6/07/2017

1973 Martin D-35 Dreadnought Guitar





The D-35 has always been a popular model, but this is perhaps the most respectable '70s one I've come across so far. It has a full, warm, bass with a good punch in the upper-mids and treble that some of these can lack. It also looks sublime in the way its owner has let it "wear-in," though it only has a couple of old (repaired) hairline cracks on its rear for all the miles it's apparently covered.

Work for the customer was simply enough to keep it in spec playability-wise and structurally sound. It got a fret level/dress (the frets were leveled somewhat but not dressed at all in the past), a few cleats on the top center seam below the bridge, a bridge reglue, slight bridge shave (to add to the already-shaved top of the bridge), string ramping, a bunch of binding reglue jobs, some new ebony bridge pins, a new pickguard, and a setup. It's playing on-the-dot, has a straight neck, and is strung with 12s. Before it leaves it will also be getting a K&K pickup install.


I love the buttery-orange look of this box and the white section of binding where the player's arm has worn the finish off.


While the guitar is mostly original, the nut and saddle are replacements -- synthetic for the nut and bone for hte saddle.


Like all D-35s, the specs are very similar to a D-28 save a bit of extra bling at the top/back binding and the 3-panel back. The neck is mahogany, has a medium, soft-V shape, and is topped by a 14" radius, ebony board. The nut is standard 1 11/16" and the whole thing feels quite substantial -- but not bulky.



The guitar came without a pickguard on it and I wasn't sure if the owner really wanted a replacement. So -- I sealed the top where the old pickguard was gone and then cut and installed this new, stick-on one in its place. I think it cleans-up the look and gives it a more retro vibe than the original black would have had. As a bonus -- it easily comes off, though it's quite thin and light on the top anyway. I "pre-age" these when I install them on an old guitar and try to simulate a little pickwear and use.


Note how far-off the bridge was glued in the first place vs. proper intonation. I reprofiled this bridge a bit, polished it up, and then reglued it in the proper place. The pinholes were filled first, of course.


There's not much saddle left (1/16" +/- a bit), but it's enough for seasonal adjustments. As soon as this guitar was tuned to pitch the belly came up a bit -- which is odd for a '70s Martin! Usually these are pretty stiff but this one is a little lighter on the bracing. It does have that giant rosewood bridge plate, though.


The multi-ply binding on these is always "fun" to reglue.



Pretty, right? The look doesn't get old.











Here's where a jack for the new K&K pickup will go. Now I just have to wait on it in the mail...

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