Wednesday, February 6, 2008

5-11-1934: Tex Fletcher and the first C.F. Martin D-42 Model Guitar

In the spring of 1934, Geremino Bisceglia, better known as “Tex Fletcher,” contacted C.F. Martin and requested a pearl-trimmed Dreadnought guitar with his name inlayed into the fingerboard, similar to the first D-45 made for Gene Autry the previous year.

While Autry’s D-45 featured standard 45-Series pearl trim appointments on the back and sides, Fletcher opted to have all his "flash" up front, where it would be seen by the audience. Tex requested that Martin produce the special order Dreadnought in their Style 42 design, which offered pearl inlay only on the face of the instrument, plus "Tex Fletcher" in large block letters that barely fit on the fretboard.

Although strung as a "righty," Tex played the guitar left-handed. The D-42 was the second 40-Series Dreadnought guitar ever made, stamped May 11th, 1934, a week before another cowboy singer, Jackie “Kid” Moore, ordered a D-45 similar to Autry's. The fad of performing with a fancy guitar with your name on the neck had of course begun with Jimmie Rodgers, who's custom Martin had inspired Autry and countless later stars to turn their guitar into a full-time press agent.

In 1970, legendary Martin guitar historian Mike Longworth, contacted Fletcher and the guitar was eventually donated to the C.F. Martin museum where it is currently on display.

The original 1934 records and correspondence between Tex Fletcher and C.F. Martin will be included in the upcoming book, “Birth of the Dreadnought.”

Photo courtesy of the Tex Fletcher family.