Doc Watson’s First Martin Guitar

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Doc Watson is considered by many to be a living national treasure for his wonderful folk and bluegrass flatpicking.  He gained prominence at the Newport Folk Festivals in the 1960′s and well into his 80′s, Watson continues to perform as an acoustic guitarist and banjo player. Where did it start?  How could a guy who became blind at one year old learn how to play the guitar so wonderfully?  Which guitars were instrumental (sorry for the pun) in the evolution of Doc Watson.  An interview on Fresh Air that was recently rebroadcast holds many of the answers.

In the interview below, Watson answers many of these questions and more.  Interestingly, you’ll learn that Watson’s first acoustic guitar came from a Sears and Roebuck catalog.  But it didn’t take him that long to upgrade to his first serious guitar – a Martin D-18.  According to Watson:

I was fairly contented with what I had. I never had had my hands on a good guitar back in those days and didn’t for years. The first good guitar that I got hold of, that I would’ve considered much better than my mail-order box was a Martin guitar that Richard Green used to have a little music store under his – he had a boarding house or an inn there in Boone.

And I went in there one day with that little mail-order thing and he said: Why don’t you let me help you get your good guitar? And I said, gosh, it cost too much. And he said: I’ll tell you what I can do. I can get you a good Martin D-18 that will be a price that you can afford, and I’ll take the payments down to five dollars a month.

To think that all it took was one kind-hearted soul to get the great Doc Watson going on a good guitar.  There are also some great acoustic Doc Watson performances in the clip below.  Enjoy.

Doc Watson

Martin D-18

Doc Watson:  An Old Time Folk Musician with Soul (Fresh Air)

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