There are a lot of rumors (true or not) that tell stories about this guitar from which a history book could be written. While probably nobody knows all the relevant facts from the period between April 1935, when she was originally sold to a shop, and 1959, when Clarence and Roland Whites bought her in very poor condition with her significant and most notable feature (the enlarged soundhole to almost 4 & 5/8" in diameter carved by an unknown whittler) - the rest of her history is generally well known.
It was in 1960 when a 9-year-old bluegrass performer named Tony Rice – a recent transplant to Southern California and a guitarist in a family band, just like Clarence White – spotted the guitar backstage at a music show that was being broadcast over a local radio station. “It was the first time I’d appeared anywhere,” Rice recalls. “I saw that old D-28, and it didn’t have a name on the headstock, so I asked, ‘What kind of a guitar is that?’ and Clarence said, ‘It’s a Martin.’ I’d never seen one like that. I thought all dreadnoughts were D-18s! So I asked, ‘Is that a D-18?’ He said, ‘No, that’s a D-28.’ I’d never heard of a D-28. The only thing I knew was that it looked like hell but it sounded like a million bucks to a 9-year-old kid!”
So, either Tony Rice played this guitar already as 9-year-old in 1960, he became its owner 15 years later, in 1975.
As one of the best bluegrass guitarists, Tony Rice kept this guitar all his life and made it world-famous. And so, when "Tony Rice" or "larger soundhole" dreadnought is mentioned now, everyone knows what's talking about...
Our replica, as a tribute to one of the greatest bluegrass guitar player ever, includes CITES certified Brazilian Rosewood back & sides and headplate, Adirondack top and (as each guitar in our Artists' Tribute line) hand-cut and engraved portrait of Tony in mother of pearl, snakewood and recon stone to the headplate.
(Extracts from the article in the Fretboard Journal #5 used)