The Martin D 35 S
Recently I stopped by over at my grandmother’s place and one of my uncles was there; he’d a couple guitar cases on one of the couches, and one of them I didn’t recognize. So I asked him,
“hey, what do you got in that case?”
He sort of nonchalantly told me that it was his Martin D 35 S. Now I got pretty excited about that because I knew he had a few Martin acoustic guitars, but I didn’t know he had that one, and it turns out that his is a late 1960s model, with some truly beautiful Brazilian rosewood on the back and sides. It’s a very expensive and beautiful instrument. Now, my chops are about non existent at the moment, as I’ve been most often playing this keyboard that you’re viewing the product of; but I did get it out and do a very sloppy flatpicked “Wildwood Flower.”
The Martin D 35 S
I can’t help but imagine that I’m one of the few persons in the world who can reach about a foot to my left and grab a 1968 Martin Acoustic Guitar catalog, but that’s what I just did, and I’ll just type out and italicize what it has to say about it’s very fine D 35 S model acoustic guitar.
A Brazilian Rosewood body with three piece back and D 35 appointments. The top is two piece spruce construction, selected for both tone and beauty. Neck of mahogany with slotted head, 1 7/8′ at the nut, and joined to the folk style Dreadnought body at the 12th fret. African ebony bridge and fingerboard. Lacquer finish, polished to a mirror like gloss.
The Martin D 35 S acoustic guitar is still a production model instrument, however, the description that I shared up above isn’t accurate concerning the modern production model of this guitar in a number of ways. What isn’t mentioned in the specifications above is that the type of spruce soundboard that the Martin guitar company was most likely using in those years for these guitars is red spruce, or Adirondack Spruce.
Now, Adirondack Spruce is still very much available, but it’s no longer the main kind of spruce used for Martin Guitars, Sitka Spruce IS the kind used in most production model Martin Guitars. Adirondack Spruce is now considered a pretty big upgrade, dollar wise, as it’s been over used, and not as replaced as it should have been. Most serious acoustic guitarists well know that Adirondack is often a superior wood to be used as a soundboard for any instrument, however, one must also come to know that no two pieces of wood are ever truly comparable, and so a good Sitka Spruce soundboard could well produce a better tone, clarity of notes, and volume than could a similar piece of Adirondack Spruce. In the end, personal opinion is what matters most.
Brazilian Rosewood too is no longer used on standard production model Martin Acoustic Guitars, including the D 35S, but it is available for a much higher price. Indian Rosewood is what is currently being used. Again, what is favorable in tonality and appearance for one person might not be the preference of another person. You are your own best judge of what you like in a guitars sound, play-ability, and appearance.
Neck Width, and Other Specifications
All other specifications listed from the Summer 68′ Martin Acoustic Guitar Catalog will all be most likely the same. At this point what needs the most pointing out is that the neck of this guitar is 1 7/8″ at the nut, and will be that same width the length of the neck. This is a much wider neck than is common for a standard Dreadnought guitar made my C.F. Martin & Co., or any other manufacturer either modern or no longer doing business. One and seven eighths inches IS the standard, I believe, for Martin “S” series guitars.
What is an “S” series guitar? Well, the “S” stands for the slotted headstock, which is very different from the solid piece headstock found on standard Dreadnought guitars. Standard Dreadnought, or “flat top” acoustics have fourteen frets clear of the body, and a solid headstock, whereas the “S” series only has twelve frets clear of the body. Having twelve frets clear of the body makes the instrument a bit shorter in length, obviously, and the length of the neck being shorter affects the tonality of these instruments in ways that my ears can not detect. Honestly, I’d likely be able to hear the differences if I were to spend more time with S series acoustics.
All acoustic guitars that are solid wood construction made by the legendary American guitar company, C.F. Martin & Co., are going to be very high quality instruments with the price to prove it. These are professional grade guitars, and the Martin D 35 S acoustic guitar is another one of them. With the wider neck that is standard for the S series Martin guitars, one would most likely use these guitars for finger style playing, and even Classical or Flamenco pieces. There is absolutely no reason at all, however, that you can not make any kind of music that you so desire with such a fine instrument as the Martin D 35 S acoustic guitar.