More affordable Martin D-28 and D-18 models arrive
D-28 Satin, D-18 Satin, D-28 Satin Amberburst, D-18 Satin Amberburst, D-28 Street Legend, D-18 Street Legend take to the streets
C. F. Martin & Company breaks with the tradition and offers six new models in the venerable Standard Series made with a matte satin finish. The D-28 Satin and D-18 Satin replicate the classic D-28 and D-18 but with a satiny matte finish instead of the high-gloss finish used on previous Standard Series models.
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These new dreadnoughts provide the design platform for their sibling models, the D-28 Amberburst, D-18 Amberburst, with the latest burst finish to come from the minds of Martin’s Instrument Design Department, and the visually impressive D-28 Street Legend and D-18 Street Legend, with spruce soundboards that have the appearance of some serious playing wear that is an optical illusion of sorts.
Like the darker and well-loved Ambertone finish used on various Martin models, this new Amberburst is inspired by 1930s Martins made with a shaded top similar to Martin’s 1935 Sunburst that has faded over time. More of the grain of the spruce shows through this new burst and the center of the burst has is basically the same color as an unshaded spruce top.
The new Street Legend models have the same satin finish but the spruce soundboards have received a realistic-looking digital painting replicating the playing wear on vintage Martins found in the collection of the Martin Museum. It looks similar to Martin’s Aged models in the Authentic Series, but is actually under the finish and a 2D painting rather than being achieved by someone physically distressing the lacquer and wood.
The D-18 Street Legend’s top features the wear actually received by the famous 1953 D-18 nicknamed “Grandpa” and formally owned by the late Kurt Cobain of the grunge band Nirvana. The D-28 Street Legend replicates the wear from a vintage D-28 with no particular celebrity association and not nearly a as much wear and tear. Both tops look amazingly like the finish has been worn way from decades of hard strumming, but when I ran my hand across the satin finish it was smooth “as a baby’s cheek.”
Pewter-colored nickel tuners add to the impression that these Street Legend models are old Martin guitars. They are otherwise in pristine condition, with no further “aging,” painted or otherwise.
These new dreadnoughts have a lacquer finish on the back, sides, and top that it is not polished and buffed out to the full gloss we are used to seeing on a rosewood D-28 and mahogany D-18. To the touch the body finish is identical to the satin finish that Martin has used for Standard Series necks since the late twentieth century. This may mean fewer layers of lacquer have been applied.
At $400 less than the high-gloss versions, it is wondered just how identical these new models are with the old, other than the finish. When I stopped by the Martin factory on Friday, I was given the impression they are indeed the same in terms of bracing, neck joint, and overall joinery. I expect to get some quotable quotes later today, as I will return to Martin at 9:00 AM to meet up with key designers and sample more of the 2023 Martin models.
Whatever differences may exist between these Satin models and their full-gloss counterparts, the effect on tone is noticeable immediately. Each Satin model has an expressive openness highlighted by clean top notes and a more ethereal undertone.
In direct sound comparisons at Maury’s Music, I found the traditional high-gloss versions to have a thicker, throatier voice. Not only do the new Satin models offer more-affordable Standard Series options, they offer a new kind of tone that will appeal to many players, perhaps more than the traditional full-gloss models.
Martin has used a satin finish on many models outside of the Standard Series and it is used with great success by other builders, most notably Lowden guitars from Northern Ireland, as well as many builders of high-end classical guitars.
The long awaited Martin D-45 Modern Deluxe arrives in splendor
Regal and refined, extravagant and divine
Specs for D-45 Modern Deluxe include: All solid wood construction; Indian rosewood back and sides; Vintage Tone System torrefied Sitka spruce top with Golden Era scalloped, forward-shifted, VTS torrefied Adirondack spruce bracing attached with natural protein glue; composite bridge plate of carbon fiber/torrefied Adirondack spruce; Genuine mahogany neck with Vintage Deluxe profile, two-way adjustable titanium alloy support rod, hand-fitted dovetail neck joint and solid mahogany neck block; ebony fretboard with High Performance Taper, 1-3/4” width at nut, 2-1/8” at 12th fret, abalone fret position markers, EVO Gold frets, solid bone nut; ebony bridge with Liquidmetal bridge pins, compensated solid bone saddle and 2-5/32” string spacing; European flamed maple binding; high gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish on the body, satin neck finish; ebony headstock faceplate with polished gloss finish, 1920s-style torch inlay; golden Waverly open back tuners with butter bean knobs.
“The piano-like report of the fundamental notes is solid and immediate, igniting astonishing natural resonance. The voice is huge and rich but never muddy or harsh. Every inch of this guitar earns the right to be called the Martin D-45 Modern Deluxe.”
The 000-16 StreetMaster brings Adirondack spruce to the 16 Series
First use of VTS on an “affordable” Martin guitar
Specs of the 000-16 StreetMaster include: Auditorium 000 size; all-solid tonewoods including Indian rosewood back and sides, Adirondack spruce soundboard with Vintage Tone System torrefaction, and 5/16″ scalloped braces; short-scale High Performance neck with Modified Low Oval profile; Indian rosewood fingerboard with 1-3/4″ width at nut, 2-1/8th at 12th fret, short pattern Diamond and Squares position markers; Indian rosewood bridge with 2-5/32″ string spacing at the bone saddle; StreetMaster distressed satin finish; open gear Golden Age Relic tuning machines with cream buttons; soft shell case.
“The VTS Adirondack spruce helps make the 000-16 StreetMaster sound bright and expressive to the point of effervescent, yet it has a warm heart, thanks to the rosewood back and sides.”
The fabled 1954 D-28 of the Black Crows’ Rich Robinson recreated
Martin’s Aged cosmetics and rearward-shifted bracing recreate a 1950s Martin cannon
D-28 Rich Robinson Specs include: All-solid tonewood construction with hot hide glue construction; 14-fret Dreadnought body size; Indian rosewood back and sides; spruce soundboard with Style 28 black and white ply purfling and rosette, Antique toner; 5/16” non-scalloped, rearward-shifted top bracing; Genuine Mahogany neck with 1954 heel and shaping unique to this model, dark mahogany stain; Ebony fingerboard with large mother of pearl dot markers, 1-11/16” width at the bone nut; Ebony bridge with smooth contour and long drop-in bone saddle with 2-1/8” string spacing; Vintage Gloss back, side, and top finish with Authentic-style Aged cosmetic distressing on the body, neck, and headstock; faux tortoise shell pickguard; Antique White body binding; Golden Era script headstock logo on an Indian rosewood faceplate; Aged enclosed tuning machines with oval buttons; retro molded blue plastic case.
“…this is a full-throated thoroughbred Martin. The coupling of that immediate fundamental pop to the languid swell of the undertone, finished off by those complex, hovering and angelic harmonic overtones makes for a voice that is, in a word, delicious.”
C. F. Martin & Co. introduces the CS Super Dreadnought for Autumn 2022
The new Super D is Available at Custom Shop Expert Dealers in two varieties
CS SD specs include: New SD-14 Fret body size; all-solid tonewood construction, choose between high flame koa or Guatemalan rosewood back and sides, Vintage Tone System Sitka spruce top with tri-color wood fiber herringbone purfling; forward 5/6″ scalloped Sitka spruce bracing; Genuine mahogany neck with a traditional full dovetail neck joint, Modified Low Oval profile; ebony fingerboard with High Performance taper, 1-3/4″ width at nut, 2-1/8″ at the 12th fret, long pattern Diamonds & Squares fret position markers; ebony belly bridge with short saddle and 2-5/32″ string spacing; abalone script headstock logo; nickel Grover tuning machines; natural nitrocellulose high gloss body finish and satin neck finish.
New Old Pre-War Body Shape for the New D-28 Authentic 1937
The first Martin Authentic to receive a make-over
D-28 Authentic 1937 specs include: All-solid tonewoods with hot hide glue construction; Guatemalan rosewood back and sides; Vintage Tone System torrefied Adirondack spruce top with scalloped, forward-shifted VTS Adirondack spruce bracing, pre-war style tucked tone bars and tucked maple bridge plate; one-piece mahogany neck with 1937 V shaping unique to this model, T-bar neck reinforcement; 1-3/4″ width at the bone nut and 2-5/16″ string spacing at the long, glued-in bone saddle; ebony fingerboard and 1930s-style belly bridge; ebony bridge pins; faux tortoise body binding and pickguard; open-back Waverly tuning machines; Martin’s Authentic Series thin finish in Vintage Gloss sheen; grained ivoroid body binding
The in-depth written review of the new D-28 Authentic 1937 will appear at One Man’s Guitar in early August.
D-18 Authentic 1937 specs include: All-solid tonewoods with hot hide glue construction; tropical American mahogany back and sides; Vintage Tone System torrefied Adirondack spruce top with scalloped, forward-shifted VTS Adirondack spruce bracing, pre-war style tucked tone bars and tucked maple bridge plate; one-piece mahogany neck with 1937 V shaping unique to this model, T-bar neck reinforcement; 1-3/4″ width at the bone nut and 2-1/4″ string spacing at the long, glued-in bone saddle; ebony fingerboard and 1930s-style belly bridge; ebony bridge pins; faux tortoise body binding and pickguard; open-back Waverly tuning machines; Martin’s Authentic Series thin finish in Vintage Gloss sheen.
The first Martin 13-fret guitar made in the Custom Shop, the CS-SC-22 shines
New tone-improving technology exceeds expectations
CS-SC-13 specs include: 13-fret asymmetrical S body size with deep scoop cutaway; solid East Indian rosewood back and sides; solid VTS Sitka spruce top, with newly patented internal soundboard recurve; VTS Adirondack spruce Tone Tension X-bracing with proprietary shaping; heel-less solid Genuine Mahogany neck with Sure Align neck joint system and ergonomic Low Profile Velocity shaping; solid ebony fingerboard with High Performance Taper and EVO Gold frets; solid ebony belly bridge with 1930 profile but smooth contour surface; 2-5/32” string spacing; abalone shell appointments exclusive to this model; faux tortoise asymmetrical teardrop pickguard; gold-colored Waverly high-ratio open back tuners; Fishman Aura VT Blend electronics with Aura HD imaging and onboard anti-feedback technology. Comes with a silver molded hard-shell case with plush lining.
“Unplugged, the CS-SC-22 resonates with a warm harmonic complexity beyond the capability of other SC models. But its maximum potential will be realized during amplified on-stage performances.”
Read our original preview of these awesome additions to the Authentic Series HERE
The CS-SC-2022 is made in Martin’s Custom Shop in Nazareth, PA out of all-solid tonewoods, using the innovative S body size, Martin’s first 13-fret guitar. It has an asymmetrical shape along with an ergonomic neck thanks to the Low Profile Velocity profile and the Sure Align neck joint that removes the heel at the back of the neck. Everything about this limited edition acoustic-electric hybrid is a major upgrade from the other SC models, of the Martin’s Road Series, made at the Martin plant in Navojoa, Mexico, (the groundbreaking SC-13E, SC-13E Special models and the affordable SC-10E.) This newest SC model is the deluxe version of these hybrid acoustic-electric guitars, and it is packed full of special features.
The East Indian rosewood back and sides are topped with torrefied Sitka spruce with torrefied Adirondack spruce bracing. The top has a patented shaping on the inside that Martin calls a “recurve” to accentuate bass response, something lacking in the aforementioned Road Series SC models. The onboard electronics are the latest version of Fishman’s Aura system with special anti-feedback technology designed expressly for this model. Other deluxe features include flamed European maple bindings on the body, neck, and head stock, and abalone pearl inlay all over the place, especially the swirling vine motif on the fingerboard.
The latest Artist Custom edition is a close replication of the 1954 D-28 owned by the Black Crowes’ founding member Rich Robinson. This is the first time Martin has used their exclusive aging techniques to replicate the cosmetic appearance of a specific vintage guitar.
Like Robinson’s well-played 1954, this instrument has non-scalloped, rearward-shifted bracing, hot hide glue construction, a 1-11/16” width at the bone nut and 2-1/8” fingerboard width at the 12th fret, to go along with the 2-1/8” string spacing at the bone saddle. The heel, barrel, and profile of the neck was copied directly from the artist’s personal Martin, which he used to compose most of the band’s songs.
The East Indian back and sides have the Vintage Gloss finish previous reserved for the Authentic Series, with some “aging” applied, including the replication of specific dings seen on Robinson’s rosewood. There are nicks and scrapes and scuffs all over the guitar, copied directly from the original, and each a souvenir from a long and fruitful career. I particularly like the wear on the neck, including the shiny patch along the bass side of the fingerboard up near the nut, where Robinson’s thumb has made its presence for many years, in addition to whoever owned the guitar before him.
A full review of the Martin D-28 Rich Robinson is coming soon
This limited edition is a replica of the first steel string guitar Martin made in a large body size, which predates the Dreadnought size dominating the world’s guitar markets today. But this revolutionary instrument had been utterly forgotten until a series of letters were recently discovered in the company archives, between Martin and Major Kealakai, who ordered the instrument.
Major was a major star in 1916 when he became only fourth artist granted the privilege of having Martin make him what we now would call a special order with customized features. Hawaiian guitar music was played with a steel slide over steel strings, at a time when Martin guitars were still made with gut strings used for classical and folk music. He needed steel strings and an extra-large body for increased volume. The Mr. Martin of the day accommodated his requests. Afterwards, Martin redesigned the body shape and invented the size D we all know and love today.
The Custom Major Kealakai instrument looks very much like Kealakai’s guitar, but is actually made with modern Martin construction techniques and specifications, thankfully. The body resembles a 12-fret 00, that’s been supersized until it has the same side depth and top width of a dreadnought. The back and sides are made with rare Sinker Mahogany, old-growth Big Leaf mahogany from logs that were salvaged from the bottom of a logging river in Belize. The top is made from torrefied Adirondack spruce, as are the braces.
Otherwise, it has construction similar to an Authentic Series Martin, like hide glue construction and the bracing and neck of the D-28 Authentic 1931, along with the simple fretboard dots of a 1931 D-18. That and having it set up for normal guitar playing makes it a much more viable instrument. Had they made a true recreation of Kealakai’s guitar, it would have been too lightly braced, have no internal neck support, and not conducive to the rigors of modern music.
This new limited edition was inspired by some artwork featuring a large image of barley still on the stalk, which reminded head Martin instrument designer Tim Teel of the Arts and Crafts movement he has always admired, and the Martin models created with similar styling. That led to this new guitar made with figured black walnut back and sides and a top made from sinker redwood that had be salvaged from waters in California, similar to the mahogany Martin sourced from a river in Belize.
It has the large, slop shoulder dreadnought body shape and comes with multiple upscale appointments like hot hide glue construction, Style 42 abalone inlay around the top, and gorgeous inlays of abalone, mother-of-pearl, and colorful woods for the back strip, headstock, fingerboard, bridge, and the pickguard that is made from Guatemalan rosewood!
For over 30 years, Dick Boak was the face of Martin guitar, when it came to being a general, genial good will ambassador. He started out as a draftsman, before wearing many hats at Martin. Dick eventually became Head of Artist Relations and co-designed of many celebrity signature models. He was later put in charge of the Martin Museum and the company archives. Now retired, Dick has been honored with this limited edition inspired by drawings he did years ago. He had sketched out an intricate botanical design, hoping to use the company’s new laser etching machine to reproduce the imagery on a faux tortoise shell pickguard. But the technology wasn’t quite there yet, as the pickguard caught on fire!
The original drawings were recently rediscovered and Chairman of the Board Chris Martin decided to use Dick’s design to create the new D-42 Special. Boak teamed up with world-class inlay artists from Pearlworks to expand the design to the fingerboard, headstock and bridge, and the artisans at Pearlworks inlaid them all with high-color abalone shell. Otherwise the guitar has the same construction and features as the lofty D-42 from atop the Standard Series. The East Indian back and sides and Sitka spruce top are of the highest grade, and Style 42 pearl lines the top, including the fingerboard extension. Elegant and opulent, it is a classic high-end Martin all the way around.
This short-scale 000 is the first 16 Series guitar with Adirondack spruce for the top and bracing. Not only that, it is a torrefied Adirondack spruce top, matched with Indian rosewood back and sides via Martin’s proprietary Vintage Tone System. And over all is the StreetMaster distressed finishing, previously used only on the all-mahogany 15 Series. The combinations of features came about because the sap in Adirondack spruce has higher sugar content than other spruces. When it is torrefied in the oxygen-free kilns to crystalize the cellular interiors, the baked sugars create dark streaks and patches visible on the outside. This limits the amount of VTS Adi Martin is willing to put on their high-end guitars. A solution was found in dressing up such wood with the StreetMaster finishing techniques. This is a win win for people who want a Martin below the price of the Standard Series but still get Adirondack spruce and solid East Indian rosewood.
The new offering in the Road Series is the return of the GPC-13E, now made with gorgeous ziricote fine veneer for the back and sides, and an attractive burst finish on the solid Sitka spruce top. Like other Road Series models, this Grand Performance size Martin has onboard electronics with a build in turner, inside the sound hole, and the low and comfortable Performing Artist neck profile.
Artist Robert F. Goetzl was commissioned to do a painting celebrating classic aircraft nose art. He chose the iconic toothy grin of the legendary Flying Tigers from World War II. Martin chose recreate this painting on a 14-fret dreadnought made with 17 Series construction, for an open airy resonating voice. It has solid mahogany back and sides (either sipo or sapele) and a solid Sitka spruce top. The satin finish is thin enough that you can feel the wood grain with your hand. The guitar is so responsive that the vibrating solid wood body can be easily felt during playing. As for the artwork, it is remarkably realistic, with the illusion of being three-dimensional, especially the exhaust ports when seen in person! To achieve the look of the steel skin of a Curtiss P-40 fighter plane, Goetzl chose not to use typical canvas. He screwed together slats of wood and then painted over them. It all really looks exactly like the front fuselage of an Army Air Corps P-40 Warhak with Flying Tiger insignia circa 1942.