FRETS.COM Illustrated Glossary

A matter of economy?
Three Piece Back
© Frank Ford, 2/7/01; Photos by FF

Long about 1964, the Martin guitar company responded to the shortage of Brazilian rosewood by figuring a way to use up unmatched and small pieces that would have been considered scrap material in previous years.

As a result, the D-35 was born, with its 3-piece back:

This is a new D-35, made of Indian rosewood. Interestingly, the factory added some extra purfling and binding to this model, and gave it a higher list price than its two piece back counterpart, the D-28. Within a few years, the D-35 began to outsell the D-28.

Guitar builders and players agree that the three piece back has no real effect on tone, and by now, the guitar buying public has accepted the three piece back as a standard piece of styling.

Here's a Taylor guitar with a three piece back of figured Hawaiian koa:

Inside most three piece back guitars, there are two reinforcement strips, one over each of the joints in the back:

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