1972 Martin D-18

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The rosewood fretboard and the frets show a good bit of wear - the evidence of many hundreds of hours of pleasure. It's about time to send it back to Nazareth (PA, that is, where the factory is) for a bit of fret work.

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My first guitars and how I got the Martin:

Jim, my next door neighbor when I was in 7th grade, got a guitar with his mom's S&H green stamps. It came with a little chord chart and we both learned a few chords the day it arrived. I thought, "I've got to get one of these things!" So I mail ordered a little Barclay from Service Merchandise (then a catalog-only business) for $10. I don't know whatever happened to that one. Soon I ordered the best guitar in the catalog, a bigger Barclay for $50. It wasn't a bad guitar. I bought some fancy chrome tuners for it and installed them. Made it look a lot more expensive. Sure wish I still had the thing. But I  had my sights set on a better instrument.

I was in a Youth for Christ singing group in high school and my first year in it, Steve Camp was the guitar player. (he went on to record a bunch of contemporary Christian albums) Steve had a beautiful big blonde Guild that he was going to sell to me for $250. But he took it on a trip and checked it as baggage and the neck snapped. (I recently found out that this is caused by a shock to the headstock end of the instrument and can be avoided by loosening the strings. I always thought somebody opened the case and did it deliberately, but this is caused by shock to the neck under string tension.) Anyway, I bought the leather strap that had been on the Guild from Steve for $3 and it's on my guitar to this day.

I shopped all over the western suburbs of Chicago for a guitar. In some shops I'd see a Martin locked in a glass case. I figured out they must be special, though I'd never heard of them before. Someone told me I should check Sid Sherman Music in downtown Chicago. I did, and found they had dozens and dozens of Martins hanging on the wall. Seems they were the Chicago area distributor. They had a rare "clearance" deal going on certain Martins. (In the first few years of the '70s Martin cranked up their production and built thousands of guitars) The guy said he'd take my Barclay plus $390 and set me up with a Martin D-18 complete with hardshell case and I'd never be sorry. I had to borrow another hundred bucks from my dad, but I got the Martin and indeed, I've never been sorry. It's now worth at least $2,000. That's what the new ones go for. And the older they get the better they sound. I was told by one guitar shop owner a few years ago that my D-18 was the best sounding one he had ever seen, so it may be worth more. But I'd never be able to sell it now. It's almost like a member of the family.

I had Barcus Barry piezo pickup installed in it 10 or 12 years ago. It's okay, but a bit weak on the low end. My wanter is wanting to get an L.R. Baggs dual mode pickup system. Sure would be sweet.