Apparently she has some emotional attachment to it because it belonged to her late mother. I can respect that, even taking into account the fact that she herself doesn't even play guitar. I try not to get emotionally involved with my guitars because a couple of them broke my heart. At least that's what I tell myself. The truth is that some guitars speak to us, or remind of times and places where wonderful things happened and that particular guitar was part of it.
Of the 50-plus acoustic guitars I've owned over the years the only one I'd love to have back really wasn't anything particularly special. It was a 1969 Martin D-28. I'm pretty sure it was made within months of when Martin switched over to East Indian rosewood, with Brazilian becoming almost impossible for them to purchase in large quantities. So it probably doesn't have a lot of value as a collectable, even now after 40-plus years. That doesn't matter though.
That old D-28 belonged to a good friend of mine from high school, Arthur Kimball. Arthur decided he wanted to seriously study classical guitar so the Martin had to go. I think I bought it from him for something like $450. It was a pretty typical Martin dreadnaught - loud and punchy when strummed with good sustain and resonance but somewhat lacking in the treble end. No matter - it was a Martin dread and I strummed and finger-picked it with equal enthusiasm.
I used it for bar gigs with another acoustic guitarist/singer and used it for teaching. In those days we weren't as careful with our guitars as we are now and it gradually began sporting a few dings and scratches. If memory serves, I even brought it on a few camping trips and thought nothing of taking it out in the evening to play while the campfire burned. Horror of horrors! I would be reluctant to do that with even a "beater" these days.
Then around 1975 I met fiddler Marie Rhines. Marie was (and is) the most talented musician I will ever perform with. We played many festivals, recorded an album, fiddle contests, concerts and did a couple extensive tours, and that D-28 was what I used. Again, thinking of the way things are done now, if I was to do those things these days I would certainly take along AT LEAST two guitars, maybe three, just in case something happened to one of them. But again, back then most everyone had just one guitar.
That old Martin held its own on stage in front of a microphone and it was during that time that I learned the subtle art of playing just the right distance from a mic depending upon how loudly I was playing and if I wanted certain notes or passages to be accentuated. I came to know its quirks, which notes would buzz if played too loudly, and how to keep the B string just a tiny bit flat so that when it was fretted it would be in tune. This is an quirk of many Martin dreads.
At one point I decided I wanted my D-28 to me unique and I had just discovered the beautiful "snowflake and diamond" inlay pattern used on many old guitars from the 1920s and 1930s. So I brought it to a local guitar repairman and had him replace the standard Martin round inlays with that vintage pattern. I thought it looked very cool and so did quite a few musicians I met along the way in those years with Marie.
But all good things must come to an end, as they say. Marie and I stopped playing together in the the late 70s and to be frank, I was pretty devastated by the break-up. The fact that she dropped me to play with Tony Rice was, shall we say, understandable, but it hurt nevertheless. So I decided I was going to go in another direction entirely - electric rock 'n roll! I noticed an ad in the old Boston Phoenix that stated the person wanted to trade a basic Fender Strat and a small Ampeg amp for an acoustic. We made the trade.
I don't remember what I did for an acoustic at that point but I had something that was no doubt adequate. But almost immediately I missed that old D-28. Sometime in the mid 1980s I walked into the Music Emporium when it was still in Cambridge and on the wall, there it was! My old D-28, easily identified by its unique inlay. I took it down and played it for a few minutes and everything kind of came back, the good times I'd had with that guitar, the places it went, the people we played with. And it sounded very, very good.
I'd like to tell you this story has a happy ending, that I bought it back right then and there but that wasn't what happened. I think the Music Emporium wanted something like $800 for it and I just didn't have the money. A couple months later when I did I called the store but alas, my old D-28 had sold and the person I spoke with had no recollection of who had bought it.
And I've been looking for it ever since.
So, if you happen to see a 1970 Martin D-28 with diamond and snowflake inlays, please contact me right away. Even if the guitar is just being played and not for sale. I would gladly trade a much more expensive guitar for it.
Peace & good music,