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The Martin D 35S Acoustic Guitar

Updated on August 1, 2017
Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.


The Martin D 35 S

Recently I stopped by over at my grandmother's place and one of my uncles was there; he'd a couple guitar cases on one of the couches, and one of them I didn't recognize. So I asked him,

"hey, what do you got in that case?"

He sort of nonchalantly told me that it was his Martin D 35 S. Now I got pretty excited about that because I knew he had a few Martin acoustic guitars, but I didn't know he had that one, and it turns out that his is a late 1960s model, with some truly beautiful Brazilian rosewood on the back and sides. It's a very expensive and beautiful instrument. Now, my chops are about non existent at the moment, as I've been most often playing this keyboard that you're viewing the product of; but I did get it out and do a very sloppy flatpicked "Wildwood Flower."

The Martin D 35S Front Side


The Martin D 35 S

I can't help but imagine that I'm one of the few persons in the world who can reach about a foot to my left and grab a 1968 Martin Acoustic Guitar catalog, but that's what I just did, and I'll just type out and italicize what it has to say about it's very fine D 35 S model acoustic guitar.

A Brazilian Rosewood body with three piece back and D 35 appointments. The top is two piece spruce construction, selected for both tone and beauty. Neck of mahogany with slotted head, 1 7/8' at the nut, and joined to the folk style Dreadnought body at the 12th fret. African ebony bridge and fingerboard. Lacquer finish, polished to a mirror like gloss.

The Martin D 35S Backside

Modern Specifications

The Martin D 35 S acoustic guitar is still a production model instrument, however, the description that I shared up above isn't accurate concerning the modern production model of this guitar in a number of ways. What isn't mentioned in the specifications above is that the type of spruce soundboard that the Martin guitar company was most likely using in those years for these guitars is red spruce, or Adirondack Spruce.

Now, Adirondack Spruce is still very much available, but it's no longer the main kind of spruce used for Martin Guitars, Sitka Spruce IS the kind used in most production model Martin Guitars. Adirondack Spruce is now considered a pretty big upgrade, dollar wise, as it's been over used, and not as replaced as it should have been. Most serious acoustic guitarists well know that Adirondack is often a superior wood to be used as a soundboard for any instrument, however, one must also come to know that no two pieces of wood are ever truly comparable, and so a good Sitka Spruce soundboard could well produce a better tone, clarity of notes, and volume than could a similar piece of Adirondack Spruce. In the end, personal opinion is what matters most.

Brazilian Rosewood too is no longer used on standard production model Martin Acoustic Guitars, including the D 35S, but it is available for a much higher price. Indian Rosewood is what is currently being used. Again, what is favorable in tonality and appearance for one person might not be the preference of another person. You are your own best judge of what you like in a guitars sound, play-ability, and appearance.

Neck Width, and Other Specifications

All other specifications listed from the Summer 68' Martin Acoustic Guitar Catalog will all be most likely the same.  At this point what needs the most pointing out is that the neck of this guitar is 1 7/8" at the nut, and will be that same width the length of the neck.  This is a much wider neck than is common for a standard Dreadnought guitar made my C.F. Martin & Co., or any other manufacturer either modern or no longer doing business. One and seven eighths inches IS the standard, I believe, for Martin "S" series guitars.

What is an "S" series guitar?  Well, the "S" stands for the slotted headstock, which is very different from the solid piece headstock found on standard Dreadnought guitars.  Standard Dreadnought, or "flat top" acoustics have fourteen frets clear of the body, and a solid headstock, whereas the "S" series only has twelve frets clear of the body.  Having twelve frets clear of the body makes the instrument a bit shorter in length, obviously, and the length of the neck being shorter affects the tonality of these instruments in ways that my ears can not detect.  Honestly, I'd likely be able to hear the differences if I were to spend more time with S series acoustics.


All acoustic guitars that are solid wood construction made by the legendary American guitar company, C.F. Martin & Co., are going to be very high quality instruments with the price to prove it. These are professional grade guitars, and the Martin D 35 S acoustic guitar is another one of them. With the wider neck that is standard for the S series Martin guitars, one would most likely use these guitars for finger style playing, and even Classical or Flamenco pieces. There is absolutely no reason at all, however, that you can not make any kind of music that you so desire with such a fine instrument as the Martin D 35 S acoustic guitar.


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    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 10 months ago from Kaufman, Texas

      I love that story, Paul!

    • profile image

      Paul H 10 months ago

      I just saw this post. I have a D35s that I bought in 1975. His name is "Butch". (My wife and I name all of our guitars) He's the reason I met my wife. I was going to be playing for a service and had Butch sitting on the floor (in the case) and this good looking red head walked by and said "nice old Martin." I thought, this girl knows what a Martin guitar is??? Turns out she had a HD35 she was playing for the service.

      Butch doesn't get played much anymore, but when he does, it's like coming "home" again. He's had some nicks and dings through the years, and that's the reason I met James Olson back in the late 70's, and we now each also have an Olson guitar. Life is good!!

    • profile image

      Dhenry 21 months ago

      Actually, the "S" stands for Standard body...I have a 1990 D35S with 12 fret neck and standard machine heads...

      Best bass sound in the Accoustic world!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Hey Micy Dee! I don't know how I failed to reply in a timely manner, I've sometimes got more going on on the net than I can keep up with.

      Yeah, Takamine, Yamaha, and Alvarez make some great acoustics that can often be had at much smarter prices than Martin, or other great American acoustic guitar company's instruments. I damn near fell in love with one at a Dallas guitar store once.

    • Micky Dee profile image

      Micky Dee 7 years ago

      Yeah man. I have a Japanese version of this I guess. I have a 40 year old Takamine. Play on brotherman!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Hey Dr. Amillia, it's time consuming to learn to play well, but it's very rewarding :-D

    • Dr. Amilia profile image

      Dr. Amilia 7 years ago

      Such a beautiful guitar, always wante one.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Thanks flying_fish! I like the sound of steel strings over nylon in most all cases; but I do like classical and flamenco tunes too. Mostly these days, I play the keyboard(the one I'm playing right here and now)

    • flying_fish profile image

      flying_fish 7 years ago from GTA

      I like finger-picking steel - and one bonus is that when I lay hands on the then-unfamiliar nylon, (and after spending a few minutes warming up to a wider neck, of course), I find my playing becomes much more fluid much more easily. Great hub!

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Now Leo, I HAVE seen in concert!!!!! Finally I get to tell you about a concert!! That dude is amazing, and funny as hell too. First big time fingerpicker that played steel strings.

    • justom profile image

      justom 7 years ago from 41042

      I was just listening to Leo on the way back from Pittsburgh. I never liked those wide necks either but is is a nice looking guitar.

    • Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

      Wesman Todd Shaw 7 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

      Dude, I've never heard of that guitarist, but he's the only videos that I could find with someone playing a Martin D 35S. He's good, I like him, but man, I wish he had some decent recording equipment, ya know?

      Thanks Tom! Yeah, it's a badass guitar, I only don't like the neck being so wide, but if I were into classical, it would be just the thing for a great steel string guitar. Leo Kottke style music on it would kick ass.

    • justom profile image

      justom 7 years ago from 41042

      Great hub Todd, a lot of good info and I fuckin' love that video for some reason.


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