click photos to enlarge
|THE STORY OF THE GUITAR . . .
Danny's guitar is a unique one-of-a-kind Martin. It was the brainchild of Ed Golden and Danny Brown in Martin's custom shop, and was one of ten individual guitars designed and built for Martin's ten top retail stores as special exclusive one-time offerings. The exclusivity part turned out to be a politically difficult maneuver, though, as Martin didn't want to offend certain dealers by offering special favor to certain other dealers, so the guitar never found its way out of Martin's factory.
Luckily, it found its way into Danny's hands one night at a Folk Alliance Conference, during a late night picking party in the room of Martin's artist rep, Chris Thomas. It was love at first strum. The two were a perfect fit for each other.
THE DETAILS OF THE GUITAR . . .
Shape & Size
Technically, the guitar is considered a Martin 00-28S with custom stylings. Deciphered into normal English, that translates to:
The "00" designation refers to the size and shape of the body of the guitar. The 00 body size is smaller than the dreadnought and 000 sizes, especially in the upper bout and waist, where it's considerably more narrow. While extremely warm, balanced and resonant in tone, these smaller-bodied guitars fell out of fashion in the 1930s in favor of larger-bodied guitars, like the dreadnought, as the need to compete voluminously with electrified instruments (and louder bluegrass instruments, like banjos) arose.
The "28" refers to the wood type used for the sides and back. 28s are made of Rosewood. In this case, Indian Rosewood was used, as Brazilian Rosewood is now rare, endangered, and impossible to forest in a sustainable way.
The soundboard tone-wood is Italian Alpine Spruce. Harder and more rigid than typical Sitka Spruce, this wood is largely responsible for very resonant, yet balanced, tonal response of the instrument.
The "S" refers to the fact that the guitar is a 12-Fret guitar, meaning that the neck meets the body at the 12th fret. Again, this was more traditional in the earlier days of guitar building. Most modern acoustics are constructed so that the neck meets the body at the 14th fret, allowing players to reach the higher frets more easily. 12-fret guitars, however, have a "woodier" tone, and a little more body to them . . . qualities that Danny covets.
An interesting esoteric note: Traditionally, 12-fret guitars have what is called a "slotted" headstock (this may be where the "S" notation originated), much like the slotted headstocks used on classical guitars . . . this is thought to allow for a slightly higher string tension and a slightly increased volume to a guitar that has otehrwise sacrificed a little bit of volume for tone. Danny's guitar, however, doesn't have the tradional slotted headstock, instead opting for a beautiful abalone inlay and classic Waverly tuners.
Another interesting and unusual touch on the guitar is the quilted maple binding around the edges of the body, neck, and headstock. Traditionally, these guitars are finished with white or black plastic binding, and sometimes herringbone perfing, just inside the binding. Besides the fact that the Maple is gorgeous and gives a very organic feel to the trim of the guitar, it also excentuates the already warm and wooden qualities of the tone.
The Fit & Finish
The guitar has what Martin calls an "Amberburst" finish on the spruce top. Similar in concept to the more common Sunburst finish, Amberburst has more red in it, and isn't as "burned-in" at the edges, leaving a beautiful subtle vingette effect on the guitar face, with a bright center, and slightly amber-tinted edges.
The trimmings and details are all elegant and subtle, as well, with a dark abalone rosette inlay around the soundhole, and abalone teardrops on the bridge pins, all matching the more elaborate and intricate dark abalone inlay on the headstock.
All in all, it's a gorgeous one-of-a-kind instrument that Martin put a lot of creative art and artisanship into conceiving and constructing, and were kind and generous enough to share it with Danny. It suits his acoustical asthetic and playing style perfectly. And he is most proud and appreciative.
MARTIN GUITARS . . .