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Martin Introduces Doobie-42 Tom Johnston Model Guitar [ Winter NAMM 2007 ]

18 January 2007 — One of the most popular rock bands of the 1970s, the Doobie Brothers are known for their string of gold and platinum albums—including Toulouse Street (1972), The Captain and Me (1973), and What Once Were Vices Are Now Habits (1974). The Doobies gave us such hits as “Listen to the Music,” “Black Water,” and “China Grove,” all of which are now classic-rock staples.

One of the band’s founding members, guitarist Tom Johnston is a master of rock, soul, and blues idioms. While primarily an electric guitarist, Johnston has long had an affinity for Martin guitars. In

his personal collection are a 1962 00-18 and a 1975 D-42, and he has written various songs on the 00-18. Given Johnston’s prominence as a rock guitarist over the last several decades—both with the Doobie Brothers and on his own—it was time to honor him with a signature model.

The Doobie-42 Tom Johnston Model is based on the D-42—Martin’s classic, deluxe Dreadnought. Like the standard D-42, the Doobie-42 has a solid Sitka spruce top, reinforced with scalloped braces, for tone and power, and matched to solid East Indian rosewood back and sides. The low-profile neck is carved from genuine mahogany and the polished headplate is made from East Indian rosewood. The bridge’s compensated bone saddle is perfect for both strumming and fingerpicking.

Johnston’s model is unique in that it combines traditional ornamentation with modern motifs, most of which were inspired by Doobie Brothers’ album art. The guitar is decorated with grained ivoroid binding, eye-catching bold herringbone purfling, and snowflake position markers, all of which have been used for many years on Martin guitars. But then there are the playful touches that Johnston created with Martin: in place of the pearl-block-letter Martin logo found on the headplate of the standard D-42 is the familiar Old Style Decal logo; this allows room below for a Doobie Brothers emblem (from the cover of 1989’s Cycle), the wings of which are inlaid with mother of pearl, surrounded by a circle of select abalone.

Amidst the snowflakes, at the 12th fret of the fingerboard is an eighth note, made of select abalone. Johnston requested that this nonstandard inlay be placed sideways, so that when the guitar is in playing position the note appears upright, as it would on a musical staff. Inlaid in mother of pearl on the treble side of the bridge is the “OK” hand symbol, seen on Doobies’ Choice; a mirror image of the symbol appears on the treble side. While these elements might sound a bit incongruous on paper, they actually work quite well with the standard D-42 design—the new and old ornaments complement each other perfectly.

The Doobie-42 is finished in top-quality full gloss; vintage toner on the top lends a vintage patina. Factory-installed electronics are available as an extra-cost option; left-hand instruments can be ordered at no additional cost. True to the Doobie Brothers name, the guitar will be shipped in a 545 hemp case with tobacco lining, and each Doobie-42 Tom Johnston Model Signature Edition guitar bears an interior label personally signed by Tom Johnston and Martin Chairman C. F. Martin IV, numbered in sequence with the edition total, which will not exceed XXX guitars.
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