I showed up at the home of an old couple, and found what was just a mess of a guitar. The bridge was lifting and cracked, the action was too tall to play comfortably, the pick guard was gone (colored in with a black marker), and I could tell that there might be a couple of loose braces. I spent at least a half hour there with them listening to me play and watching me inspect it.
When you find one of these Martin dreads from the 70's through about the mid eighties, there's lots of variability. I have had a couple of good ones and a couple that were just so - so. I could hear something in this guitar that indicated that extra dryness. The top was covered in finish checks, and it looked like a guitar made by one of the new makers who are trying to capture the mojo of the pre-war Martins. (As a side note, one of the best out there is a company called Pre-War, and I actually demoed one of their pre-war D-18 reproductions with the highest level of distress)
I could tell the couple was not from Texas, so I asked. They had made their way here some years ago from Chicago. After haggling a bit, I took possession of the guitar in exchange for a handful of hundred-dollar bills. I didn't mess around with it much before sending it directly to Mr. Bryan Kimsey. He has done work for me before, and turned an average D18 from this era into a good one. That one was actually sold to fund this project. It was a good one, but I thought that I heard something special in this new one. On Good Friday, it was confirmed that I had made the right decision!
Some guitars just have "it," and this one does. I have played lots of really good dreads, but this one is the best dreadnought I have ever owned - maybe the best I've ever played. I used to think it was foolish to endlessly search for that extra 10-15% that a few select guitars seem to have, but I have somehow landed on just such an example. I feel blessed to own it, and I applaud Bryan for the ability to pull the very best out of this old Martin.
PS: I submitted the same post over on the AGF if you would like to see pictures. Something would just not work when I tried to post them here.