Winter NAMM Martins Revealed

New Martins for a New Decade

Limited Edition D-18E 2020 and the latest, greatest Aura Blend electronics highlight Martin’s Winter NAMM 2020 Offerings

Winter Martins

A year ago Martin debuted their Modern Deluxe Series with four new models that employ cutting-edge technologies to create light-weight acoustic guitars that feel and play a lot like vintage Martins, with unique and impressive tone all their own. Today they unveiled the acoustic-electric versions of those same models, the D-28E Modern Deluxe, D-18E Modern Deluxe, OM-28E Modern Deluxe, and 000-28E Modern Deluxe.

 

I’ve had to keep my trap shut for half a year about the new Hi-Def generation of Fishman’s Aura electronics, ever since the power that is C. F. Martin IV decided to not to release the acoustic-electric versions of the Martin’s Modern Deluxe Series until Winter NAMM 2020.

 

But now they are out of the bag and I can tell you this is one of the most exciting upgrades in a long while when it comes to live acoustic tone via a plugged-in guitar.

 

At the heart of the new Aura VT Blend system is the amazing and highly-complex algorithm that is the adjusts in real time to whatever  and however a guitarist is playing the instrument, and the proprietary tone-sculpting effects that work together to make the plugged-in tone sound much more like the actual acoustic instrument as heard through a world-class microphone.

 

Their are two parts to why this new version of the Aura technology is an improvement over the one that is currently in use on other Martin models. First, there is the greater detail and definition to the overall amplified voice. But perhaps best of all, the new Aura Blend system includes the ability to control how much of the Aura filters are applied to the direct signal from the Fishman undersaddle pickup. So, in addition to the VT volume and general tone control, the player blends in the amount of the onboard Aura microphone image they like best, depending upon the sound system, room, or purpose.

 

It has been a while, so I went looking for my notes from last year and can’t find them. So, I returned to the source, and asked Tim Teel, Instrument Design Manager at C. F. Martin & Co., what is his current take on the new Modern Deluxe models with the latest, greatest Fishman Aura VT Blend system.

 

“I thought it was very important to marry this new incredible sounding Aura VT Blend system to what I consider is our best sounding series; Modern Deluxe.

 

The new Aura VT Blend starting in 2020 on the Modern Deluxe series is the next evolution regrading pro-level sound reinforcement for the acoustic guitar. Full blend control between under-saddle piezo pickup and Aura microphone image has been given back to the player!

 

In a live setting, 40-60% Aura Image is more than enough, and when plugged directly into a computer for recording, up to 100% of Aura image can be utilized. Also, new for this release is Aura HD Imaging, giving stunning realism to the sound of the guitar when played through an amplifier or direct recording. A volume and multi-effect EQ scoop round out the user controls located conveniently in the sound hole of the guitar.

 

 I encourage folks to give it a test play at their local dealer.

 

And I shall be testing them out in the now public version next Thursday, on the very day they are released at Winter NAMM.

 

Here is a quick overview of many of the new Martins debuting next week.

 

​​C. F. Martin & Co.® (Martin®) will introduce a suite of upgraded X Series guitars, a new 12-fret nylon string guitar, a new acoustic bass guitar, new 16 Series models, new Modern Deluxe Series models with electronics, a limited edition D-18E 2020, and the fourth in a series of exquisite Purple Martin models at Winter NAMM in Anaheim, California, January 16-19, 2020.

 

​​​​LIMITED EDITIONS

​​D-18E 2020

Winter Martins D-18E Modern DeluxeThe D-18E 2020 is a limited edition version of the historic 14-fret D-18, which officially joined Martin’s lineup in 1934. Like its namesake, the D-18E 2020 is constructed with a Sitka spruce top and genuine mahogany back and sides plus all of the Standard Series elements that, combined, offer supreme playability and legendary Martin tone. What sets it apart is the use of exquisite East Indian rosewood for the headplate, fingerboard, binding, bridge, and heelcap. The D-18E 2020 comes stage-ready with LR Baggs Anthem electronics. The guitar is strung with Martin Authentic Acoustic Lifespan® 2.0 strings, and it is limited to 2,020 instruments.

​​List price $3,649

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D-42 Purple Martin Flamed Myrtle

Winter Martins NAMM Purple Martin​​The D-42 Purple Martin Flamed Myrtle is the fourth instrument in the Purple Martin Series. The “Purple Martin” theme is inspired by a native bird of Pennsylvania, where Martin Guitar’s headquarters and factory are located. Limited to 100 instruments, this head-turning model includes 42-style pearl inlay throughout and highly decorative inlay on the fingerboard and pickguard of the purple martin bird and mountain laurel flowers, the state flower of Pennsylvania. It is a full-gloss guitar with a heavy bearclaw Engelmann spruce top with a deep purple burst and stunning flamed myrtle back and sides. Each model includes a label signed by C. F. Martin & Company Chairman and CEO Chris Martin. The D-42 Purple Martin is strung with Martin Authentic Acoustic Lifespan® 2.0 strings.

​​List price $14,999

 

​​MODERN DELUXE WITH ELECTRONICS

Winter NAMM Martins Modern Deluxe Aura D-28 D-18 000-28 OM-28

​​The award-winning Modern Deluxe Series was introduced at Winter NAMM 2019, and Martin has received universal praise for marrying vintage appointments, like a VTS top, and modern upgrades, like a titanium truss rod. This year, Martin has added all-new Fishman® Aura® VT Blend electronics to offer players more control over the voice of the guitar than ever before. It utilizes Aura HD Imaging to provide stunning realism and delivers a new level of performance for direct recording in live situations. The stage-ready Modern Deluxe Series with electronics is offered in four models—the D-28E, 000-28E, OM-28E, and D-18E—and all are strung with Martin Authentic Acoustic Lifespan® 2.0 strings.

 

​​List prices range from $4,999 – $5,799

 

​​16 SERIES

​​Winter NAMM Martins 16 Series

D-16E Mahogany

​​The Martin D-16E Dreadnought is crafted with satin-finished mahogany back and sides for a big sound, punchy midrange, and bright treble response. It include a Sitka spruce gloss top for balanced tone and projection and a 000 body depth and high-performance neck taper for comfort and ease of playability. It comes equipped with Fishman® Matrix VT Enhance™ electronics and Martin Authentic Acoustic Lifespan® 2.0 strings.

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List price $2,049

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GPC-16E

 

​​The Martin GPC-16E Grand Performance Cutaway is crafted with satin-finished mahogany back and sides for a big sound, punchy midrange, and bright treble response. It includes a Sitka spruce gloss top for balanced tone and projection and a 000 body depth and high-performance neck taper for comfort and ease of playability. It comes equipped with Fishman® Matrix VT Enhance™ electronics and Martin Authentic Acoustic Lifespan® 2.0 strings.

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List price $2,049

​​000C12-16E NYLON

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The Martin 000C12-16E Nylon 12-fret guitar is ideal for any classical guitarist looking to take their playing to the next level. This Auditorium-style, six-string guitar features a Sitka spruce gloss top and satin-finished mahogany back and sides for bright treble response and plenty of volume. It comes equipped with Fishman® Matrix VT Enhance™ electronics and is strung with Martin Magnifico® premium classical strings.

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List price $2,499

BC-16E

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The Martin BC-16E is the ideal tool for the modern bassist’s acoustic or electric needs. The BC-16E includes a solid Sitka spruce top, East Indian rosewood back and sides, and forward-shifted scalloped bracing to deliver deep, thumping Martin tone, whether you’re unplugged or using the built-in Fishman® electronics. It also includes a fast, comfortable neck so you can keep the rhythm section tight. The BC-16E is strung with Martin Authentic Acoustic SP® Bass strings.

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List price $2,399

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X SERIES

Winter NAMM Martins X Series

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​​Two decades ago, Martin broke into the world of alternative, sustainable materials and created a whole new class of high-quality guitars called the X Series. Today, with new HPL patterns, scalloped bracing, and a solid wood neck, fingerboard, and bridge, the new X Series guitars look and sound better than ever. Plus, every X Series guitar now comes with a padded, water-resistant gig bag. The new and improved Martin X Series guitars are built to go anywhere, offering beginners and active musicians a carefree playing experience.

 

Learn more about the MANY new X Series instruments via the links below.

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X2 Series 

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Made with Solid Wood Tops with High Pressure Laminate Backs and Sides

 

​​List prices from $799 – $899.

​​X1 Series

 

Made with High Pressure Laminate Top, Back, and Sides.

 

 

Martin 000-28 Modern Deluxe Review




The Upscale, Short-scale Martin 000-28 Modern Deluxe

Fundamentally Easy on the Ears, and the Hands

Specs include: All solid wood construction; Indian rosewood back and sides; torrefied Sitka spruce top with scalloped, 1/4″ torrefied Adirondack spruce bracing attached with natural protein glue, carbon fiber/torrefied Adirondack spruce bridge plate; short-scale 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 Diamonds and Squares position markers, EVO Gold frets, solid bone nut; ebony bridge with Liquidmetal® bridge pins, compensated solid bone saddle and 2-5/32” string spacing; European flamed maple binding; bold herringbone purfling; 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.

“Played lightly, and the 000-28 Modern Deluxe lights up like a Christmas tree, with a three-dimensional aura that is dominated by solid individual notes of fundamental color and remarkable sustain, with a lot of open inner-space behind them. Play the strings with vigor, and the notes bark and bite, blinking on and off, spanky and bluesy up top and with a quick reflection in the undertone that is dry and woody. It is a more open and airy voice than any rosewood Martin from the Standard Series, which tend to be dark and dense by comparison.”

Martin 000-28 Modern Deluxe vidcap 1

Full Review with Video Here

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 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’s Standard Series Has Been Standardized For 2018

C. F. Martin & Co. unveils a “reimagined Standard Series” for Winter NAMM 2018

The D-45 gets new binding and Style 28 returns to its roots while embracing Martin’s vision of its future.

More New Old Martins

The entire Standard Series that defines Martin guitars to the world has been uniformly converted to vintage guitar aesthetics achieved by applying Aging Toner to the Sitka spruce tops. While the Standard Style 18 and 21 models retain the faux tortoise binding of their predecessors, those made in Style 28, 35, 36, 40, 41, 42, and 45 all sport the Antique White binding introduced on select models in recent years.

Martin Standard Style 28 (2018) Martin Standard 000-28 (2018) Martin Standard Style 28 tuners

Photos: The 000-28 (2018) replaces the last hold-out of the old Standard Series (click to enlarge)

Gone are the stark white bindings and the last of the black pick guards. Gone too are the tops with the natural French vanilla color slowly yellowing across the years as sunlight tans them toward butterscotch and onto pumpkin orange as the decades roll by. The appearance of the Aging Toner has been formulated to fall somewhere between Martin’s previous offerings of vintage-esque hues, and lands more in the butterscotch spectrum than not. Many of the new Standard Series models can be ordered with a Sunburst top or an Ambertone top.

Diamonds in the Black

Similar to the makeover given to Standard Style 18 a few years back, which combined Martin’s modern High Performance Neck with the scalloped forward-shifted bracing, tonewoods, and open-back tuners of the old Vintage Series 18s, the domino dots and black and white line inlay of last year’s 28s have been retired in favor of the bold herringbone trim around the top, and the diamond position markers gleaming from the black ebony fretboards of the (soon to be) extinct Vintage Series 28s. And the entire Standard Series will likewise be getting the High Performance Neck. Their marketing data suggests it is the best way to guarantee Martin’s cash flow remains very much in the black.

The High Performance Neck combines a Modified Low Oval shaping to the neck itself with a fretboard that has the High Performance Taper, measuring 1-3/4” wide at the nut, and 2-1/8” at the 12th fret – specs that have become the industry standard among popular guitarmakers. It does appear that Martin has made its last 1-11/16” Low Profile neck, other than on possible future special or limited editions.

That the HD-28 was being remade with the HP Neck in the image of the HD-28V has been known to me for some time now. But whether they would be uniformly remaking all the 28s was an open question until quite recently.

As the man with his name on the headstock, CEO Chris Martin remains intimately involved with many of the decisions that lead to just which Martin guitars end up for sale and when they will appear before the public. For example, it was his fourth quarter decision to withhold certain models from last year’s Winter NAMM until the Summer show. And even then, the revamped Standard D-28 (2017) didn’t get the go light until the last minute.

I was among those holding my breath as to just what exactly would be the final specs of the new Standard Series Martins when they were displayed at the Winter NAMM trade show on January 25, 2018.

One interesting tidbit, the 00-28 and 000-28 are keeping the Style 28 back strip, while the others are moving to the vintagesque zig-zag back strip used on 28s in the pre-WWII years. I had to wait until today’s executive luncheon ended to confirm this is indeed the way things will be at NAMM.

According one of those well-fed execs, “If an H appears in the model name (i.e. HD-28,) then it will have a zig-zag back strip…if no H, it will get a checkerboard pattern,” which appeared on contemporary Style 28 models since the late 1940s.

 

Martin Standard 28 back strips (2018)

Photos: A tale of two 28 back strips (click to enlarge)

The H designation once signified herringbone trim and scalloped bracing. In the new Style 28, some guitars with both of those features do not get the H. And yes this does mean the OM-28 (2018) has surrendered its 1930s zig-zag for the 1950s checkerboard. But it and most of the Standard Series instruments with (2018) in the name get an upgrade in tuners, to Schaller GrandTune™ machines. Style 35 guitars retain the chrome enclosed Grover Rotomatics associated with Style 35 throughout its lifetime.

It Is What It Is

Change often comes slowly at Martin Guitars, while some of their biggest fans have a hard time accepting any change at all.

The loss of grained ivoroid bindings from the OM-42 or the additions of Antique White binding and Aging Toner to the top-of-the-line D-45 may seem like sacrilege to some (who had no intention of ever buying a D-45 anyway,) but it is the change to forward-shifted bracing on the HD-28, D-35, D-41, and D-45 that may prove much more controversial in practical terms, just as it has been for the D-28 2017 model that appeared at Summer NAMM.

The term forward-shifted bracing refers to where Martin placed the X brace in relation to the bridge plate on Dreadnought models made in the 1930s. It is often said to be one inch from the sound hole, but it is all about the flexibility of the spruce soundboard around bridge plate, father down the top from the X, which matters. That is where the majority of the sound-producing energy is transferred from the guitar strings to the musical instrument.

The bracing was moved nearer the bridge plate sometime in 1938, to a position now called “rear-shifted bracing.” And then it was brought forward a little bit at a time until the late ’50s, when it reached the position that was considered the “standard position.” That is, until now.

Moving the center of the main X brace that little bit farther away from the bridge plate on a Dreadnought-size guitar increases bass response noticeably, while adding more echoy resonance to the voice in general.

Martin going all-in on forward-shifted bracing (not including 12-string models) will bring further uniformity to the Standard Series, while also severing ties with the Martins made in the final 40 years of the twentieth century, at least when it comes to the brace position. There is no doubt it changes the voice of a guitar. But it will be left to the individual guitarist as to whether that is a good thing or not.

Likewise, the Company is all in on the take-it-or-leave-it stance concerning the High Performance Neck.

While the playability and feel of the HP Neck allows their ship-of-the-line Martins to enter into direct competition with makers like Collings, Huss & Dalton, and Taylor Guitars, not all guitarists are happy with the new Martin neck. They will have to look to Martins outside of the Standard Series when seeking a vintage style V neck, or they must look to the Custom Shop if they want a new Martin with the Low Profile neck from the old Standard Series.

Martin D-45 (2018) detail Martin D-45 (2018) Martin D-45 (2018) head

Photos: The new D-45 (2018) has vintage looks and modern construction (click to enlarge)

C. F. Martin IV’s Legacy





It can be argued that this reimagined Standard Series may be the most important event in the continued success of the Chris Martin’s family business, since his great-grandfather, Frank Henry Martin, brought the Company into the twentieth-century and piloted it through the Great Depression. It took many years of trial and error to bring all these specs into one unified collection of reasonably-priced, professional-level guitars.

Now in his 60s, today’s Mr. Martin is gearing up to follow his long-time friend Dick Boak into retirement. He will be remembered for leading his Company out of one economic slump and through several others, by embracing and respecting Martin tradition while also introducing and championing modern technologies, and alternate and environmentally responsible materials, often combining the traditional with the futuristic to break new ground that will prove to be sound bedrock for his business to build upon for many years to come.

For guitarists who long for Martin guitars made more like the old timers, he has provided the excellent Authentic Series of meticulous vintage Martin recreations. And for those who want Martin to boldly step outside of their tried and true designs, there are the many special editions and Chris’ own CEO Series.

And now, his transformation of the Standard Series that began with the D-18 makeover in 2012 has come to fruition. By infusing many aesthetic features of old Frank Henry’s pre-war Martins with the modern technology like the High Performance neck, made possible in part by Martin’s exclusive two-way adjustable steel truss rod, the effort to return Martin’s Standard Series to its rightful place as the industry standard for top flight acoustic guitars is fully realized. It may very well be among the wisest moves Chris Martin could make as he prepares for the on-coming century of Martin guitars.

Check back soon, as we will be writing about other new Martins as soon as I am given the permission to start blabbing!

In the mean time…

Check out the new Standard Series Martins and their public spec sheets below

Martin Modes in Review OM-21 Ambertone (2018

All guitars listed have new specs, or are wholly new to the Martin catalog for 2018.

D-45 (2018)

D-42 (2018)

D-41 (2018)

D-35 (2018)

D-35E (2018)

HD-35 (2018)

HD-28 (2018)

HD-28E (2018)

HDC-28E (2018)

HD12-28 (2018)

GP-28E (2018)

GPC-28E (2018)

GPC-35E (2018)

J-40 (2018)

M-36 (2018)

OM-42 (2018)

OM-35E (2018)

OM-28 (2018)

OM-28E (2018)

OMC-28E (2018)

OM-21 (2018)

000-42 (2018)

000–28 (2018)

00-28 (2018)

 

 

 

 

Martin 000-42 Conversion from a 1953 000-28 – Review

A 1953 000-28 converted by the Martin factory to 1939 000-42 specs

Old Brazilian rosewood retopped with torrefied Adirondack spruce and solid abalone pearl

*This instrument is currently for sale. Inquire at oneman@onemanz.com*

Specs include: All-solid wood with hide glue construction throughout; Brazilian rosewood back and sides originally constructed as a 1953 000-28; highest grade Adirondack spruce top, torrefied with level M1 of Martin’s proprietary Vintage Tone System; Vintage Style 42 appointments including period correct solid abalone pearl rosette ring, top purfling, and snowflake fret markers; grained ivoroid binding with ebony borders at end pin box; aggressively-scalloped 1/4″ Golden Era style bracing with period correct rear-shifted X brace; genuine Big Leaf mahogany neck with full vintage V profile supported by an internal steel T-bar, 1-11/16” width at nut and 2-1/8” at the 12th fret; ebony fingerboard and Golden Era style bridge; bone nut and glued in saddle with 2-1/8” string spacing; open-back Grover tuning machines; period-correct gold foil headstock logo on Brazilian rosewood face plate grained; ivoroid binding; thin high gloss nitrocellulose finish with faux tortoise shell pickguard under the finish.

“This converted 000-28 has my favorite kind of Brazilian/Adirondack tone, warm and richly colored, with a bass that is plump but not woofy, spawning a rich undertone that at times hugs but never smothers the higher registers, and trebles of fine purity that are precise but solid, yet radiating shimmery harmonic overtones.”

Read the Full Review Here

Martin 000-42 conversion pearl work

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