Written review coming soon…
Following the successful redesign of Martin’s Standard Series instruments, the more-affordable 16 Series has received seven new acoustic-electric models with similar updated specifications and Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics, a duel-source system with discrete volume and tone controls inside the sound hole to adjust the signal from the undersaddle pickup, and a third discrete control to blend in the signal from Fishman’s Enhance bridge plate sensor.
The new core models are the long-scale D-16E, GPC-16E, (both with 000 side depth) and the short-scale 000-16E, and 00-16E. Each has a solid Sitka spruce top with a high gloss finish, fronting a satin finished back and sides of either solid East Indian Rosewood, in the case of the large bodies, or solid Granadillo in the case of the 000 and 00.
While these new models retain the bold herringbone sound hole rosette and top trim of the previous 16RGT models, they differ in several significant ways, including having the scalloped bracing on the dreadnought and grand performance models forward-shifted, as well as having no binding on the necks. The Dreadnought is also made with the side depth of a 000.
These new 16s have been further modernized with the addition of the High Performance neck, which matches a Modified Low Oval profile with the High Performance Taper to the fingerboard that measures 1-3/4” at the nut and 2-1/8” at the 12th fret. They also have solid ebony fingerboards and bridges, a welcome replacement for the non-wood Richlite material that has been used on previous 16 Series instruments.
The fretboard position markers retain the mother-of-pearl dot pattern of the Standard D-28, while the plain white binding from the 16RGT models has been replaced by the Antique White binding used in the today’s Standard Series, with a tint similar to the binding on vintage Martins from the 1950s and ‘60s.
Also for Summer NAMM are the D-16E Burst and OMC-16E Burst, made with ovangkol used for the back, sides, and top. And that top also gets the Mahogany Burst shading similar to the Style 15 Streetmaster models, but with attractive faux tortoise binding that gives these new ovangkol Martins a distinctive look.
All the new 16s join the long-lived mahogany 16s, and the surviving members of the “Americana Series” 16s released over the past two years with similar construction specifications, but made with silver binding, orange and black purfling, and American tonewoods that include an OMC made with cherry back and sides, and a dreadnought made with sycamore back and sides and the same body depth of the OM.
List Prices Between $2,199 and 2,399
The seventh 16 is the special edition D-16E Brexit model, a 14-fret dreadnought “art guitar” made with satin-finished sycamore back and sides, silvery binding, diamond fret markers, and a Sitka spruce gloss top printed with custom Brexit-themed artwork by Robert F. Goetzl, and likewise fitted with Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics.
List Price: $2,799
Another limited edition, 125 000E Black Walnut Ambertone acoustic-electric guitars will be made. The short-scale version of the High Performance neck, scalloped 5/16” top braces under the solid Sitka spruce top, and Black Walnut back and sides should all add up to a guitar with easy playability and voice of defined top notes, colorful undertone and ample overtones. The Fishman Matrix VT Enhance has discrete controls inside the sound hole.
List Price: $2,399
A Guatemalan rosewood/Engelmann Spruce limited edition that will have a rich, complex tone to be sure, even under all that hardware, the American Chopper Custom came to be thanks to the American Chopper TV show, which collaborated with Martin to design this special guitar, connected to a two-episode program where Paul Jr. Designs created an unusual three-wheeler. It has motorcycle-themed inlays of copper and wood, and even actual aluminum rivets. Quite a collaboration indeed, between master designers and the master craftspeople capable of pulling it off.
Is there any wonder they are making only seven instruments for this very limited edition?
List Price: $39,999
A limited edition of 100 guitars, the 00L Fly Fishing model has glossy goncolo alves for the back and sides, an attractive wood from South America that often resembles Hawaiian koa. It was also a tonewood used at C. F. Martin & Co. as early as the 1840s.
The top is Sitka spruce, with a special sunburst finish decorated with custom imagery by artist William Mathews. The fly fishing theme continues in the pearl inlays gracing the ebony fingerboard and headstock face plate.
I expect this 00L sound to fall somewhere between the CEO-7, which introduced the 14-fret slope-shoulder 00 body size, and the 00L-17 models. But it certainly looks unique.
Dealers may order this with on-board electronics.
List Price: $4,399
The popular Junior Series has added the 000Jr-10 and 000CJr-10E. These are smaller than normal 000s, with an even shorter neck scale (24”) but with the same sort of feminine shape to the body that many people find more comfortable than the wider, square-ish dreadnought shape. Sapele and Sitka in both cases. But the 000CJr-10E has a cutaway and Fishman electronics.
List Prices: $699 and $799
The first Little Martins to get pickguards, they also get a new herringbone rosette etched into the solid Sitka spruce soundboard. The High Pressure Laminate back and sides are printed to look like rosewood and E model has a plug and play Fishman pickup.
List Prices: $499 and $599
I shall consider that a good omen for a musical year ahead.
Martin’s rebooted 16 Series debuts this month at the Winter NAMM show, featuring American tonewoods like sycamore and cherry, among other woods that have been under consideration for some time and which I expect to appear on later 16s as time goes on.
So keep your eyes and ears pealed for upcoming reviews. In fact I still have some 2016 Martin reviews that already have the video shot. I will be getting those out before NAMM.
Happy New Year to all and to all a good musical 2017