Few songwriters have been as influential in the world of acoustic guitars as the songwriters songwriter, Bob Dylan. Across over 6 decades, Dylan has has sold more than 125 million records and earned countless awards, and his influence is incalculable. Throughout his career he has been synonymous with the acoustic guitar (one notable "Judas!" moment aside), and these are just some of our favourites.

 

Martin 00-17

The young Dylan was obsessed with the American troubadour Woody Guthrie, and it's no surprise that as a teenager he desired a Martin 00 guitar just like his hero. Dylan’s first acoustic guitar was a 1949 Martin 00-17, an all-mahogany Depression-era model. From his wonderful memoir, Chonicles: Volume I, “First thing I did was go trade in my electric guitar, which would have been useless for me, for a double-O Martin acoustic. The man at the store traded me even and I left carrying the guitar in its case. I would play this guitar for the next couple of years or so." The 00-17 never made it onto any official Dylan recordings, but it can be heard on the famous Minnesota Hotel Tapes.

Gibson J-50

Pictured front-and-centre on Dylan's first album for Columbia is his 1946 Script Logo Gibson J-50. Essentially a natural-finished J-45, the J-50 is a classic American workhorse, with a rich, round tone that perfectly complements Dylan on the records 'Bob Dylan', 'Another Side Of' and 'The Freewheelin'. This guitar mysteriously disappeared in 1963, and has never been found.


Gibson Nick Lucas Special

Dylan bought his 13-fret Nick Lucas Special at Fretted Instruments in New York in 1963, and it was previously owned by the shop owner's sister who had it refinished in Natural. Dylan played it live from the end of 1963 through to 1966, and it was used extensively on the sessions for 'Another Side Of' and 'Bringing It All Back Home'.

Likely a 1933 model, the Nick Lucas Special was a deep-bodied 00 guitar, with a richer, deeper sound than most small-bodied Gibsons. According to legend, the guitar was used up until an Australian tour in 1966, where it did not survive the flight to Melbourne and was destroyed.



Martin 0-45 

At the 1964 Newport Folk Festival, Dylan was the star of the show, and performed with Joan Baez's stunning 1929 0-45, a small 12-fret Martin that would have been the top of the line when it was released. Baez bought the 0-45 for $200 in 1962, and it has since been recreated as a limited edition by Martin.



Gibson SJ-200

The gorgeous sunburst Gibson guitar featured on the cover of 1969's Nashville Skyline, Dylan's  SJ-200 was a gift from George Harrison and fit perfectly with Dylan's new country-influenced period. The SJ-200's warm, full-bodied sound can be heard all over Nashville Skyline, and was used that year at the Isle Of Wight festival.



Martin D-28

Towards the end of the 1960's, Dylan began touring with a 1963 Martin D-28. He toured with it for about ten years, including at the Concert for Bangladesh and throughout his Rolling Thunder Revue tour. This wouldn't be the last D-28 that Dylan would perform with; one of his main guitars for the 'Blood On The Tracks' sessions was a 1969 D-28. 



Martin 00-21 / 00-42

Also used extensively for the New York 'Blood On The Tracks' sessions was a slotted-headstock 00-21, likely from the 1950's. He had been using this guitar throughout 1974's tour with The Band, and it also made numerous appearances throughout his Rolling Thunder Revue tour. For the Minnesota 'BOTT' sessions, Dylan used a very similar 00-42, probably borrowed from the studio or local session players. 



Martin HD-28

For his MTV Unplugged appearance, Dylan used his guitar tech Cesar Diaz’s Martin HD-28. Longtime Martin archivist Dick Boak writes about this guitar in his book Martin Guitar Masterpieces: “Bob took a special liking to one of the HDs and played it for several years—or at least long enough for a dark stain to develop at the edge of the guitar where he rested his leather-jacketed arm while playing.” Later, Diaz would order multiple HD-28's for Dylan over the years, usually with an Engelmann spruce top and Martin Thinline Gold Plus pickup - the pickup that he still uses to this day!


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