Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 11 - Jul. 2001
HD-40MK (Mark Knopfler)
Known for his fluid, twisting electric leads with Dire Straits, his work as a solo artist, and his delicate acoustic precision on several movie soundtracks, Mark Knopfler has consistently dazzled as a guitarist. Now, after more than 25 years of inspired playing, Knopfler’s personal preferences regarding the ideal acoustic guitar have helped create an extraordinary instrument: the Martin HD-40MK Mark Knopfler Signature Edition model.
The HD-40MK Mark Knopfler Signature Edition reflects Knopfler’s individual taste in tonewoods, construction and appointments. This Dreadnought’s solid East Indian rosewood back and sides are matched to a top of rare bookmatched Italian alpine spruce (the same species used by Antonio Stradivari), cherished by luthiers and players alike for impressive dynamics and string-to-string definition. Scalloped 5/16" top X-braces, advanced to one inch from the soundhole in the pre-war style, give the instrument’s rich tone added depth and clarity. Jumbo frets on the black African ebony fingerboard provide plenty of height for runs, hammer-ons, pull-offs and string bending. The soundhole features an eye-catching ring of "pearl diamond" inlays, inspired by a unique rosette style originated by C. F. Martin in the 1840s. The drama of the rosette is matched by the bound and polished East Indian rosewood headstock overlay, inlaid with the "C. F. Martin & Co." script logo in brilliant mother of pearl.
Mark Knopfler’s strong convictions regarding how the Martin model that bears his name should look and sound come naturally—acoustic guitars have been one of his abiding pleasures. A member of countless bands during his teens in the northeast of England, he gravitated to acoustic playing while working as a journalist in Leeds in the late 1960s. During the next six years, he integrated a variety of influences into his playing but found the source for his acoustic and electric voice in the blues.
He graduated from Leeds University in 1973 and headed straight to London to break into the rock scene, but his big break came four years, a couple of bands and a detour through Essex later, when he and three other musicians formed Dire Straits. A five-song demo highlighting Knopfler’s fine playing and songwriting soon netted the band airplay on the BBC, a manager and a recording contract. Released early in 1978, the group’s first single, "Sultans of Swing," became a worldwide hit, and Knopfler never looked back.
Powered by Knopfler’s distinctive guitar, voice and songs, Dire Straits released eight albums in 16 years and scored several hit singles, including "Skateaway," "Walk of Life" and "Money for Nothing." The group also became a huge live act, selling out concert halls and stadiums around the world. As side projects during this period, Knopfler scored the music to five movies, produced Tina Turner’s comeback album and an album by Bob Dylan, returned to his folk roots as a member of The Notting Hillbillies and recorded a duet guitar album with the legendary Chet Atkins.
In the mid-1990s, Knopfler became a solo artist with release of the "Golden Heart" album. His second solo effort, "Sailing to Philadelphia," provided a fresh set of beautifully crafted songs for the tour of the same name that crossed the United States last April and May. To date, Knopfler has sold more than 105 million albums. In addition, paleontologist fans early this year named a new species of dinosaur discovered in Madagascar after him: Masiakasaurus Knopfleri.
The HD-40MK Mark Knopfler Signature Edition may have some traditional touches, but it’s no dinosaur. Vintage toner, fine patterned herringbone purfling, ivoroid binding, a black African ebony belly bridge with white inlaid black bridge pins, and an old style beveled and polished tortoise-colored pickguard on the top enhance the instrument’s classic look.