The Avett Brothers
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 23 - July 2007
00-21 Kingston Trio
Has it really been 50 years since The Kingston Trio changed everything about popular music – and the entire acoustic guitar industry along with it?
C. F. Martin was nearly 125 years old when The Kingston Trio was formed in Palo Alto, California in 1957. And while Martin had long been the favorite guitar of country and folk performers such as Jimmie Rodgers, Gene Autry, Hank Williams, The Weavers, Josh White, Big Bill Broonzy and legions more, it was the rise of The Kingston Trio that really established Martin as “America’s Guitar,” the premier steel-string acoustic guitar.
You see, The Kingston Trio wasn’t just a musical group. It was a phenomenon, as influential in its time as The Beatles would become in theirs. They were three young guys just out of college, wearing striped shirts, singing simple folk tunes in three-part harmony, playing acoustic guitars and banjos. They made it look easy, as if anybody could do it. And before long everybody was doing it, imitating The Kingston Trio note-for-note, including playing Martin guitars and Vega banjos.
Because the Trio was fiercely loyal to Martin and played virtually no other brand of guitar, every Kingston Trio album cover was a de facto advertisement for Martin guitars. Soon the Company found itself overwhelmed by demand. At one point, Martin was three years behind in backorders, a situation which forced a move out of the old North Street building into a new and bigger plant at the present Sycamore Street address.
While most images of The Kingston Trio show Bob Shane with a D-28, Nick Reynolds with 1929 2-18 tenor (and later, an 0-18T), and Dave Guard with a Pete Seeger long neck Vega, Guard was also frequently seen playing a 00-21 Martin guitar in the group.
This mix of Dreadnought, tenor and 00-21 kept The Kingston Trio’s instrumental sound interesting – and distinct. Essentially, they were all playing the same consonant chords, just in different positions up and down the neck. The fingerpicked 00-21, in particular, fit nicely between the open chord strumming of Shane’s loud and bassy D-28 and Reynold’s higher pitched tenor (usually capoed at the 5th, 7th or 9th fret). All were EQed differently which gave separation to melody and rhythm. It was also very practical.
“That 00-21 was the only way I could be heard over Shane’s D-28; it punched right through,“ says John Stewart who later replaced Guard in the Trio and also played a 00-21. “Great little guitar and really good for recording. I used it on ‘Where Have All The Flowers Gone,’ ‘Wherever We May Go,’ ‘Chilly Winds,’ ‘Take Her Out of Pity,’ and a whole bunch of stuff.”
According to Gretchen Guard, Dave’s wife, Dave especially liked smaller Martins. His first guitar, bought back in Honolulu in the ‘40s, was a mahogany bodied Martin 0-15. Both Gretchen Guard and Bob Shane remember Dave playing the 00-21 that he used in the Trio in Hawaii as well. Today, nobody knows where that 00-21 is, but it is well documented in photos and in the recently released Kingston Trio documentary, “Wherever We May Go.”
In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of The Kingston Trio and in collaboration with Kingston Trio leader Bob Shane, Martin is proud to present a very special limited edition Kingston Trio 00-21 in memory of Dave Guard.
Although Dave left The Kingston Trio in 1961, his influence as an arranger, vocalist, musicologist and instrumentalist continued long afterward. Soon after departing the Trio, he and his family moved to Australia where he had his own nationally televised TV program for several years, “Dave’s Place.” He later returned to California, continued to write, play and teach music, as well as author several books on mythology and his own ”Color Guitar” instruction method. He passed away in 1991 after a long battle with lymphatic cancer. Today, 50 years after the founding of the Trio, many Kingston Trio aficionados still consider the Guard era recordings to be among the group’s very best work.
In creating the 00-21 Kingston Trio model, Martin has gone back to the early 00-21 patterns to closely replicate Dave Guard’s guitar, but with a few important variations for improved tone and playability.
The back and sides are crafted of premium East Indian rosewood, carefully bookmatched for beauty and symmetry. The back is joined with the traditional checkerboard backstrip. Highly-prized Italian Alpine spruce is used for the top, X-braced with scalloped 1/4” Sitka spruce braces for increased volume and resonance. A small maple bridgeplate is used per the original specifications.
The distinctive Style 28 rosette with black/white rings also follows the original specs, as does the Style 21 tortoisecolored front and back binding and tortoise-colored endpiece. As a very special “anniversary” touch, the 00-21 Kingston Trio Edition model features an ebony belly bridge with long bone saddle and black bridge pins with white inlay. Saddle and nut are of genuine bone. A vintage st yle tortoise-colored pickguard completes the top appointments.
The 12-fret adjustable modified V-shaped neck, for easy and comfortable play, is crafted from genuine mahogany and features a square-tapered slotted headstock with old style decal logo. Premium Waverly/Sloane side-mounted tuning machines, with engraved plate and ivoroid buttons, ensure precise tuning.
The fingerboard is fashioned from black ebony, another special “anniversary” feature, and measures 1 7/8” at the nut and 2 5/16” at the 12th fret. Vintage-style abalone slotted squares mark the positions of the 5th, 7th and 9th frets.
The instrument is finished in our highest grade polished nitrocellulose lacquer, with aging toner added to the top for an elegant vintage look.
Only 100 of these exquisite 00-21 Kingston Trio instruments will be offered. Each will bear an interior label personally signed by original Kingston Trio member and cofounder Bob Shane and C. F. Martin IV. A second label bears a photo of the Trio during the Guard years, showing Dave with his 00-21 and commemorating his musical life.
Each instrument will be delivered in a Geib “Cabernet” vintage-style hardshell case.