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NMM 10738.  Guitar by C. F. Martin & Co., Nazareth, Pennsylvania, 1941.
Model D-28.   Serial number 78845.  John R. Barmeyer Collection, 2004.

NMM 10738.  Guitar by C. F. Martin & Co., Nazareth, Pennsylvania, 1941.

The Martin D-28, introduced in 1931, is an icon of American guitar-making. The D-28 is modeled after the wide, deep-bodied, style 111 guitars that Martin produced for Ditson in 1916 and called dreadnoughts after the heaviest class of British battleship during WWI. This large body, combined with steel strings, gave the D-28 a powerful sound that suited the emerging country music style, which needed a guitar that could stand up to a band and amplified voices. In 1941, when NMM 10738 was built, it was Martin's middle-grade dreadnought, with fancier inlay than the D-18, but not including the extensive abalone decoration of the D-45, first built at the request of the cowboy star, Gene Autry. Preserved in mint condition with its original case, NMM 10738 comes from a particularly desirable period of D-28 production. It bears the zigzag back stripe that was discontinued in 1947, and has the distinctive scalloped Martin bracing that was not used on this model after 1944. Both features are signatures of the pre-War D-28.


Inscriptions:  Branded on back graft: [lettering curved downward at each end] C.F.MARTIN & Co [sic] / — ∙ — / NAZARETH, PA.
Gold and black decal on head: [cursive lettering curved downward at each end] CFMartin&Co. [sic] / EST. 1833
Branded on headblock: D-28 / 78845

C. F. Martin & Co. brand on back graft
Brand on headblock

Front of Martin D-28 guitar Bass side of Martin D-28 guitar Treble side of Martin D-28 guitar Back of Martin D-28 guitar

Body:  Soundboard: two-piece Adirondack spruce, fine grain broadening toward the flanks. Back: two-piece, book-matched Brazilian rosewood. Ribs: two-piece Brazilian rosewood. Head: mahogany veneered with rosewood. Neck: mahogany.

Back of Martin D-28 guitar


Back stripe

Neck heel

End graft

End graft

Inlay:  Binding: white ivoroid; light and dark hardwood herringbone trim divided by light hardwood purfling strip, surrounded on each side by dark hardwood purfling strip. Rosette: wide band of white and black striped celluloid (9 strips), surrounded on each side with narrower bands of the same material (5 strips each), with natural wood in between. Back stripe: alternating strips of light and dark hardwood forming zigzag or "zipper" pattern, surrounded on each side with two strips of light hardwood and one strip of dark hardwood purfling. End graft: white ivoroid strip (slightly wider toward top than bottom) surrounded by thin white and black celluloid purfling (2 strips) on each side.

Soundhole of Martin D-28 guitar Pickguard on Martin D-28 guitar

Rosette (soundhole) and pickguard

Fingerboard of Martin D-28 guitar

Trim:  Heel cap: white ivoroid. Fingerboard: ebony; 20 nickel-silver frets; single abalone slotted diamonds behind 5th, 9th, 15th, and 17th frets; two abalone slotted diamonds behind 7th and 12th frets; white celluloid side dots behind 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 15th, and 17th frets. Nut: ivory. Bridge: ebony with curved lower edge; angled, white celluloid saddle; white celluloid bridge pins with black celluloid eyes. Pegs: six chrome-plated steel worm-gear machine tuners by Grover with convex head surfaces and decoratively cut plate outlines. Endpin: white celluloid with black celluloid eye. Pick guard: imitation tortoise shell plastic. Varnish: clear with fine craquelure.

Martin guitar bridge

Front of Martin guitar peghead Back of Martin guitar peghead

Interior:  Linings: kerfed mahogany. Neck block: mahogany; chamfered corners. End block: mahogany; chamfered corners; maple graft at center, perpendicular to top and back. Top bracing: spruce X-brace, the joint of main cross brace reinforced with black canvas; scalloped transverse braces and finger braces in lower bouts; maple bridge plate. Back braces: four spruce back braces, the two braces in the lower bouts with rounded edges, and wider and lower in height than the two braces in the upper bouts. Back graft: spruce.

Measurements:  Total guitar length: 1031 mm (40-9/16″)
Back length:  508 mm (20″)
Upper bout width:  291 mm (11-1/2″)
Waist width:  273 mm (10-3/4″)
Lower bout width:  381 mm (15″)
Rib height (including edging) at heel:  99 mm (3-30/32″)
Rib height, at waist:  111 mm (4-5/16″)
Rib height, at end block:  124 mm (4-29/32″)
Head length:  159 mm (6-1/4″)
Head width, top:  72 mm (2-11/16″)
Head width, bottom:  55 mm (2-5/64″)
Neck length (nut to ribs):  358 mm (14-1/8″)
Neck width, nut:  42 mm (1-5/8″)
Neck width, heel:  56 mm (2-3/16″)
Soundhole diameter:  102 mm (4″)
Vibrating string length (nut to bridge edge):  high E:  648 mm (25-1/2″); low E:  649 mm (25-9/16″)

Accessories: Original plywood case covered in black imitation-leather-texture canvas with green wool flannel lining, nickel-plated steel hardware, and black leather handle. Case key.

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