Introduced in 1978, the HD-35 is perhaps one of Martin's best kept secrets. The HD-35 combines the innovative three-piece back design of the '60s with the bold Herringbone and scalloped braces of the prewar era. This rare configuration produces powerful, refined tone you'll only find from a good Martin dreadnought.
This 1979 Martin HD-35 (Serial #413897) is an excellent example of an early-spec HD-35. As soon as you pick it up, the bound fingerboard and more elaborate purfling make it obvious this isn't a run-of-the-mill Martin dreadnought. Once you flip it over and check out the back, it's hard not get lost in the stunning contrasting pieces of rosewood. But when you flip it back over and give it a strum, the bold Herringbone—a distinct Martin detail—seems quite appropriate.
During the '70s, most Martin dreadnoughts had oversized rosewood bridge plates. This was an attempt to mitigate warranty issues, but it sincerely held back the tonal potential of the guitar. Fortunately, there are exceptions! Some of the new models released in the late-'70s were built with the preferred, traditional-size 1-3/8" Maple bridge plate. The HD-35 is one of the models that included this easily overlooked—but hugely important—spec change.
This 1979 Martin HD-35 sports its original Maple bridge plate, and it has been nicely preserved over the years. It shows some moderate playwear in the expected areas on the top (around the soundhole/pickguard), but more than anything, that just adds authentic vintage mojo. As to be expected, its pickguard has shrunk somewhat over time, but it hasn't cracked the top as occasionally happens. In fact, the guitar itself is crack free and has no history of damages or issues. At one point, it was sent back to Martin's repair department, and the fingerboard was replaned and refretted. This is one way to correct a neck angle, so the end result is an extremely playable, inviting setup. Fortunately, the difference in fingerboard thickness is negligible—the fingerboard edge measures .147" at the nut and .175" at the 12th fret.
This 1979 HD-35 is a remarkably good sounding '70s Martin dreadnought. It boasts an interesting combination of distinctly Martin features: three-piece back, scalloped braces, 1-3/8" Maple bridge plate, and bold Herringbone purfling. Its tone is deep, powerful, and refined. Original hardshell case included.