Instruments & Gear: New Gear

Martin D12-35 50th Anniversary

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A modern 12-string dreadnought celebrates a classic Martin model.

by Teja Gerken
September 03, 2015

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Marin’s D-35 model, and the company has released commemorative editions of both the six- and 12-string style-35 guitars. We recently had a chance to check out the D12-35 50th Anniversary 12-string.

The most significant feature of the D-35 was its three-piece rosewood back. Brazilian rosewood had become scarce, and the three-piece back allowed Martin to use narrower pieces of rosewood than on the two-piece backs of style-28 guitars. The guitar also had white binding on the body and fingerboard along with other slight cosmetic tweaks that gave it a new look and put the 35 models a step above the popular style 28 in the company’s catalog.

Almost immediately after introducing the six-string D-35, Martin followed up with a 12-string version. Like most other Martin 12-strings at the time, the model had a slotted headstock and 12-fret dreadnought body (which has a more elongated shape than the 14-fret dreadnought), along with the new style-35 three-piece back and appointments. (The six-string D-35 had the more modern 14-fret neck and shorter body.)

The D12-35 50th Anniversary is built with top-notch materials and some modifications from the original D12-35, such as a solid headstock and more contemporary neck profile, creating a real player’s instrument rather than a historically accurate collector’s piece. Martin also treated the woods with its new Vintage Tone System, a torrefaction process that accelerates the woods’ aging process.

Playing the D12-35 made it clear that Martin has successfully applied contemporary playability to its vintage-style designs. The low action and precise fretwork, along with the guitar’s short scale, make it easy to play when even tuned to standard pitch.Strumming the D12-35 produced a rich sound with great volume and plenty of jangle. And I was happy to discover that the instrument’s string spacing at the saddle left enough room between string courses to allow comfortable fingerpicking.

The D12-35 50th Anniversary is a great example of how Martin is continuing to apply modern touches to its classic designs. If this leaves you longing for a new 12-string, you better hurry—the D12-35 50th Anniversary is limited to a run of just 183 guitars, the same as the initial 1965 production run.

SPECS: 12-string dreadnought with 12-fret neck. Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 24.9-inch scale. 1¹³/₁₆-inch nut width. 2⁵/₁₆-inch string spacing at the saddle. Waverly tuners. Made in USA. $5,999 list.


Category: Instruments & Gear

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