Latest Acoustic Guitar Reviews and News

Martins on Parade: Leo Kottke and Michael Hedges

Cleveland, Ohio, March 4, 1988

Leo on an MC-28 Sunburst model with the old oval sound hole, Michael on a vintage 5-18

For my birthday, my younger sister wanted to buy me tickets to this concert. But I already had my plane tickets to fly back from my internship in New York City, a day or two too late. I had been a Kottke fan since my early teens and had discovered Hedges about a year before this show. So I was seriously bummed. But thanks to modern marvels like YouTube, at least I get to see the encores, when Hedges came out to join Kotte for some impromptu jamming.

The First Cutting, by Michael Hedges, followed by Eight Miles High, by David Crosby


New Martins from the New Custom Shop Experts

Authentic Series Specs at a Lower Price

Available only from a Martin “Custom Shop Expert” dealer

Martin D-28 Custom Authentic Ambertone Aged onemanz

Spring Surprise Sprung

Martin Guitars has introduced their Custom Shop Experts designation, granting certain dealers a special badge to signify that they do a high-volume business in one-of-a-kind instruments built in the Martin Custom Shop. They are also being granted the privilege of selling some exciting new Martin models that feature construction techniques from the lofty Authentic Series, at a lower price than any previous thoroughbred from that stable.

Some seven years ago, I sat in the office of Tim Teel, Martin’s Director of Instrument Design, along with Fred Green, Vice President of Product Management, discussing the neck shapes of the 1930s Orchestra Models about to be recreated for the Authentic Series. I asked if they might eventually sell guitars based on the Authentics, but with Standard Series woods, while pricing them in between the two. The answer was an emphatic “No way!”

Well, Garth… way.


Made by the craftsmen and craftswomen of the Custom Shop, the guitars in the Authentic Series are painstaking recreations of specific, priceless instruments built in Martin’s Golden Era, centered on the 1930s. But these new Custom Authentic models have certain changes to the specifications that make them more affordable, if no less exclusive. Pricing starts just over $5,200.00, compared to $6,888.00 for an authentic Authentic.

The eight new models are actually two models, offered with four different finishing options, including the basic Vintage Gloss finish exclusive the Authentic Series, an Amberburst top not previous used in the series, and for an additional up-charge, a less-dramatic version of the “relic” processing found on their Aged Authentic models, as well as both the Amerburst top and the new Stage 1 Aging, as it is being called.

The D-28 Custom Authentic is based closely on the fabulous D-28A 1937, which debuted in 2014. The all-new 000-28 Custom Authentic has the styling of a 1937 000-28 with a neck and bracing similar to the CEO-7 model that first appeared in 2013.

The lower sticker price is being achieved by using East Indian rosewood for the back and sides and by not using Martin’s Vintage Tone System of wood torrefaction. They also have a modern adjustable truss rod in the neck, rather than the ridgid steel T-bar used in Martins from the pre-war era.

The Custom Authentic models might not receive their official public debut until the Summer NAMM Show. But given how long it takes to build and age each of these exquisite guitars by hand, dealers with the Custom Shop Expert badge have been granted permission to accept pre-orders for them.

See the list below to contact the Custom Shop Expert dealer nearest you to place your (pre)order.

The full story of these new Custom Authentic models and the Custom Shop Experts program will appear in the upcoming issue of Martin: The Journal of Acoustic Guitars, based on my interviews with Fred Greene and other Martin insiders.

The Future is Bright

One year ago, the global pandemic compelled C. F. Martin & Co. to suspend operations. They had just managed a nimble navigation to remain afloat in the wake of the most recent economic downturn, only to face the greatest challenge in their 188 years in business – the complete shutdown of production due to COVID-19.

Senior management had to restructure the entire company and invest considerable time and treasure before any of their guitar builders could safely return to work, and all other employees could be supplied with the means to work remotely. Anticipated product launches were postponed and some models already in production were suspended, in some cases indefinitely. So, I was very happy to see these new Custom Authentic models appear, basically on schedule.

Orders for regular catalog models are now being filled, but with a backlog larger than at any time since they opened the modern factory in 1961. And yet, they are appearing at long last in the shops and showrooms and on the websites of Martin dealers around the globe.

The consumer appetite for portable and affordable musical instruments grew steadily across the months of the pandemic lock down. Music soothes the soul, and the playing of live music is a delight for all who get to experience it. It also provides hours of satisfaction for free, after the initial investment in a quality instrument like a guitar or a ukulele.

But these modern times have also inspired musicians to step up and buy the sort of world-class instruments only available from builders like C. F. Martin & Co., with an “if not now, when?” attitude and a sense that life is too short not to play a Martin, as one of their old sales slogans put it. And so too has increased the interest in ordering a one-of-a-kind instrument from Martin’s Custom Shop, which is busier than ever.

I have designed multiple custom Martins over the years, with the help of multiple dealers, and I now own more customized Martins than stock catalog models. Each of these special guitars has been wonderful and worth the time and effort and cost it took to have it built. None of those dealers is even part of this new Custom Shop Experts program. The point being, there are many Martin dealers with many years of expertise when it comes to shepherding a customer through designing their dream guitar. But these official experts are different from the rest.

The new Custom Shop Experts have been selected because of their long-time practice of ordering large numbers of custom Martins, not just for individual customers, but for the dealer, so they can offer a unique guitar only available from their store. They put careful and considerable thought into each guitar before finalizing the specs, so that their websites are often glittering with mouthwatering Martins, made from stunning woods, both traditional and unusual, and inlays and cutaways and combinations of features not available anywhere else but on that one guitar in that one showroom.

Reaping What the Sow

This list appears to primarily include dealers in large cities or who otherwise have large showrooms and who also sell guitars from many other leading brands and independent luthiers. They attract customers on-line and as walk-ins who might not have considered ordering a Martin, let alone an out of the ordinary Martin, until that one-of-a-kind guitar is put in their hands and they can’t let it go and end up taking it home.

For their continued efforts to order and offer guitars from the Custom Shop in such quantities, these select dealers have been rewarded with the exclusive right to sell these new Custom Authentic models. And boy, are they gonna sell!

Besides the modern neck rod, the D-size design has all the important pre-war specs of the version made with the pricey Madagascar rosewood and VTS spruce. The new 000 is the first guitar in the modern Authentic Series that isn’t based on a specific vintage Martin. It will have 1/4″ bracing similar to the old 000-18 Authentic 1937, and a neck shape that is being officially listed as a Modified V that has a 1930’s Style heel, and the standard 1-3/4″ fretboard taper matched with 2-5/16″ string spacing. That basically says it has the neck currently available on the CEO-7. But the actual designer referred to it as being based on the OM-28 Authentic 1931. I will have to get my mitts on it before I can make further comment.

The usual questions concerning whether or not there will be more models included in this new concept, or other woods like mahogany back and sides, get the same answer they always do. If these sell as well as Martin hopes, then yes, there might be other models, eventually.

The only thing I am permitted to say for certain is that these current Authentic Custom models will eventually go away, as they do have an End Date.

The following Martin dealers are currently members of the new Custom Shop Experts program in 11 different nations. The sooner you reach out to one about pre-ordering your amazing new Custom Authentic guitar, the sooner you will be cradling it in your lap.

And that is one man’s word on…

The New Martin Custom Authentic Models

Available only from a Custom Shop Expert dealer

United States


Acoustic Vibes
2070 E Southern Ave
Tempe, AZ 85282
(480) 656-7749


Lightning Joes Guitar Heaven
100 E Branch Street
Arroyo Grande, CA 93420
(805) 481-2226

Tall Toad Music
43 Petaluma Blvd. N
Petaluma, CA 94952
(707) 765-6807

Instrumental Music
1501 E. Thousand Oaks Blvd
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(805) 496-3774


500 S Arthur Ave, STE 700
Louisville, CO 80027
(303) 665-7733


Ken Stanton Music
6010 North Point Parkway
Alpharetta, GA 30022
(770) 670-4424


Chicago Music Exchange
3316 N Lincoln Avenue
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 525-7773

Tobias Music
5013 Fairview Avenue
Downers Grove, IL 60515
(630) 960-2455

Music Gallery
2558 Green Bay Road
Highland Park, IL 60035
(847) 432-6350


Willcutt Guitars
406 Rosemont Garden
Lexington, KY 40503
(859) 276-0675


Music Emporium
165 Massachusetts Avenue
Lexington, MA 02420
(781) 860-0049

Elderly Instruments
1100 N Washington Avenue
Lansing, MI 48906
(517) 473-5810


Music Villa
539 E Main Street
Bozeman, MT 59715
(406) 587-4761

New Hampshire

Manchester Music Mill
329 Elm Street
Manchester, NH 03101
(603) 623-8022

New Jersey

Russo Music
619 Lake Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712
(732) 455-8397

New York

Music Zoo
123 Smith Street
Farmingdale, NY 11735
(844) 687-4296

Rudy’s Music
461 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
(212) 625-2557


Northeast Music
713 Scranton Carbondale Hwy.
Dickson City, PA 18519
(570) 909-9216

Empire Music
719 Washington Road
Mt Lebanon, PA 15228
(412) 343-5299


Gruhn Guitars
2120 8th Avenue S
Nashville, TN 37204
(615) 256-2033

Music Outlet
1050 Winfield Dunn Parkway
Sevierville, TN 37862
(865) 453-1031


Tone Shop
15317 Midway Road
Addison, TX 75001
(972) 661-8663

Strait Music
2428 W. Ben White Blvd.
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 476-6927

Fuller’s Vintage
116 North Loop
Houston, TX 77008
(713) 880-2188



Centre de Musique Diplomate
311 Rue Beaubien E
Montréal, QC H2S 1R9, Canada
+1 (514) 274-5413



Acoustic Centre
206 Park St
South Melbourne VIC 3205, Australia
+61 3 9699 5691


Bagerstræde 7DK-1617
Copenhagen, Denmark
+45 86 1260 34


Musikhaus Hermann
Gymnasiumstraße 2
88400 Biberach an der Riß, Germany
+49 7351 9789


Centro Chitarre
Via S. Sebastiano, 14
80134 Napoli NA, Italy
+39 081 446705


Fellowship of Acoustics BV (TFOA)
Moerheimstraat 144
7701 CJ Dedemsvaart, Netherlands
+31 (0) 523-232205

South Korea

Sam-Kwang Music Instrument
173, Beomil-ro Busanjin-gu, Busan
Busan, South Korea
+82 51-632-3003

Acoustic Jun
#203 21, Dongtangiheung-reo257beonga-gil, Hwaseong-si, Geyonggi-do
Seoul, South Korea
+82 31-376-7670

United Kingdom – England

Peach Guitars
3 Crown Gate, Wyncolls Road, Severalls Industrial Park
Colchester CO4 9HZ, United Kingdom
+44 1206 765777

United Kingdom – Scotland

36 Trongate
Glasgow G1 5ES, United Kingdom
0800 456 1959


(click on photos to enlarge)

Martin D-28 Custom Authentic top onemanz

Martin D-28 Custom Authentic Aged top onemanz

Martin D-28 Custom Authentic Ambertone top onemanz

Martin D-28 Custom Authentic Ambertone Aged top onemanz

Martin 000-28 Custom Authentic top oenmanz

Martin 000-28 Custom Authentic Aged top onemanz

Martin 000-28 Custom Authentic Ambertone top oenmanz

Martin 000-28 Custom Authentic Ambertone Aged top onemanz


David Lindley

Singular American musician David Lindley turns 77

“Mr. Dave” laid down licks across popular music while earning his own cult following that endures to this day. I believe I have seen him more in concert than any other artist.

David Lindley is likely heard most often on the classic rock radio hit “Running on Empty.”

An American Original

As a teen, David Lindley won the Topanga Canyon Fiddle and Banjo Contest. After winning five years in a row, they made him a judge. It was only up from there.

He was a founding member of the psychedelic band Kaleidoscope across the late 1960s, when he started to get session work that put his unique sound on albums by rising stars like Leonard Cohen, the Youngbloods, Graham Nash, and America, before joining the band of English singer/guitarist Terry Reid. In 1972, he began a collaboration with fellow-Californian Jackson Browne, with whom he toured for the next eight years as a duo act and with the larger commercial bands tried to Browne’s career as a recording artist.

David Lindley first entered my stream of consciousness through Jackson Browne’s second album, For Everyman, where his melodic lead guitar work, beefy violin accompaniment, and transcendent steel guitar playing, and out-shown Elton John’s piano, and the big name voices joining in on harmony vocals that helped launch Browne to international stardom. I have remained his enthusiastic admirer every since, quickly losing interest in Browne’s music once Lindley moved on to tour and record for Rod Stewart, Crosby & Nash, Dolly Parton, and many, many others.

I knew nothing about him in those days, just that, should I ever become proficient enough to perform with other people, I wanted my lead guitar playing to be as pretty or as searing, and always tastefully supportive of the songs and singers rather than upstaging them, just David Lindley.

While the rest of this birthday homage features videos, here is the studio recording of the song that made me want to become a “sideman” guitarist:

As a solo artist and front man, Mr. Dave, as he is affectionately known by his friends and fans, has chosen to play what he likes, both in terms of his music and his instruments. Famous for his clashing polyester, and his choice of unusual cover tunes and original compositions often laced with a Zappa-esque sense of humor and altruistic love for the little guy in the big bad world, be it with his Reggae-inspired band El Rayo-X…

From a later version of the band

… another high-octane steel guitar performance from their original 1980s days…

… and across his more eclectic collaborations with Ry Cooder and his duo touring with percussionists like Wally Ingram, where Lindley features his lap steel playing on instruments derived from the hollow-neck Weissenborn guitars made for Hawaiian-style music in the 1920s…

A true story of bad backstage food, “Cat Food Sandwiches”…

… as well as instruments from the cittern family like the mandolin, charango, and Irish bouzouki; and from the lute family, like the Turkish oud, bağlama, and gumbus; and the fiddle family, like the Norwegian hardingfele, and the list goes on and on…

“New Minglewood Blues” on an oud.

Performing Lindley & Browne’s composition “Call it a Loan” during their acoustic reunion tour, which played to much larger audiences than they drew in 1973, before For Everyman had hit the radio waves…

And here is a full set from, after their duets were expanded into a full band featuring others from the heyday of what became known as the California Sound.

Happy Birthday Mr. Dave. Thanks for the music!

2021 Issue of The Journal of Acoustic Guitar is out and I’m in it

Martin: The Journal of Acoustic Guitar 2021 is Out and Available

Focusing on Environmental Sustainability

And featuring an in-depth article on the SC-13E by T. S. Phillips

There was some minor editing going on after my official proofreading and approval. But they paid me well enough that I can live with an awkward sentence here or there.

Martin Journal Cover and SC-13E page onemanz

My article starts on page 36.


Martin D-28 vs. HD-28

Symposium Compares and Contrasts the Iconic Martin Dreadnoughts

To scallop or not to scallop, that is the bracing question

Aaron Short Music, February 8, 2021, featuring Aaron Short, NYC, Maury Rutch of Maury’s Music, in Coaldale, PA and T Spoon Phillips of Brooklyn, NY

Here are better examples of the difference physical differences between scalloped bracing used on the HD-28 and most other modern Martins, and non-scalloped bracing used on the D-28 and D-35.

Scalloped vs Non Scalloped Braces

Martin scalloped bracing diagram

Exaggerated relief showing the “suspension bridge shaping of scalloped braces and tone bars used on a 14-fret Martin Dreadnought

D’Angelico New Guitars and Aged Mahogany Finish for 2021

New High End and Entry Level D’Angelico Acoustics

Retro Looks Awesome on Modern D’Angelico

Two new solid-wood models have been released by D’Angelico, each has mahogany back and sides, a Sitka spruce top with scalloped bracing and an abalone rosette, and a bound pau ferro fingerboard. They also feature the Scroll-style Excel headstock, seen for the first time on D’Angelico acoustics, and a Fishman INK-4 pickup system with controls in the treble side of the guitar, as well as an onboard tuner. Finish options include Vintage Sunburst, Walnut Stain, and Vintage Natural.

Click on Photo to Enlarge

Excel Tammany XT

The OM sized Excel Tammany XT is here seen in Vintage Sunburst.
 D‘Angelico EOXT onemanz

Excel Gramercy XT

An upgraded, all-solid version of D’Angelico’s top-selling single-cutaway grand auditorium instrument, the Excel Gramercy XT is seen here in Walnut Stain.

D‘Angelico EG200XT onmanz

Aged Mahogany Finish

D’Angelico’s Premiere Series offers affordable acoustic-electric models in various sizes and shapes made with laminated mahogany back, sides, and top, and an artistically distressed finish, equipped with an onboard preamp and tuner.

Visit D’Angelico Guitars to learn more

dangelico-premier-acoustic-aged-mahogany finish onemanz


dangelico-premier-series looks onemanz

Eastman Music for 2021 Includes Acoustic Upgrades and a New Electric Guitar

The Men of the East at Eastman Continue to Improve

In my previous post, I mentioned how Eastman is partnering with Dana Bourgeois to create a more-affordable line that will be partially made by each company, before being sold under the Bourgeois brand, with an emphasis on world-wide distribution. Delayed for obvious reasons, I am looking very forward to the results!

As for the Eastman brand, they are another acoustic guitar company that got into the electric guitar business, and their only new model for Winter NAMM is one them.

Romeo LA

This thinline semi-hallow body electric guitar features a laminate spruce top, with mahogany laminate back and sides, maple neck with a “swept curve neck joint,” ebony fretboard and a 24.75-inch string scale. The neck joint features a swept curve for player comfort.

Eastman-Romeo-LA 2021 onemanz

AE Series Upgrades

But they have updated their upper-tier acoustics for 2021 to include sound ports on all their AE models, and upgraded appointments that include figured maple trim and maple leaf fretboard markers, as well as new a top shading option.

Click on Photo to Enlarge

Eastman_grand-auditorium side port onemanz Eastman_grand-auditorium_port onemanz

Visit Eastman Guitars

Bourgeois Guitars Winter NAMM Collection

Dana Bourgeois and His Stunning Guitars

A Sampling of What 2021 Has to Offer

Keeping busy the best way he knows how, Dana Bourgeois and his small company of dedicated craftspeople are putting out some stunning one of a kind instruments. Here is a small sampling.

Click on Photos to Enlarge

Bourgeois Nova

Made with “Panama Red” rosewood and aged Adirondack spruce

Bourgeois D Nova full onemanz


Bourgeois D Nova side onemanzBourgeois D Nova Panama Rosewood b and s onemanz

Bourgeois OMS Style 42

Slothead 12-fretter in master grade koa

Bourgeois OMS koa full omemanz


Bourgeois OMS koa side omemanzBourgeois OMS koa head onemanz

Visit Bourgeois Guitars to See Many More

*** Update on Bourgeois – Eastman Joint Venture***

It has been over a year ago that Eastman announced a joint venture partnership with luthier Dana Bourgeois, (link to jan 2020 post) to create a line of guitars more affordable than the high-end boutique guitars made by Bourgeois in Lewiston, Maine. The global pandemic has disrupted the timing of that new business arrangement, just like everything else. But I do look forward to seeing one of those instruments eventually.

The arrangement will create guitars similar to Martin’s old Shenandoah Series, which had the guitar parts made in Asia, before being assembled and finished in Nazareth, PA. In this case, much of the woodworking is done in Maine, before the guitars are assembled and finished in China, and then given their final setup in the USA.

This isn’t the first time Bourgeois partnered with outsiders to make a play for wider market presence. But it resulted in him being unable to market guitars under his own name for some years.

This time, he retains greater control over the quality of the final product, while gaining a serious overseas presence, and offering a line of guitars considerably more affordable than the $4K – $10K guitars currently available from Bourgeois Guitars.

Dana Bourgeois Voicing Top onemanz

Dana Bourgeois “voicing” a new guitar

Santa Cruz Guitar Company Recent Glories

Santa Cruz offered no new acoustics for this year’s Winter NAMM show

But they did put out awesome photos of recent customs

These include luscious tonewoods like quilted mahogany and 3,000 year old Sitka spruce!


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Visit Santa Cruz Guitar Company

Hoover and redwood onemanzLovers of Santa Cruz guitars can be as passionate about them as any make or style of musical instrument in the world, with good reason. Founder and woodworking wizard Richard Hoover has a lot to do with that. Here he is in a recent photo, doing what he loves best, working with wood. In this case, he using a metal detector to search for bullets and other possible metal hidden in some reclaimed redwood.



John Mayer NAMM Set 2021

John Mayer plays Martin guitars with Engelmann spruce tops

Winter NAMM Mini Set for Martin’s Jam in Place Series

Here’s a decent opportunity to hear what Engelmann spruce sounds like after it has some time to mature and get played in. It is paired with East Indian rosewood on the OM-28JM, the original John Mayer signature model from 2002 (released January 2003,) and it can be heard matched with Guatemalan rosewood on his 2016 D-45JM later in the set. In between the two can be heard Sitka spruce, backed by cocobolo rosewood on the 12-fret 00-42SC Stagecoach model released on 2013.


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