Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 10 - Jan. 2001
D-18CW (Clarence White)
Through his spectacular bluegrass picking with the Kentucky Colonels, fiery country/rock leads with the Byrds, and hot acoustic licks with Muleskinner, Clarence White rewrote the book on flatpicking before his untimely death at age 29. Admired by musicians across the musical spectrum, from Jimi Hendrix to Mark O’Connor, he was truly unique. Now C. F. Martin pays tribute to this legendary guitarist with the D-18CW Clarence White Commemorative Edition model.
While still in his teens, White drew on influences as diverse as Doc Watson, Earl Scruggs, and Django Reinhardt to develop a playing style of lightning runs, syncopated picking and sophisticated rhythms to make the guitar a lead instrument in bluegrass for the first time. The Kentucky Colonels, which he founded with his brother Roland in 1961, showcased his dazzling technique on several albums, most notably the now-classic instrumental album Appalachian Swing!
After the breakup of the Kentucky Colonels in 1967, and while working as a studio musician on both acoustic and electric guitar, White joined the Byrds just as the famed group shifted from folk/rock to country/rock. He played on six Byrds albums and innumerable live shows, remaining until the group disbanded in 1973. Shortly thereafter, a band he created with fellow bluegrassers David Grisman, Peter Rowan, Richard Greene, and Bill Keith for a televised concert became Muleskinner, whose album, A Potpourri of Bluegrass Jam, signaled the beginnings of jazz-inspired progressive bluegrass.
His reuniting with his brothers Roland and Eric to form the New Kentucky Colonels that same year marked a new phase in White’s musical career, but it was to be brief. On July 14th, 1973, he was struck and killed by a drunk driver while loading equipment after a show in Palmdale, California. He left behind a legacy of great playing that continues to influence and challenge flatpickers more than 25 years later.
A bluegrass Dreadnought in the classic tradition, the D-18CW Clarence White Commemorative Edition model draws inspiration from the 1952 Martin D-18 Clarence White used for lead picking in the 1960s (including on Appalachian Swing!), blended with appointments from various instruments he played during his career. The D-18CW features premium solid tonewoods throughout. Rare Appalachian spruce, revered for powerful, clear tone, was selected both for the soundboard and the soundboard bracing, including the 5/16" width scalloped X-braces, forward shifted to 1" from the soundhole. The two-piece back and sides of beautiful genuine rare quilted mahogany contribute outstanding projection.
Crafted from genuine mahogany, the modified V-shaped neck showcases a polished East Indian rosewood overlay on the squared and tapered headstock, an elegant backdrop for Martin’s "old style" gold decal logo. Waverly W-16 nickel tuners with butterbean knobs add to the D-18CW’s vintage look, as does the wide (1 3/4" at the nut) black African ebony fingerboard and matching ebony "through-saddle" bridge. In the tradition of another of White’s Martin guitars, no position markers are inlayed on the fingerboard, only Clarence White’s signature between the 19th and 20th frets.
Other vintage appointments include polished gloss lacquer finish with aging toner on the top to approximate the look of a 1950s D-18, tortoise-color binding with traditional style 18 black/white purfling, herringbone center strip, "old style" polished and beveled pickguard, and genuine bone nut and saddle. The rosette inlay accents a single ring of colorful "heart" abalone pearl trimmed with vintage Style 45 wood fiber lines. A Geib™ style hardshell case is included with each guitar.
Authorized Martin dealers and distributors will have the opportunity to place orders for the Clarence White Commemorative Edition Guitars for a limited time only, after which the exact edition size plus a listing of participating Martin dealers and distributors will be available from Martin Customer Service and will also be posted on the Martin Website at www.martinguitar.com.