Used Acoustic Guitars
Martin, C.F.: D-28 1968(Item ID: D-28 1968 Serial#: 238582)
Re-topped D-28 (1968)
We are very pleased to be offering this outstanding ’68 D-28, which was re-topped by Savannah-based luthier, Mark Gresham, in June of 2008. A Brazilian rosewood Martin dreadnought is a highly desirable guitar in the vintage guitar market, as we all know. Of course, whether or not folks are willing to admit it, the vintage market is often driven by factors that are secondary to the performance of the instrument. Subsequently, many great instruments are overlooked by collectors who eschew anything with known modifications and repairs. Yet, as we have posited in previous listings, the best vintage guitars are usually those that have been actively played and exercised; and, while it isn’t unheard of that such a guitar is in super-clean “case queen” condition, it is far more common that a player’s guitar ends up with some bumps and bruises and the concomitant repairs. As a result, players seeking a distinctive and affordable vintage guitar can really get a lot for their money if they are willing to judge the guitar based on its performance.
The D-28 has been in production since 1931 (it was introduced as a 14-fret model in ’34), and those made in the pre-WWII era are without question the most desirable and widely emulated. In the years following the war, Martin altered the design of the D-28 (and other models) in several ways—with the benefit of hindsight, many today do not consider these changes to be improvements. Perhaps most critical in the eyes of players and collectors alike were tonewood transitions, changes to bracing, and bridgeplates material: Martin began using Sitka spruce in lieu of Adirondack spruce by the end of 1944 and began using Indian rosewood instead of Brazilian rosewood in 1970; in 1946, the scalloped top bracing was changed to tapered bracing, which resulted in a more focused voice with less prominent bass response; and, in 1968, Martin began using rosewood for bridgeplates instead of maple, which is largely viewed as a mistake given the less durable nature of rosewood and its tendency to dampen vibration (maple was re-introduced in 1988). It is with these design alterations in mind that D-28 #238582 was retrofitted with an Adirondack top, featuring pre-war scalloped bracing and a maple bridgeplate. As a result, this guitar has a thunderous and broad voice unlike any 60’s D-28 we’ve encountered!
Apart from the replaced top, we note some other significant repairs. Most importantly, the headstock has clearly been cracked, as evidenced by repaired cracks bordering the volute and extending around the headstock joint to the veneer. As the veneer is intact with no signs of a cross-grain break, it is unclear as to whether the headstock was completely broken; but, in light of an obvious glossy overspray on both the face of the headstock and the back, we suspect that the damage may have been severe. Sadly, we do not have any information about the repair as it pre-dates the top replacement done by Mark Gresham. Nevertheless, the headstock repair was well-executed and remains absolutely stable. We also see evidence of a neck heel crack, which presumably occurred during a neck re-set—this crack has likewise been well-repaired. The finish of this D-28 definitely has a patina that would suggest that the finish is original. Yet, under normal lighting there are few points of disparity in the appearance, most notably on the shoulders of the guitar, which have an abruptly more glossy appearance near moving towards the neck joint. Though not an exact test, black lighting this guitar reveals continuity in the appearance of the body finish that might point to a light overspray, in light of a top that was known to be replaced and sprayed at that time. The black light also reveals some otherwise invisible finish fills on the back of the neck that were done here by Jeff Henry. Finally, though ultimately a distant concern, we are probably most puzzled by some fairly deep scratches on this guitar’s very tasteful beveled pickguard. The depth and crisscross nature of scratches leads us to believe that the pickguard was possibly sanded in an ill-advised manner, but we have chosen to leave this alone as efforts to improve it could prove futile.
Repairs aside, this guitar is a truly wonderful instrument! Not only does it sport the rich and responsive quartersawn Brazilian rosewood back and sides that builders only dream of today, but it has a beautifully made top that has arguably improved the guitar’s performance beyond its original capabilities. In the hands of some lucky soul, this unique Martin will no doubt continue to shine for many years to come.
This guitar includes a non-original 500 Series Martin Case
Link to Ted Lehmann’s blog on Mark Gresham:
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