Martin Recreates David Crosby's 12-String Unique Hybrid Combines 12-fret neck with 14-fret Body
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 27 - Jul. 2009
D12 David Crosby
David Crosby's Martin 12-string guitar ranks among the most famous "modified" Martins ever. Back in the early 1960s, when Crosby first wanted a 12-string guitar, Martin wasn't making them, so he had Jon Lundberg's guitar shop in Berkeley convert his D-18 into a 12-string. Lundberg replaced the neck with a 12-fret, long (25.4-inches) scale Macassar ebony neck and moved the bridge lower on the body of the guitar (the old bridge holes were covered with a special pickguard). He also added a special six-string bridge, with two "ramps" at each bridge hole to space the strings and with the G strings reversed so the notes would resound "correctly" (i.e., trebles first) on his strumming upstrokes.
In the 40-plus years since the guitar was modified, David Crosby has lived a rock & roll life: success with the Byrds and as a solo artist, mega-success with Crosby, Stills & Nash and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, side projects with Graham Nash and CPR (which includes his son James Raymond) and a long tradition of political activism. Through the years he also has faced and overcame an impressive list of personal challenges. He has inspired a signature Martin guitar, 2002's D-18DC David Crosby Signature Edition, of which 250 were made (details on the D-18DC and a synopsis of Crosby's life can be found in Volume 12 of The Sounding Board at www.martinguitar.com) and also joined bandmates Stephen Stills and Graham Nash in developing the Martin CSN Special Edition in tribute to their late manager, Gerry Tolman.
Crosby's unique 12-string has led a life nearly as eventful as its owner. It was stolen while he was staying at a treatment center in Pennsylvania and subsequently sold. A chance discovery by Crosby's wife eventually gave Crosby the name of the purchaser, but that individual refused to even discuss relinquishing the guitar. Years later, Graham Nash quietly took up the quest; he discovered the man's address, and - through a representative who handled negotiations in person - made him an offer he couldn't refuse. The guitar was returned to Crosby during a birthday celebration, to his complete surprise.
Now healthy, sober and fit, his career in recent years has been similarly charmed. In 2004, he and Graham Nash released Crosby Nash, a two disc CD set, to very strong reviews, and the duo toured Europe the following year. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young crossed the United States with the "Freedom of Speech" Tour in 2006, which coincided with the release of Crosby's career-spanning three disc box set Voyage and the publication of his second autobiography, Since Then: How I Survived Everything and Lived to Tell About It. CSNY released Déjà vu Live as both a CD and DVD (as Déjà vu) in 2008. This year's plans include release of Crosby, Stills & Nash Demos, a CD of their earliest work together, Crosby, Stills and Nash's induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame and a CS&N concert tour that will hit the Northeastern United States, England, Ireland, Scotland, Germany, France and Holland.
Though Martin has been building 12-string guitars since the late 1960s, it has never built one like David Crosby's long-scale, 12-fret, square shouldered 12-string - until now. Designed to bear a family resemblance to the D-18DC Signature Edition and built to be tuned a whole step below standard pitch (i.e., D-G-C-F-A-D), the new Martin D-12 David Crosby Special Edition guitar is a unique and impressive instrument.
The D-12 David Crosby Special Edition features premium solid tonewoods throughout. Back and sides of rare quilted mahogany match those of the D-18DC Signature Edition. The Carpathian spruce top combines with unscalloped braces in the standard position for impressive power and richness. The 1 7/8" (at the nut) low profile neck is carved from genuine mahogany and stained black to match the Macassar ebony of the original.
The D-12 David Crosby Special Edition shares many of the simple appointments of its six-string older sibling. The Style 45 rosette features a ring of brilliant blue Paua shell. Tortoise color binding encircles the top, back and sides, and provide a handsome accent to the Style 18 black/white (five layers) fine line top purfling and black/white fine line sides and back purfling. The endpiece and heelcap, also tortoise colored material, are likewise highlighted by black/white fine line inlays. The back is bisected by colorful Style 45 mosaic purfling, bordered on each side by black wood fiber inlay.
The similarity extends to the headstock, which features a polished black ebony headplate, upon which the familiar arched "C.F. Martin & Co." gold foil decal (without "Est. 1833") shelters a small schooner - like the one Crosby has owned for decades - inlaid in mother of pearl. It is equipped with Grover™ mini chrome tuners with ebony buttons.
Per Crosby's request, the African black ebony fingerboard is fretted with jumbo frets. Abalone pearl dot position markers at the 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th and 15th frets lead to David Crosby's signature inlaid between the 16th and 17th frets; the fingerboard terminates in a radius that follows the soundhole arc, resulting in a partial 18th fret.
Like the original, each of the six string holes in the ebony belly bridge is carefully slotted to handle two strings, and the G strings are strung in reverse order. Both the drop-in saddle and nut are crafted from bone. A polished and beveled tortoise color pickguard, and ebony bridge and end pins with pearl dots, complete its classic, elegant style, which is emphasized by the vintage-inspired deep amber hue of the top and Martin's traditional polished gloss lacquer finish.
Delivered in a deluxe Geib™ style hardshell case, each Martin D-12 David Crosby Special Edition guitar bears an interior label personally signed by David Crosby, and is numbered in sequence. Those who order may specify a lefthanded instrument at no extra charge; a 1935 dark sunburst top and factory-installed electronics are extra cost options. Authorized C. F. Martin dealers are accepting orders for the D-12 David Crosby Special Edition immediately.