C. F. Martin & Co.® (Martin®) will introduce two David Gilmour Custom Signature Edition D-35 guitars during NAMM Believe in Music Week, January 18-24, 2021.
Following the Christie’s Auction in 2019, where David Gilmour’s 1969 D-35 sold for 1.2 million dollars, Martin’s partners at Westside Distribution approached Gilmour about designing a new David Gilmour Custom Signature Martin guitar. Gilmour agreed to collaborate with Martin on a six string and a twelve string D-35.
“I was so excited when Westside, our U.K. distributor, contacted us about the opportunity to build a signature model for David,” said Fred Greene, Vice President of Product Development at Martin Guitar. “He is one of my all-time favorite guitar players, and having the chance to collaborate with him on an instrument was truly a bucket list moment for me. The collaboration is also a perfect fit for Martin Guitar, a company that shares David’s hope for a more sustainable world that we can leave in good conscience for generations to come.”
In the early ’70s, even with multiple albums under his belt, the lead guitarist and co-vocalist for Pink Floyd 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.
“Looking back on the design process,” Greene said, “My first thought was that David might want a replica of his 1969 D-35, and, while that would be cool, it would not leave a lot of room for creativity. I was so excited to hear that he was more interested in creating something unique and special to this moment in time. I knew we could provide him with options and features that would allow this new instrument to exist on its own merits, while still drawing upon his original D-35 for inspiration. Much like David’s music, this guitar is a unique and inspirational piece of art that hopefully will inspire others to create their own art.”
Starting with this idea of a “new” D-35, the Martin Custom Shop set about creating three prototypes that would later be presented to David for feedback. Typically made with rosewood, this is the first time Martin has built a three-piece back “35” with sinker mahogany, and the result is absolutely stunning. The back, sides, neck, and neck block are all made of solid sinker.
The 6 string and 12 string models are both finished in vintage gloss, a historic process normally available only on the Martin Authentic Series models. It delivers a soft sheen patina somewhere between full gloss and satin. David chose Adirondack spruce for the top of the 6 string model, as found on an early ’40s vintage D-18 that he also owns. Adirondack is a little stiffer than its more commonly used Sitka spruce cousin and offers more complex overtones. The top is torrefied using the Martin Vintage Tone System® (VTS), a process that “ages” the wood, adding vintage sound characteristics without waiting years for it to happen naturally. The top braces on the 6 string are 1/4-inch Adirondack spruce, for added support and resonance, and they are scalloped and forward-shifted. The top of the 12 string is Carpathian spruce, grown in the mountains of Romania and often prized for its “best of both worlds” properties. It has the stiffness found in Adirondack, while maintaining the lower density and lightness often seen in the traditional European spruce varieties (German, Swiss, and Italian).
The fingerboard inlay on both guitars is a special pattern created for this signature edition. It’s a standard 35 layout, but the dot size has been scaled down slightly and inlaid in abalone. The neck shape for the 6 string is unique and was created specifically for David. It began as a modified low oval but is now more rounded and slightly fuller below the 5th fret, creating a neck that is very comfortable and easy to play. The 6 string also features a carbon fiber bridge plate, as found on the recent Modern Deluxe Series, offering enhanced volume and clarity.
Both models have head stamps, as found on early Martin guitars, however, this is the first time in its history that Martin has created special head stamps for an artist signature edition.
The 6 string is unusually strung with 12-gauge strings (lights)—specifically Martin Authentic Acoustic® Lifespan® 2.0 (MA540T). Martin Dreadnoughts usually come equipped with 13-gauge strings (mediums), however, David uses MA540T strings for all of his Martin guitars, so we felt that his fans should receive the guitar setup in the very same way that David chooses to play his.
Both guitars come in a slate blue case, a nod back to the blue case that David’s original D-35 would have left the factory in all those years ago. Finally, and as if all this isn’t already special enough, every guitar bears a custom internal paper label, each one individually signed by David himself. An incredible collector’s instrument, for a truly special musician.
Martin will produce a total of 250 guitars, split between the 6 string and 12 string models.