Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Johnny Cash and His Martin D-42JC Guitar

Johnny Cash with his Martin D-42JC


Johnny Cash and His Martin Acoustic Guitars

I once read an interview in an acoustic Guitar magazine where the humble yet legendary Johnny Cash told the interviewer it was very kind of him to consider him a guitarist. Some men are humble, some men are Kanye West. Johnny Cash is famous for always having a guitar in hand, and playing it too. He wasn't posing with the thing like a modern country music pop star. He was strumming the chords, but his voice, his persona, his awesomeness were the thing. He played the guitar though, and that's what mattered.

Johnny Cash was obviously a wealthy man, but he was not an extravagant man, he was not a proud man, and he wasn't much ever ostentatious either. Oh so he had some fancy guitars, so what? Anyone who can play a guitar at all, once they have one guitar, they will forever want to have more guitars. Guitars are fine things, they're better than jewelry or tattoos, but addictive in the same sort of way. Fine guitars are all at once works of art in and of themselves which can then be used to make more works of art in the form of music. They're also essential parts to damned good times when one is with his friends or family sitting about playing and or singing.

As one of the defining singers, songwriters, and musicians of American music, it's little wonder Johnny Cash forever endorsed the guitars built in the United States of America. No other nation has ever produced as masterful guitars as has the USA, and all around the world fine American guitars are exported, and these instruments are in demand despite what a petty imbecile of a fascist like Obama has to say or do about it. Yes, despite it all, Gibson guitars will endure the unforgivable insults of a Kenyan bastard, and Johnny Cash has been associated with both Gibson and Martin. Oh he's been associated with the ubiquitous and timeless D-28. the Gibson J-200, the Martin D-35, and also the D-42.

Johnny Cash passed away on September 12, 2003. Hard for me to believe it's been more than ten years since he died, but it has. In 2014 a new album was released, music Johnny had, obviously, previously recorded. It's titled Out Among The Stars, and so Johnny Cash is still relevant as an artist in this year regardless of the fact he would be anyway, we've got new music from him still to enjoy.

The Beautiful Martin D-42JC

Of course the late Johnny Cash was known as the man in black, and so his signature series Martin guitars are black. This is how it's going to be with those guitars. I think they look fabulous, but there is with the black finish the lack of appreciation for the woods used. I trust Martin guitars to be as steadfast with quality work and materials as they've nearly always been; and the prospective buyer, should they be familiar with the sound of comparable D-35's or D-42's, should be able to know they're getting a guitar with the superior cuts of rosewood and spruce as usual, albeit with black finish.

The D-42 is always the same guitar as a D-28, same dimensions, same combinations of rosewood and spruce; but the D-42 is a fancier guitar. This D-42, however, is different in more ways than for it being finished in black. The most obvious thing different is the fret-board positioning markers are not the typical 42' style, they're Johnny Cash style. Unlike any other D-42's Martin ever produced, the D-42JC has a three piece back just like a D-35 does. I had to verify that bit of information in several different places on the web before I finally accepted I wasn't reading articles from persons who were confusing this instrument with the D-35JC.

The end result of this, the D-42JC having a three piece back, some style 42' appointments, but unique fingerboard positioning marker inlays, and Johnny's signature inlay too - is that this instrument is a real hybrid, and totally unique. It's hard to describe this guitar as a D-42. C.F. Martin & Company does describe it just that way.

For contrast, here is what the normal or standard Martin D-42 looks like


The unique inlay signature and sound board positioning markers for the Martin D-42JC

The Martin D-42JC

The Martin D-42 has always been a slightly less expensive version of the D-45. It's just got a tad less abalone inlay on it. This D-42JC is different from any other D-42 and it's different from any other D-45 as well, for it having the three piece back of a D-35. Essentially, this guitar is a D-35JC with more abalone inlay.

There is more to it than that, however, as the D-42JC features a sitka spruce top whereas the D-35JC has an Engelmann Spruce top. Engelmann is more conducive to the finger style player, or the person like Johnny Cash who'd strum chords while singing. This D-42JC, with the sitka top, could easily be used for flatpicking with a heavy pick in the style of someone like Clarence White, or Doc Watson.

Another of the cosmetic upgrades on the D-42JC which the D-35JC doesn't have is the 42 features gold plated Gotoh tuning machines with butter-bean knobs. The top inlay of this instrument is 42' style, of course, but the back purfling is 45' style, the rosette is also 45' style.Johnny Cash was a large man, and so he preferred the full thickness solid mahogany neck on his guitars, and so that's what you get here, a guitar just like Johnny's. This is a dovetail neck joint instrument, vintage style.


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