Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 22 - Jan. 2007
Doobie-42 Tom Johnston
For many, the Doobie Brothers provided the soundtrack for the 1970s. The group’s catchy, rocking, instantly recognizable sound evokes good time memories even for those who weren’t old enough to hear their radio hits – “Listen to the Music,” “Rockin’ Down the Highway,” “Black Water,” “Takin’ It to The Streets,” and “China Grove”. As guitarist, singer and songwriter on most of the Doobie Brothers’ chart-toppers, Tom Johnston had a huge role in the group’s early success and is once again its guiding force. The band has reunited, featuring the core of the original lineup, and is back recording and playing rock and roll as only the Doobie Brothers can.
While primarily an electric guitarist, Johnston has long had an affinity for Martin acoustics. His personal collection includes a 1962 00-18 and a 1975 D-45. The 00-18 has served as a songwriting tool for many classics, most recently “People Gotta Love Again,” from the Doobie’s 2000 CD Sibling Rivalry. This guitar also can be heard on his first two solo albums, Everything You’ve Heard Is True (1979) and Still Feels Good (1981). To celebrate Tom Johnston’s nearly four decades of fine music and to provide inspiration for even more, C. F. Martin is pleased to introduce the Doobie-42 Tom Johnston Limited Edition.
The Martin Doobie-42 Tom Johnston Signature Model is based on the D-42, one of Martin’s most beautiful deluxe Dreadnoughts. Along with handsome Style 42 styling, the Doobie-42 Tom Johnston Model combines fine tonewoods and unique Doobie Brothers-inspired appointments, making it a treat to hear, see and play.
Tom Johnston’s own playing began in his hometown of Visalia, California, where an early interest in the rhythm and blues of Little Richard, Bo Diddley and James Brown inspired him to get his first guitar at age 12. He played a range of styles – from rock, blues, and soul to Mexican wedding music. While attending San Jose State, Tom played acoustic folk blues and traditional flatpicking styles to make money for living expenses and for the “pure pleasure of playing acoustically for hours.” This is where the “chunka chunka” rhythm style found on songs such as "Nobody,” "Listen to the Music," and “Long Train Runnin" were born. He played in several bands, slowly gathering the players that would become the Doobie Brothers.
The Doobie Brothers’ 1971 self-titled debut album went “Teflon” (Johnston’s word) but its second, Toulouse Street, established the group as one of rock’s best. Five “top ten” albums followed, including some of the greatest ”Best of” compilations ever assembled. In 1977, Johnston left the group to recover from a serious medical problem and after recovering, stayed away due to creative differences. Finally, in 1987, he and the Doobie Brothers regrouped for a short tour in support of Vietnam veterans and rediscovered their musical magic. In the years since, the group has recorded a hit single, “The Doctor,” released seven impressive albums and toured regularly, thrilling old fans and garnering new ones.
The Martin Doobie-42 Tom Johnston Limited Edition features a solid Engelmann spruce top reinforced with 5/16" scalloped braces for tone and power, and solid East Indian rosewood back and sides. The low-profile neck is carved from genuine mahogany and measures a comfortable 1-11/16" at the bone nut. The polished headplate is made from East Indian rosewood, while the 25.4” scale length fingerboard and belly bridge are crafted from black ebony. The belly bridge holds a compensated bone saddle and has a string spacing of 2-1/8”, perfect for both strumming and fingerpicking.
The guitar’s top is decorated with pearl herringbone around the perimeter and fingerboard extension, and a Style 45 rosette, also with a center ring of pearl herringbone. On the headplate, replacing the block letter Martin logo normally found on a D-42, is the large “Old Style” Martin gold logo decal above the familiar Doobie Brothers winged insignia, inlaid in mother of pearl and abalone. The gold Waverly tuners with butterbean knobs and Style 45 snowflake position markers are traditional, but nestled at the 12th fret is an eighth note inlaid in select abalone. Johnston requested this nonstandard inlay be placed sideways, so when the guitar is in playing position the note appears upright, as it would on a musical staff. The wings of the bridge bear mirror images of the “OK” hand symbol, as seen on the Doobie’s Choice album cover; inlaid in mother of pearl. “I wanted the design to be nice and clean, while expressing my personality,” says Johnston, “and I really wanted for the audience to be able to see that eighth note.”
Bound in grained ivoroid throughout and protected by a polished and beveled tortoise-color pickguard, the Martin Doobie-42 Tom Johnston Limited Edition is finished in full gloss; vintage toner on the top lends a classic patina. Factory-installed electronics are available as an extra-cost option; left-hand instruments may be ordered at no additional cost. The guitar will be shipped in a unique hemp cloth-covered 545 Geib style case with tobacco-color lining. Each Doobie-42 Tom Johnston Limited Edition guitar bears an interior label personally signed by Tom Johnston, and numbered in sequence.
Johnston could not be more pleased with the guitar. He says, “This guitar project is very exciting; first because Martin asked me to work with them to create it — a distinct honor — and second because I’ve played the newer D-42s and they sound great. Martin has been making high quality guitars for decades, and they are played by almost every top act you can think of. It’s so exciting to be considered a part of that.”