2007 Martin 000-28 Perry Bechtel Special Acoustic Guitar Used
This 000-28 Special was made for Gryphon by Martin in 2007 and it was inspired by the guitar that Perry Bechtel custom ordered from Martin in 1929, which evolved into the OM-28. It’s in excellent, lightly played condition and it has a Highlander pickup installed. The top is Adirondack spruce and the back and sides are Indian rosewood. This example is #19 of the 29 total that were built and it is in excellent slightly used condition. (The number 29 was chosen for the year the original guitar was built: 1929.) Bechtel was a banjo player and he wanted a guitar with more than twelve frets clear of the body and after a bit of back and forth, Martin and Bechtel settled on a fourteen fret neck. Bechtel’s original 000-28 Special has never surfaced, and as far as we can tell was lost in a fire at the Atlanta music store where Bechtel was an instructor and salesman.
So how do we know what Perry Bechtel’s guitar looked like? In 2006 a file folder marked "Perry Bechtel" turned up in the attic of the old Martin factory on North Street in Nazareth that contained letters between C. F. Martin III and Bechtel written in 1929. We'd long known that Perry, a hot plectrum banjo player, wanted a flat-top with more frets clear of the body. What we didn't know is that he'd also wanted a neck with steeper fretboard radius like the Gibson archtops he'd been playing, or that the first prototype of what became Martin's fabled Orchestra Model had a slotted headstock with Style 45 "torch" inlay!
When we custom ordered these guitars, we based them on the specs contained in the correspondence. The nut width is 1 13/16" instead of the usual 1 3/4" found on OM models and the 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.
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. It has an Ebony pyramid bridge because Perry's guitar was made about a full year before Martin began using the wider, "belly" bridge. 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. We were very pleased with the way these guitars turned out and we love it when comes back to visit.