This consignment 1935 Martin D-28 (59394) comes to the shop from the estate of a friend who purchased it over 20 years ago from a large upper midwestern electric dealer. The original owner from Iowa had kept his December 1934 catalogue request letter response from CMI’s sales manager, W.G. Strait, who had suggested a new “pear shaped” dreadnaught model that the professional radio musicians were using. The included 1934 catalogue did not yet show the new dreadnaught models. The customer, George Myers, wisely ordered the slightly more expensive rosewood model and spent less on the fiberboard case with felt lining. The D-28 arrived about March of 1935. One of only 81 D-28s that Martin made in 1935, this instrument is certainly one of the first 100 14 fret versions ever made. The power and projection of this guitar is unexpected from a D-28 made so early in the development of the model.
The top is medium to fine grain Adirondack spruce with bold grain lines for a powerful and colorful singing voice. The brick-red Brazilian rosewood back and sides show good grain definition and are moderately dense, with a bright and ringing tap tone. The bass-side area of the back shows the period’s commonly encountered saw marks from Martin’s large circular saw blade that could get out of set occasionally. The original 6:1 Grover G-98 tuners are in fine smooth working order, showing a little wear. The early 1935 neck has the characteristic C.F. Martin stamp on the rear of the headstock. The C.F. Martin decal on the front of the headstock is in good shape. The nut and fingerboard are well made replacements with very nice and perfectly executed period correct inlay work. The current bridge by Dennis Berck is an authentic dimension replacement with pin set by Antique Acoustics.
Top repairs include: Crack repair along bass side of fingerboard with internal reinforcement. A few other bridges, including the most recent with an incorrect 2 1/4″ string spacing, preceded the current correct replacement with 2 5/16″ string spacing. The bridge plate and top braces are original and unaltered, though it is possible that the bridge plate may have been reglued at some point. A case bite from the original fiberboard case is the only top injury. The top was oversprayed in that past.
The back and sides appear to have been completely refinished. There is a 1″ x 1/4″ lacquer repair in the bass-side lower bout of the back that may be a remnant from a 3/4″ hairline crack repair there.
The neck finish was lightly oversprayed in places, more heavily at the heel. Dennis Berck performed some fret work at the nut end of the neck to make the playability more consistent.
This guitar has not been played much in the last few decades. It has a strong and colorful voice now, already showing some more open quality in the lower midrange during the short time that it has been in the shop. The feel of the neck is solid and sure. A very nice playing example with a satisfyingly powerful and complex voice all over the fingerboard. With the original fiberboard case, a black Martin hardshell case, and the 1934 Martin Catalogue and letter from W.G. Strait.
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