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C. F. Martin D-28 Herringbone Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1946)
C. F. Martin D-28 Herringbone Model Flat Top Acoustic Guitar (1946), made in Nazareth, PA, serial # 95281, natural lacquer finish, Brazilian rosewood back and sides, spruce top; mahogany neck with ebony fingerboard, black hard shell case.
Among guitar connoisseurs the word "Herringbone" has a special meaning; it refers not just to the type of wood trim used by C.F. Martin on many of their classic instruments, but one guitar in particular -- the 1934-1947 D-28 Dreadnought, one of the most revered of all classic American guitars. Bluegrass players will play virtually no other instrument than a D-28 of close copy, and the model is one of the mainstays of virtually any acoustic flat-picking or rhythm stylist.
This is a late example of a "bone" from mid-1946, built just as the nation (and the guitar market) were gearing up for a post-war boom period. Despite competitive efforts from Gibson, Martin's D-28 Dreadnought was the best large-body flat-top available anywhere when new and remains a superlative instrument for both wholly acoustic folk or bluegrass and acoustic/electric and honky tonk styles.
This D-28 has the classic later 1940s appointments; Martin's instruments changed quite a bit in this period and 1946 was a transitional year. It features beautiful Brazilian rosewood back and sides with a nice, even, straight grain pattern with just a bit of swirl figure off the center seam. In organized Germanic fashion, Martin preferred very straight-grained woods in the 1950s; the modern fascination with dynamic figuring would have been dismissed at the time as frivolous at the Nazareth factory. The tight and very even-grained spruce top on this guitar also shows Martin's dedication to the finest and most consistent of tone woods; by the end of WWII spruce was in very short supply, yet the company's best guitars still feature exquisite tops.
In the middle of 1944 Martin's craftsmen stopped using the scalloped X-brace pattern on these instruments, reportedly due to the failure rate of tops and bridges in the field with the heavy gauge strings common at the time. This 1946 guitar is still built and braced more lightly than examples from a few years later on. The earlier delicate small pearl diamond-shaped fingerboard inlays had also recently been changed to larger dots, and these instantly identify the guitars of this particular period. The herringbone wood trim is bordered by a layer of ivory celluloid among the top, and the back is triple-bound with a chain pattern backstrip. Other typical features include the long-saddle ebony bridge, tortoise pattern Celluloid pickguard, and pre-war style openback Waverly tuners.
Within less than a year of this guitar being built, the use of the lovely herringbone wood trim came to an end; it had been sourced from Germany, and when the company supply was used up, there was no more to be had. The D-28 continued to be the top of the post-war Martin line, but the top was simply bound in celluloid. The "bones" of this period are superlative guitars, and while often not quite as responsive as their scallop-braced predecessors, they have a huge and slightly more focused tone. This splendid example is a joy to play, and excels at practically any style of picking one cares to attempt!
Overall length is 41 in. (104.1 cm.), 15 3/4 in. (40 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 5 in. (12.7 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25 1/2 in. (648 mm.). Width of nut is 1 11/16 in. (43 mm.).
This D-28 shows some general wear and tear and some typical maintenance work, but has seen no major damage or extensive repairs. There is some fairly heavy pickwear to the top around the fingerboard, soundhole, and pickguard through the finish; many older Dreadnoughts show a similar situation as they were used heavily. Amazingly there are NO cracks anywhere, even in the typical places like behind the bridge and around the pickguard. The bridge is original but has been reglued once or twice and lowered just a bit probably long ago. Since then the guitar has had a very cleanly done neck-set and refret so it is ready to go.
The body is unaltered internally and the top, back, and side finish is all original with no overspray; the neck appears to have been finished over in lacquer some time back, and that now has worn down nicely and blends easily with the rest. The only other alteration is a strap button in the treble side of the heel. This is a really great-playing and sounding D-28, a wonderful guitar for any style of play combining sweetness, power, and response like few others can. While countless attempts have been made to re-capture the magic of these old Brazilian D-28s, this one just lets it flow from the first note. A super friendly guitar, ready to go. Includes a modern HSC. Overall Excellent - Condition.
Item # 7919
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