Bob Dylan and Martin Acoustic Guitars: The Martin 00-17 and the Martin 00-15
Bob Dylan And His Martin 00-17
Bob Dylan And Martin Acoustic Guitars
As a total and gigantic icon of American music and songwriting, Bob Dylan's very name carries with it the aura of respect, and the effect of awe, and adoration. Very few in our comparatively short, but formerly proud tradition here in the USA can compare with the lyrical genius and melody making Bob has provided over the years.
Bob didn't go it alone. He was initially a supremely successful singing poet who set the backdrop of his music to acoustic guitar, performed by himself, and on another American icon, a guitar made by C.F. Martin & Company.
Facts are, Bob Dylan was so very closely related to the acoustic guitar in the minds of his fans, the first time he appeared on stage with an electric guitar was the first time he was, literally, boo'd off of a stage, and even referred to as a "Judas." There is, however, some interesting controversy as to what is or isn't true in that story.
Young Bob Dylan With His Martin 00-17
Martin Guitars And Bob Dylan
So what kind of guitar does Bob Dylan play?
Well, the easy answer here is, "any guitar he wants!" Bob Dylan has, of course, been a cultural and musical songwriting and singing legend my entire life, and had been a good long while before I was born. From the very beginning of Bob's performing and recording career, he played Martin guitars. In fact, as he'd modeled himself somewhat after another folk legend he'd admired as a youth, Woody Guthrie, he'd managed to attain and become known for playing the Martin 00-17 throughout his earliest days in New York City.
I should be clear here as to the guitars associated with Bob Dylan over the years: He's not always played Martin guitars, he's also been rather fond of Gibson guitars, and the electric guitar Bob infamously played to the dismay of his acoustic folk loving fans? It was a Fender Stratocaster. Bob Dylan has done rather well at promoting all three of America's big three guitar manufacturers, but of course the relationships were mutually beneficial, and also beneficial to the fans of the music created by Bob Dylan.
Bob Dylan's Martin 00-17
Bob Dylan's often photographed and well remembered Martin 00-17 is a 1949 model. The Martin 00-17 was never one of the company's most popular instruments, in fact, it was one of the most affordable guitars C.F. Martin & Company produced at the time. It is no longer produced today, but do not fret..well, fret away, but I mean, "do not fear;" as Martin does make an instrument almost identical to the 00-17 that is readily available on the global marketplace.
It was beyond certain that Bob Dylan's arrival in New York City, and consequently, on the national musical spotlight with a Martin 00-17 was due to his admiration for Woody Guthrie, and Woody Guthrie's frequent recordings and appearances with the instrument. Bob would play the 00-17 exclusively for his first three years of performing, and following that, well, he could most certainly afford most any other guitar he desired, and ...owning one guitar is just never enough for the guitarist, and any guitarist would well agree!
Not Bob Dylan, That is Me - With A Martin 00-17
So What Is A Martin 00-17?
Quite naturally, the Martin 00-17 is a great little guitar. I said, "little," as it isn't anywhere near as large as a dreadnought sized guitar, it is a few sizes down from there in size, but the size of the thing isn't what is especially different about it, what makes the 00-17 Martin guitar truly different is it being made entirely from mahogany.
Very often Martin and other guitar manufacturers will create mahogany guitars but then put a spruce top on them, but that is not how it is with the 00-17, the Martin 00-17 has a mahogany sound board, and a mahogany body, and a mahogany neck as well.
The following from a 1940 Martin catalogue, yes, I have one:
Selected mahogany body, top, and neck, with rosewood fingerboard and bridge; steel T -bar makes the slim neck very rigid under the oval fingerboard with wide frets and white dots. Hand rubbed and polished lacquer finish, dark mahogany color. Nickel - plated tuning machines, single unit style.Price: $35.00The Mahogany used in Martin instruments comes from tropical America. In three inch lumber for necks and in quarter sawn veneer for bodies it is air dried and carefully matched in color and grain; that means fine tone and appearance.
Now pretty obviously you aren't going to get a 00-17 for thirty five dollars from anywhere with a sane person selling guitars. I've priced these guitars on the web at four and five thousand dollars, but a large part of that price comes from two factors:
1.all 00-17 guitars are rather old, and,
2. They don't make them anymore.
So dude, I've always wanted to own a guitar just like Bob Dylan used in his early performances and recordings! It just has a different sound, and that is the sound I want! What do I do?
Well, you are correct, the small all mahogany guitar does have a different sound, and I'm glad you asked, as there is, in fact, a solution to your problem.
The Martin 00-15 Guitar!
The Martin 00-15
With only a few exceptions, the Martin 00-15 is a reproduction of the Martin 00-17. It is an outstanding concert sized all mahogany guitar available at an amazingly affordable price.
It is unclear as to whether Martin 00-15's are being constructed with a combination of mahogany and Sapele, or if maybe some are entirely of mahogany, and others entirely of Sapele. In the case of Sapele, nothing is lost, as Sapele is a cousin to mahogany, and is so very similar few can see or hear the difference. Of course the fingerboard or fret-board and the bridge of these guitars are made from rosewood, and in this case, it is East Indian rosewood.
Of course the Mortise/Tenon neck joint is not something the 00-17 was built with, and of course new glues, finishes, slightly different bracing, and new factories and employees are involved; but C.F. Martin & Company is trustworthy in regards to their product as an absolute rule.Priced and available new at about a thousand dollars, this is a lifetime guitar.
- CONSTRUCTION: Mortise/Tenon Neck Joint
- BODY SIZE: 00-14 Fret
- TOP: Solid Sapele or Genuine Mahogany
- ROSETTE: Gold & Black Style Herringbone
- TOP BRACING PATTERN: 001 (A-Frame)
- TOP BRACES: Sitka/1 Style/Non-Scalloped
- BACK MATERIAL: Solid Sapele or Genuine Mahogany
- BACK PURFLING: none
- SIDE MATERIAL: Solid Sapele or Genuine Mahogany
- ENDPIECE: none
- NECK MATERIAL: Select Hardwood
- NECK SHAPE: Modified Low Oval
- NUT MATERIAL: White Corian
- HEADSTOCK: Solid/6 String No Diamond/Standard Taper
- HEADPLATE: Solid East Indian Rosewood /Raised Gold Foil Logo
- FINGERBOARD MATERIAL: Solid East Indian Rosewood
- SCALE LENGTH: 25.4''
- # OF FRETS CLEAR: 14
- # OF FRETS TOTAL: 20
- FINGERBOARD WIDTH AT NUT: 1 11/16''
- FINGERBOARD WIDTH AT 12TH FRET: 2 1/8''
- FINGERBOARD POSITION INLAYS: Style 28
- FINGERBOARD BINDING: none
- FINISH BACK & SIDES: Satin/ Mahogany Stain
- FINISH TOP: Satin
- FINISH NECK: Satin/ Dark Mahogany Stain
- BRIDGE MATERIAL: Solid East Indian Rosewood
- BRIDGE STYLE: 1 Style Belly
- BRIDGE STRING SPACING: 2 1/8''
- SADDLE: Compensated White Tusq
- TUNING MACHINES: Chrome w/ Small Knobs
- BRIDGE & END PINS: White w/ Black Dots
- PICKGUARD: I-01 Tortoise Color
- CASE: 350 Hard Shell
- INTERIOR LABEL: Paper Label
- ELECTRONICS: Optional
- OTHER OPTIONS: Available left-handed at no additional charge
Questions & Answers
I have a 00-17 S/N 158172 Martin said was produced in 1957. Excellent condition and sounds beautiful. Was once tuned up by a guy in Seattle who took care of the Brothers Four's instruments. How do I get the best price for it? I'd work with an agent. I'm in Oregon.
I'd point out this was the exact model guitar Woody Guthrie always used, and because of Woody, Bob Dylan used this model very early in his career. It's an American classic for the singer-songwriter with a folk music inclination.Helpful 1
© 2013 Wesman Todd Shaw