This is a 1961 Factory Left Handed D-28 (D-28L), Serial # 180455 in Near Mint/Extra Fine Condition. It is a one-owner guitar, 100% original with no cracks or repairs (most vintage Martins come with an assortment of cracks, repairs, and excess wear – there are few exceptions) !
This guitar has been inspected in-hand by Gary Burnette of Bee-3 Vintage Guitars, who has seen as many vintage acoustics as anyone. He stated it was the cleanest vintage D-28 he has seen, lefty or righty.
The guitar recently came back from master luthier and renowned authority on vintage Martin guitars, John Arnold. Mr. Arnold performed a perfect neck reset using hot hide glue (hot hide glue was used through 1964, when Martin moved from the original North Street factory. The action was lowered to 5/64 (low E) and 4/64 (high E) at the 12th fret. The original ivory saddle and nut were preserved and adjusted, and the frets were leveled, recrowned, and polished (see pic of letter documenting inspection and work on the guitar).
There is no lifting of the bridge or pickguard, it has minimal wear on the first 3 frets. The finish is in incredible unfaded condition with a beautiful color to the German spruce top with no checking, and no typical arm wear on the top lower bout. German Spruce was used by Martin from 1957-64 as an upgrade to Sitka Spruce and was in limited supply. The upgraded German Spruce was 4x the cost of Sitka Spruce on the Martin price list. There is some minimal wear around the sound hole with some light scratches. There is a small area of minor wear on the back upper bout. The Brazilian Rosewood sides and back are gorgeous, and the back of the neck looks practically new.
It has a good string break angle, sustains and projects great as you would expect from the best vintage D-28s. The neck has a great comfortable profile. Everything underneath, including the bracing and maple bridge plate, is original and perfectly intact.
This is only the 3rd pre-1964 factory Left Handed D-28 I have seen (the other 2 being a 1941 and 1948). I mention pre-1964 because Martin ceased production at their old factory on 10 West North Street on 6-26-64. A number of changes to production ensued after the move to the new factory, including the discontinuation of hide glue, introduction of the drop-in saddle, etc. And we all know about the dreaded bridge plate change from maple to rosewood several years later. I have had many requests for vintage Martins, with many mentioning 1964 as a critical year and looking for the earlier ones.
My personal history of Martin guitar ownership includes: 1938 000-28, 1947 000-28, 1950 00-21L, 1954 D-28, 1954 D-18L, 1962 D-28.
The guitar comes with the original chipboard soft-shell case, with the owner’s name in acronyms found just above the handle. The guitar will ship in a heavy duty deluxe hardshell case (see pics of the cases) and the original case will be shipped separately.
The pre-1964 Factory Left Handed Martin D-28s are among the rarest of the top-tier Lefty vintage guitars, and only come around once every 20 years or so based on my personal experience of collecting vintage guitars since the early 1980s. Being a one-owner and in this condition, it could be more like once every 40-50 years!