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The Sounding Board
The Official Newletter of the Martin Guitar Company
C.F. Martin Honors American Folk Legend
                        Woody Guthrie
   With 000-18WG Commemorative Guitar

Volume 7 July 1999
by Dick Boak

Link to Martin Guitar Website

oodrow "Woody" Wilson Guthrie is considered one of the most influential folk musicians of all time. Immortalized as an American legend, and inducted posthumously into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1988, Guthrie wrote such classics as "This Land is Your Land," "I Ain't Got No Home," and "Pretty Boy Floyd." Born in Oklahoma in 1912, Guthrie's music and controversial politics were influenced by his own experiences as a migrant farm worker. His songs reflect his concern about classic conflict, union issues and the American West. Guthrie impacted some of the country's greatest songwriters including Pete Seeger, Leadbelly, Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen and others. Guthrie died of Huntington's Disease in 1967.
     In honor of Guthrie's legacy, his individuality, spirit and lasting impact on the American music scene, Martin is honored to unveil the 000-18WG Woody Guthrie commemorative guitar. Woody is not the first Guthrie to be honored with a Martin addition. In 1997, Martin honored Arlo Guthrie with a limited addition guitar series which commemorated the 30th anniversary of his famous song, 'Alice's Restaurant.' Of the 60 instruments that were offered (30 six-string and 30 twelve-string models), all sold out within days of their introduction. Toward the end of that project, Arlo visited the Martin factory with an old Martin guitar that Woody had given him as a child.

   Woody owned many Martin guitars, among them the occasional mahogany topped model of the type popular during the post depression years. This photo was taken in June of 1940 at the Highlander Folk School in Kentucky (above).

   A bare chested Woody Guthrie photographed in California with one of his 000 "Auditorium-sized" Martin guitars (above).

   The instrument was in rough condition and in the process of getting the guitar back into shape, discussions about the potential for a Woody Guthrie commemorative model began.

   Woody had owned literally hundreds of guitars throughout his career, many of them Martins. He gravitated toward more affordable smaller bodied 0, 00, 000 mahogany guitars, and he would often give his instruments away to aspiring musicians along the way. Irreverently, he often wrote or drew on his instruments. Perhaps one of his more famous statements is: "This Machine Kills Fascists!", a quote which Woody painted on most of the guitars he owned.

   The 000-18WG Woody Guthrie Commemorative is a 14-fret 000 "auditorium" model inspired by the smaller bodied guitars of the pre-World War II era, Vintage 000-18s are especially prized for their lightness, brilliance, and purity of tone. The braces that support the solid spruce top are carefully scalloped to achieve optimum tone. The back and sides are bookmatched from select solid straight-grained genuine mahogany. The rosette is inlaid in the vintage style with plain black inner and outer rings. The solid genuine mahogany neck is slightly V-shaped with a squared and tapered headstock bearing the old style Martin decal logo. Tuning gears are the vintage open gear variety with chrome butterbean knobs.

"This world is your world.
Take it easy, but take it!"

   The fingerboard is genuine ebony, inlaid with abalone dots in the vintage style. The bridge, also of genuine ebony, is fitted with a long "through" saddle. Woody Guthrie's stylized signature is inlaid in pearl between the 19th and 20th frets.

   Each interior edition label will be personally co-signed by Arlo Guthrie, Woody's daughter Nora Guthrie who manages the Woody Guthrie Archives, Woody's former manager Harold Levinthal who manages Woody Guthrie Publications, and C.F. Martin, IV. Each instrument will be numbered in sequence without total. A secondary label bears a self-portrait sketch of Woody and his guitar with the artist's memorable words, "This world is your world. Take it easy, but take it!" Inconspicuously located on the underside of the soundboard is a third label with Woody's words, "This machine kills fascists!"

   A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each 000-18WG Woody Guthrie guitar will be split between The Guthrie Center and The Woody Guthrie Foundation. Martin dealers will begin to take orders for the 000-18WG Woody Guthrie Commemorative Guitar immediately, though the actual edition will not begin to appear in stores until the early months of 2000.

   The 000-18 (above) first appeared in 1911, though its popularity really took off in 1934, after which it became one of the most popular Martin models.

    In addition to Woody's guitar playing and songwriting, he was also an accomplished painter. A secondary edition label will bear this drawing (left).

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