Elvis' 76 Martin D35
Elvis in concert Dayton, OH October 26, 1976
Photo© courtesy Antonio
Beginning on October 14, 1976 Elvis once again
performed on stage with Martin guitars, the same brand as when he began his
professional career with his first purchase in 1954 and the last
brand he would ever perform with. This
model that he used until February 14, 1977 was a 1976 D35 (serial #
377704) and is most recognizable
by its 3 piece back and double non parallel seam bracing visible through
the sound hole.
Elvis' 1976 Martin D35 #377704
Photo © courtesy
Martin introduced the D35 with its 3 piece back in 1965
as a result of a shortage of Brazilian Rosewood. This allowed them
to use up unmatched and small pieces that would have been considered scrap material in previous
years. They ceased using Brazilian rosewood in standard production for complete sets of back and sides in 1969.
The new D-35s are made of Indian rosewood. Interestingly, the factory added some extra purfling and binding to this model, and gave it a higher list price than its two piece back counterpart, the D-28. Within a few years, the D-35 began to outsell the D-28.
Guitar builders and players agree that the three piece back has no real effect on tone, and by now, the guitar buying public has accepted the three piece back as a standard piece of styling.*
Elvis in concert Atlanta, GA December 30, 1976
Photo courtesy Paul's
The Martin D-35 features a solid Mahogany neck, 20
fret Ebony fingerboard with a 25.4" scale length, solid Spruce top,
Rosewood sides and 3 piece back, Ebony bridge, White binding,
White/Black/White back inlay and black pickguard.
Elvis' guitar strap breaking in St. Petersburg - Feb 14,
Photo by Fraser Hale courtesy FECC/Scott Hayward
On February 14, 1977 while performing at the Bayfront
Center in St. Petersburg, FL, Elvis' guitar strap broke and in
frustration tossed it, more in the direction of Charlie Hodge than to
him. Charlie couldn't catch it and the impact cracked and damaged the spruce top at the bottom end of the guitar. It was reported that Elvis yelled out to the audience,
of you people waited the longest to see me here tonight?" He
eventually gave the guitar to a young woman who had waited all night
in a lawn chair to be one of the first admitted to the show" and
was in attendance with her mother. The guitar was sold at auction on October 13, 2002 by Guernsey's of New
York for somewhere in the area of $20,000.00.
Kathy Waldrop, the recipient of the D35 with the guitar years later
In 2007 the guitar was loaned by its current owner, Robert Johnson of
Memphis, to the Smithsonian's Rock
'N Soul Museum in Memphis, where it had been on display.
Elvis' D35 on display at the Rock 'N Soul Museum in
The broken strap
The damaged spruce top
specifications courtesy C.F.