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Martin DSS-17 Review

DSS-17 Whiskey Sunset / Black Smoke

First long-scale large body Martin in the affordable 17 Series impresses mightily

Specs include: Slope-Shoulder Dreadnought size; all-sold wood construction; mahogany back and sides; Sitka spruce top with scalloped-braces; mahogany neck with Modified Low Oval Profile, Simple Dovetail neck joint; rosewood fretboard with High Performance taper, 1-3/4″ at the bone nut, 2-18″ at 12th fret; straight rosewood bridge with compensated bone saddle and 2-5/32″ string spacing; Antique White binding; ebony headstock faceplate with Authentic 1933 script logo; satin finish throughout; open-back Golden Age relic tuners with cream buttons.

Available in Whiskey Sunset burst finish with tortoise pickguard or Black Smoke motif with Antique White pickguard.

Light in the hand yet large in the ears, the DSS-17 Whiskey Sunset I played at the Martin factory was very impressive indeed, with distinctly defined fundamental notes that have an expansive depth behind them, reflecting the dry, woody mahogany tone, and amplifying the well-rounded bass notes that are weighty enough to reach down into the generous body cavity and inject some richness beneath the entire voice.”

Full Review with Video Here

Martin DSS-17 Whiskey Sunset review with video pic

Martin D-18 Modern Deluxe Review

A Genuine Mahogany and Torrefied Sitka Spruce D-18 with Modern Acoustic Engineering

The D-18 Modern Deluxe Offers Awesome Upgrades to a Classic Martin

Specs include: All solid wood construction; Genuine South American mahogany back and sides; torrefied Sitka spruce top with scalloped, forward-shifted, torrefied Adirondack spruce bracing attached with natural protein glue, carbon fiber/torrefied Adirondack spruce bridge plate; Genuine South American mahogany neck with Vintage Deluxe profile, satin finish, two-way adjustable titanium 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 vintage Style 18 position markers, EVO Gold frets, solid bone nut; ebony bridge with Liquidmetal® bridge pins, compensated solid bone saddle and 2-5/32” string spacing; Indian rosewood binding, end piece, heal cap; multi-stripe top trim; high gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish; high gloss Indian rosewood headstock faceplate with abalone script logo and golden Waverly open back tuners with butter bean knobs.

“It is just so vibrant and alive. The energy streaming through the wood of the D-18 Modern Deluxe is palpable each and every place it comes into contact with the player’s body – very much like a pre-war Martin. And the futuristic elements of torrefaction, neck rod, bridge plate, and bridge pins combine to convert as much of that energy into audible tone as possible, while creating a voice and personality that is unique among Martins.”

Martin_D-18_Modern_Deluxe_logo

Given how successful this mahogany dreadnought is, I know I am not alone in hoping the OM-18 and 000-18 versions get released sooner than later!

Read the Full Review Here!

Martin Vintage Deluxe Neck vs. Actual Vintage Martin

Martin’s new Vintage Deluxe Profile

A neck shape exclusive to their new Modern Deluxe Series guitars.

It is claimed to be inspired by the neck on the priceless the 1930 OM-45 Deluxe residing in the Martin Museum.

The OM-28 Modern Deluxe is the only MD model thus far to have the traditional fingerboard width to go along with this vintage-esque neck shaping. So how close is it the genuine article?

Well…

The day I first played that old guitar, I begged the people responsible for what gets made at Martin to put that neck on every OM they made thereafter. At the very least, I suggested, they needed to make it available on something less expensive than the $100K Authentic Series model based on that classic museum piece.

And now they have. And there was much rejoicing. “Yea!”

Related Reading

D-28 Modern Deluxe Review

Martin Modern Deluxe Series Announced

Martin Modern Deluxe Series Breaks New Ground for 2019

 Debuting at Winter NAMM – Four New Models: D-28 Modern Deluxe, D-18 Modern Deluxe, OM-28 Modern Deluxe, 000-28 Modern Deluxe

Combining modern takes on vintage Martins with ultra-modern design specs, Martins newly announced Modern Deluxe Series breaks new ground by offering revved up versions of their Standard Series models with features previously only available on select Limited Editions.

VTS Top and Bracing

With the same tonewoods for the back, sides and top of the Standard Series, these Modern Deluxe Series models get Sitka spruce soundboards that have the extra benefit of Martin’s Vintage Tone System, their propriety torrefaction treatment, adding considerable depth to the voice of a brand new guitar that makes it sound “opened up” right out of the box.

Unlike Standard Series Martins, these new models get top bracing made from Adirondack spruce with the VTS treatment. They are shaped with Golden Era style scalloping that removes more wood via carving angles different from the Standard Series scalloped bracing, allowing the denser Adirondack spruce extra flexibility and responsiveness while having greater stiffness along and across the grain compared to Sitka spruce bracing.

This is a feature I have longed for on Sitka-topped Martins, particularly on the short-scale 000s. And while I was aware these guitars were approaching release, I did not know they were treating these Adirondack spruce braces with the Vintage Tone System! That had been previously reserved exclusively for the Authentic Series of high-priced vintage Martin recreations.

Another vintage Martin feature is the use of natural protein glues, which bond with wood, and more deeply into it, for joinery even better than what is on most Martin guitars.

This is also a new specification for Martin, as the glue on the Modern Deluxe models is different from the traditional animal Hide Glue they use on Authentic Series instruments. This new glue is derived from fish protein primarily, and is already being used elsewhere in the high-end guitar making industry.

I have since learned that this new-to-Martin glue is being used to secure the top braces, but is not being used on the other joinery.

Maritn 000-28 Modern Deluxe VTS Sitka NAMM 2019

Modern Metals

For the first time, Martin is using three ultra-modern Limited Edition specifications as standard features. A two-way adjustable titanium rod supports the neck with greater strength than a steel rod, but with less weight. And an ultra-light carbon fiber bridge plate, made from composite layers of wood and carbon fiber pressed together, contributes to an overall instrument weight closer to a vintage Martin, while reputedly increasing resonance as well. So too do the So I can relate to rooting for two closely connected rivals.
bridge pins, which I have found to noticeably increase the initial sustain of fundamental notes.

New Look Appointments

The Style 28 instruments show off flamed European maple for the binding, heel cap, and end piece, while Style 18 gets dark and woody Indian rosewood. All of the Modern Deluxe Series instruments get gold frets that are more sturdy than typical Martin frets, and the position markers and script logos are inlaid with colorful abalone. The 18s also get gold bridge pins with red dots, and the Style 28 bridges sport Liquidmetal pints what look like vintage red dot pins made of bleached white bone.

The prototypes I have seen all have matching gold Waverly tuners. But the published spec sheets do not mention this, so the brand may be subject to change by the time they get to the NAMM show, which opens Thursday, January 24.

New Neck Shape

The new Vintage Deluxe neck profile is publicly referred to as “slightly skewed.”

Maritn 000-28 Modern Deluxe glamour1 NAMM 2019Rather than having the apex of the carved profile running straight and directly at the center of the neck, with identical shaping on either side, this new neck shape is slightly asymmetrical, to fit the shape of the human hand in a more-natural way.

Or rather, it is a new neck shape inspired by old Martin neck shapes from the 1920s and 1930s. This is special shaping was discovered in 2014, and I happened to be visiting my friends in the Martin Custom Shop offices the moment that discovery was made.

Martin purchased at auction a priceless 1930 OM-45 Deluxe, and they were beginning to investigate it for their upcoming Authentic Series version of that rarest of vintage Martin guitars. After spending some 30 minutes with such a mouthwatering vintage Martin masterpiece, I had remarked that they should use that very neck shape for every OM they made from that day forward, as it was marvelously comfortable.

So began the discussion of why and what made that neck different from other necks. It seemed to my hand that the apex of that V neck wasn’t directly centered, so the mass and grade of the slope on the bass (thumb) side and the treble (fingers) side were slightly different. But it was quite subtle and difficult to tell for certain.

So, they had an employee fetch a proprietary gadget and took a convex mold from a section of the neck.

To everyone’s surprise, I was correct. But no one was prepared for just how asymmetrical the factory workers had shaped necks at that important time in the Company’s history. And yet, once we saw the mold, it became quite obvious when in the hand.

A 1931 OM-28 was sent for, and it had an even more extreme difference between the two slopes of the barrel, while having a similarly “skewed” apex.

Martin applied this new knowledge in the making of the OM-45 Deluxe Authentic 1930. But to date, that $99,999.00 wonderment has been the only modern Martin to take advantage of this discovery – despite my repeated lobbying to the contrary.

Now, at long last, they have applied that knowledge in the creation of the new Modern Deluxe Series, which feature the new neck shape they are calling the Vintage Deluxe profile. Most interesting to me is the fact they are using it in combination with their modern High Performance Taper, which narrows the width of the fretboard faster than on traditional Martin necks, giving the entire neck a faster, sleeker feel.

The only new model that does not get the High Performance Taper is the OM-28, which has the Standard Taper, meaning it measures 2-1/4″ wide at the 12th fret, like actual vintage Martin OMs!

And so the instruments in Martin’s oh-so-Modern Deluxe Series combine vintage Martin aspects with modern day know-how and high-tech advancements in a most exciting way.

D-18 Modern Deluxe Detail NAMM 2019

Related Reading

D-28 Modern Deluxe Review

Martin 000-28 (2018) Review




Martin Guitar’s bright future and storied past merge in the 000-28 (2018)

Enduring through the decades, now refreshed with a long-awaited makeover

Select Specifications: Solid tonewoods throughout, including Indian rosewood back and sides, Sitka spruce top with scalloped 5/16″ Sitka spruce bracing; short-scale High Performance neck with Modified Low Oval profile, ebony fretboard with 1-3/4″ width at the bone nut, 2-1/8″ width at 12th fret; ebony bridge with compensated bone saddle, 2-5/32″ string spacing; Style 28 (2018) appointments including Aging top toner, herringbone purfling, Antique White binding, abalone Diamonds and Squares fret position markers, Style 28 back strip, chrome color open back Schaller GrandTune tuners.

“…this new short-scale 000 has a full-bodied voice that immediately says it is no “small guitar.” The bass has Grade A beef in its rosewood brisket, a satisfying heft in the midrange fundamentals under a firm flatpick, and trebles that sound precise and strong when picking out melody, or glint like whitecaps atop a flood of sweeping strums that swell and heave with the woody warmth from the Stika/rosewood undertone. And yet, when played with delicacy, notes from the unwound strings roll out from arpeggios as defined, delicate, and pure as sunlit dewdrops…”

Full Review With Video Here

Martin 000-28 (2018)

Martin D-45 John Mayer

A very special D-45 made for and with John Mayer

Seven Grammy Awards and now five Martin Artist Signature Editions





Specs include: 14-fret Dreadnought body size with all solid tonewoods throughout, Guatemalan rosewood back and sides; Engelmann spruce soundboard with Aging Toner; scalloped, forward-shifted 1/4″ Adirondack spruce braces with Golden Era shaping; one-piece mahogany neck with Full Thickness profile; ebony fretboard with 1-11/16” width at the bone nut; ebony bridge with 2-1/8” string spacing at the compensated bone saddle; high-color Style 45 abalone trim, back, sides, and top with full circumference soundhole rosette; large abalone hexagon position markers; grained ivoroid binding; gold open gear butterbean tuners; faux tortoise pickguard; numbered interior label signed by John Mayer

“…a clear and articulate top voice, with cavernous space behind it, good for reflecting reverberating sympathetics but also for allowing the main notes to stand up and out…But even brand new, the D-45 John Mayer already has considerable shimmer and glimmer to its it ring, and power in its bones.”

Read the Full Review Here

Read the Full Review Here

Martin D-41 (2018)

Now with the Standard Series new standardized neck, the D-41 remains exceptional

The addition of forward-shifted braces beefs up that scalloped bracing tone

This new D-41 (2018) and all the new Martins will have their written review published soon. I am putting out the video portions first this time around.