TRASH OR TREASURE
BLUE BOOK PUBLICATIONS
1996 Martin D-40QM
Hey Zach: limited editions. However, it wasn’t until late
Hope you can help me out. I bought this 1996 when any of these limited editions was
Martin several years ago from one of my published in a Martin catalog or price list.
favorite guitar stores: Dave’s Guitar Shop There is a period between 1994 and 1996
in LaCrosse, WI. The label inside the guitar where none of Martin’s limited editions were
indicates that it is a 1996 Limited Edition published in their literature. As far as I can
D-40QM. I can’t seem to find out much tell, the D-40QM falls into this period, which
about it—the materials in the guitar, how explains why there is very little information
many were made, etc. Do you think the about it. By 1997, Martin was more organized,
maple back adds a premium, or would and they were publishing every limited edition
most Martin collectors prefer the traditional guitar in their semi-annual price list—a tradi-
mahogany or rosewood back? Any informa- tion that continues today.
tion you can give me would be appreciated.
P.S.: This guitar is really loud
for a dreadnought!
features hexagon inlays. The Style 41 has top
abalone purfling, but it does not go around
the fingerboard. The Style 42 has abalone
purfling that goes around the fingerboard
and features snowflake inlays. The top-of-the-line Style 45 has abalone purfling around the
fingerboard and hexagon inlays.
This is a really cool guitar, and I know how
amazing a maple-bodied dreadnought can
sound! I enjoy researching Martin guitars
because everything is so straightforward.
Serialization started in 1898 and has run consecutively ever since, making dating a breeze.
Guitars built since the 1930s have the model
name/number stamped inside the body, which
makes identification easy as well. Martin also
does a great job of cataloging each model
and including it in their semi-annual price list.
I have every catalog and price list for Martin
going back to 1991, so providing you with
some information on your D-40QM seemed
elementary. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that easy!
After some initial research, I found that the
D-40QM was not listed in any of Martin’s price
lists or catalogs, nor was it listed in any of the
Martin books in my library.
Where Martin came up with the idea of a
quilted maple dreadnought with Style 40
appointments is beyond me, but this is the
concept—and part of the fun of their limited
edition series. The D-40QM features a solid
Sitka spruce top, solid quilted maple back
and sides, an ebony fingerboard and bridge,
and other standard Style 40 appointments. I
was unable to find an original retail price on
this model, but I did find out that they made
200 of these guitars, and each one is individually numbered (Martin also does a great
job of publishing how many of each limited
edition is built and if they are individually
numbered or not).
While Martin always built a few custom guitars
that steered away from the traditional modes
of standard production, they never truly
offered a custom guitar until Martin opened
their Custom Shop in 1979. With the Custom
Shop, players were able to order a custom
Martin guitar built to their features. Martin
noticed that players liked custom-built guitars,
but it was difficult to pick compatible features.
In October 1984, Martin started their Guitar
of the Month (GOTM) program, which was
really the start of Martin’s limited edition program. GOTM offered players a custom guitar
designed by Martin, but built in limited edition
numbers. This continued through 1994, when
Martin started offering annual and semi-annual
1996 Martin D-40QM
Most Martin guitar enthusiasts already know
that Style 40 appointments aren’t exactly the
most common. Style 40 appointments were
most often used on Hawaiian guitars in the
1930s, but they have made a comeback on
D- 40 models (produced 1997–2005) and are
currently available as standard production
Jumbo models (J- 40). All Martin Styles 40
and above have extremely high appointments, and it can be confusing to notice the
small differences among them all. The Style
40 does not have abalone top purfling, but it
Martin rarely uses maple for back and sides
on their guitars. Mahogany is the popular
choice for lower end guitars, with rosewood
for the higher-end models. Most players like the warmth and broad usage that
mahogany and rosewood offer. Like you’ve
noticed, maple is a very loud wood, but it is
a niche market. If you have a maple-bodied
guitar like the D-40QM, more than likely
your collection will include other loud/large
pieces, such as J-200s and 19-inch archtops!
Collectors really haven’t taken a special
interest in these guitars, so you won’t see a
premium added to them. I’d value this guitar
between $2,500 and $3,000 in excellent condition. Martins are great-playing guitars that
are built by a family-owned business for more
than 175 years. I see this guitar being a treasure for years to come.
Zachary R. Fjestad
Zachary is the author of the Blue Book of Acoustic
Guitars, Blue Book of Electric Guitars, and the Blue
Book of Guitar Amplifiers.
Questions can be submitted to:
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Attn: Guitar Trash or Treasure
8009 34th Ave. S. Ste #175
Minneapolis, MN 55425