My D-18 Martin

Upon returning to New York City in September 1955, I bought a Dreadnought size Martin guitar. I lusted after a D-28 but could not afford it. Terminal Music had a D-18 for a bit under the regular price. It had a sunburst finish top.

Age 17 with my very inlaid D-18

After about a year, I made two modifications : The first was sanding off the sunburst and finishing it natural. The second was putting inlays at every fret. John D'Angelico, the great jazz guitar maker, had bought out the pearl supply from the company who made the Orpheum and Paramount banjos. I went to his shop and dug though the boxes of pearl and came away with enough to do up the whole fingerboard. It cost $10.

I was not a great craftsman. I worked mostly with an X-Acto knife and a X-Acto chisel. I used a lot of hard sealing-wax fill.

The guitar was stolen with my banjo in 1962. It was spotted in a pawn-shop (who could miss it?), and I re-claimed it. By this time I had replaced it with a nice 1960 D-28.

I decided, in retrospect quite foolishly, to do some more inlay. I re-bound the body in ivoroid and added an interior border of abalone around the top. I bound the peghead and put in some fancy inlays. I rarely played it.

In about 1978 I gave the guitar to John Bringe to re-finish. He did a wonderful job.

I often looked at it as a reminder of how I took a rare sunburst Martin and butchered it through ignorance. I eventually gave it to my brother as a wedding present. It was too painful to look at.