The Martin Dreadnought Guitar History
Hello! Hello! Mike here again with an addition of Acoustic Snapshot and today I’d like to offer you The Nickel Tour the history of the Martin Dreadnought guitar the wonderful Martin Dreadnought guitar that has become silly universal used and popularized by Country Artists in the 1930’s and then Folk Artists, Blue Grass Artists and then later by Contemporary Artists such as Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young you know brought the dreadnought to the core front of guitar playing larger scaling. But the dreadnought has a better long story history and it was sort of a little bit shaky getting off the ground in 1916 The Oliver Ditson music company which had music stores in New York in Boston Commission Martin built them a line of guitars and one of which is the Ditson 3; which was a wide wasted large guitar that had a 12 frets clear at the body. So it’s what you call now Slope Shoulder Dreadnought it came the body curve up to this fret right here and it’s a lot of headstock and a spruce top, mahogany back and sides it’s like this full D18 I’ve got here. And it had oddly enough instead of the Martin’s stainless X- bracing which was used in other guitars. It had firm bracing kind of like a Classical guitar and for the first few years that have that and they were actually mark it as a Ditson Hawaiian models.
And after 1921 it went to the standard x- bracing which is better for steel strings and just more Martin style. But anyway these guitars weren’t really terribly popular when they came out. They were quite a bit larger than any would have seen at that time and probably odd looking because most of the guitars of the world with one error was still the partly guitar variety. And which Martin made them on great numbers and other manufacturers too. So when this thing came along it was referred to as a dreadnought because it was reminiscing there was a large ship, a battle ship of that era used up into World War 1 was referred to a s a dreadnought style ship. So, this guitar is kind of we’re given that title because they we re so much larger than anything and anyone you’ve ever seen before. Well, Martin continue to make the guitar for Ditson company up until 1930 and then the last Ditson Models were made in Ditson were Ditson company was sold. And then so, Martin just basically stops building them. In about a year later they still have these designs for the dreadnought and started to cautiously build models; there was one called the D1 and the D2 the D1 there a was other type name because they wasn’t sure if they gonna be able to sell this things because they weren’t terribly popular 14 or 15 years have been made before. So the D1 was a mahogany guitar of course found into the D18 and the D2 was like a style 28 it was on back and sides.
And about 1932 they were selling this in small numbers and it became popular with country artist. Country music was kind of coming into vogue since the 1920’s and artist such as Jimmy Rogers played Martin guitars although his not playing dreadnought. But the first really famous artist to have the Martin dreadnought was Gene Autry the cowboy singer. And at first off he had a D18 slope shoulder mahogany guitar and then he wanted something with a little flash, he wanted something that people would really see from kind of cheap see’s. So the Martin’s was fancy style at the time of style 45. So he ordered a dreadnought and the style with 45 style pearl which is pearl in every border a very tasteful things to control. A lot of it it’s on every surface of the guitar that has an edge with have pearl and it had Jim’s name in the finger board and torch endly on the headstock. And it was a very stunning on the guitar, looking guitar I think Jim paid about $225 for this guitar back in 1933 which is a fortune for a guitar. Anyway so, now with a Martin before I knew they had a D18, a D28, and a D45. And these guitars were becoming pretty popular they started to sell pretty good it was a model that really help ease Martin the depression like I said country artist and cowboy singers, especially like the large bodied guitar. In a lot of volume, in a lot of base and could really cut through and be heard at the back of the hall they were wonderful sounding guitars aside from their size. And so, there are many interesting examples of early Martin dreadnoughts there was one of the country music hall of fame. It was a honored by the country singer Archy it was a D28 only his was a D2.Because they haven’t even started it was still really a prototype and has his name in pearl script archy and that’s basically a D28.
And so, after he started kind of catch on a little bit Martin was building more and more guitars with 14 frets clear at the body instead of 12 just to give access to more of the high registers in the neck. So in 1934 they made the first dreadnought guitar that had 14 frets clear at the body joining here and so it’s just gave a little more trapezoidal shape. And that is the design that is endured until today as the most widely copied acoustic guitar style is the dreadnought shape. It eventually has not change in dimensions I mean there appointment changes, life changes, ornamentation but generally the size is identical today almost 80 years later co’z it was in the early 1930’s. And they really are become the most popular acoustic guitar made up until today, wonderful, incredible Martin dreadnought and like this example 1943 D18. Anyway much more to come on the dreadnought theirs just too much to talk about as far as one little episode and I find it fascinating. And I’ve used them for many, many years and I’ll probably continue to talk about thing co’z they just one of the thing that makes this thing. So, anyway I hope you enjoy this episode and the Martin dreadnought guitar (Strumming the guitar).