Celebrating Sing Out!’s 60th Anniversary The 6-String and 12-String Pete Seeger Custom Artist Editions
JSO Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger
J12SO Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger
Since 1950, the mission of Sing Out! has been to preserve and support the cultural diversity and heritage of all traditional and contemporary folk music, and to encourage making folk music a part of our everyday lives. Through good times and tough times, Sing Out! has lived up to that mission, and today – 60 years after the magazine debuted – remains an exciting and dynamic publication, one that champions acoustic music, both old and new.
The Sing Out! 60th Anniversary celebration is already underway, with a year’s worth of activities and events (for more information, visit www.singout.org/60years). Now C. F. Martin & Co. marks the 60th Anniversary of Sing Out! by introducing a pair of Sing Out! 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Edition guitars.
The new Martin JSO! Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Edition (6-string) and J12SO! Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Edition (12-string) are inspired by the iconic folk singer’s personal 12-string, an instrument almost as famous as his long-neck banjo. The first two of these 12-string guitars – with an extra-long scale and distinctive triangular soundhole – were designed and built by Liverpool luthier and engineer G. Stanley Francis, who Seeger met during a concert tour of England in 1959. Both instruments eventually collapsed, unable to withstand the intense string tension and hard use. Beginning in 1973, Connecticut luthier Bruce A. Taylor built the first of several 12-string guitars for Seeger based on Francis’ original design, making modifications and improvements with each succeeding instrument. Bruce Taylor’s generosity in providing information about Seeger’s 12-string guitars has been invaluable in the creation of these Sing Out! 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Editions and C. F. Martin & Co. acknowledges and thanks him, as well as Carl Apter of the SingOut! Board of Directors, for their assistance with the project.
Like their inspiration, the most recent of which Seeger played on his Grammy Award-winning album “At 89” and still uses to lead audience sing-a-longs, the Martin Sing Out! 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Editions are uniquely powerful instruments. Martin’s Grand Jumbo body style – 17” across at the lower bout and 4.75” deep at the endpin – is paired with an extra-long 27.5” baritone scale and a neck with 15 frets to the body, perfect for the C and dropped B flat tunings that Seeger prefers.
The body features premium solid woods throughout. The top is Sitka spruce, reinforced with 5/16” top bracing and graduated scalloped tone bars for rich, sonorous tone. The distinctive triangular soundhole is surrounded by a continuous black/white/black/white/black fine line rosette, while the top is encircled by bold herringbone purfling and grained ivoroid binding. The black ebony Stauffer-style pyramid belly bridge approximates the one on Seeger’s original, as do the two black pickguards; a large one below the treble strings and a smaller one above the bass strings. The ebony bridge pins and endpin are topped with paua pearl dots. The back and sides are East Indian rosewood, with the former bisected by a HD-28 Style Zig-Zag backstrip, and bordered by black/white/black fine line purfling and grained ivoroid binding. The grained ivoroid endpiece likewise is framed with black/white fine line purfling.
The genuine mahogany neck sports an unadorned black ebony fingerboard. By contrast, the polished East Indian rosewood headplate is a work of art, showcasing the familiar gold C. F. Martin & Co. logo above the chrome Grover minituners, a banjo sketch created by Pete Seeger inlaid in mother of pearl between them and a facsimile of Pete Seeger’s signature, also inlaid in mother of pearl, above the nut. Both the nut and compensated saddle are crafted from bone.
There are a few subtle differences in these Sing Out! 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Editions. The 6-string JSO! Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Edition features a low profile neck with 1¾” string spacing at the nut and 2¼” spacing at the 12th fret. The 12-string J12SO! Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Edition features a modified low oval neck with 1 13/16” string spacing at the nut and 2 5/16” spacing at the 12th fret. The JSO! Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Edition is delivered with Martin SP medium gauge phosphor bronze strings, while the J12SO! Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Edition comes with a custom set of 12-string phosphor bronze strings based upon Seeger’s preferred gauges.
Pete Seeger has been an iconic figure in American music for 70 years. As a member of the Almanac Singers in the 1940s, the Weavers in the 1950s and as a solo artist more recently, he sparked a revival of traditional music that continues today. As a songwriter, he wrote “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”, “Turn, Turn, Turn!” and co-wrote – with Lee Hays of the Weavers – “The Hammer Song” (“If I Had a Hammer”). As an artist and activist, he popularized the spiritual “We Shall Overcome,” performed at the 1963 March on Washington, protested against the Vietnam War and spearheaded efforts to eliminate pollution of the Hudson River. As a musician, he wrote How to Play the Five-String Banjo, the instructional manual for three generations of players.
With a number of other artists, including Woody Guthrie, he also helped found Sing Out! Over the years, Sing Out! has struggled, succeeded, moved and evolved, but always with the emphasis on “music as communication.” Today Sing Out! is a quarterly magazine, songbook publisher and syndicator of traditional music radio shows. Pete Seeger’s contributions to Sing Out! range from supplying songs and writing columns to supporting fund-raising efforts, including the two previous C. F. Martin limited edition guitars, the HD-28SO Sing Out! in 1996 and the 00-17SO Sing Out! 50th in 2000.
The Martin JSO! and J12SO! Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Editions showcase polished gloss lacquer finishes, with aging toner on the tops to enhance their vintage style. Both models are delivered in Vintage Series Geib™-style hardshell cases.
Only 120 of these Martin Sing Out! 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Edition guitars (60 years X 2) will be built, with the number of each model determined by the orders received. Each JSO! and J12SO! Sing Out 60th Pete Seeger Custom Artist Edition guitar will bear an interior label personally signed by Pete Seeger and Martin Chairman C. F. Martin IV, and numbered in sequence with notation of the edition’s total. Authorized C. F. Martin & Co. dealers will accept orders until this Custom Artist Edition is fully subscribed, after which individual model totals and a list of participating dealers will be posted on the Martin website, www.martinguitar.com.