My 1955 Martin D28

Posted on 11/08/2014

justinhaywardIn the nineteen sixties, when we toured the USA, because all groups and singers were cheap for promoters ( we were told concerts were just about promoting records) there were always a number of acts on the bill each night. We made lots of friends that way, and got to hear lots of truly great musicians live.

At the bigger venues you would sometimes find a guitar dealer backstage, because there would be quite a few guitar players at every gig. These guys would travel all over the USA looking for great, special guitars, searching in second-hand shops, trawling through classified ads and visiting small music stores looking for that one guitar that was special.   Then they would come to gigs, set up all the guitars they had for sale strategically backstage so that the guitar players would see them as they walked back to the dressing rooms.

One night, as I came off the stage (and just before I was to get paid) I passed this line of beautiful guitars and I suddenly stopped in my tracks. There, in front of me was a simple, honey coloured D28. It was well used but clean and immaculate with no damage or dings in the body. I could tell by the machine heads that it was from the fifties, but there was something about it that spoke to me (is that possible?).

I picked it up and as soon as I played the first chord I knew –  this was it – this was the guitar I had been waiting for. I have never been parted from it since that night. It has played on every recording since 1969 and it is my true friend. Whenever I do a session with other guitar players they recognise it’s quality and beauty, and without exception they long for the same good fortune that I had that night in the USA.  I cannot find words to describe my feelings for it, all I can say is that I love it deeply.  I keep it still in the case it came to me in, and I often think about it’s history before the night when I came off stage and saw it. Who could ever part with it? But it has the best home, and it is treasured. The bridge is straight, no off-sets at all on any strings, but the intonation is absolutely true. It’s remarkable – what superb craftsmanship! It is a joy. My Martin D28.