Martin D-40FMG: Reader Q&A

Reader asks about the rare D-40FMG

A Lost Martin Model

Although I’ve been happy my 1975 D-18 for a long time, the Martin I now want is a 1995 D-40 FMG. I’ve been trying to figure out what FMG stands for, since it’s not a standard designation, and all I can come up with is Figured Mahogany – the wood used for its back and sides. I’d never even heard of a style 40; do you have any clues about a D-40 FMG? I appreciate anything you can tell me. Thanks!

– Dave P.

Spoon Replies:

Ah the D-40FMG, I understand the allure. They have figured mahogany back and sides, with the cosmetics of a D-40, only with tortoise rather than white binding on the body, neck and headstock.

I would love to own one myself. Being a bit of a rare bird, I see modern pricing listed from just over $3K to just under $5K; the latter seems like wishful thinking to me for a mahogany/Sitka dreadnought from 1995.

Still, I think they look gorgeous with the tortoise binding on the neck, and it is unusual to get a mahogany Martin with so much abalone inlay.

The “FM” would have stood for Figured Mahogany, but the examples I have seen have figuring that could be called “quilted” or “ribboned” or even “waterfall.” It is a naturally occurring feature in quartersawn mahogany. But it is relatively rare compared to figuring seen in flatsawn wood.

I never could find out what the G stood for. So asked Michael Dickinson, wood buyer for Martin. He said that at the time MG stood for Mahogany, rather than just M, or FM which could be Figured Maple. I assume it might also be related to the fact M at that time had just started being used to refer to the M top size, as in the new J-40M that had recently come on the market.

This model was part of the Figured Wood Edition series, which included the D-40FMG, made in 1995 (two were made in 1996,) and a D-40FW (figured walnut, 148 made,) and the D-40QM (quilted maple, 164 made,) both were built in 1996.

In the 1980s they also had similar series of dreadnoughts made in Style 16 that had Mahogany, Ash, Walnut, and Koa for the back and sides.

Otherwise, The D-40FGM has the styling similar to the D-40, but came out two years before the Standard D-40 was released in 1997.

The D-40BLE appeared in 1990, as a Guitar of the Month (which did not come out anything like monthly.) It was designed by Mike Longworth, and was based on Style 40 from the 1930s, with snowflake fret markers and other features that make it unrelated to the Figured Wood Edition D-40 models.

Most interesting to me is the fact the D-40FMG seems to be a forgotten model. By this I mean, it was left out entirely from Martin Guitars: A Technical Reference, wherein Richard Johnston and Dick Boak edited and greatly expanded Longworth’s original history of Martin Guitars.

Modern Style 40 gets a meager one sentence, about the J-40, and while it mentions the D-40 in the notes beneath, none of these LE D-40 models are listed among the other Limited and Special Editions.

The production totals for all D-40 models do appear in the appendix, but they are buried in an obscure table, and not listed between the D-37 and D-41, as one might expect.

Here is a spec sheet for the D-40FMG

Style 40 has been around since the 1850s, when it was made in Size 2 for $40. It was $84 in the first printed price lists of the 1870s. It did not appear in sizes 0-000 until after 1900, and up until it was retired in 1941 it was basically Style 42 with slightly less pearl trim.

Modern Style 40 (with the small hexagon fret markers and black and white ply purfling) debuted on Martin’s J-40M (M stood for the M body silhouette, not for mahogany.) It was Martin’s first jumbo model and Chris Martin’s first major contribution to the Martin line.

The D-40 followed in 1997. In terms of construction and wood quality, it is an HD-28, but has the cosmetic features of a D-41 – except it has unique reversed black and white ply trim around the edge of the top rather than abalone shell.

The D-40 remained in the catalog until quite recently, but it was not nearly as common as the J-40, which was offered in the normal Style 40 and in an all-black version.

May 3 Guitar Recording Microphone Tests

Help Spoon Toward His Next Album – which microphone?

The previous test had some tech flaws. This one is better.

You can listen to the MP3 online.

But you must go to the link and download the actual wav file if you want to hear the hi res version. (click on the upper right where it says SOUNDCLOUD.)

Please let me know which of these 8 mic parings you like best, you can comment on as many as you wish.


Blind Test for Now. I will reveal the mics in a few days.

Same guitar, and the mics were set up in the same positions and same distance from the guitar (quick measuring tape confirmations.)

One of the six examples sounds much more like the actual guitar than the others. But for me that is not important, compared to what listeners hear and “that sounds good” or “pleasing” or “listenable without fatigue” etc., when it comes to someone listening to a 45 minute album of guitar music, etc.

There was no EQ or compression etc. I just played the same piece over and over six times, as fast as I could switch microphones and adjust levels.

I was surprised how different some of them sound in terms spacial effect in the virtual soundstage.

I am curious to know what YOU hear, think about the six mic pairings in this test. Which one(s) do you like?

Please use the comment form below, or contact me via

Martin OME Cherry Review – Happy Earth Day!

Earth Day 2018 review of the Martin OME Cherry

Forest Stewardship Council certified woods in harmony

Specs include: All-solid FSC tonewoods including cherry back and sides, Sikta spruce top with scalloped 1/4″ European spruce bracing; FSC certified select mahogany High Performance neck with Modified Low Oval profile; FSC certified ebony fretboard with 1-3/4″ width at nut, 2-1/18″ at 12th fret; FSC certified ebony bridge with 2-5/32″ string spacing; FSC certified African blackwood headstock face plate; Gold open gear tuners; Antique White on body and neck; bone nut and compensated Tusq saddle to go along with the Fishman Matrix VT Enhance NT1 electronics

“I found the overall voice delightful. Each two-string register is a thing unto its own… And when the six strings sing together, they form a choir of overtones, fundamentals and undertone that is a joy to behold and be heard.”

Full Review with Video Here


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 00-17 Authentic 1931 – REVIEW

Torrefied mahogany debuts on the Martin 00-17 Authentic 1931

The most affordable Authentic model yet, and perhaps ever

“This 12-fret 00 generates tone that expands in all directions, filling the room with clearly defined notes and woody sympathetics, while creating a soundscape of inner depth that seems far greater in size than the physical dimensions of the instrument should allow.”

Read the full review HERE

Read the full review HERE

Martin 00-17 Authentic 1931

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.

Martin 000-28 (2018)

The long-awaited makeover of the Standard Series 000-28 arrives

The addition of scalloped bracing and Martin’s High Performance neck bring this short-scale 000 into the 21st century, while returning the appearance to a pre-World War II aesthetic

The in-depth written review of the 000-28 (2018) will appear once I produce the videos of the various 2018 Martins I recorded at the Martin factory on NAMM Day 2018.


Martin D-35 (2018)

The one many people have been curious to hear, the D-35 (2018) makeover is a winner

With the change to forward-shifted bracing the new it has a meatier undertone and slightly fatter trebles, but it is still a uniquely articulate dreadnought

The written reviews of all the new Martins will appear starting later this week. I am doing all the videos first for a change.