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The 000 Perry Bechtel Special
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OK, What are the specs of a
000 Perry Bechtel Special?


Compelling as the story of Martin's first 14 fret model may be, at some point THE 000 Perry Bechtel Specials have to stand on their own. We all know there are lots of early Martin OM knock-offs to choose from, but this one IS different and it's not just the visual jolt of seeing the slotted headstock on a 14-fret neck coupled to that classic OM shape. Here are the specs:

~ Adirondack top (highest grade available).

~ East Indian rosewood back and sides, same grade as found on Style 45 OM models.

~ OM-28 Marquis shape and appointments for the body, including ivoroid binding, herringbone top border, wood fiber soundhole rosette, and "zig zag" back strip.

slotted headstock~ One piece 14 fret mahogany neck with slotted headstock. Both fretboard and headstock bound in ivoroid. "Torch" inlay on headplate. The neck has Martin's standard adjustable truss rod, so a wide range of string gauges can be accommodated.

tuners~ Engraved brass Waverly tuners with ivoroid buttons.

~ Neck 1 13/16" at the nut, instead of the usual 1 3/4" found on OM models.

~ Fretboard radius is 12 inches, instead of the usual 16 inch radius.

The combination of the last two features listed above is critical, because while either one (wider neck or steeper radius) would change the way the neck feels when you play the guitar, it's the combination that seems to work best. The greater width, combined with the steeper radius, results in a neck that doesn't really feel wider at all, but it does give your fingers more room,. And the radius makes some of those more troubling bar chords, where you have to make your index finger into a moveable capo, easier to conquer. Perry Bechtel asked Martin to produce a flattop guitar that played like his Gibson Style 0, and you can feel the difference that crossbreeding makes on these 000 Perry Bechtel Specials. The string spacing at the bridge, at 2 1/4", is a bit more narrow than the later OM's 2 3/8", so you still have enough room for fingerstyle and flatpicking is much easier, as your right hand doesn't have to travel as far.

Mahogany Neck ~ The mahogany necks of the 000 Perry Bechtel Specials also are a lighter color than standard Martin Vintage, Marquis, Golden Era, or Authentic Series models. This is because Martin used a very light neck stain on its early OM models for at least the first two or three years, and we wanted to replicate the "dark body, light neck"look of those guitars. Martin used the lightest stain in its long history on some, but not all, of its mahogany models (and mahogany necks on rosewood models) during this period, but was using a much darker stain on similar models and necks by the mid-1930s.

And the rest of the guitar, you ask?

The body of the 000 Perry Bechtel Specials is not as radically different as is the neck.
~ The top bracing consists of 5/16" wide scalloped X braces combined with 1/4" wide scalloped transverse or diagonal braces below the bridge.

~ Ebony pyramid bridge with long, "drop-in" saddle. Perry's guitar was made about a full year before Martin began using the wider, "belly" bridge. Under the top is the usual small maple bridge plate, of course. The saddle is the "long drop-in"version, which makes action adjustments relatively easy and allows installation of under-the-saddle pickups if the customer wants one. Yes, a long glued-in saddle would be more authentic, but this feature would also make action adjustments, especially raising the action, both time consuming and expensive. If you've ever tried to get the action raised on a Martin guitar with a long glued-in saddle when you're out there in the real world, you know why we made the choice we did. We're hoping these guitars get used, after all.

~ The bracing on the back differs from other Martin-made OM reissues in that the 3rd and 4th braces are low and wide, like on original OMs and like the back braces on the current D-18 Authentic. This change in back bracing results in a slightly more flexible back.

Other differences:

pickguardThese guitars are shipped to Gryphon from the Martin Guitar Company without pickguards. The pickguards are made by Frank Ford, using an early 1930 OM as a model, both for the shape and the placement, and the material is real cellulose nitrate, just like the original Martin pickguards. The color is a dark reddish brown faux tortoiseshell pattern. We didn't want to ask Martin to make a special pickguard die just for this run of 29 guitars because of the expense, but also because we wanted more control over the color and pattern of the celluloid material itself. Another advantage is that if a customer wants a 000 Perry Bechtel without a pickguard, we don't have to remove one to fulfill the request, we just won't put a pickguard on that guitar!
Click here to see an essay of Frank Ford installing a pickguard



Gryphon Stringed Instruments

The 000-28 Perry Bechtel Special
is a custom run of guitars made by the C.F. Martin Custom Shop
and commissioned by Gryphon Stringed Instruments
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