Tell Me About My Martin OMC-16WE

Rocky L. from Canada writes: Can you please tell me about my Martin OMC-16WE

One Man’s Guitar replies:

According to the serial number you provided, your OMC-16WE was made in 2002. Martin built 219 of the total 244 examples of this model that year, the other 35 were made in 2003.

While it had the general construction of a Style 16 Martin for that era, in terms of neck joint, neck shape, neck wood, and bracing, it has walnut back and sides and a sound hole rosette of blue paua shell from New Zealand, and wood fiber black and white line purfling around the paua.

Martin made similar OMC-16 models during and after this period with back and sides of maple or koa, which had an abalone rosette. The specific pick-up system varies depending upon the exact model and year of production.

The bracing, here listed as 1 Style was invented for the old 1 Series instruments, which are no longer in production. So Martin now calls that pattern “A Frame X” bracing.

Here are the main specifications for the Martin OMC-13WE

MODEL OMC-16WE CONSTRUCTION: Mortoise/Tenon Neck Joint
BODY SIZE: 000-14 Fret Cutaway
TOP: Solid Sitka Spruce
ROSETTE: Single Ring of Blue Paua Pearl w/BWB Fiber On Both Sides
TOP BRACES: 1 Style/Scalloped
ENDPIECE: White Boltaron®
ENDPIECE INLAY: Black/White Boltaron®
BINDING: White Boltaron®
TOP INLAY STYLE: Multiple Black/White
NECK MATERIAL: Solid Spanish Cedar
NECK SHAPE: Modified Low Oval
NUT MATERIAL: White Corian®
HEADSTOCK: Solid/6 String No Diamond/Standard Taper
HEADPLATE: Solid East Indian Rosewood/ Raised Gold Foil Logo
HEELCAP: White Boltaron®
FINISH BACK & SIDES: Polished Gloss/ Dark Filler
FINISH TOP: Polished Gloss ; Sunburst available at additional cost.
BRIDGE STYLE: 1 Style Belly
SADDLE: 16” Radius/Compensated/White Micarta®
TUNING MACHINES: Gotoh Gold w/ Large Knobs
RECOMMENDED STRINGS: Martin SP 4100 Light Phosphor Bronze
BRIDGE & END PINS: Black w/ White Dots
ELECTRONICS: Fishman® Gold Plus Natural 1

CD Review: Howard Emerson “The Wall Talks”

The fourth album by guitarist Howard Emerson was worth the wait

Formidable fingerstyle finely fretted, both solo and accompanied by other instrumentation – The Wall Talks, and people should listen

Hitting Play on a new Howard Emerson album is like receiving a visit from a favorite old friend, where even the instrumental tunes are like hearing about the places they have been and the people and events they encountered along the way. More often than not, Emerson’s music captures the listener’s attention and pulls them along through plot twists and varying vivid moods, both sober and whimsical, with nothing but his fingerstyle guitar-playing to weave his yarns, and no vocals or accompaniment. That is certainly the case with the opening track of his latest CD entitled, The Wall Talks.

The tune is called “Rumble Strut,” and there is an intent and steely determination in the step and swagger of the high-end guitar strings, as they call out over the steady thump laid down on the woodier bass strings. It is nearly impossible to listen for long and be able to keep still whenever the “Rumble Strut” starts playing.

Upon hearing it for the first time, I said to myself, “Oh, yeah. That’s the stuff! That’s Howie all right,” filled with his love of the infectious steady groove, punctuated and countered by punchy double stops and chords left to hang in the air; tasty little flourishes of licks at the end of phrases, and the occasional drawn out and bluesy lead run that races up frets, or tumbles from on high to way down below.

That introduction very much draws one into the world of The Wall Talks and sets up the rest of the album, which builds on that straight forward guitar playing with more complex arrangements and instrumentation.

As usual, there is on display the guitarist’s unusual prowess for “cross tuning”, e.g. composing in alternate tunings, but with the harmonic key of the tune being different than the key of the tuning. Only guitarists might fully appreciate the degree of difficulty therein and Emerson’s ability to make it seem like a walk in the park, or a strut down some vibrant avenue, or the tense treading of some shadowy alley, depending on the specific tone poem.

Although he was seen by countless throngs as a member of Billy Joel’s band, back in the day, Howard Emerson is one of those truly memorable guitarists who deserve much wider recognition than they typically receive. In Emerson’s case that may be due in part to the fact he was never a touring recording artist in his own right with a major record distribution deal.

But his first CD of solo instrumentals, Crossing Crystal Lake, earned him enthusiastic fans around the U.S. and abroad, among anyone who was lucky enough to encounter it. And the follow-up CD, A Tale to Tell, took those fans into new musical territory, which included Emerson’s singing songs of his own composition, and one righteous cover of Chuck Berry’s “Maybellene” played on a detuned 12-string guitar, with overdubbed bottleneck slide guitar. His third album, It Ain’t Necessarily So, returned to mainly bare bones guitar arrangements, with a bluesy slant to many of the compositions.

The Wall Talks offers tunes of both sorts. Among those that could be at home on the stripped-down, one man and his acoustic albums is the evocative and melancholy memorial entitled “Bitter Suite: Oso Landslide.”

Other tunes expand upon the R&B multi-instrument arrangements on the second album, with subtle percussion, slap-back reverb effects, and the inclusion of overdubs that allow Emerson to play more than one guitar part, with some amplified bottleneck slide work that at times brought to mind the likes of Ry Cooder and Lowell George.

Among these multi-instrumental tracks is the suspenseful drama in Emerson’s take on “Fever,” the steamy Cooley and Davenport standard ala Little Willie John. And the slide work is perhaps most affecting on the album’s lone song with vocals, “Water Off A Duck’s Back,” which should bring a smile to even those who have never experienced the shepherding of a precocious and adorable daughter through the age where she still nestles in the comforting care of her parents, while no longer heeding the bridle of their attempts to rule her whims and will.

I remember said daughter from a show Emerson played at Mandolin Brothers many years ago now. Then, she was “just a kid” and he was just starting to perform one of my favorites among his compositions called “Phelp’s Flats,” which he later recorded. And on The Wall Talks he has given the tune a reboot, which is a bit more cheerful, laid-back and spacious than the hard-driving stomp and groove of the original.

This satisfying album ends with an upbeat Latin-tinged hip mover called “Uh Oh!” It always leaves me wanting more, and I tend to listen to this CD with Repeat All turned on. It’s upbeat grooves and moving contemplative moments have been a staple of my NYC fitness hikes, and journeys of longer distances, as it accompanied me all the way to Grand Canyon and back.

And now, Howard Emerson’s The Wall Talks is getting its official CD Release Party, scheduled for Saturday, October 28th, in Seaford, NY, on the South Shore of Long Island. Search Facebook for “Soundbox House Concert Series” to obtain further information.

As for the specifics of guitars and bells and whistles, in his own words Emerson decided early on “that job 1 is: Serve The Song.”

Rather than dwelling on perfect mic placement and stressing the acoustic aspects of the guitar, etc. he focused on the result he wanted, in terms of what the music should convey. Hence the percussion by Mauro Refosco, and the slinky drum program heard on one tune created by music biz veteran Jimmy Bralower.

Emerson’s main acoustic guitar, custom-built for him by David Flammang, does appear on a couple of tracks recorded through microphones only. And he plays it on another track through a Fishman amplifier. He also makes the most out of a National Resolectric guitar heard through a Danelectro amp, vintage 1955. All in all, it keeps things interesting, expressive, and prone to repeated listening.

That is one man’s word on …

Howard Emerson’s The Wall Talks

Check out all Howard Emerson’s music at

Martin Model America 1 Review

Domestic tonewoods shine in the Model America 1

America’s premiere guitarmaker makes a premiere guitar from woods all made in America

Specs Include: Solid tonewoods with high gloss nitrocellulose finish, including sycamore back and sides, Adirondack spruce top, 5/16” forward-shifted scalloped Adirondack spruce braces; satin finished cherry High Performance neck with Modified Low Oval profile, and black walnut fingerboard with 1-3/4” width at the bone nut, 2-1/8” at the 12th fret; black walnut bridge with 2-5/32” string spacing at the compensated bone saddle; Corian dot fret position markers, Style 18 top trim and soundhole rosette; open-back tuners with butterbean buttons, faux tortoise shell binding and pick guard

“There is a firmness to the sycamore trebles and a fullness to the bass notes, and a chiseled definition to the center of the voice, thanks to the Adirondack spruce top. The Adirondack effect makes the center of the voice quite straightforward, leaving lots of space behind it, in that almost “vintage openness” sort of way.”

Read the Full Review with Video

a Martin Model America 1 shoulders

Martin’s New D-21 Special Limited Edition

The black binding and Style 18 top trim of a 1960s D-21 returns

2nd Standard Series Limited Edition Announced – D-21 Special

Following the July release of the uber cool Model America 1, officially a limited edition in the Standard Series, Martin has released the D-21 Special, limited to 300 guitars. It has Indian rosewood back and sides, and a Sitka spruce top that has no vintage, aging or antique toner.

Not to be confused with the old D-21 Special, which had a pyramid bridge, herringbone rosette, rosewood bindings, diamond position markers on an ebony fretboard, and a dark orange toner on the top, the new D-21 Special replicates the looks of the final D-21s built between 1966 and 1969, which have a black pickguard and binding, and otherwise the same appointments as a D-18 from the same era.

1960s-style specs include rosewood fingerboard and belly bridge, Style 28 back strip, mother-of-pearl dot position markers, old style scrip logo on the headstock, and the open back tuning machines, top purlfing and soundhole rosette of the current D-18.

I was holding back on mentioning this new model because the official Martin marketing language stated the guitar had faux tortoise bindings, and I was unsure if this was a last minute change, or just a typo.

So I wrote them and it turned out to be a typo. It is black binding all around.

I am happy to see Style 21 getting some more love from Martin, and hopefully we shall be seeing more interesting 21s in the future. There is right now the dealer custom artist edition OMC-21 made in cooperation with virtuoso Laurence Juber still for sale at My Favorite Guitars in Jupiter, Florida.

And I know of another very special Style 21 guitar that will be appearing in the coming months, but I am not permitted to speak more about that just yet.

21 has always been a lucky number, and I envy the 300 lucky guitarists who are going to end up with this Standard Series limited edition D-21 Special.

Martin D-21 Special close 1100

Read more at Martin’s Official Website

Martin Model America 1 Review – Coming Later This Week


Martin D-18 Jason Isbell Review

With aged Adirondack Over Mighty Mahogany, the D-18 Jason Isbell is more stallion than workhorse

As unpretentious and as powerful as the songs of its namesake.

Specs Include: Solid tonewoods with extra-thin high gloss nitrocellulose finish, including mahogany back and sides, torrefied Adirondack spruce top; 5/16” rear-shifted Adirondack spruce braces with Golden Era style scalloping; satin finished one-piece mahogany neck with 1939 profile, two-way adjustable truss rod, and ebony fingerboard with 1-11/16” width at the bone nut, 2-1/8” at the 12th fret; ebony pyramid bridge with 2-1/8” string spacing at the drop-in compensated bone saddle; custom tattoo fretboard inlay; Ditson style rosette; black binding; Schaller open-back tuners with “clover” buttons; Fishman Infinity Matrix electronics; signed interior label

“Simply put, this guitar sounds huge. Explosive chords burst into the room with near-concussive waves of power and punch, and relaxed, expressive picking lights up an expansive tonal chamber, as if by ballroom chandeliers.”

D-18 Jason Isbel Ditson tatoo inlay
Full Review with Video Here

Update on D-28 Brazilian and D-45 Brazilian Pricing

List prices on the limited edition Brazilian Rosewood D-28B and D-45B are considerably less than originally reported

$15,999 and $36,000 respectively

When having lunch with the three main instrument designers for C. F. Martin & Co. they could not remember what pricing was ultimately set for these special guitars. There estimate of $20K and $45K turned out to be rather high.

The actual prices will make each guitar more obtainable – except for the fact there are only fifteen 45s being built, and at most fifty 28s.

Please enjoy the following daydream:

Martin D-28 B D-45 B specs 90dpi

Martin D-28 (2017) Review

Full-bodied tone is at the heart of Martin’s new D-28

Vintage looks and a modern neck combine with forward-shifted bracing to create an even higher standard for the classic rosewood dreadnought

“It is an invigorated version of the classic D-28. When a player wants to dig in and drives the top, it can get quite throaty and even growly. And yet, light fingerpicking sounds buoyant and cheerfully expressive. On the whole, the D-28 (2017) is one particularly versatile Martin, with a new kind of dreadnought voice, even if it is made to look more like a vintage D-28 than its predecessor.”

Martin D-28 2017 Style 28 trim

Full Review With Video

“With its retro styling and ultra-modern neck, the new 2017 model is a souped up enhancement of the straight-braced D-28, given a more powerful engine, with a roomier interior.”