Merle Travis' 1969 D-28


As the fingerboard inlay suggests, this 1969 Martin D-28 was owned by the influential finger-picking singer/songwrite Merle Travis. The story of this guitar is told by Travis' son Thom Bresh (himself a noted fingerpicking guitarist) in a signed note that accompanies this instrument:

"This Martin D-28 belonged to my father, Merle Travis. in perfect Travis style he had his name inlaid with mother-of-pearl in the fretboard, as he would say, "So everybody could read and learn my name by the time the show was over." I think he even had his longjohns embroidered.

"Marty Stuart bought the guitar from Merle's wife, dorothy. I believe it was after Travis had died, but I'm not sure. When Travis passed in 1983 his lifelong friend, Johnny Cash, contacted me wanting to buy the Martin with the Bigsby neck for his museum. There was no way at that time I would even consider letting go of it. You must understand the admiration and love these two men had for each other to conceive the passion in which J.R. pursued this token of his departed friend. Time does have a way of racking the focus from the far away subject to the near. The ever-pursuant J.R. Cash discovered that his ex-son-in-law Marty Stuart had another Merle Travis guitar, and the sight was fixed.

"Marty is a many who cherishes history and the pioneers who shaped it. He is also a man who loves "horse-trading" at a high level. This time, Marty was looking at the big black cat from within the mouse hole while also possessing the cheese. You must admit, in a situation like that you have got to play for awhile. Perseverance once again paid off when J.R. offered Marty a high stakes swap of any guitar in the Cash museum for the Travis guitar. Marty, taking Cash for his word, went to the museum and into the vault where he picked up the Hank Williams guitar and called Johnny and advised him about the trade.

"The years passed and I had the great pleasure of playing on the last two Johnny Cash albums. J.R. said he would like me to come to his home because he had a guitar he wantd me to have. When that day came, it was the Travis guitar. He said to me, "Play this guitar, son. There could be a day when you may want to sell it. If you play it, when that day comes you'll be able to say this guitar was owned and played by three great musicians and a poet."

This instrument (inv. #AA6874) is in VG+ condition and features Brazilian rosewood back and sides. With a hard case and letter of documentation from Thom Bresh it is offered at $12,000

This instrument is SOLD

For further appreciation...

Close of body
Fingerboard
Headstock
Back of headstock
Back of neck
Travis signature on back of body
Back view
Back of body
Photo of Bresh with Cash
Letter from Bresh