Martin D-45

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Martin D-45 (1998)

The Martin D-45 is a steel-string acoustic guitar made by C. F. Martin & Company. The model has been manufactured from 1933 to 1942, and again since 1968. The guitar was originally made of Brazilian rosewood. Martins are ranked among the highest-quality as well as among the most expensive guitars, and the D-45, regarded as one of the first "luxury guitars,"[1] was listed in 2011 as the most valuable production-model guitar.[2]


First series, until 1943[edit]

The first D-45 was a dreadnought guitar based on the D-28 with luxury ornamentation (the "45" designation[2]), made especially for Gene Autry, who in 1933 ordered "the biggest, fanciest Martin he could."[3] This guitar is now encased in glass in the Gene Autry Museum of the American West in Los Angeles, California.[4] The next year, one was made for Jackie "Kid" Moore, a "12-year old singing cowboy from Milwaukee, Wisconsin."[5] These first two had a 12-fret neck; most others (except for the 6th, made in 1937) made afterward had a 14-fret neck.[6] Two more were made in 1936 and two again in 1937;[6] the D-45 wasn't catalogued until 1938.[7] Other versions included a D-45S (with a special neck, 1939) and a D-45L (left handed, 1940).[6] The D-45 was the top model of the dreadnought line,[8] which also included the D-28 and D-18 models, priced much lower.

In 1942, as a result of World War II, production of the D-45 (as well as other Martin models such as the archtops)[9] was officially discontinued,[6] though half a dozen units were made in February 1943.[9] In this first series of D-45s, only 91 instruments were made.[1]

Second series, from 1968[edit]

The luxurious D-45 resembled the more pedestrian D-28 model enough to entice entrepreneurial guitar builders and craftsmen to modify the latter to look like the former by adding a pearl border and changing the stamps on the neck block, so they could sell them as the more expensive model. One of those craftsmen was Mike Longworth, a banjo player from Tennessee, who was hired by the Martin company specifically to bring the D-45 back. The new D-45, released in 1968, cost $1,200 and was the most expensive flat-top steel-string guitar made in the United States. By 1969, Martin sold twice as many D-45s as during the entire 1933-1942 run; customers included David Crosby and Jimi Hendrix.[1] In 1971, a 12-string model was made,[1] and in 1973, another one.[6]

Longworth also designed a more affordable model, the D-41, making sure that the pearl inlays were done in such a way that the guitar could not be modified to look like a D-45.[1]

Since 1968 Martin has produced a number of special versions, including the C.F. Martin Sr. Commemorative D-45 (200 guitars in 1996) and the C.F. Martin Sr. Deluxe D-45 (91 guitars in 1996).[6]

Post-1968 models, selection[edit]


Models produced between 1933 and 1942 (also referred to as "pre-war Martins") are among the most expensive production-model guitars ever made. A listing for $135,000 was noted in a 2005 publication,[10] and in 2011, a Vintage Guitar ranking of valuable guitars saw the D-45 (models made between 1936 and 1942) in first place, worth between $250,000 and $400,000.[2] George Gruhn remarked that pre-war D-45s fetch "more than 20 times as much as a recent issue D-45, even though there is relatively little difference in design."[11]

Notable owners[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Johnston p. 116-17.
  2. ^ a b c Greenwood 38.
  3. ^ Johnston pp. 82-83.
  4. ^ Boak p. 7.
  5. ^ Soros.
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Gruhn p. 450.
  7. ^ Gruhn p. 421.
  8. ^ Bacon p. 12.
  9. ^ a b Johnston p. 90.
  10. ^ Brookes 274-75.
  11. ^ Gruhn p. 7.
  12. ^ Boak p. 71.
  13. ^ Boak p. 21.
  14. ^ Boak p. 23.
  15. ^ Schiller p. 180
  16. ^ Gulla p. 243.