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News and Articles
The Music of Martinfest 14
Excerpts from all sorts of performances that took place over Martinfest Weekend in Nazareth, PA
Mandolin Bros. Closing?
Mandolin Brothers in New York City is seeking a buyer to prevent having to close its doors permanently.
New album of new tunes, new custom Martins, new strings endorsement deal, and a new video interview at Fretboard Journal
“… inventive arrangements of well-known tunes from other writers, mixed with impressive original compositions. As outstanding as some of his earlier endeavors have been, just gets better and better in both modes…”
A murders row of terrific heavy hitters, and some more modest but no less cool additions make their debut at Winter NAMM.
Many of these new Martins feature spruce soundboards and supporting braces torrefied with Martin’s new Vintage Tone System, or VTS, which I have had to keep quiet about for so long my tongue is riddled with bite marks.
But now I may tell (almost) all!
Get our exclusive insider look at the new Martins and see the official VTS video posted in the Blog!
Stan Jay of Mandolin Brother Died October 22, 2014.
A long time friend of mine, and of countless lovers of fine stringed instruments, Stan was a radiant being who accurately proclaimed the focus of his life’s work as a “dream fulfillment center.” He will be missed forever.
Thanks to Jim in Wisconsin for taking the time to inform me that the article on Martin’s Performing Artist series, originally penned in 2010, contained some out-of-date facts on display, primarily relating to Martin’s phasing out of their old M&T neck joint in favor of the new and improved “simple dovetail” neck joint.
A more detailed explanation of the significant differences between Martins traditional dovetail neck joint, their Mortise and Tenon neck joint, and the Simple Dovetail neck joint can be read HERE.
Martin OM-18 Authentic 1933 sighting
Guitar Center in Brooklyn, at Atlantic Center, has an OM-18A 1933 in stock. I stopped in for some picks and was pleasantly surprised to find the Authentic there behind the glass case, in their small room of higher-end guitars.
It impossible to remember fully just how light of weight this model is compared to other modern guitars, and just how big and lovely the voice is when played with the lightest touch, yet it does not break up at all when played full throttle with a flat pick.
So if you are in the NYC area, and have always wanted to see one of these excellent guitars, now is your chance.
The Standard OM-28 is resurrected by C. F. Martin, alongside an upgraded, updated 000-18, and new Aura models
As expected, Standard Style 28 has received a makeover, following in the footsteps of the one that appeared with the fabulous D-18 and the upgraded OM-21. And some well-loved Martins have been put out the pasture to make room…
“With fluid fingering, a flare for the dramatic, and compositions that flit and flutter like birds over a pastoral valley, or soar like eagles atop the winds of the world, de Lucía was among the most highly regarded guitarists of the twentieth century.”
“There were two Loar F5 mandolins present, a fern signed by Loar on March 24, 1924, and one without the fern signed on April 12, 1923. Also present was a stunning K-5 Mandocello, one of only six known to exist. This one was signed by Loar on October 13, 1923.”
An after-hours reception was held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art last night, where an invited group of some 60 guests were treated to a private viewing of the exhibit Early American Guitars: the Instruments of C.F. Martin, which opened to the public earlier that day. I was among them.
More than just another Johnny Cash biography, Robert Hilburn’s latest volume reexamines the rags to riches details of this unique example of the American Dream with its extremes of peaks and pitfalls, as lived by one the nation’s most iconic musical artists.
“…an insightful yet sympathetic analysis that conjures up the late Man in Black in living color… it is Hilburn’s ability to include the many quoted snap-shots within the smooth emulsion of his own smart prose that keeps the focus on events as they happen, present and alive. And his insistence on allowing others to speak with emotion and opinion, while he sticks to the facts and resists any temptation at grand conclusions that provides a sense of authenticity to the story, and keeps the pages turning…”
I receive email from all over seeking my opinion and advice, or simply asking questions related to all sorts of guitar-ish things. Our blog will now feature some of these questions, and the new Q & A section on the menus will begin to offer links to some we feel may be of greater general interest.
“When Bob Dylan ripped into “Maggie’s Farm” in front of a stunned crowd at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, not many people realized they were seeing a paradigm shift in the current of popular culture that would reverberate around the globe for decades to come…”
While other guitar brands have their loyal fans, none seem to evoke as much reverence and affection from their admirers as Martin, and this has led people from greatly diverse backgrounds to find they share a similar love of music that transcends their many differences…
Republicans room with Democrats, liberals stay up till dawn with the conservatives they looked so forward to seeing after a year apart; even Yankees fans find themselves warmly embraced by fans of the Tigers, Oriels and Red Sox. From the Oscar winner to the homemaker, the CPA to the MBA, all and all, they have found common ground in this most unpretentious celebration rooted in the love of music and Martin guitars…
As one member put it, “Music is a unifying force that reaches across many boundaries and brings people together in very deep and lasting ways.” Martinfest is living proof of that.”
We heard from our friend Laurence Juber this morning…
The double Grammy-winning guitarist dropped by One Man’s Guitar to check out the new site, and then dropped us a line to let us know about his new guitar, and tell us that our copy of his latest CD is on the way.
“A warm, layered and very human scene painted entirely with one acoustic guitar drenched with resonant chords, clear and unhurried melody lines, and shadowy blue bass notes that rise or fall in pitch or pace like a melancholy pulse. An exquisite piece of music played on an exquisite guitar, exquisitely.”
And that is just the first track on Juber’s Under an Indigo Sky, the latest CD from the two-time Grammy winner.
“Countless musicians across many types of music have been greatly influenced by the man with the big blonde guitar. Even if they had never heard his name, the amount of blues, rock n roll, folk, country, and jazz recordings he had a hand in would fill a large catalog. Many young guitarists playing today were inspired by guitarists who were inspired by other guitarists who were directly inspired by George Barnes.”
Sixty years in the making, a comemporative limited edtion of Indian siris, rosewood, and torrefied European spruce.
“The treble strings give off the tinkling chime of a music box, while the midrange notes stand firm and defined over a built-in reverb echoing from within…It is a voice of depth, color and definition, conjured out of a very interesting combination of woods and craftsmanship.”
A museum-worthy piece of craftsmanship and design, the McPherson Manhattan Skyline is a towering achievement in the art of luthiery
“Playing this guitar was like knocking on the door of a spruce stable full of horsepower, chomping at the bit and so eager to sink its weight into that rich, fertile Brazilian tonewood, with its peppery, rose oil scent rising from the sound hole like freshly turned earth. The future owner of this McPherson Manhattan has my envy as the player whose personal style will most influence the training and feeding of this thoroughbred, as it comes into its own as the champion it so obviously will become.”
“With its Grand J sycamore body topped with VTS Sitka spruce, the CEO-8 has a voice with a unique character.
The bottom-end boost from the extra-large sound chamber fills out the bass, while the rest of the voice stays open. Strummed chords ring out, vivid and vibrant, while arpeggios and picking patterns lay down a succession of clear strong notes that never get in each other’s way, thanks to unusual rates of sustain and decay…”
Made by the Custom Shop from cocobolo and torrefied Adirondack spruce…
“I found it effortless to return over and over to the heart of “the zone,” where notes sprout and bloom like tulips opening in fast-motion close-ups of rich colors, and sympathetics glint and waver, like sunlit ripples breeze-driven across deep, clear waters.”
Cocobolo OM reviewed for the new indie luthier series:
“The voice is dominated by strong, solid fundamentals, clear and straight off the reflective top of Adirondack spruce, standing firm over a cocobolo sound box that imparts a fudgy rosewood richness, smooth and dense, but never so dark that it turns murky.”
A D-18 with a difference, the D-18 Sycamore comes in somewhere between maple and mahogany in looks and in tone.
“…It sounds like a more complex maple, with thicker top notes, more overtones and complexity over all, like mahogany, but with a maple-like bass that shifts the focus into the mid-range, which has the same kind of defined top notes and high overtone ring as the trebles.
It still has plenty of the complexity, resonance and sustain one looks for in a dreadnought. In fact, it excels at traditional flatpicking, with the kind of punch and “cut” that would leap out of a Bluegrass jam when it is time to switch from playing rhythm to a solo break…”
“…a versatile instrument of the highest order, with an expansive dynamic range of clear and present fundamentals, surrounded by complex rosewood sympathetics, a full but open undertone, and a forthright over-reaching ring thanks to the torrefied European spruce top, and all laid out with exceptional balance across the six strings…”
The first thing that comes to mind when seeing this K Wingert guitar is, “That’s a big guitar!” The first thing that comes to mind when I hear this K Wingert guitar is, “That’s a big guitar!”
But as big and bold as it sounds, its voice remains refined and lovely from the first note to the fading final moments of the resonant sustain.
“With quality tonewoods matched by the artistry used to create it, this custom Wingert Model F has a full-bodied voice rich and satisfying as steaming hot cocoa made with half and half, while allowing for clear notes that come right through all that indulgent rosewood/alpine spruce tone.”
Combining the looks of a pre-war Style 42 12-fret slothead with the convenience of a 14-fret OM, made all the more powerful with extra-deep sides, this Madagascar/Adirondack jewel box from Martin’s fabled Custom Shop is a feast for the eyes as well as the ears.
“From the first strum there is a stark ring to the fundamental voice, each note pure but with pronounced substance, clear yet dense, like diamonds. And with each steely note ringing off a string an expanding sonic reaction blooms, from an echo beneath the top voice and a woody hum deeper down, to a shining choir of lofty overtones. This guitar shows off the most sophisticated type of Madi-Adi tone.”
A woody aesthetic and sleek modern neck, matched to impeccable and “Authentic” pre-war construction techniques makes the CS-21-11 a uniquely versatile dreadnought, even by Martin standards.
“That ultra-light build contributes mightily to the guitars breathtaking resonance, response, and purity of tone. It astonishes with how much resonant, living tone swells out of it with the lightest touch, and how that glow increases as chords and picking patterns sustain over time. And the response to nuanced playing and the ultimate payoff in tone only increase as the top brakes in and the guitar grows up.”
With thumbs up, the Navy Blues earns a row of gold stars
“The Navy Blues is the third guitar designed in collaboration between the legendary Eric Clapton and Eric’s good friend Hiroshi Fujiwara (a renowned Japanese artist, DJ, musician, fashion designer and trendsetter) and design assistance from Martin’s Dick Boak. With a deep navy blue finish and upscale inlays, the OM-ECHF offers rich, complex tone, powerful dynamics, and wide-ranging versatility.”
A carbon fiber neck rod and Martin’s first foray into the world of torrefied wood, adds exciting new facets to one of the most classic guitar designs of all time, the 12-fret 00.
“If the CS-00S-14 is anything, it is resonant. It comes alive with the lightest touch, and it feels alive… from the warmth glowing out of the bottom end and a low E string impressive for this body size, a fatness to the midrange strings that reaches down like a pillar into the echoing cellar below the top voice, and trebles with a distinct chime that leaps out, with a vintage-like openness directly under them, but reflecting harmonics off the midrange like the surface of a mirrored pond disturbed by the sound waves firing off that crystalline fundamental chime. It is a sophisticated voice…”
“… the envied owner of a new D-28 A 1937 will be afforded the privilege of breaking in the fledgling tone woods and ultra-thin nitrocellulose finish, to coax out more and more of the guitar’s rich, round rosewood lows, punchy Adirondack mids, and pure, ringing trebles that signify the classic Martin sound.”
High-tech but simple to use, this capo with the postmodern looks was the brainchild of guitarist Nick Campling.
“His primary concerns were the effect of the capo on a guitar’s intonation, the ease of use in terms of applying and removing it, making sure the capo did not damage the guitar’s neck or get in the way of the guitarist’s fretting hand, and finally, a capo that was attractive to the eye. The G7th Performance capo does a good job in all these respects…”
Sparky Kramer was visiting one of his customers in New York City last night, on his way to the big guitar show. So, I stopped by for a chat with the California wood charmer, and a look at these new and delightful musical instruments, made with gorgeous woods and super smart design features.
“The guitar sounded huge for such a small size. It invited one to play with the absolutely lightest touch they could, and be rewarded with such lovely tone and marvelous projection. But it had no issue with being attacked, and effortlessly turned into a blues machine.”
An instrument as impressive as its hefty price tag
“… a sound bigger than Texas and just about as audacious. I have played examples of them all, from the D-100 to the Celtic Knot, to the Stephen Stills. There just hasn’t been a modern-day pearly Martin with a sound this enormous.”
“The light build on this mahogany/Adirondack is reinforced by rear-shifted braces, with the main X brace placed a bit farther back than on modern Martins. This helps add to the openness of the voice, and reduces the rumble in the bass, so the bottom notes retain great definition while the highs have all the cutting power a Bluegrass flatpicker could hope for.”
As our D-28 Authentic 1941 review shows, “this isn’t just a good vintage D-28 reissue; it’s a great guitar.”
“Tone, dynamics and playability matter most to me when judging a guitar. This guitar gets top marks in all three areas. When it comes to tone, it had me at the first strum, because of its ringing purity, impressive depth, effortless volume, and its expansive, open, room filling presence.”
A 0000 reimagined with a Standard 12-fret body shape.
“This guitar is so finely tuned in terms of dynamics and response that it is basically effortless to play, in any tuning. There is a gorgeous complexity to the harmonics, but an unperturbed clarity to the fundamentals, and an organic sensibility to the sustain and decay of each, which makes it a delight to play.”
If you have an acoustic guitar in mind that you would like included, please drop us line at email@example.com
If you are in the New York City area and own a professional level acoustic guitar that we might video, record and review on the site, please contact us at the same address above.
The writing is that of one man…
with input from the owners of many of the instruments reviewed as an important part of the overall presentation, along with luthiers, manufacturers, and purveyors of acoustic guitars from all over the world. Thanks for visiting!