The Beautiful Backside Of A Martin D-42 With Madagascar Rosewood

Martin D-42 Madagascar Rosewood, Backside

The Martin D-42

A Martin D-42 is a highly sought after flat top falling in between the D-28 and the D-45 in price and beatific extras. Myself, I've never owned something so beautiful, but I've played a few.  It's important for the initiate here to understand that essentially a D-42 is a D-28 with more abalone inlay.  That's really the long and short of it, it's a more appealing to the eye D-28 that costs more for the abalone inlay work provided in the instrument.

As is well known, and often discussed, Brazilian rosewood has always been thought a "holy grail" sort of wood for acoustic guitars.  Brazilian rosewood is now extremely hard to come by, but Madagascar's rosewood is more available, and provides a lot of tonal and visual beauty in its own right.  Well, there is a new D-42 in town, and it's got it.

Frontal View Of The Ornate Martin D-42

Martin D-42 Frontal View

The Martin D-42 Madagascar Rosewood Specifications

So unless explicitly stated otherwise, the D-42 is forever the same platform for a steel stringed flat top as the D-28, and what that means is solid wood, rosewood body and spruce top. It's possible one run into a Martin D-42 which is from the custom shop. I've seen video of such a D-42 with not only Koa back and sides[1], but a Koa top as well.  That sort of instrument is going to be extremely rare, and besides that, would properly be called a D-42K2. The 42' with Madagascar rosewood will also be a somewhat rare, and rather expensive dreadnought, as the greatest majority of this model instrument one will see will have East Indian rosewood back and sides, and not the Madagascar variety, which for all intents and practical purposes may as well be considered the "new Brazilian rosewood."

Let's take a look at the specifications for this fine instrument:

  • Scale of 25.4 inches
  • Standard 1 and 11/16 inches width at the nut
  • Pre-War style "high X" scalloped bracing
  • Bone nut and compensated saddle for optimal volume, clarity, and sustain 
  • Gold plated Waverly tuning machines with "butterbean" nobs
  • 45 style abalone snowflake inlay fretboard positioning markers
  • 45 style bound peghead (C.F. Martin in bold lettering)
  • Ivoroid binding around body, fingerboard, and headstock
  • Deluxe hard shell thermoplastic Geib case
  • Limited lifetime warranty to original owner
  • Ebony bridge and fingerboard
  • Solid Madagascar rosewood back, sides
  • Solid spruce top (most models will be sitka spruce, Adirondack spruce tops are available)
  • Solid mahogany neck with traditional dove tail neck joint.
  • Hyde glue models available

Madagascar Rosewood

Let's be clear about it, this D-42 is a seven thousand dollar guitar because of the Madagascar rosewood, the Martin D-42 standard with sitka spruce and East Indian Rosewood sells for two thousand dollars less.  Plainly, it's a two thousand dollar upgrade to Madagascar rosewood, and the wood is stunningly beautiful, but by many ears the wood sounds virtually identical[2] to the less expensive and more widely available East Indian Rosewood.

There is no doubt Madagascar rosewood is a fine tonewood for steel string guitar builders to use.  There is no doubt at all it is beautiful to behold, and often is quite figured, and sometimes has a lighter color, and more variations in color than does East Indian rosewood.  If you've got the extra two thousand to buy the Madagascar rosewood D-42 instead of the standard D-42, then by all means, this guitar may be considered more beautiful.  Very few people, however, believe there is a tonal difference between East Indian rosewood and Madagascar rosewood which folks would be able to detect were they blindfolded. If money is the issue, the buyer isn't even in the market for a D-42 anyway, and why would they be when the 42 is essentially a D-28 with more abalone?  Also, a lot of the more skilled guitar builders nowadays believe top woods more affects tonality than do body woods.  In any case, in any way this is sliced, the D-42 Madagascar is a stunningly beautiful instrument, and for the right consumer, it could bring his or her musicianship to another level.  Thanks for reading.

The Gorgeous Tone And Beauty Of The Martin D-42