In 1976, Bicentennial fever swept across the nation as folks far and wide found ways to celebrate and commemorate the 200th anniversary of the American Revolution. Established in 1833 in New York City, C.F. Martin & Co. is one of America's oldest manufacturers of anything (much less guitars). As a family-owned company started by German immigrants, the Martin company embodies the American dream. In many ways, they were uniquely poised to contribute to the Bicentennial fervor.
To recognize that remarkable 200th anniversary, Martin introduced the D-76 Bicentennial Limited Edition model, which was appropriately limited to 1976 guitars made in 1976. Martin selected their iconic dreadnought body shape for this model, and it's essentially a dressed-up D-35. An engraved mother-of-pearl eagle inlay on the headstock pay homage to the Great Seal of the United States, and patriotic star inlays adorn the Ebony fingerboard. In recognition of the 13 original colonies, there are 13 total star inlays. By adding a single star on the 1st fret and double stars at both the 3rd and 17th fret, the traditional Martin long-pattern diamond inlay accommodates 5 extra positions for the necessary stars.
As a fitting nod to Martin's history, the D-76 sports a herringbone rosette and herringbone back strips dividing the three pieces of the back. Unlike other Martin models (where the warranty was only passed to the original owner), the D-76 has a transferable warranty to ensure that this guitar keeps playing for the next 200 years.
In the mid-'70s, the D-35 was all the rage for Martin. The eye-catching three-piece back certainly got everyone's attention, but it was the D-35's lighter 1/4" braces that helped produce a powerful, throaty sound.
This 1976 Martin D-76 is in beautifully-preserved cosmetic condition. It is consigned to Telluride Music Co. by the original owner, and it includes its original warranty certificate so that the warranty may be transferred to the next owner. It also comes with the original "1876 International Exhibition" certiftcate that was included with these guitars, and it has the original warranty hang-tag, original catalog listing, and original hardshell case, too.
This D-76 unfortunately suffered from the pickguard shrinking issue that is typical of '70s Martins. But fortunately, it has been repaired appropriately, and the new pickguard makes this guitar look like it's hardly been played. That is the only work that has been done to this 45-year-old dreadnought (apart from a setup and a string change here and there). It plays well, but the action does teeter on the higher side. Nevertheless, there is still some saddle remaining if lower action is desired, so we'll let the next owner decide when to reset the neck.
This 1976 Martin D-76 Bicentennial Limited Edition is an extremely collectible piece of Martin history and Bicentennial memorabilia. It's amazing to see one so meticulously preserved, and the sound it produces is syrupy and complex. This powerful-sounding dreadnought is more than deserving of the Martin name, and the design and integrity of the build are a testament to American ingenuity.