When I was in high school, a friend of mine had a Martin guitar–a D12-35. I thought it both musically and aesthetically fantastic, so when I started to play a little later, my measure for a great guitar was a Martin. This one:
This is the guitar I bought in about 1980, a brand-new, built in 1974, C. F. Martin OO-18. It’s a small guitar, perfect for hunching over and playing a tune. By the time this photo was taken in summer 1981, I had put an acoustic pickup, a Barcus-Barry piezo BBJr., inside under the bridge. The guitar was great, but the pickup never sounded very good. That was OK; I’ve never really been much of a performer though, if I do say so myself, I’m a reasonably good player.
That Martin has been with me through college, grad school, work and law school; girlfriends, wife and children, moves all over the country. The only things “almost” about it are that one of the strings (g) sticks when tuning near full tension (I’ve learned to live with that) and that it could have a touch more bass response (but that’s the price for a small guitar).
Its name is Sam, and it’s about as close to perfect as anything gets. The frets are worn a bit now (especially down where you play in open position–what I heard someone call the “cowboy frets”–because that’s how I like to play). I could have them replaced. But I’ve grown accustomed to them, and I’d hate to have to relearn this instrument late in its life. Here’s a picture of Sam taken this morning, almost 31 years after the first: