Unique D-35 Celebrates Country Music’s Legendary Texas Troubadour Ernest Tubb
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 15 - Jul. 2003
D-35 Ernest Tubb
The term “legendary” hardly does Ernest Tubb justice. In the history of country music, perhaps no one has had more hits, played more shows or broken more new ground than Ernest Tubb. Now the Martin Guitar Company celebrates this giant of country with a truly unique guitar: the D-35 Ernest Tubb Commemorative Edition.
To his many fans, Ernest Tubb was, is and always will be the Texas Troubadour, and the D-35 edition guitar honors that title with its undeniable stage appeal. In this model, Martin blends rare tonewoods, distinctive construction, Lone Star State appointments and advanced electronics for a guitar that sounds great and looks even better.
For exceptionally clear, full tone, the Ernest Tubb Commemorative Edition guitar combines a top of rare Italian alpine spruce – highly prized for unrivaled beauty and dynamic range - with unscalloped 1/4” Sitka spruce top braces. Adding to this guitar’s ringing resonance, the three-piece back features a center wedge of rare, pre-CITES certified Brazilian rosewood, flanked by Indian rosewood wings and encompassed by bookmatched Indian rosewood sides. The body’s premium solid tonewoods are complemented by a solid mahogany low profile neck with a diamond volute and a Brazilian rosewood headplate.
Tubb’s Texas roots shine in this model’s ornamentation. Distinctive brown/white wood half-herringbone “rope” purfling and tortoise-colored binding border the top, with white/black purfling and tortoise binding gracing the back. The famous “C. F. Martin” decal on the headplate is positioned above a unique longhorn cattle skull inlay in bone and mother of pearl. The black African ebony fingerboard – 1 11/16” wide at the nut - features unique select green pearl Style 42 inlays, but with a silhouette of Texas at the 5th fret and a Texas “Lone Star” at the 9th fret. Ernest Tubb’s signature is inlaid between the 18th and 20th frets in mother of pearl.
The green of the fingerboard inlays is matched by green mosaic back strips. The headstock, neck and back are accented with tortoise-color binding and mitered white/black inlay, matched by similar accents at the end piece and heelcap. Tortoise-color inlays top the white bridge pins. Vintage toner on the top contributes to the instrument’s classic look, enhanced by a polished and beveled tortoise-color pickguard, Style 45 rosette with blue Paua shell inlay, gold Waverly tuners with butterbean knobs, Martin stamp on the back of the headstock and a polished gloss lacquer finish.
From the moment Texas native Ernest Tubb first heard Jimmie Rodgers in the 1920s, all he ever wanted to do was sing like him. He learned to play guitar as a teenager and got a job singing on a morning radio show in San Antonio soon after. Following Rodgers’ death, Tubb contacted his idol’s widow. Carrie Rodgers was so impressed with his talent that she arranged his first recording session in 1936 and also loaned him Rodgers’ custom 000-45 Martin, an instrument Tubb would use for nearly 40 years.
Tubb struggled through the remainder of the 1930s perfecting his honky-tonk style of country, but finally hit the big time in 1941 with the release of “Walking the Floor Over You.” He soon moved to Nashville and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. In 1944, he had his first #1 country hit, “Soldier’s Last Letter,” and began fronting his own band, the Texas Troubadours. In 1947, he opened his famed Ernest Tubb Record Shop and started the Midnight Jamboree radio show, which became a showcase for rising country artists. He also headlined the first country music show at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
By the end of the 1940s, Tubb was one of country’s hottest artists, charting more than a dozen top-ten country hits in both 1948 and 1949, and hitting #1 with “Rainbow at Midnight,” “It’s Been So Long, Darling,” “Blue Christmas” and “Slippin’ Around.” Despite poor health, he recorded and toured incessantly throughout the 1950s, even touring Korea during the war to play for the troops. The hits slowed in the 1960s and 1970s, but he continued to tour and host Midnight Jamboree, now on television. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as its sixth member in 1965. Ernest Tubb retired in 1982 and passed away in 1984.
True to its stage heritage, the D-35 Ernest Tubb Commemorative Edition guitar comes with factory installed Gold Natural II electronics. A special leatherette-covered Geib™ style hardshell case also is included. A 1935 Sunburst top may be ordered for an additional charge.
Only 90 D-35 Ernest Tubb Commemorative Edition guitars will be built, marking the 90th anniversary of Tubb’s birth. Each guitar will bear a special interior label signed by Ernest Tubb’s nephew and songwriting collaborator Talmadge Tubb, and Martin Chairman C. F. Martin IV. In addition, each guitar will be numbered in sequence with the edition total. Martin dealers may order this model until the edition is sold out, after which the names of participating Martin dealers will be posted Martin’s website at www.martinguitar.com.