Nazareth, PA – June 19, 2008 — To honor the legacy of Merle Travis, C.F. Martin is proud to introduce the D-28M Merle Travis Commemorative Edition guitar. Produced in a limited edition of just 100 instruments, it is a great sounding tribute to one of the guitar world’s true originals.
Merle Travis ranks among the most gifted guitarists ever. A ground-breaking player – on both electric and acoustic - whose namesake Travis picking continues to influence (and frustrate), he also was a fine vocalist, superb songwriter and pioneering guitar designer with innovations that have stood the test of time.
One of his most distinctive guitar designs began with a 1941 Martin D-28 he acquired in 1946. Soon after its purchase, he took the Martin to friend and machinist Paul Bigsby - who previously had collaborated with Travis to create both the Bigsby vibrato and one of the earliest solid-bodied electric guitars – to have the neck replaced with one similar to that on the electric guitar Bigsby made for him. Bigsby obliged, installing a maple neck with his distinctively shaped headstock, “Bigsby” headstock inlay, “six-on-a-side” tuners and unique fingerboard position markers. In addition, he replaced the pickguard with an oversized black one that approximated the shape of the new headstock.
Merle Travis liked both the feel and the unique sound of his modified Martin; he played it on virtually every acoustic recording he made from 1946 until his death in 1983. The D-28M Merle Travis Commemorative Edition is modeled after Travis’ original modified D-28 Martin, right down to the premium solid tonewoods. The back and sides are rare Madagascar rosewood, prized for its similarity in appearance and tone to the original’s now-endangered Brazilian rosewood. The red (Adirondack) spruce top, the same topwood used in 1941, is used for its crisp, powerful tone.
The body appointments are similarly classic; a rosette with wood fiber inlays, herringbone top purfling and zigzag backstrip accented by grained ivoroid binding and an ivoroid endpiece. backstrip.
The neck is carved from curly maple and approximates the contours of the original. The distinctive headstock features a polished figured walnut headplate, “Bigsby” inlaid in mother of pearl to match the original and Gotoh six-in-line nickel Kluson-style tuners with slotted string posts. The familiar Martin logo decal can be found on the back of the headstock. Mother-of-pearl position markers on the African black ebony fingerboard duplicate the mostly card-themed ones on the original; “Heart” at the 3rd fret, “Club” at the 5th fret, vertical “Diamond” at the 7th fret, “Spade” at the 9th fret, “Bar with Two Dots” at the 12th fret and horizontal “Diamond” at the 15th fret.
Martin’s polished gloss lacquer body finish with light amber aging toner on the top highlight the unique “Travis” pickguard. The nut and saddle are crafted from genuine bone: the bridge pins and end pin also are bone, both topped with tortoise-colored dots.
Delivered in a hardshell case, each D-28M Merle Travis Commemorative guitar bears an interior label personally signed by Thom Bresh, Bigsby Guitars President Fred Gretsch and Martin Chairman C.F. Martin IV, and numbered in sequence. Due to the unique design elements of this guitar, only a right-handed version will be offered. Authorized C.F. Martin & Co. dealers will take orders for the D-28M Merle Travis Commemorative Edition until the edition of 100 guitars is fully subscribed: participating Martin dealers will be listed on the C.F. Martin website.