-- Museum of Musical Instruments
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   Martin's dreadnought model has met with more success and been copied more often than any other acoustic guitar of the twentieth century. Designated by the letter D, this wide-bodied instrument was named after the largest class of English battleships from the early 1900s. Martin first produced large guitars like this in 1916, although they were for sale only through the Ditson Company, based in Boston and New York City. But in 1931, players increasingly sought more volume from guitars; Martin made the first Dreadnoughts for distribution under their own name. The number 45 in the model's name denotes Martin's fanciest style, which incorporates a border of abalone and ivory-grained celluloid binding around the top, back, and soundhole. Compared with many of the presentation-style instruments sold by firms such as Lyon and Healy earlier in the century, the D-45 may seem plain. The Martin Company traditionally limited the decoration on their guitars, instead focusing on superior construction and tone quality. The first D-45 was made in 1933 on special order for cowboy star Gene Autry, and only ninety more were made before 1942. The few surviving pre-war D-45s are now among the world's most valuable guitars in the vintage market.

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