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
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.
The 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
D-42 Purple Martin Flamed Myrtle
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
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
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.
List price $2,049
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.
List price $2,049
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.
List price $2,499
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.
List price $2,399
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.
Made with Solid Wood Tops with High Pressure Laminate Backs and Sides
List prices from $799 – $899.
Made with High Pressure Laminate Top, Back, and Sides.
Martin Unveils a Bold New D-28, Truly Modern and Deluxe
Vintage Vibe Ahead of Its Time
Specs include: All solid wood construction; Indian rosewood back and sides; torrefied Sitka spruce top with scalloped, forward-shifted, torrefied Adirondack spruce bracing attached with natural protein glue, carbon fiber/torrefied Adirondack spruce bridge plate; 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.
“It is the futuristic features of the D-28 Modern Deluxe that are responsible for how it weighs and plays more like a very old D-28 than a very new one, with a bell-like tone that is truly original, yet with qualities that should thrill Martin fans, all for a price significantly less than the D-28 Authentic 1937.”
Watch in HD 1080p for best sound
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:
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.”
“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.”
Sneak Preview of My Summer NAMM Martin Reviews
This supplemental video was shot just after I recorded the new D-28 for One Man’s Guitar’s exclusive review – which will be the first one published
The following audio was mixed quickly and synched to video on a tablet at the hotel last night, and the video was put together on the bus back to NYC this afternoon.
The mix and synch of the actual video will likely be somewhat different.
While at the Martin Guitar Factory, it was my hope to not just test drive the newly made-over D-28, but to do do a direct comparison with the previous version, which remained virtually unchanged for 30+ years. And that did come to pass.
The two guitars were recorded back and forth in one continuous session. I just picked up one and played the first thing that came off my fingertips and then tried to repeat it on the other one, after placing the first on the same guitar stand. That is why the guitars are sometimes shifted toward the large diaphragm mic, as I kept turning that way to switch the D-28s.
In addition to some cosmetic upgrades, the real game changer is the top bracing, which has been moved to the “Forward Shifted” position, while retaining its non-scalloped shaping. This is the first time forward-shifted non-scalloped bracing as appeared on a cataloged Martin guitar, let alone a D-28.
The full review should be out in two or three days.
The thumbnail for the video was supposed to be of the 2017 model. I expect Youtube will change it eventually.
An American Original Honored by America’s Premiere Guitarmaker with the D-28 John Prine
The composer of Angel from Montgomery has earned his wings from C. F. Martin & Co. along with an angelic signature model
Specs include: All solid tonewoods including Madagascar back and sides, Engelmann spruce top with Antique toner, ebony fingerboard and bridge, scalloped 5/16” Adirondack spruce braces; high gloss nitrocellulose finish; long-scale, satin finished genuine mahogany neck with Modified V profile, 1-11/16” width at nut, 2-1/8” string spacing; bone nut, compensated saddle, and bridge pins; Vintage Style 45 abalone snow flake fret markers; ‘50s style rounded headstock corners, enclosed chrome tuners with large buttons, pearl angel wings inlay; Antique White binding; custom cream tweed case with red interior; signed and numbered interior label
“With twinkling trebles, warm clear-cut mids, and a succulent bass, its distinctive fundamental notes front a subtly complex harmonic array, filled with delightfully sweet overtones and a roomy translucent undertone awash with whispery, ethereal hues. In other words, the John Prine signature model is an absolute charmer.”
I have gotten some confirmation from within Martin on the following:
Typos on the spec sheets – All instances of 2-3/16″ string spacing are incorrect.
All models with the High Performance taper have string spacing of 2-5/32″. The change was universal when they first made it. If you see 2-3/16″ on the spec sheet of a current model it is a typo. I saw at least three models listed that way in the past couple of days.
The new D-28 (2017) – it is NOT a typo that it has forward-shifted non-scalloped braces.
I had expected this makeover to go with scalloped bracing, as the D-18 had.
But after the sonic success of the GPC-28E, they decided to add forward-shifted bracing to the D-28, but keep the braces non-scalloped. I can’t wait to hear the results in person. I liked the sound of the GPC-28 a lot.
The GPC-28E, OMC-28E, 00-28, and soon to be released GP-28E and OM-28E are all moving to this new styling, with the aging toner and tortoise guard, antique white binding and mother of pearl dots of the new D-28. This decision came pretty late, so the latter two were not ready for the show.
The 00-28, and all OMs are retaining their scalloped 1/4″ bracing. But we can expect to see all large guitars made in Standard Style 28 to have non-scalloped bracing from now on.
I got a “probably soon” as to if the current OM-28 was going to lose the herringbone, short pattern diamond fret markers and grained ivoroid binding.
I got silence regarding the 000-28. But may learn something soon.
Likewise nothing on the HD-28, but I assume it is safe for now since the D-28 did not get scalloped bracing or herringbone.
The Jason Isbell model – spec clarification
Tim Teel confirmed this guitar has Golden Era style bracing and bridge plate – except it is rear-shifted. That is a first that I know of, unless someone has ordered customs like that. I bet it is a monster. Can’t wait to see and hear for myself.
It has High Gloss thin finish, not the Vintage Gloss of the Authentics. The spec sheet currently says “Gloss.”
That’s all for now.
A reader asks about scalloped bracing and the tonal differences compared to straight (non-scalloped) bracing.
I always wonder about straight vs scalloped bracing over time/aging, especially on Martin dreadnoughts made of Indian rosewood and Sitka Spruce.
I read some people saying that over time straight braced guitars will open up and have bigger bass, and it’s just right, not too big, not too tight. (Thinking, for instance, of the D-28). Is this right? What about the scalloped bracing will turn over time? Thank you!
Silanto, in TBA
All such guitars will open up. And the inherent tonal properties of each will increase as time goes by.
I have often been around a 2000 D-28 and a 1990s HD-28, and often in the same room at the same time. It makes for an obvious and enjoyable comparison.
The HD has a much more echoing cavern kind of tone under more precise spider web trebles and a bass E string that has a lot of thunk to it, which seems directly connected to the undertone.
The D-28 had string notes that are more solid and sit up on top of the undertone with a lot of clarity, like each note is a well-shaped log laid out on top of a thick slab with only the underside of each log resting upon that thick undertone cushion. The undertone presence comes up to them, but does not swamp them. The trebles are thicker relative to the HD spider webs, and the bottom bass string stays very well defined, There is a discernible edge to bass end of the voice, and it does not thunk in the same fat unfocused way the HD does. The HD does not have an edge to the bass end of the voice, but is more diffuse with no clear horizon.
I used to like the straight braced sound, but found the scalloped bracing dread sound too reverby, with notes that did not stand out with the same strength and were embraced too much by the undertone. In fact, I was the original owner of the D-28 mentioned above.
I have come to love the scalloped dread sound a lot. But I really like it best as a solo instrument. I love how the straight braced D-28 has such a uncluttered clarity in ensemble playing, the individual notes are like little pen lights in all that sound of guitar, accordion, bouzouki, etc. The HD sounds more like each note has a warmer halo around it and meshes more into the mix and the low E sounds more bass player throbbing and not as cut and defined.
However, I like them both and love the fact they sound like siblings with different personalities, and they sound best of all when playing together.
Your results may vary.
I just found this tonight by accident. Neil Young’s Natural Beauty from 1992.
When everyone in the audience was hearing it for the very first time.
Countless people may strum guitar chords and sing a song and make enjoyable music, without the need for “fancy pickin.” But few perform it with so much infectious emotion as Neil Young, so that it moves the deepest wells of what the most optimistic among us call the soul.
Who make art right there in the invisible air.
“One more night of Love’s magic fire…”