1972 Martin D12-20 12-String Dreadnought Guitar

I've owned a couple of this same-model guitar in the past, myself, and enjoyed them thoroughly. One of my customers sent this one in after he picked it up on the cheap -- it has replacement tuners (era-correct, though), a repaired headstock crack (to the outer arm of one slot), and needed the usual work to be done on it.

His mission was to get it sounding like it could bang-out chords in "Tom Petty" fashion for recording. Sure! My favorite 12-string sound is that jingle-jangle chord-strumming with a thin pick and thinner strings. I like the strings low, slinky, and fast on a 12 that I'm using for chordal work -- and that's how I set them up per standard. If you're detuning or on a Leadbelly bang-clank operation, then we can talk about that as that's my favorite other 12-string sound.

Post-work (and there was a bit of it), this guitar sounds lush and chimey and plays quick and easy. I think it was a good decision for him to go with the mahogany-backed D12-20 model rather than the D12-35. The latter model sounds excellent but I think the deeper voice lends itself to open tunings and heavier strings.

The 12-fret "slope shoulder" body on these guys gives a lot of extra airspace which gives these guitars a surreal amount of projection when you're sitting out-front from them. In addition, the 12-string versions also have short scale lengths (24 7/8") which means the neck feels a bit closer to your left hand than on the later-made, long-scale Martin 12 strings -- and the tension is a little lighter.

Repairs included: a neck reset, fret level/dress, saddle slot recut/widening and new fully-compensated bone saddle (Martin put the saddle location the typical 1/16" off from where it should've been), replacement black pickguard, shaving of the braces (about 1/4 of the material off of the main X on the lower bout and the three tonebars below it) to open-up the sound, and general cleaning and setup.

Setup notes: it plays perfectly with 1/16" treble and hair-over 1/16" bass at the 12th fret, strung with a custom set of 12-string 10s gauged: 22w/46w, 15/36w, 11/26w, 8/18w, 13/13, 10/10. The difference compared to an average set of 12-string 10s is that the higher octave strings are all gauged a little lighter and the wound G string is quite thin. This keeps the feel more even and easy and the sound is more balanced, too.

Scale length: 24 7/8"
Nut width: 1 7/8"
String spacing at nut: 1 13/16"
String spacing at bridge: 2 3/8"
Body length: 21"
Lower bout width: 15 5/8"
Waist width: 10 3/4"
Upper bout width: 11 1/2"
Side depth at endpin: 5"
Top wood: solid spruce
Back/sides wood: solid mahogany
Bracing type: x, 3 tonebars
Fretboard: rosewood
Bridge: rosewood, bone saddle
Neck feel: slim-medium C-shape, ~14" board radius

Condition notes: replacement saddle (fully comp'd), replacement bridge pins, replacement (period) tuners, replacement pickguard, endpin jack for pickup, minor scratching at the soundhole but overall very clean in the finish, and an old headstock crack repair (non-issue).

There's plenty of saddle now! Note that while it's hard to see in the pics, it's fully-compensated for each string on the top.