1930 Martin 1-28P Plectrum Guitar

Some instruments just run away with your imagination, don't they? This oddball Martin is one of those. It has an absurdly-long, 26 13/16" scale length that takes this 4-string into that lush, chimey, Greek bouzouki-like sustain that one encounters on openback 5-string banjos. Mix that up with a normal '30s Martin tenor's sweet, rich, and gorgeous tone, and you have something that's not at all expected -- a springy, clean, complicated instrument that's very different from a "normal" guitar's voice but yet captures that pre-war Martin sound to a T. As you can hear in the clips -- it responds really fast so you can play light and with nuance and yet have the notes pop right off the strings.

While it was intended to be played in "traditional plectrum banjo" tuning (CGBD), you can get a taste of the zippy, chordally-driven sound it was meant for in my 2nd video clip where I'm in the similar DGBE tuning. It's the sound of this instrument in the 1st video clip, however, that I want you to draw your attention to -- these Martin plectrum guitars sound totally-lovely in open tunings and I think that's where they really shine. Cross-reference this with the octave-lower open tuning I put another customer's 1-17P in just recently.

The owner of this instrument initially sent this over for resale, but I'm pretty sure we'll be working to get this into my hands. I really don't know when I'll ever see another 1-28P surface again. I think there were only 19 of this style made, as I recall from my web-journeys looking for information on it. My Martin tech reference book is on loan, so I can't look that up at the moment.

It came in a visually-nice state, despite plenty of weather-checking and the strange discoloration near the bridge on the top. Its action height was also fine, too. The most obvious problem was in the frets -- they were all askew and ruining playability. A "baked-in" backbow to the neck also meant that a certain tension was needed to get the neck straight at pitch. Other small problems arose as I poked-around on the inside of the guitar -- there were a couple loose back braces, the bridge needed a reglue, and none of the three top hairline cracks had been cleated.

Work included: a fret seating and level/dress job (done with the neck pushed into a flat position via fun clamping and fulcrum use), cleats for the small hairline cracks on the top, a thin bridge plate cap to shore-up a damaged/cracked original bridge plate, minor cleaning, and a setup. Action is bang-on at 1/16" at the 12th fret and it's strung with 30w, 20w, 13, 10 gauges. The neck's straight under tension.

Scale length: 25 13/16"
Nut width: 1 3/4"
String spacing at nut: 1 1/2"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/8"
Body length: 19 7/8"
Lower bout width: 15 1/2"
Waist width: 8 7/8"
Upper bout width: 11 1/4"
Side depth at endpin: 4"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: flamed maple sides, ply maple back
Neck wood: mahogany
Bracing type: Bohmann double/quadruple-X
Fretboard: ebonized maple
Bridge: ebony, StewMac pyramid type
Neck feel: big V, ~12" board radius

Condition notes: there's minor wear-and-tear throughout and weather-check to the finish all-over. The finish is all-original and has some black discoloration near the bass side of the bridge and just behind it. All parts are original save the bridge pins and saddle which are replacements. There's a filled hole on the back of the headstock in the center of the 4 tuners. I'm not sure what it's for -- maybe there was a strap button or hook installed there at some point? 

It comes with: a non-original, foam-padded case.

Bar frets! Diamond inlay! Ebony board!

The pickguard is killer, isn't it?

Check out the herringbone trim. Mmm.

I gave the saddle some extra compensation when I did the setup.

That is some deadly-straight Brazilian rosewood.

There's one old-repaired hairline crack on the back, too.


Rob Gardner said…
Boy, what a little beauty this guy is. Sounds so great too, all that music coming out of that little box, rings like silver, shines like gold.
Phillips said…
Sure love this little guy