d-35 david gilmour
LIFE IS IMPOSSIBLE WITHOUT A GUITAR
Back in the early ‘70s, David Gilmour was only at the precipice of superstardom when he happened upon a musician selling a used Martin D-35 outside of Manny’s Music shop in New York City. Gilmour purchased the guitar on the spot, and it would go on to become his primary studio acoustic for both Pink Floyd and his solo recordings for more than four decades. The now famed D-35 sold recently at Christie’s Auction House for $1.2 million as part of The David Gilmour Guitar Collection, which comprised over 120 guitars and fetched more than $21 million. The proceeds from the auction went to ClientEarth, a charitable foundation dedicated to fighting climate change.
After the auction and sale of Gilmour’s cherished D-35, our partners at Westside Distribution in the UK approached David and he agreed to collaborate with the team on both a 6-string and 12-string custom signature artist edition. Much like David’s music, these guitars are unique and inspirational pieces of art that we hope will inspire others to create their own art. We will produce a total of 250 guitars, split between the 6-string and 12-string models and through this partnership, we are proud to support the David Gilmour Charitable Foundation.
Martin D-35 David Gilmour
This guitar is a nod to David’s treasured D-35, his main recording & writing companion for over four decades, but it’s also an instrument for him today, with a style and sound all its own.
Martin D-35 David Gilmour Twelve String
For over forty years his Martin D12-28 12 string was a constant in David Gilmour’s recording & song writing palette. When this guitar went to auction in 2019 we were delighted to be able to work with him to create a 12 string for his music today.
Q&A With David Gilmour
Can you tell us a little about why you felt the timing was right to work with Martin Guitar on this custom signature artist edition?
With my old D-35 and D12-28 moving on, there was definitely a gap. These new guitars were created first and foremost as tools for me to write and record with; their specifications were chosen with no compromise. They really are what I was looking for both in their sound and in their feel. The decision to make these identical guitars available for sale came afterwards, and, of course, I hope that the project will do some good through my charitable foundation.
Many were surprised that you chose sinker mahogany, when your two “famous” Martins that went to auction were both rosewood. We’ve heard that you’re not a stranger to mahogany Martin guitars however?
That’s correct. I own a vintage D-18 from 1945 as well as a D-18 Authentic 1939. Mahogany records so very well with such clarity, so I wanted to try it with these new models, and the sinker mahogany definitely has something extra special about it.
Do you miss the guitars that were sold, or do you not really feel that way about possessions?
Not really. I hope they are giving their new owners great pleasure. It was time for them to move on. I’m very happy with the replacements.
Interesting that you chose the 1 11/16" fingerboard width, which was the standard for Martin Dreadnoughts for many decades before the recent switch to 1 3/4" for most models.
It’s just what I’m used to. The D-35 was 1 11/16". I asked Martin to create a neck shape that was more rounded than the first prototypes, that sat comfortably in my hand and was closer to the feel of my old D-18. The 1 11/16" works better with that. These amounts seem very small, but they make a huge difference.
We like your fingerboard inlay pattern. The dots seem more in proportion to those of a normal D-35.
We looked at using diamonds and squares, but I felt they looked a little small. We made them bigger, but then they looked odd, so we decided to revert to the D-35 pattern. The size of the 5th, 7th, and 9th dots on a D-35 always seemed slightly large to me, so Martin kindly shrunk them a little.
Do you play any other Martin body shapes aside from Dreadnoughts?
Yes—I have an 0-28VS. Lovely, delicate little instrument.
Do you ever play fingerstyle on a steel-strung acoustic or mainly with a pick?
I’ve done a lot of fingerpicking on steel-strung acoustic guitars over the years. Strumming with a pick, of course.
Neither your D-35 nor D12-28 had pickups, nor do your signature guitars. Do you have a preferred method/ setup for miking up and recording acoustic guitar in the studio, or does it vary?
I leave that to the professionals. They tell me that it varies, depending on the situation and location. Generally for best acoustic reproduction, the guitar is miked in a fairly standard way—in a room that is not too large or too live. Over time various Neumann, AKG, Sony, and DPA mics have been used. Internal acoustic pickups mostly are only utilised in conjunction with effects in the studio and on stage, of course.
Both the six and twelve look so classic “Golden Era” Martin and are beautifully understated/tasteful. We particularly like the vintage headstamps. Do you prefer a more straightforward look to a guitar?
I’m not keen on anything too flashy. Sound and feel are my main concerns, and I think that Martin has done a really good job with these. I like the way they look together.
Have you managed to record with the new guitars yet? Any “tunes” in them, do you think?
Yes, I have been recording at home, and the results have been pretty good. With regards to tunes... well, there’s progress, but you’ll just have to wait and see...
Martin would like to give special thanks and recognition to David’s Guitar Tech, Phil Taylor, and Westside’s Artist Relations Manager, Mark De Neys, for their invaluable contributions to this project.
Photo credit: Polly Samson