Guitar Tales, Chapter 2: Martin D-1, 1993

Guitar Tales, Chapter 2: Martin D-1, 1993

Classing up The Cavern Club, Liverpool, UK with The PKO (pic by K. Owens)

When I was a younger, greener man I had a habit of buying Ovation acoustic guitars. Used to be there was some empirical sonic data that Ovations were the best sounding on-stage guitars bar none. But for me, I’m sure the reason I bought my first one had something to do with Richie Sambora or Robbin Crosby. That’s how I came to find myself some evening way back, struggling to hold a round-backed guitar in the Hayden gym while my band gamely stumbled through “I Trip Through Your Wires.”

Flash forward a couple years and after our vocalist managed to defy physics and bust a hole through the front of the guitar at Axis one night, its days were numbered. So, of course, I bought another Ovation. Within just a couple years, that one’s bridge dramatically snapped completely off one fine summer day as the guitar reclined on a guitar stand in my room. It was time to step up my game.

Off to Music Emporium – then in Porter Sq. – I went. And there I received my wake-up call. Turned out I couldn’t really afford a killer acoustic guitar. So I took a chance on a new low-ish-end Martin model they’d just introduced. The D-1. First Martin guitar with a built-in pickup, as a matter of fact, or a matter of what I was told at the time. And I really dug it.

The guitar served me well throughout my Boston years. It was there when Dante’s Grin turned the Middle East Bakery/Corner from a folky acoustic room into a cacophonous den of rock experimentation, and I wrote most of Betty Goo‘s songs on the thing.

Martin's first trip to Paris (pic by E. Berman)

Time passed, as it does. Presidents came and went. There were a couple wars, I think. Sir John Gielgud passed away. And PK & I moved to Southern California. In those intervening years, the dry desert air seems to have brought new life to the old D-1 and it sounds fantastic in ways that it never had before, which is what it being a real, crafted instrument is kinda all about.

Now I’m back to playing it almost every day. It always shows up somewhere on the records I produce and I’ve had it with me on just about every tour for the past couple years.

In five years, maybe I’ll throw a little party for it. It’ll be the first time a guitar I picked up new will be able to be called vintage while still in my possession. What kind of cake do you think a guitar would like?