Guitarist and educator Mark Hanson demonstrates the dreadnought that has been with him for his entire career.
by Teja Gerken
June 18, 2015
It’s difficult to imagine the contemporary fingerstyle guitar landscape without Mark Hanson. As a performer, Hanson’s recorded works include four solo CDs, albums with duet partner Doug Smith and the Acoustic Guitar Summit (a guitar quartet that features Hanson, Smith, Terry Robb, and Paul Chasman), as well as tracks on numerous compilations, including the 2005 Grammy-winning Pink Guitar. But Hanson’s impact reaches even further than his fretboard skills alone. A former editor at Frets magazine, Hanson founded his own company Accent on Music in 1985, publishing a highly influential line of fingerstyle instruction and transcription books. In 1998, Hanson began hosting the Accent on Music Guitar Seminar series in Portland, Oregon, and he is a favorite guest instructor at many festivals and workshops.
Hanson purchased this 1966 Martin D-28 from George Gruhn in 1970 or 1971 (he can’t recall the exact year), and it has accompanied him for his entire career as a professional guitarist. “I was living in Minnesota, looking for a dreadnought Martin, and I couldn’t find one that I could afford,” he says. Trying to increase his chances of finding a guitar, he wrote letters to several guitar stores in Nashville, Tennessee, and George Gruhn was one of three who replied. “He said, ‘Sure, it’s worth it for you drive 1,000 miles down here to try a guitar!” So Hanson did. A few years later, Frank Ford and Richard Johnson of Gryphon Stringed Instruments in Palo Alto, California, shaved the braces to match those on a prewar D-28. The guitar was Hanson’s primary instrument for more than two decades. Even though Hanson doesn’t travel with the Brazilian rosewood instrument anymore, he does play it at home and for recording sessions, including his version of Henry Mancini’s “The Sweetheart Tree,” which was his contribution to the 2005 Grammy-winning album Pink Guitar.
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