Jethro Tull? Ian Anderson Inspires Innovative Martin Signature Edition
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 16 - Jan. 2004
0-28 Ian Anderson
Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson has been bending musical boundaries for 35 years. His eclectic mix of hard rock drive, folk melodies, blues edge and impressionistic lyrics has spawned eleven gold and five platinum albums, a solid solo career and an enduring place in popular music. Among the first to bring the flute to rock and roll, he also has championed smallbodied acoustic guitars for decades, playing them both on records and in concert.
Anderson purchased his first small-bodied Martin guitar (an 0-16NY) in 1972 and since has accumulated a collection of more than 20 Martins. Anderson’s appreciation of his original Martin’s ability to sound great with nylon or steel strings remains strong, so much so that he asked the company to come up with something similar for his signature guitar. C. F. Martin has gone one better by creating the 0-28 Ian Anderson Signature Edition, a guitar specifically designed to handle nylon or steel strings with equal aplomb.
To facilitate this magic, Martin designed an innovative new bridge for the 0-28 Ian Anderson Signature Edition. The ebony pyramid bridge features a unique triangular saddle slot that allows the player to put in either a straight white Micarta® saddle with nylon strings or an offset black Micarta® saddle with steel strings, thus enabling the instrument to play in tune up and down the neck with either type strings.
The 0-28 Ian Anderson Signature Edition combines this innovative bridge with Martin’s historic “0” 12-fret design, only the second time Martin has offered it in a decade (the first was the 0-45 Joan Baez Signature Edition in 1998). Famous for its clear and surprisingly powerful voice, this legendary design is a favorite of collectors and recently has seen renewed popularity among players and luthiers.
Ian Anderson built his musical career on just such intriguing juxtapositions. Born in Scotland and raised in England, he played in a series of blues bands while still a teenager. In late 1967, he and three fellow musicians formed Jethro Tull, borrowing the name from an 18th century inventor. The group cut its first single the next year and landed a steady gig at the famed Marquee Club in London. In 1969 Jethro Tull – with a couple of personnel changes – signed a record contract, Anderson became the group’s creative center, and its music evolved into cutting edge rock and roll. The single “Living in the Past” became a hit record in England that summer and Jethro Tull was on its way.
For the next several years, Tull produced hit after hit, including albums “Benefit,” “Aqualung” and “Thick as a Brick,” and singles “Aqualung” and “Bungle in the Jungle.” Late in the 1970s, influenced by groups like Steeleye Span, Anderson’s compositions for Jethro Tull took on a softer, more tuneful style, but the music remained both dynamic and spellbinding.
In the 1980s, Tull suffered through difficult times – health problems, line-up changes and slow album sales – before redeeming itself with its 1987 album “Crest of a Knave,” a Grammy Awardwinning return to the hard-edged sound of old. The 1990s and the new millenium have brought fewer albums, but Jethro Tull remains a major concert draw worldwide. The recent “Living with the Past” live album and “Jethro Tull Christmas Album” show the group’s musical power and prowess undiminished by time.
Over the years, Ian Anderson also has made four solo albums. The most recent, “Rupi’s Dance,” released in 2003, is a spare, melodic and personal record that ranks with his very best recorded work. In keeping with his personal style, Anderson has kept the tonewoods and appointments on the 0-28 Ian Anderson Signature Edition guitar true to tradition, but with a couple of unique touches. The premium solid tonewoods include backs and sides of bookmatched East Indian rosewood, a neck of genuine mahogany and rare Adirondack spruce for the top. The top is supported by 1/4” scalloped Adirondack spruce braces for rich, full tone, but it does not have a pickguard. Fine pattern herringbone purfling encircles the top, while the back features black/white wood fiber purfling and HD-28 style zigzag backstrip. Both top and back are bound in grained ivoroid.
By contrast, the rosette features a spectacular new inlay pattern: white Mother of Pearl triangle inlays form a star pattern against a black background, bordered by two sets of black/white/black/white/black wood fiber line purfling. The neck is something new, but also something very old: a generous 1 7/8" at the nut. The neck’s modern modified V-shape and adjustable truss rod are combined with the tapered headstock, squared slots, pointed heel and elongated diamond volute of early Martins.
Waverly Sloane side mounted open-geared tuners with ivoroid buttons grace the headstock, flanking both the small C.F. Martin decal logo on the East Indian rosewood headplate and the antique C.F. Martin pressure stamp on the back. The African ebony fingerboard showcases Martin’s “long pattern” diamonds and squares inlays plus Ian Anderson’s inlaid signature between the 19th and 20th fret. A bone nut, white bridge and end pins with black dots complete the appointments. Polished gloss lacquer finish protects both body and neck, with vintage toner on the top adding to its “aged” elegance.
In a nod to modern reality, the 0-28 Ian Anderson Signature Edition comes standard with Martin’s Gold Plus Natural I pickup for simplified recording and amplification. The pickup responds with either the nylon string or steel string saddle. Packed in a Geib™ style hardshell case, each 0-28 Ian Anderson Signature Edition guitar bears an interior label personally signed by Ian Anderson and Martin Chairman and CEO C.F. Martin IV and is numbered in sequence with the edition total. Orders for the 0-28 Ian Anderson Signature Edition will be accepted until April 5th, 2004, with the total number of guitars in the edition and the names of participating Martin dealers to be posted on the C.F. Martin web site.