Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 28 - Jan. 2010
In 1955, approximately 5,984 Martins were produced here in Nazareth, including a very special, one-of-a-kind edition – Christian Frederick "Chris" Martin IV, born on July 8th.
This year, Chris Martin turns 55 years old, many of which have been devoted to guiding the company that bears his name and heritage. Succeeding his grandfather, C. F. Martin III, as President and Ceo in 1986, Chris led Martin into a new era of modernization that has included computer-assisted production, utilization of sustainable tone woods and alternate materials, development of new body styles, new processes, artist and limited editions, unlimited custom options and, above all, a new competitiveness that has reaffirmed – and reinforced – Martin's position as the world's premier steel-string acoustic guitar maker.
At the same time, Chris has kept close watch over the traditional Martin principles of quality, craftsmanship and personal integrity that have sustained the company for over 175 years, mostly learned at the side of his grandfather, C. F. Martin III, to whom he was extremely close.
“There is a successful formula for doing business in this company that’s really about honesty and integrity and consideration and trust,” says Chris. “My grandfather lived like that and worked like that. That is still our culture, and I encourage it.”
“Chris has always been willing to try things to make our guitars better,” says Dick Boak, Martin's Director of Artist relations. “He’s gutsy, bold, forward thinking. If Chris hadn’t embraced technology, we would have been left in the dust.”
For all of these things, and to commemorate Chris’ birthday and the significant contributions he continues to make through his stewardship, Martin is proud to present the “D-28 1955 CFM IV“ Dreadnought.
That we chose to replicate a 1955 D-28 is symbolic in itself. In many ways, 1955 was a crossroads for changing musical tastes, notably the emergence of rock n' roll, and, a short three years later, the resurgence of folk music in the “Great Folk revival.” The D-28 would play an important and, in some instances, pivotal role in both movements.
First developed in 1916, and introduced to the Martin line in 1931, the D-28 quickly became the guitar of choice for numerous country & western and bluegrass artists. In the mid-1950's, when many of these artists shifted to rockabilly, they brought their D-28s with them. elvis Presley, ricky Nelson, Sonny James, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Johnny Horton and Charlie Feathers (to name a few) were all D-28 players.
The emergence of the Kingston Trio in 1958 (who played Martin guitars exclusively) really opened the floodgates for D-28 demand among folk musicians, making it the most sought after Martin model ever, and, ultimately, the most imitated style of guitar in modern history. Today, the D-28 is still the proud icon of the C. F. Martin & Co. line.
In designing the CFM IV 1955 D-28, great care was taken to replicate the original 1955 specs as closely as possible. Premium straight-grained Madagascar rosewood backs and sides are expertly bookmatched and profiled to approximate the look and tone of the original Brazilian rosewood version.
The top is crafted of high-grade Sitka spruce, and braced in the original rear-shifted, non-scalloped pattern (also using quartersawn Sitka). The soundhole rosette is the same classic style 28 “4-9-5” black & white lines configuration. A polished and beveled Delmar tortoise pickguard, with period-correct squared bottom, is carefully fitted on top of the polished lacquer finish.
The body is bound in grained ivoroid and Boltaron®; the two-piece back is joined with the traditional “checkered” marquetry backstrip, all in the 28 style. Genuine mahogany blocks, small maple bridgeplate, Spanish cedar linings, and cloth side strips complete the body.
The adjustable, 14-fret, modified “V” neck is carved of genuine mahogany with the classic diamond volute. rounded edges are typical of mid-50s Martin headstocks, the result of gradual wearing down of the template over years of use. For authenticity, we've duplicated this touch along with a period-correct C. F. Martin & Co. decal, as well as Kluson. nickel-plated, “waffle” covered tuners with oval buttons.
Fingerboard and belly bridge (with long drop-in bone saddle) are crafted of prized black ebony. The body is finished in highly polished nitrocellulose lacquer with aging toner.
Only 55 of these magnificent instruments will be offered, sequentially numbered and personally signed by Chris Martin. each guitar is delivered in our finest Cabernet plush, 5-ply, hard shell case. If you are a Martin devotee, the “D-28 1955 CFM IV” guitar is a must. Not simply for the person it celebrates, but the history it embodies. This could, indeed, be one the most collectible D-28s yet!