Chapter 5: The tumultuous Mid-`60s
After the introduction of the D–35, Martin was faced with a dwindling supply of Brazilian rosewood and a quickly growing guitar market – folk music was booming. The newly imported Indian rosewood required more seasoning before it could be used. Consequently, Martin began cutting their remaining Brazilian rosewood logs differently to obtain more usable wood out of each log. By late 1969, the change to Indian rosewood was complete, with D–21 #254498 having the distinction of being the first official Indian rosewood guitar.
The changes didn’t stop there. Other familiar features disappeared as well. In 1967 the tortoiseshell–colored, nitrate–base plastic, which was used as body binding on D–18s, D–21s, and for pickguards on all Dreadnoughts, was replaced with a black, acetate–base plastic that was a considerably more stable material to use and store. The familiar ivory–colored (ivoroid) binding on D–28s and D–35s similarly was replaced with a newer, more stable material called Boltaron®.
Another change (albeit inadvertent) was the rounding of the top edges of the mid–’60s Martin pegheads. According to Longworth, who heard the story directly from C. F. Martin III, the original wood peghead template had become so worn from use that the square corners became rounded. Eventually a new metal template was made, and the peghead edges once again were square.
A more serious change occurred on April 9, 1968. On that date the Martin Company began using rosewood instead of maple for the bridge plate, the small piece of reinforcing wood glued to the inside surface of the top, directly under the bridge. Martin also enlarged the bridge plate.
As in the case of heavier braces two decades earlier, the problem of structural stability had been raised. To Martin, a larger, heavier bridge plate seemed to be the answer. If one had to point to a single, indisputable, qualifiable difference between Martin guitars made before and after this period, it would not be in the types of rosewood used in the bodies, the color of the plastics, the shape of the peghead, or any number of other visible components, but rather a seemingly innocuous piece of wood inside the guitar.
It is interesting to note that during the mid–1980s, Martin began to restore many of the vintage "pre–war" features to its entire line, including scalloped braces and smaller maple bridgeplates.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Dreadnought Story
Chapter 2: From the Beginning
Chapter 3: The First D-45
Chapter 4: Mid-`40s to the Mid-`60s
Chapter 5: The Tumultuous Mid-`60s
Chapter 6: The Big Guitar Boom
Chapter 7: Other Models
Chapter 8: Approaching 2000 & Beyond