New 2015 Martin Guitars – Exclusive Report

The NAMM show opened today out in California, and I made my usual trip to the Martin factory to see the new 2015 Martin Models.

At the factory I get to the see the prototype that wasn’t chosen to go to the show, and I get to play and hear this runner-up in a quiet room, unlike those at the NAMM show who get to try to hear acoustic guitars in the equivalent Mall America on Black Friday.

I didn’t break a fingernail all day!

Don’t you hate that when that happens?

I did some other stuff too. Was fun.

Anyway, I should get to bed. Been a long day, the first day out of the house since I came down with the flu over a week ago. Left at 7AM and got home just a bit ago.

So I will just say for now that there wasn’t a disappointment among the entire crop of new 2015 Martins and the NAMM Show Special is a big hunk of shimmer koa goodness in a Grand Performance body and drenched in pearl inlay and the CEO-8 looks a lot like a Gibson J-200 and sounds more like a Gibson than any previous Martin, when it comes to the spindly thin trebles and quick chirping strums, but with a lot more going on inside the voice in terms of overtones and sustain and the CS 00041-15 is an effortless joy to play and hear and I think my favorite Custom Shop Series offering to date even if I might have preferred the CS#1 neck profile over the high performance neck but this short-scale 000 is just so effortless and woody and lovely and alive and tension free like playing it made me feel like I just had a long massage at some ritzy resort and the D-35 50th Anniversary model made from Madagascar rosewood with a Brazilian center wedge has a wild evocative reflective glimmer thing going on in the trebles and muscled Grade A Beef in the bass and is a marvelous idea well wrought into living breathing dreadnought and they did X-Ray and CT Scan the 1931 OM-28 and 1930 OM-45DX that were used to make the new Authentics and if Martin had chosen to keep this whole dialed-in torrefaction spruce top thing secret and had released these two guitars without saying a word about how they were unique in that respect, people might have thought Martin had changed something about the cosmetic toner used but otherwise they would be doing stationary back flips over just how good they feel and look and how great they sound, and how the longer torrefaction used on other new models, now called M2, can be HEARD, is a discernible thing and a certain kind of ring thing and recognizable, tangible, but the M1 version on the Authentic Series guitars is less so, is subtler or at least quickly forgotten about as the whole voice just seems, well, really good, and those who know nothing about prewar Martins would think the OM-28A is a wonderful guitar that needs no pampering with a wide dynamic range but just gets louder rather than roars when played harder but those who do know about prewar Martins would whistle aloud as they quickly recognize that the OM-28A just has so MUCH about it that is “just like a pre-war OM-28” only more so than they or perhaps anyone has managed to put into a brand new guitar until now and I would love to fill a room with TJ Thompson and Eric Schoenberg and Roy Bookbinder and David Musselwhite and George Gruhn and Fred Oster and Robert Corwin and Bob Hamilton and a 1931 OM-28 and an OM-28A and some other very close modern reproductions of OM-28s and other prewar OM-28s and have them all just pass them around and drink coffee and talk about what exactly is or isn’t right on the money in that guitar or that other guitar but in the case of THIS guitar it is really splitting hairs and trying to catch sprites and faeries in a jar out of mid-air to quantify and qualify what may not be exactly the same as the old timers, because there is just so much that IS, and it is still not going to be for everyone who loves rosewood OMs since so many modern versions are built to do what a dreadnought can do just in a smaller body with subsequent shifts in balance but with all the roar and rumble when running in overdrive, where this thing compresses and just gets “louder,” you know like a prewar OM does and the Dreadnought Junior is I am happy to report so much cooler than I had feared and is a lot of guitar for the money and the size, but this example left me wanting a low E bass string that had the same dominant pow in ratio to the other five strings as you get from a bigger dread, which the fancy full gloss full dovetail R&D version did have but still it was fun and has a very fast neck and so well made we will be seeing some young professional one-upping Ed Sheeran someday soon and the Purple Martin is a classic Cocobolo dread that is dense in weight and in the bottom end tone that looks so amazingly pretty in person with its inlaid pearl flowers and the big soaring bird but it very much preferred a light and pretty playing that brought out the singing ringing highs, where the koa version released previously wanted to be run like a stallion and really did roar as well as shimmer, but I think they had light strings on this one for some reason and the action was way too low for someone with my kind of digging in attack and suddenly it was 5:30 and everyone had gone home and I hadn’t even taken any photos but that was because I couldn’t let go of that OM-45DXA because how often do I get to play a $100,000 guitar that isn’t even a pre-war Martin “just” an amazing replica of one but we happened past the cart containing all the new models as we were leaving the plant and so I grabbed a stand and hurried through as many shots as I could squeeze off and only made the bus because it was later getting to the bus station than I was and I hope some of the photos will be usable and that all the recording and video is too.

Did I mention the OMs were really good? I’m sleepy.

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