Way back when, sometime around 1987 I had a music shop in the UK, it was quite often described as “A Hole in The Wall”, this description was quite apt, to call it a “shop” required a sizable dose of imagination, most times it resembled a vacant space which had been ransacked by burglars who had managed to leave a few guitars behind.
Around this time a guy by the name of Phil Hay was the sales representative for Washburn guitars and other brands, Phil and I became friends and would quite often have dinner and a drink together after his sales call, he certainly gave freely of his time and considerable experience and was a huge help to me, he also chose to see passed the humble beginnings and to take my efforts seriously.
Phil launched his own company, Westside Distribution in 1995, Phil and I fell out of touch.
I mention this now as this dead mint and fundamentally unplayed example of a Martin D28 John Martyn Artist Guitar came my way, given that legend has it that only 25 were constructed for worldwide distribution it could very well be the only one, or one of a handful in the USA.
The guys at Westside were fully aware that the Martin Guitar Company had been building artist and signature models since 1931, with the exception of the 1999 Steve Howe 00-18SH the vast majority of production was representative of American artists.
Working in conjunction with Martin Guitars, Westside decided to create and launch a few models with a specific UK bias, and so 2007 saw the release of the Rory Gallagher Model, a little later Davey Gram got a nod
The guitar is based primarily on a D28 however, there are some modifications that were adopted from various Martin Guitars in John Martyn’s personal collection, one change was based on John’s request for a wider fingerboard, a measurement of 1 3/4″ at the nut was adopted as opposed to the 1 11/16ths of a standard D28, a slotted headstock was also preferred and decided upon, the guitar also features a facsimile of Johns signature at the 20th fret together with an “Orb” inlay at the 5th fret which is a recreation of the artwork from John’s 1973 album “Solid Air”
Uncannily enough, John never got to see the completed guitar, he was due to receive #1 and “Mark” from Westside had informed John of the guitars arrival from the USA, John said to “come on over”, Mark made plans for the trip and handover however, John passed away the night before the intended delivery.
The guitar we have here is number 14, it was originally owned by an individual “Richard” from Yorkshire in the UK who also had a home in Ballinskelligs, Co.Kerry Ireland which was very close to John’s home in Thomastown Co.Kilkenny, the two of them became firm friends and drinking buddies, Richard also cooked Curries for John on a regular basis, the guitar was originally bought as a recognition and celebration of their friendship. Learn more about John on his website. You can also watch this great Youtube clip, as well as an interview with him, below.
John Martyn Interview
We would be interested to hear from any owners of this model, we are interested to see where the 25 guitars ended up, working from information provided to us so far, we know where #1,& #2 are, please feel free to get in touch.
All in all, An extraordinary Guitar in Acknowledgement of an Extraordinary Musician