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1946 Martin D-18
 
Bay Area guitarist Jim Nunally demonstrates the dreadnought he’s played for almost four decades and used on recordings with David Grisman and others.
April 5, 2023
 

San Francisco Bay Area guitarist Jim Nunally is an in-demand flatpicker whose impressive resumé includes performing and recording with artists including David Grisman, John Reischman, Bill Evans, and many others. He recently toured with the California Bluegrass Reunion and frequently works with vocalist Nell Robinson. Jim primarily plays vintage Martin dreadnoughts, and while he was in the Peghead Nation studio recently to provide backup guitar for Chad Manning’s new Western Swing Fiddle course, he shot a demo of the 1946 Martin D-28 that has been his companion for almost four decades.

Jim first came across the guitar in a pawnshop in Vallejo, California, in 1986. “It had been hanging on the wall for quite a while, and I had been going in for a few months, looking at it,” he says. It was in a poor state of repair: the back was coming off (“You could put your arm inside,” Jim says), the bridge was pulling up, and several cracks needed to be fixed. While it sounds incredibly cheap for a vintage D-18 in any condition by today’s standards, in 1986, the asking price of $1,100 was steep, and Jim says that similar models in playable condition were going for about that amount. However, Jim was eventually able to trade a 1970s D-18 and a couple of cheap instruments he’d bought at flea markets for the guitar, which he then took to Bay Area repairman Chris Berkoff to perform the work necessary to make the guitar playable. Because by 1946, Martin had switched to straight braces rather than the scalloped ones used on prewar dreadnoughts, Jim had the guitar modified to match the tonality of older versions. “While he had the back off, I asked him to scallop the braces,” Jim says. “Nowadays, people want to leave things in the perfect original shape. But for me, since guitar is how I make my living, I’m not so concerned about how the guitar looks; I’m more concerned with how it sounds and plays, and I’m not planning on selling it!” 

In this video, Jim talks about the various aspects of the guitar, and he ends by playing an arrangement of “Wildwood Flower,” which was the second song he ever learned from his dad. 

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Julian Lage, “Nothing Happens Here” | Collings Guitars
The jazz phenom performs live in San Francisco using his Collings OM1 JL signature model.
 
 
 
 
 
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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
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