When the first Martin Dreadnoughts rolled out in the early '30s, they had 12 frets clear of the body and bold—but graceful—sloped shoulders. Because many players wanted more room on the fingerboard and a soundhole position that favored more treble cut, Martin switched over to the 14-fret, square shoulder design in 1934. Ultimately, the dreadnought revolutionized industry, and it became the predominant acoustic guitar design. But there's something special about their earlier 12-fret concept! Its longer body and 12-fret neck joint push the bridge closer to the center of the lower bout, which opens up bass frequencies and provides a looser, more open sound all around.
This 12-fret dreadnought was built in the Martin Custom Shop in 2015. It features a premium-graded Sitka Spruce VTS (Torrefied) top and rare Goncalo Alves back and sides. Thanks to the VTS process, its top performs like a seasoned, vintage top, and under the hood, it has scalloped braces which help maximize the response. Commonly called "Tigerwood," Goncalo Alves is lightweight and slightly porous, so its tone profile is somewhat similar to Mahogany, but because it is still a dense, tropical hardwood, it captures some the clarity and complexity of Rosewood. Because of the design and the woods used, this D-12 Fret has a warm, powerful sound, but it is not lacking in articulate high-end detail.
To pay homage to the early 12-fret dreadnoughts, this Custom Shop D-12 sports understated, Style-18 appointments. There's something classy and timeless about the simplicity, and it ultimately draws greater attention to the caliber of the tone woods. It also has an approachable 1-3/4" nut width.
This 2015 Martin Custom Shop D-12 Fret Goncalo Alves is in excellent condition with only minimal signs of play and use. Its original Grover Nickel tuning machines were upgraded to engraved Waverly tuning machines. It was originally shipped without a pickguard, but the original owner opted to add a Martin 12-fret-style pickguard at the point of purchase. Original hardshell case included.
Here are details from the original Custom Shop spec sheet (.pdf copy available on request!):
- Construction: Standard; Mahogany Blocks/Dovetail neck Joint
- Body Size: D-12 Fret
- Top: Sitka Spruce (Premium) (TORREFIED) Vintage Tone System (VTS)
- Top Braces: Sitka/Scalloped 5/16"
- Pattern: D-12 Fret #7A
- Top Binding: Faux Tortoise - Brown
- Top Inlay: .070" B/W/B/W/W/B Boltaron (Heavy white faces binding)
- Rosette: Old Style-18 (Boltaron)
- Back: Goncalo Alves
- Back Panels: 2 pc.
- Purfling: Style-18
- Center Strip/Loc. Stamp: Sitka Spruce Standard
- Back Braces: Sitka Spruce
- Back Binding: Faux Tortoise - Brown
- Sides: Goncalo Alves
- Side Strips: East Indian Rosewood
- Endpiece: Faux Tortoise - Brown
- Neck Block: Solid Genuine Mahogany
- Neck: Genuine Mahogany - 12/4
- Neck Shape: Mod. Low Oval/Performing Artist Taper
- Headstock: Slotted / Round Slots / 6 String / No Diamond
- Truss Rod: Adustable 2-Way
- Heelcap: Faux Tortoise - Brown
- Nut: Bone, Flat
- Headplate: Goncalo Alves
- Headplate Decal: Old Style Gold (Small)
- Fingerboard: Black Ebony
- Radius: 16"
- Scale Length: 25.4"
- Width at Nut: 1-3/5"
- Width at 12 Fret: 2-1/8"
- Fret Wire: German G300, Notched 1-3/5
- Pearl Inlay: Old Style-18 Abalone Dots
- Finish Body: Non-Catalyzed Gloss / No Stain / Rosewood Filler
- Finish Top: Non-Catalyzed Gloss / Clear
- Finish Neck: Catalyzed 15 Sheen / No Stain / Rosewood Filler
- Bridge: Black Ebony
- Style: 1930 Style Belly- Drop In Saddle
- String Spacing: 2-3/16"
- Saddle: Compensated Bone