upper end, and with my own personal experience with the company's products, I know them to be stunningly beautiful to the eye and to the ear, and exceedingly playable and competitive with their competition in every realm.As for myself - I'm a lifelong devotee of the dreadnought guitar body style. I'm not un-fond of other styles, I'm just very accustomed to the shape, feel, and sound quality offered by a dreadnought acoustic guitar, and so for the duration of this webpage, I'll be discussing Breedlove dreadnought guitars.If you're the kind of person with a flair for social media, well, I have to tell you, Breedlove guitars has a VERY active Facebook page, and you can see it or "like" it here.


I can assure you with total confidence here that the makers of Breedlove guitars are not pursuing some fad when they market their products as "environmentally responsible." I'm not an owner of a Breedlove instrument, but only because I'd already owned several fine guitars by the time Breedlove's business was launched. I hang out in every guitar store I can whenever I can, and I obsessively look over every instrument I'm interested in. I've strummed, picked, and played a bit on hundreds of Breedlove guitars, and I know for an absolute fact their instruments compete very evenly with those of more well known and esteemed manufacturers, and Breedlove does make instruments in models ranging from amateur to professional.In this day and age we are seeing the real golden age of acoustic guitar building, and we are seeing this from innovation.
Environmentalism is not a fad in this industry, it is the future, plain and simple, as old forest mahogany, rosewood, and ebony - need to be replenished.The facts have ALWAYS been that many another species of tree can be used for bodies, for necks, for soundboards, and for fret-boards Traditional wood species models will always be with us, and will continually be popular - but new tonewoods are being explored, and being used with huge success, and all successful acoustic guitar manufacturers of tomorrow are building instruments with new woods Breedlove guitars are hardly alone in regards to guitar manufacturing from sustainable wood sources, C.F. Martin & Company have their "Smartwood"series guitars, and Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars has also made real commitments towards ecological/environmental sustainability and experimentation with guitar building.


I can hardly imagine a much superior guitar or bargain for just three hundred dollars, the Breedlove Passport is a terrific guitar for beginners, or for anyone, really.The maple sides will be laminated, of course, but the top is a solid spruce soundboard, and the design and appearance are both traditional, and not at the same time - very attractive instrument, and with the solid top, will have some real sound quality.
The neck is mahogany, and is bolted to the body as a means of cost cutting - the bridge and fretboard are both rosewood.I've read the lack of much in the way of lacquer on the wood, and the lack of a pick guard make this guitar have more volume than comparable guitars that do have those things.This guitar is going to compare to any Yamaha or TakamineEXTREMELY favorably, and if you live in the USA, and are considering an acoustic guitar in this price range, then I would certainly encourage you to purchase the Breedlove Passport dreadnought instead of a foreign made guitar.


The Breedlove Atlas dreadnought is advertised as a stage guitar, so I suppose some mention of just why the guitar is preferable for performing onstage is in order here.Here is the truth - people often keep at home and in the studio their prized guitars. You don't go taking a multi thousand dollar instrument across the USA in a bus to perform on stage just don't.
What you take is a nice guitar that is outfitted with acoustic electric electronics, and is typically a guitar that isn't so valuable to you that you'd lose your performing soul were it lost in an airport, or stolen somewhere in transit, or damaged in either of those places.Outside of the electronics offered with the Atlas guitar, the other major differences between it and the Passport are those of the wood used for the back and sides, and in the Atlas, the wood is laminated mahogany rather than maple. Whether or not you consider that an upgrade, I assure you, is merely your own personal preference and opinion.Another major bit of upgrade with the Atlas is that it comes with an actual dovetail neck joint instead of a bolt on neck joint, the dovetail, as always, comes with a double action truss rod for setup performance tuning - in other words, you can adjust the neck and the string's height off of the neck to either higher or lower.More specifications for this terrific American made guitar are as follows:
  • Dreadnought, acoustic-electric, soft cutaway
  • Solid Sitka spruce top
  • Solid rosewood back and laminate sides
  • Depth 4-9/16" at tail block, 3-3/4" at heel
  • Lower bout width 16"
  • Improved Breedlove bracing with ultralight JLD bridge truss for stability and sustain
  • Ivoroid bound body and neck
  • Abalone rosette with purfling ring
  • Abalone top purfling with BWBWB purfling
  • STAGE inlay pattern by Kim Breedlove
  • Glossy finish, satin neck
  • Rosewood bridge, fretboard, and headstock overlay
  • Nut width 1-11/16" (43mm)
  • Compensated saddle
  • Dovetail neck joint
  • Double action truss rod, soundhole adjustable
  • Chrome Grover mini tuners
  • L.R. Baggs LR-T CV Tuner Preamp pickup
  • Onboard chromatic tuner with inline mute, notch, phase, EQ
  • D'Addario EXP strings
  • Breedlove logo hardshell case included
  • Designed by Kim Breedlove


In conclusion, these two guitars are very good guitars for under a thousand dollars, both solid spruce tops, and laminate sides.These guitars are not copies of Martin, Gibson, or Taylor, but are uniquely Breedlove, as all Breedlove instruments are, as they employee Breedlove's unique stylistic designs, and bracing patterns. They are made in the USA, and for that alone, a purchase over foreign made products is commendable; but yet these will be superior products as well.As always, I suggest playing dozens of guitars before making a purchase. Choose the one you want, and leave the store with no regrets.

The Martin D-42JC, A Johnny Cash Signature Series Martin Acoustic Guitar

Johnny Cash and Martin Acoustic Guitars.

A man like Johnny Cash left a big impression on us all with his body of work, and the attitudes he expressed within it all. There is little wonder that he'd gravitated to the best of guitar manufacturers during his career, and little wonder that C.F. Martin & Co. also gravitated towards him too. As it all played out, we have more than one absolutely stunning signature series guitar with the name and style of the late Johnny Cash all over it for collectors, and artists to use to create and to enjoy as the works of art the instruments are in and of themselves too.
Johnny Cash had been known to play Martin D-18's, Martin D-28's, and other instruments as well. In remembrance of the fabled Man In Black, C.F.Martin & Co. created some great instruments, and this article will be discussing the Martin D-42JC, a Johnny Cash signature series instrument.

The Martin D-42JC

This guitar is no longer available,
This guitar is no longer available,

The Basics Of A Martin D-42 Standard.

The Martin D-42JC

Before I can elaborate on the specifications of this fine Johnny Cash signature instrument, I must first tell you just what a Martin D-42 is in its normal form.
So what is a Martin D-42?
The Martin D-42 is a dreadnought acoustic guitar made of a solid rosewood body and a solid spruce top, it is based on the platform of the more common and available Martin D-28, but the Martin D-42 is dressed up a lot more, it is a fancier guitar, almost as dressed up and fancy as the top of the standard production line, the Martin D-45. Simply put, the Martin D-42 allows a consumer to purchase a Martin guitar similar to the D-28, but dressed up with a lot more abalone inlay for two thousand dollars less than the standard top of the line dreadnought, the Martin D-45.
Martin D-42 guitars are built to the Martin classic specifications with a high X bracing pattern, a mahogany dove tail neck joint, and everything one would have with a Martin HD-28 guitar, but with more abalone inlay. Its really that simple. The Martin D-28JC, however, is a very rare guitar, and was featured on the Johnny Cash American Recordings album.
With the Martin D-423, you basically have abalone inlay all over the place, the entire binding of the top of the instrument is abalone inlay, the rosette is entirely abalone inlay, and even on the ebony bridge there is abalone inlay interpolating each side of the thing, not to mention the abalone inlay fretboard markers on the fingerboard, and the Johnny Cash signature, again, in abalone inlay, on the twentieth fret. Its fancy, its everywhere, its expensive, and its beautiful.
The Martin D-42JC is a very rare guitar, and I've never seen one myself. You would be, in fact, one of the few to have seen one if you happened to have. I had to check several times to make certain there weren't some mistakes here, but the very odd thing is that this guitar, the Martin D-42JC, has a three piece back just like a Martin D-35 always does. I assure you that Martin D-42 standard production guitars do NOT have a three piece back, and were the sight I'm pulling my information from not Elderly Instruments, one of the most respected high end acoustic guitar dealers in the entire world, I'd be absolutely certain that someone didn't know what they were talking about here, and was trying to play off a fineMartin D-35 Johnny Cash signature guitar as if it were a D-42JC.
Besides the unheard of three piece back on a D-42, this guitar also features star shaped abalone inlay on the fretboard as the fingerboard position markers, and of course, Johnny Cash's signature in abalone inlay on the twentieth fret. Needless to say, the guitar is also done all in black, just as the fabled man in black would certainly have it.
Again, you'll probably never see one of these guitars, but you may see the more common Martin D-35 Johnny Cash guitar, if you do happen to see the D-42 and it's in the well kept condition it ought to be, then you're looking at a five thousand dollar guitar.

Three Piece Back On The Very Rare Martin D-42JC

Three Piece backs are the hallmark of the Martin D-35, NOT, the D-42, however, the Martin D-42JC has a three piece back
Three Piece backs are the hallmark of the Martin D-35, NOT, the D-42, however, the Martin D-42JC has a three piece back

Johnny Cash, The Man In Black, and His Martin Acoustic Guitar!

The Martin D-17 Acoustic Dreadnought Guitar

The Martin D-17

In the early 2000's C.F. Martin & Company for a while manufactured the Martin D-17, a guitar that combined the building specifications of the Martin D-15, and the Martin D-16's. First and foremost, and visually obvious, is that the Martin D-17 is an all mahogany guitar just as were the no longer produced "17 series" instruments of old, and as the current "15" series instruments of now. The use of a mahogany sound board or top on this instrument creates a very very different tonality from the more common spruce soundboards that not just Martin, but nearly every steel string dreadnought manufacturer uses for the largest majority of their instruments.
Mahogany top guitars are not uncommon, and they aren't even slightly new ideas, and of course they are not bad ideas either. They just produce a much more cold, stiff, and darker tonality than do guitars with either spruce or cedar tops. Spruce and cedar are conifer woods, mahogany is a hardwood, and so the mahogany soundboard will not vibrate so thoroughly or freely and will not produce the volume that either spruce or cedar tops can and do.
Regarding the lesser volume of mahogany topped acoustic guitars, don't overly fret yourself about it, just fret the guitar - all Martin instruments are available outfitted with pre-amp and pickup electronics for amplification.
Pretty obviously, an all mahogany guitar will look quite a lot different from the conifer topped guitar too, and isn't the mahogany top instrument also very beautiful? I say it is, it just won't sound like what you are used to, but boy does it still sound wonderful!

The Beautiful Martin D-17

The Martin D-17 Acoustic Guitar - All Mahogany Top, Back, and Sides.

So Just What Is A Martin D-17?

The Martin D-17 was run for a limited time in early 2000's. This was a unique high end version of the inexpensive D-15 and 16 series, but with quality solid Mahogany front, back and sides; a solid one piece Mortise/Tennon neck joint, genuine Mahogany neck, Style 17 Rosette, D1 Hybrid bracing 1 Style scalloped, Style 18 purfling, Tortoise color binding, modified low oval neck shape, White Corian nut, black Micarta fingerboard and bridge with a Polished Gloss finish on top back and sides.
I've seen it stated that the D-17 is only a D-15 but with a gloss top, this is entirely untrue, the specs I've provided above suss out some more of the differences, and regarding the micarta fingerboard or fretboard, Micarta is not a bad thing for fretboards, I think it's a good idea, it'll outlast wood, some may argue that it does effect tone, but this is a matter of some debate. In any case, the use of micarta is becoming more frequent, and can be applauded in that it is just one more way to aide in the manufacturer and consumer's responsibility to end deforestation and consumer responsibility to the environment we all share here on planet Earth.
Micarta is inferior to tusq or bone for nuts or saddles though. If your D-17 has a micarta saddle you can get a bone or tusq compensated saddle, or not from a Martin dealer.
The D1 hybrid bracing is not something found on the D-15 at all, and neither is the Mortise/Tennon neck joint, and of course the style "17" rosette is another cosmetic thing not seen on the less expensive D-15.
Do you want to know what is great about both the Martin D-15 and the Martin D-17?

I'll tell you right here and right now what is great about the all mahogany top, back, and side Martin guitars, they look different, they sound different, and ....they are way LESS EXPENSIVE than any solid wood Martin with a spruce top, and why is that? It's because spruce is expensive, that'd why.
There is no sort of anything to back up any person's claim that a spruce topped guitar is "better," it isn't. There is nothing "better" about a guitar with a spruce top, unless, of course, you application for the music you intend to make with said spruce top guitar includes the tonality associated with such instruments.
Give yourself space, you may be a totally unique musician and your music might require a different sort of tonality from your guitar. Listen, everyone else is playing a spruce topped guitar, be it a Martin, a Gibson, a Taylor, a Breedlove, a Takamine, a Yamaha, or any of the other thousand and one brand guitars out there.

The Taylor Swift Baby Taylor Guitar.

Taylor Swift - Hot Chick With A Taylor Guitar.

Now I know exactly who Taylor Swift is - she's a hot chick that I always see pictures of on the web, and she's typically holding a Taylor guitar. I've no idea if she can sing well, or at all, or what, I'm just not a fan of much of what passes as contemporary mainstream music. What I do know is that Taylor Swift always plays Taylor guitars, and I also know that Taylor brand acoustic guitars are superb instruments in every way.
I've not met Bob Taylor, but I've stood within a few feet of the guy as he talked about Taylor Guitars. Taylor Swift would have young at that point in time. I like her better now, as she looks for all the world like my future ex wife. Ba da bing, Ba Dumb CHING! Yadda Yadda Yadda.
Anyway, as it happens this Taylor Swift chick has her own model of Baby Taylor guitar, and that is what we will be discussing here, the guitar, Taylor Swift, not so much.

The Taylor Swift Baby Taylor Guitar.

The Baby Taylor, and I assure you that it's not just a kid's guitar!
The Baby Taylor, and I assure you that it's not just a kid's guitar!

The Baby Taylor Guitar.

Before we can properly discuss the Taylor Swift Baby Taylor guitar, we must first recognize what a Baby Taylor guitar is, and it's not a guitar for babies, but it would, in fact, make an excellent guitar for a very small person seeking to learn to play such an instrument. The utility of the Baby Taylor, however, was probably not designed with children in mind, but rather, the adult who is travelling, camping, hiking, etc, and needs a full scale instrument with which to practice, or to play with for pleasure, and the Baby Taylor certainly delivers on that bit of functionality.
"I used to sit in the back seat of the rental car while I was on my radio tour at 16, writing songs on my Baby Taylor guitar, I love the sound, and I love those memories." Taylor Swift
From the above quote you should get the idea. One doesn't typically play a full sized guitar in the back of a car, most cars just aren't that big these days. The Baby Taylor is most certainly a great little instrument to play for practice if you are in transit, or running from the law, off grid with the unabomber,do you get the idea? Though I am personally acquainted with the Baby Taylor guitar and do prefer it for small backpacking or travel guitars, there are many other models to choose from and I've got a nice link with descriptions of the best of them for youhere.
The Baby Taylor is truly a wonderful guitar, and despite it's diminutive size, it puts out a lot of sound, and is a better guitar than a lot of full sized guitars that cost more than it does. What makes if better?? Well, being built by Taylor Guitars is one thing, but the real thing to know here is that the Baby Taylor guitar has a solid spruce top. The sides and back of this guitar are laminated Sapele, a cousin of mahogany, and the guitar is set up flawlessly from the factory, as all Taylor guitars are. The major differences of the Taylor Swift model are cosmetics.
Standard features of all Baby Taylor Guitars are as follows:
  • Solid Sitka spruce top
  • 3/4 scale
  • Sapele arched back and sides
  • Ebony fretboard and bridge
  • Lexan headstock veneer
  • Laser-etched rosette
  • Enclosed die-cast tuners
  • 22-3/4" scale
  • 1-11/16" nut width

A Child and the Taylor Swift Baby Taylor Guitar!

The Baby Taylor guitar is excellent for children, but it is not "just" a child's guitar!
The Baby Taylor guitar is excellent for children, but it is not "just" a child's guitar!

The Baby Taylor - Nice Little Guitar!

Taylor Swift With A Taylor Guitar.

The Martin PS2 Paul Simon Signature Guitar


Now Paul Simon has been around for a very long time now, and we hope that he'll be around for a while to come too. Very few have ever graced the planet with the triple attack of talent that Paul Simon has, singing, song writing, and absolutely superb guitar playing.
That's right - Paul Simon is a top notch guitarist. It's okay if you didn't realize that, you were probably busy singing along to the million and one great Paul Simon tunes out there, be they with or without sometimes singing partner Art Garfunkel, but no matter - Paul Simon plays the guitar very very well in a number of styles and capacities. He's not someone like an Elvis, Johnny Cash, or even aJohn Lennon - Paul Simon really PLAYS the guitar well, he doesn't just sing and strum rhythm along with his singing.Paul Simon is a legend, and so he always plays a Martin acoustic guitar. C.F. Martin & Co. knows a good thing like Simon when they see and hear it, and so they've got more than one Paul Simon signature model guitar available.
This article will be looking at the second of the Martin Paul Simon signature series guitars.



The Martin PS2 acoustic guitar is very similar in many ways to a Martin 000-28 guitar, but there are a number of noteworthy differences. First, however, we should examine the basics of this fine instrument, and of course, it is an all solid wood instrument of the highest order, just like you would expect Paul Simon to play, and just as you would expect from C.F. Martin & Co.
The 000 body size of this guitar is smaller than a dreadnought, and is often preferred by persons that do a lot of fingerstyle playing like Paul Simon does, but the guitar would also work very well for playing leads with a pick, as it is very similar to theEric Clapton model guitar by Martin that Eric does just that with. Paul Simon, of course, does more than just fingerpick, he is also a very aggressive and accomplished rhythm guitarist, and the East Indian rosewood back and sides of this instrument are often the tonewood of choice for discriminating rhythm guitarists. No surprise that Paul Simon would prefer a rosewood and spruce guitar.
The PS2 is a fourteen frets clear of the body instrument as is most often considered "standard" for steel string acoustic guitars, and this instrument comes from the factory already set up for performance with a bone nut and saddle, so anyone wanting to use this guitar for playing melodies with a pick would be pleasantly surprised to find that its volume has already been set up for maximum clarity.Now the Paul Simon Martin PS2 guitar is built with some non traditional Martin techniques that one needs to be aware of, these techniques are cost cutting techniques that do not take away from the guitars beauty, or sound, but rather make these guitars available at more reasonable prices.The major differences on the insides of a guitar like the PS2 and the 000-28 that it was modeled after are those of the Martin "16" series instruments. .Browsing some acoustic guitar forums I found this guitar described as a more fancy model of the 000--28, but I found that description far to simplistic, so I hope to describe some of the major differences here below
:Is the guitar X braced?
Yes it is, it is hybrid X braced, Martin is calling these braces a "0001 hybrid" bracing pattern now. It is a time saving technique that is a mixture of modern and traditional Martin guitar building.
What about the neck Joint?
Again, the Martin PS2 features sixteen series guitar building techniques, so the neck joint of the Martin PS2 guitar is that of the Mortise/Tenon style - which takes a lot less time to make, allowing Martin to sell this guitar more reasonably to you. The guitar comes with the same limited lifetime warranty to the original owner that the most expensive Martin instruments also have.The Martin 000-28 features the classic Martin building techniques of the full high X scalloped bracing and the mahogany block dovetail neck joint, the Martin PS2 cut costs on those two construction factors, but upped the "beauty quotient" by including additional custom abalone inlay including the globe inlay on the head stock, the "45 style" abalone inlay on the rosette, and of course, the Paul Simon signature inlay on the twentieth fret.If you wish to peruse the complete set of building specification differences between this guitar and the 000-28, then I'll provide for you the links with which you can do this.
The complete and official Martin PS2 specifications may be viewed here and the complete and official specifications for the more traditional Martin 000-28 can be viewed here.One major deviation between sixteen series instruments and the Martin PS2 Paul Simon guitar is that the PS2 features upscale gloss finish front and back, rather than just on the top as sixteen series guitars do, and this is only fitting for a guitar within this price range. Satin finish on the back of a guitar isn't no poor thing, but of course the gloss finish is preferable, and an artist as talented and accomplished as Paul Simon ought not to have second best of anything on a guitar with his very name on it. The second major deviation from certain sixteen series Martin instruments and this guitar is that this one features solid ebony as the wood used for the fingerboard or fret board and the bridge, and again, this is a guitar with the name of one of America's finest musician's attached to it in the abalone inlay that is so dangerous to the luthier to cut and install. Altogether a top tier instrument for anyone interested, and this guitar would make for a fine heirloom, an altogether professional instrument that can be used for any type of musical application - just as the man it was named after can and does play any kind of music he so chooses.

Paul Simon, Willie Nelson, And Martin Guitars.

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