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C. F. Martin Honors The Incomparable Del McCoury With 50th Anniversary Custom Artist Bluegrass Edition

Release Date: 11/18/09
D-18 Del McCoury 50th Anniv

It is hard to believe Del McCoury just celebrated 50 years of playing bluegrass and even harder to believe the man himself is now 70 years old. This legend of traditional bluegrass - with his Del McCoury Band - continues to record and tour almost nonstop, and remains both one of its most popular artists and one whose music transcends the genre.

McCoury was already bluegrass royalty in 2002 when C. F. Martin created the D-28 Del McCoury Limited Edition guitar in his honor - of which a respectable 115 instruments were sold (for more information on the guitar and McCoury's career to that point, see Volume 13 of The Sounding Board at Since then, he has achieved a new level of success with music both timeless and groundbreaking.

In 2003, he delivered It's Just the Night, which won the International Bluegrass Music Association's (IBMA) "Album of the Year" award. He topped that achievement with 2005's The Company We Keep, which won the Grammy Award for "Best Bluegrass Album." The next year McCoury released The Promised Land, his first all-gospel album. The election year of 2008 was marked by Moneyland, an album by Del McCoury Band and Friends with a strong populist message. The five-disc collection Celebrating 50 Years of Del McCoury and the single-disc compilation Del McCoury by Request, both released in 2009, showcase the incredible richness of the music he has created during the past 50 years.

He stayed equally busy outside of the studio. He won the IBMA 2002 "Song of the Year" award for "1952 Vincent Black Lightning," and IBMA "Entertainer of the Year" awards in 2002, 2003 and 2004 (an award he also won in 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 and 2000). He maintained an impressive schedule of concert and festival appearances. In 2008 he launched DelFest, the Del McCoury Music Festival, an annual three-day bluegrass festival on Memorial Day weekend in Cumberland, Maryland that he and his family created to give back to their local community.

Throughout his 50 years in bluegrass music, Del McCoury has always played a Martin guitar. Originally a banjo player, he made the switch to guitar after joining Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys in 1963. Monroe always insisted his guitarists play Bill's own 1939 Martin D-28. Del has been a Martin man ever since. In his own words, "I've tried them all, but none hold up to a Martin". He bought his first Martin, a 1956 D-28, in 1964 and that was just the beginning of his collection. He has several favorites and they all have great stories behind them, but the guitar he chose to record Promised Land, The Company We Keep, 35 re-recorded cuts on 50/50 and the upcoming release Family Circle is his 1947 D-18.

True to its inspiration, the Martin D-18 Del McCoury 50th Anniversary Custom Edition features exceptional premium tonewoods. The Adirondack spruce top and 5/16" scalloped braces are crafted with early '40s era placement, to produce a powerful, balanced tone. Back and sides are genuine mahogany, which imparts midrange "punch" and clarity; the neck, 1 11/16" at the nut and featuring a rounded, full thickness "V" profile and 1930s style heel, is also genuine mahogany.

The body appointments are pure, traditional Style 18: classic Old Style 18 rosette, Style 18 five-element black/white fine line top purfling, Delmar tortoise-brown top, side and back binding, Delmar tortoise-brown endpiece, Style 18 back strip, and classic beveled and polished Delmar tortoise color pickguard. Only time can produce the rich patina of the top on Del's '47, but aging toner gives the D-18 Del McCoury Custom Edition a good start in that direction.

In a concession to 21st century reality, the neck's polished headplate is Madagascar rosewood rather than the similarly beautiful but now endangered Brazilian rosewood, but the Golden Era® C. F. Martin decal and nickel Waverly™ tuners with oval buttons closely replicate the vintage original. The unbound black ebony fingerboard features Old Style 18 abalone pearl position markers and is matched by the black ebony heelcap. The belly bridge likewise is black ebony. Both the vintage-style angled nut and compensated saddle are crafted from genuine bone. Ebony bridge pins and endpin are topped with abalone pearl dot inlays.

To approximate the color of the classic 1940s D-18, the mahogany on the D-18 Del McCoury Custom Edition is stained dark prior to finishing. Martin's flawless polished gloss lacquer finish completes this instrument's classic look.

Delivered in a Geib style hardshell case, each Martin D-18 Del McCoury 50th Anniversary Custom Edition guitar features two interior labels: a Del McCoury 50th Anniversary label and a Custom Edition label personally signed by Del McCoury and numbered in sequence with the edition total. In honor of his 50 years in music, only 50 of the D-18 Del McCoury 50th Anniversary Custom Edition will be produced. Authorized C. F. Martin dealers will take orders (including orders for left-handed instruments at no additional charge) for the D-18 Del McCoury 50th Anniversary Custom Edition until the edition is fully subscribed. The names of participating Martin dealers will then be posted on our Martin website.

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