A little dreadnought history –
The very first dreadnought was designed and built at Martin by John Deichman in 1916, at a time when there was great demand for bigger and louder guitars. It became the prototype for a series of large-body instruments built exclusively for the Ditson department stores in Boston and New York, 14 years before Martin offered a dreadnought under its own brand name.
Incidentally, the term dreadnought was a play on words. In one respect it was cashing in on the public's fascination with the largest class of British battleships during the Great War, named for the colossal HMS Dreadnought (or "fear nothing"). But it was also an inside joke. Martin referred to its 0, 00 and 000 guitar sizes as "Single Aught", "Double Aught" and "Triple Aught." Since the new guitar dwarfed all previous designs, it was the biggest Aught of them all. And like those gigantic battleships of old, one could take it into a room full of fiddles, banjos and mandolins and "dread not".
This special edition is based partly on a 1929 version currently in the Martin Museum and a 1924 version that is the oldest X braced dread still in existence. That was the year Martin changed the dreadnought bracing from a fan pattern designed to work with steel strings and replaced it with a reinforced version of their original X brace pattern. This was the first time Martin's two most famous inventions, the X brace and the dreadnought, were brought together in the same guitar.
This near mint condition Martin Ditson Model 111 is a 2007 special reissue of that groundbreaking guitar, meticulously re-created from the measurements of one of the seven original Ditsons. Built with a premium Adirondack Spruce top and braces (the same woods used on the original Great War era guitars) with Mahogany back, sides and neck, The Ditson is a featherweight build for its size.
Vintage touches like the Brazilian Rosewood bindings and headstock overlay, Ditson style tortoise pickguard, Waverly engraved 3-per side tuners with Ivoroid buttons, 1 7/8″ nut width, antique toner top finish, and solid Ebony fingerboard and pyramid bridge,, the Ditson 111 is faithful in every detail, right down to the Ditson Co. stamps on the headstock and centre brace.
- 15-3/4" lower bout
- Adirondack spruce top with aging toner and scalloped braces
- Mahogany back and sides
- Modified V-shaped 12-fret mahogany neck with slotted headstock
- 19-fret ebony fingerboard with abalone dot inlays
- 1-7/8" nut
- 25.4" scale
- Ebony pyramid bridge
- Tortoise plastic pickguard
- Single ring multi-layered rosette
- Brazilian rosewood body binding and headstock overlay
- Engraved Waverly Sloane tuners with ivoroid buttons
- Inside label signed by C.F. Martin IV
The neck is supoer comfortable at a nut width of 1-7/8" and it has many other features taken from the original Ditson dreads. The Delmer pickguard is identical to that 1924 model and rather alien in appearance compared to modern guards, but one which imparts a great vintage look. It has the adjustable truss rod, modern frets and gloss finish used on contemporary Martins.
This 12-fret variety does not have the bass swell that one gets out of a 14-fret dread, which sacrifices some midrange strength. Instead it is nicely balanced across all six strings, huge from top to bottom. It has a breathtaking chime when strummed with fingernails, a clear and singing voice when fingerpicked and if you take a flat pick to it, the Dison has a whole new tone all its own. Even when strumming lightly it delivers the "wow" factor. This is a LOT of guitar.
Weighing in at around 4 lbs, the Ditson is one of the lightest Martin dreadnoughts you are likely to come across. The neck profile is pleasingly full, with smooth low action over dead level fretwork. Best of all, the rare Adirondack spruce top, legendary on the prewar models, produces a voice that is stunningly clear, even and powerful.
This Martin Ditson III is in almost mint condition with barely a mark on it. It has been part of a collection and played sparingly since new, which is a shame because guitars like this need to be played and deserve to be heard.
Comes in its vintage style Martin hard case with arched top in excellent condition.
Video demo of same model - https://youtu.be/4-gP-GVSbas