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  • Maggie Pope

Martin D-35 Seth Avett - Up Close and Personal

Updated: Jul 18, 2018

Funny story: I learned how to play guitar by watching videos of Seth Avett (of The Avett Brothers) playing guitar.


Funnier story: Somehow I'm in a band now.


But this is not a story about my music or how I went from biologist to mother to musician or how there are some people who are not my mom who really seem to like my songs. It's a story about how I ended up with a dreamy steel-stringed ensemble of rosewood, koa, and the prettiest high-altitude Swiss Spruce top, rumored to be harvested only from northern slopes during the winter months, and felled WHEN THE MOON IS FULL. (That last part might mingle somewhere between the realms of truth and fairytale)


East Indian Rosewood back and sides with a flamed Hawaiian Koa wedge

Anyway, somewhere in this great and beautiful mess of life - during a time of heightened emotion, exhaustion, beauty, grief, love - I found some balance and respite in a guitar. I had just given birth to our fourth child, we were grieving from the loss of a close family member, we now had four kids, we were physically and emotionally exhausted, and we now had four kids. We also now had four kids.


Kathy's Song, by Paul Simon, played by yours truly on the

Martin D-35 Seth Avett


In the intermittent moments of the many beings under my care not immediately needing something from me, I turned to two things to nourish and maintain my sanity: coffee and guitar. And this brings me back to the Seth Avett videos. After being introduced to the music of The Avett Brothers by my dear husband, who is a master at knowing what artists I will fall in love with, I stumbled upon a series of videos - mostly by Crackerfarm - of Seth playing guitar and singing... like sit on your back porch kind of stuff. The music was obviously great. And the camera angles were such that I could see close up what he was doing - and in my altered, exhausted, dumbed down state of mind, I thought to myself, hey I can do that.


So, along with my old Goya guitar (you know that guitar that so many of you probably received from your parents back in high school but never learned how to play, even decades later? Well I had one of those, too), I would sit there, and figure out one note at a time. I focused on the videos where he fingerpicked - with a sleeping baby close by, only quiet guitar fingerpicking and quiet coffee slurping was allowed. I would then string those little notes together into music, the result of which is best represented by this drawing.


I've come quite a way since then, learning from some other great teachers (big shout out to my friend and the Guitar Wizard himself, Tony Polecastro!), but I will always hold a very special, quiet, and humbling place in my heart for Seth Avett and those videos that kindled my love for the guitar.


To summarize the rest of this way-too-long story (I heard that sigh of relief!), I now have the good fortune of owning the guitar designed by Seth himself - the Martin D-35 Seth Avett Signature Edition. A gift from my favorite guy - the hubbers who introduced me to The Avett Brother's music in the first place.


I still mostly rely on fingerpicking, which is almost comical now that I own this powerhouse of a guitar. D-35s are built to boom and cut through all of the acoustic madness of a full bluegrass ensemble when necessary. And I almost exclusively and unapologetically fingerpick mine. And it sounds beautiful.


Copper snowflake inlays were designed by Seth himself

These images are what you can expect from this guitar in its well-worn, well-loved for over three years, in need of a string-change state. I did my best to accurately capture the colors and/or beauty of it in the photos.



A guitar is sort of like my morning coffee - that warm hug in a mug... it's a quiet friend and place of refuge. But unlike a coffee obsession, a guitar becomes an extension of the living soul that makes it sing - it holds sometimes several lifetimes of stories woven into its grain.


I hope that I will have the good fortune to one day pass this guitar, and a part of my story through it, on to my children and grandchildren, or some other lucky soul who will treasure it and add to its story.


Thank you, Seth Avett, Martin Guitar, and my sweet husband, for the inspiration and for my beautiful guitar.


For a unique look into the design process, Seth's visit to the Martin factory, and a peek into the meaning behind some of the design choices that were made, be sure to watch this video.


If you'd like to see specs, an in-depth review of this guitar, or to learn more about the process of how Seth worked with Martin Guitar to create this stunner, head over to American Songwriter.



Maggie is a singer-songwriter, mother of four, and member of the band, Under the Oak.

She will be releasing a solo EP this fall -

please join her mailing list for occasional updates and special offers!



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