A One-of-a-Kind Alabama-born, Texas-Raised Baritone
When you run the world's greatest baritone guitar web page, every now and then people contact you with interesting stories, inquiries, and ideas for potential posts.
Earlier this month, Paul Cooper, a guitarist, fiddle player, bouzouki player, and balalaika player from Houston contacted me with a story about a one-of-a-kind 1964 custom-modified Martin D-12-20 baritone. After Paul provided audio and picks, I felt like I had to help tell the story of this unique baritone guitar. If you are a fan of rare guitars, music gear stories, and baritones, then read on to dive into the short-but-fascinating tale of the 64 Martin Modified Baritone.
The Martin Modified's Early Years
From 12-String to Baritone
Around 25 or 30 years ago, the [guitar's] owner ordered a 26 5/8” scale custom neck from Martin, and had a luthier in Alabama (I’ve lost track of who it was) install it. He did a wonderful, clean job. The guitar looks like it came from the factory that way. There is no adjustable truss rod, but the neck angle is good and has been stable for the 20 or so years I have owned the guitar.
A Word on Playability & Tone (And a Few Audio Examples)
Once again, Paul continues in his own words:
[The guitar] has a wonderful, rich, warm tone and the intonation is excellent. [Owning this guitar], I discovered that a baritone is not just a six-string tuned lower, but has a voice of its own that responds best to styles of play that bring out its own strong points. One of the strong points of this guitar is great sustain.
The two audio samples below are finger-style examples of the 64 Martin Modified Baritone's tone. Thankfully, the guitar retains the warmth and depth one would expect from a Martin while remaining well defined.
The 64 Martin Modified Baritone's Next Chapter
Paul is looking to sell his 64 Martin Modified Baritone. In his own words:
At 73, my arthritis can’t negotiate the long scale length very well. I am asking $2900 for the guitar, but would consider trading for a really outstanding shorter-scale flattop. Feel free to contact me firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or requests for additional information.
Please feel free to contact Paul with questions or inquires, but don't spam the guy or waste his time. If you are ever in the Houston area, you can catch Paul playing in the local Celtic music scene and in the Houston Balalaika Orchestra.
A big "thank you" goes out to Paul for sharing the story of the 64 Martin Modified Baritone with us. As always, I appreciate you taking time to read this article. If you are curious about what a baritone is and why you need one, check out our article The Baritone Guitar: 5 Reasons You Need to Own One or visit our Start Here page. If you like reading about rare used guitars, check out our article on the Tacoma Thunderhawk - a rare used gem of a baritone.
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