My D Model is a long scale (28.5″ – 725 mm) guitar designed to be tuned one tone below standard.
Fitting a capo to the second fret gives standard pitch at standard tuning and standard tension. Played open without a capo it has a magnificent depth of tone; played with a capo higher up it blossoms as a different guitar, bright and ringing.
‘This is one of the very best guitars you’ve built, which means it’s one of the best guitars on the planet’ Martin Simpson, July 2016
I build D versions of all my guitars; New World, Steinbeck, Martin Simpson model, and Model 2.
Back and sides can be of Malaysian or African Blackwood, soundboards of German or figured Sitka spruce.
A few guitarists keep their guitars tuned permanently low, sometimes a semitone below concert pitch, sometimes a full tone. But tuning low on a standard scale has limitations, so in 2004 I built a long scale guitar to tune a tone down from standard. In standard tuning the 1st and 6th strings drop from E to D – hence the name ‘D’ guitar. (It turned out to be another case of re-inventing the wheel; there were already D guitars in existence).
My first D guitar was built on a 12 fret version of my Model 1 guitar, and the next few built on 12 fret versions of Martin Simpson and New World models.
Martin Simpson with the original Model 1 based D guitar in 2004
When Maurice Condie came to see me about having me build him a D guitar, he suggested I base it on my Model 2. This has a longer body and was designed as a 12 fret, so needed no adaptation – this was a really good idea.
Not only does it play a tone lower, whatever tuning and whatever body size is used, the D guitar has a wonderful deep resonant sound, a sound you just don’t get from a standard scale guitar.
D Guitar with figured Sitka spruce soundboard and Malaysian
Blackwood back and sides
Maurice says ‘Still loving the guitar. It has become my most used live guitar. It really does do everything.’
D Model specifications
Scale: 725mm (28.5″)
Soundboard: German spruce or figured Sitka spruce
Back and sides: African or Malaysian Blackwood
Bridge: Ebony with bone saddles
Trim and body shape: As for New World, Steinbeck or Model 2
Tuners: Gold plated Gotoh s, Gotoh 510s optional
Nut width: 45mm (1 25/32″)
String spacing at bridge: 60mm (2 3/8″)
Pickup (optional): Highlander