Skip to navigation

Honor the Legendary Clarence White

Release Date: 07/19/02
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 13 - Jul.. 2002
D-28CWB (Clarence White)

Spectacular bluegrass picking, fiery country/rock leads, and hot acoustic licks made Clarence White a legend before his untimely death in 1973 at age 29. Some 25 years after his passing, White's brilliance with a flatpick continues to awe, influence and motivate a new generation of guitar players.

In 2001, Martin honored Clarence White with the D-18CW Commemorative Edition, inspired by the 1950s D-18 that he used on many of his best-known acoustic recordings. A total of 292 D-18CW guitars were built, among the largest total for any Martin limited edition. Martin is pleased to honor Clarence White again with two new Commemorative Edition guitars: the D-28CWB and the D-28CW. Both instruments are based on White's famous 1935 Martin D-28, an instrument whose history and unusual features have made it famous.

Just 81 D-28s were built by Martin in 1935 and White's guitar had already received one modification before his family purchased it for the then-teenage Clarence in 1959. Apparently wood around the soundhole had been badly chipped from heavy picking, and someone simply cut away the damaged area and additional wood all the way around, resulting in an oversized soundhole. The fingerboard also had been cut into, and the White family replaced it, allowing the repair shop to use a bound fingerboard without position markers from another brand of guitar to save money. White used this D-28 primarily as a rhythm instrument during his years with the Kentucky Colonels - the influential bluegrass group he founded with his brother Roland - and sold it in 1966, but it remains the acoustic guitar most closely associated with him.

In 1973, the guitar was purchased by one of White's most talented flatpicking disciples: Tony Rice. In the nearly 30 years since, Rice has showcased his picking mastery - both lead and rhythm - on everything from bluegrass to jazz, with White's old D-28 serving as his primary instrument on stage and in the studio until relatively recently.

The new Martin D-28CWB and D-28CW Clarence White Commemorative Editions blend premium tonewoods, Golden Era® construction, and the original's distinctive appointments. The resulting instruments capture the clarity, power and balanced timbre White found advantageous in his guitar.

Both the D-28CWB and D-28CW feature bookmatched tops crafted from rare solid Adirondack spruce, prized by luthiers for its clear, powerful tone. The hand-scalloped top braces are also Adirondack spruce, including the 5/16-inch Xbraces, forward shifted for full, deep resonance. On the D-28CWB, rare pre-CITES-certified solid, bookmatched Brazilian rosewood has been selected for the back, sides and matching headstock overlay, while on the D-28CW, these components are made from East Indian rosewood. The 1 11/16" (at the nut) modified V-shaped neck, with solid, squared headstock and vintage-style elongated diamond volute, is carved from genuine mahogany. True to the White's D-28, the D-28CW and D-28CWB feature an oversized soundhole and Style 28 rosette without the innermost inlay ring. Likewise, the top and back are encompassed by traditional Style 28 appointments: fine pattern herringbone purfling and grained ivoroid binding around the top, black/white wood fiber purfling and grained ivoroid binding around the back, and a zig-zag back inlay strip separating the wood that comprises the back. The heelcap and endpiece also are grained ivoroid; the latter framed by black/white wood fiber inlays. A special replica tortoise pattern beveled and polished pickguard completes the body appointments.

The old style C.F. Martin decal on the polished headstock enhances the traditional aura of these instruments, as do the nickel Waverly™ tuners with butterbean knobs. The distinctive black ebony fretboard emulates the one on White's guitar; bound in mitered grained ivoroid and without position markers, it extends slightly below the top edge of the soundhole. The matching black ebony bridge has a through saddle, and both saddle and nut are crafted from genuine bone for optimal tone. Both the D-28CWB and D-28CW have aging toner-tinted tops, hand- D-28CWB polished gloss lacquer finish on the bodies and satin finish on the necks for a true vintage appearance. A deluxe Geib™-st yle hardshell case is included with each guitar.

Each Martin D-28CWB and D-28CW Commemorative Edition guitar will bear an interior label personally signed by Clarence White's daughter, Michelle White Bledsoe, and Martin Chairman and CEO C.F. Martin IV. The D-28CWB will be numbered in sequence with the edition total. The D-28CW will be sequentially numbered without an edition total. A deluxe Geib™-style hardshell case is included with each guitar.

Due to the rarity of Brazilian rosewood, only 150 D-28CWB Clarence White Commemorative Edition guitars are being produced. The D-28CW will be added to Martin's Special Edition list without stipulation for the edition size. Orders for the D-28CWB will be accepted until the edition total is reached, while orders for the D-28CW Clarence White Commemorative Edition will remain open. After September 18, 2002, the names of participating dealers for the Clarence White D-28CWB Commemorative Edition will be posted on the Martin website at

Note: The Volume 10 January 2001 Sounding Board (available online at details the previous D-18CW Clarence White Signature Edition's appointments and provides an overview of White's career.

Back to top

Email to Friend