New Old Pre-War Body Shape for the New D-28 Authentic 1937
The first Martin Authentic to receive a make-over
D-28 Authentic 1937 specs include: All-solid tonewoods with hot hide glue construction; Guatemalan rosewood back and sides; Vintage Tone System torrefied Adirondack spruce top with scalloped, forward-shifted VTS Adirondack spruce bracing, pre-war style tucked tone bars and tucked maple bridge plate; one-piece mahogany neck with 1937 V shaping unique to this model, T-bar neck reinforcement; 1-3/4″ width at the bone nut and 2-5/16″ string spacing at the long, glued-in bone saddle; ebony fingerboard and 1930s-style belly bridge; ebony bridge pins; faux tortoise body binding and pickguard; open-back Waverly tuning machines; Martin’s Authentic Series thin finish in Vintage Gloss sheen; grained ivoroid body binding
New Dreadnoughts Join Martin’s Authentic Series – D-28A 1937 and D-18A 1937
My tongue hurts from countless times I had to ignore or deflect queries asking if we would ever see Martin adding new models to the Authentic Series. Martin removed many Authentics from the catalog without any to replace them, until now. At long last, we have two new Authentic Series models released to the public – the revised D-28 Authentic 1937 and the long-desired companion, the D-18 Authentic 1937.
These new Authentics are but two of many new models that Martin Guitars will be debuting later this week at Hall D, Booth 5602, at the NAMM show in Anaheim, California. They saw fit to put out a press release today mentioning a few of these instruments. But the real news is found in the latest editions to the fabulous Authentic Series.
Each of these new Authentics is made with a new dreadnought body shape. Or rather, I should say an old body shape. The silhouette of each model is quite close to the shape of an actual 1937 D-28 and D-18. This should satisfy critics of the Authentic Series that have claimed it was inaccurate to refer to Authentic Series models as vintage Martin recreations if they are made with the modern-day Martin body shapes.
D-28 Authentic 1937 (2022)
The instrument often cited as the best sounding acoustic guitar ever made is a particular Martin D-28 from 1937. It was taken to the Smithsonian Institute in 2013 for magnetic resonance imaging and X-rays to reveal as much as possible about the inner workings of that “Stradivarius of guitars” so that Martin could recreate the bracing and bridge plate down to the smallest detail. The resulting D-28 Authentic 1937 has gone through some changes since it debuted at Winter NAMM in 2014.
Until now, the most significant improvements were the addition of Martins exclusive Vintage Tone System and the Vintage Gloss version of the traditional nitrocellulose finish. Today, I am finally allowed to tell you about two new significant changes, the revised body shape and the tonewood used for the back and sides – Guatemalan rosewood.
Although the differences are subtle between last year’s D-28 Authentic 1937 and the one appearing at NAMM 2022, the silhouette of the soundboard and back, which determine the exact shaping of the sides, and therefore the specific shape of the sound chamber, are truly different. This is a tracing Tim Teel, Martin’s Head of Instrument Design, created to show the differences between a dreadnought made in the 1930s and one found in the Standard Series today.
(click to enlarge.)
How much this might affect tone production will be debated for at least as long as how much difference it makes to the tone of actual pre-war D-28s compared to modern guitars. But one thing that will certainly affect tone production of this new D-28A 1937 is the replacement of Madagascar rosewood for Guatemalan rosewood.
Both rosewoods have been equated with the Brazilian rosewood used on actual 1930 Martins. To my ear, Madagascar rosewood sounds more like the brightest, least-warm Brazilian rosewood Martins, chimey, expressive and colorful, with a quick reflection of soundwaves. Guatemalan rosewood sounds typically warmer and throatier, with a darker undertone more like Cocobolo and East Indian rosewood, but with quicker reflection than either of them. It also offers the endless depth to the bottom end that is very much like the bassier example of Brazilian rosewood Martins, complimented by high-end overtones with a colorful richness likewise similar to that holy grail of endangered species that once grew in the costal lowlands of Brazil.
Martin’s supply of Madagascar rosewood is dwindling, and they will not be getting more any time soon. Retired CEO Chris Martin is passionate about environmental stewardship He has spent decades educating and assisting nations of the world in the responsible management of-their precious natural resources. When the legal government of Madagascar was overthrown in a coup d’état in 2009, by a faction intent on exploiting the rare resources of that tropical island for short-term gain, Martin Guitars was the first American manufacturer to cease the acquisition of Madagascar rosewood. When I first got wind of Chris Martin investigating the inevitable replacement of Madagascar rosewood in the Authentic Series, Guatemalan rosewood was the first thing out of my mouth. It is the most logical choice. I believe future owners of this new D-28A 1937 will be most pleased with the rich and powerful tone these battleships throw out.
Hooray for C. F. Martin & Co. for making dreams come true! Countless people have been wishing they would release an Authentic Series D-18 with 1937 specs, as good as if not better the original D-18 Authentic 1937 created in small batches from 2006 until the advent of the Modern Authentic Series. At long last, the wish is granted with the debut of the 2022 D-18 Authentic 1937.
Like the revised D-28 Authentic 1937, this latest Authentic model has the new body shape, notably closer to Martin dreadnoughts made before the Second World War. Unlike the current D-18 Authentic 1939 and D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged, this new 18 has forward-shifted bracing rather than rearward-shifted bracing. This physical shifting brings about a tonal shift with a fuller, rounder bass and increased natural reverb.
It also has a 1-3/4” V neck with shaping like the D-28 Authentic 1937. But it is unique, having been copied from a 1937 D-18 once owned by James Taylor. Originally, it was reported this guitar was based on the old D-18As made in 2005, which were not based on a specific prewar Martin, but rather the original four-person team took their inspiration from multiple vintage Martins. But it is indeed the faithful reproduction of a specific 1937 D-18, with a little extra star power thanks to JT.
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.”
A magnificent crown jewel in the guitarist’s series of Martin signature models, the D-45 John Mayer glitters gloriously
Intelligent combination of features produces 45 very special guitars
Limited to just 45 instruments, John Mayer designed this special edition for Martin’s 2018 offerings of new models that is also a special addition to his own series of Martin signature models, with some features that tie it into some the previous editions and others that make it wholly unique.
After two OMs and two 12-fret 00s, this is the first Mayer model made in the Dreadnought body size. And it continues the precedent set by the two 12-fretters by having the multi-ring abalone soundhole rosette continue across the black ebony fretboard, to complete the circle.
It is also the first Mayer model to feature Guatemalan rosewood for the back and sides. This is not the only special run of Martin guitars about to go on sale with that particular tonewood, but it is the largest.
The top is high-grade Engelmann spruce, with tonal properties that should meld and marry with those of the Guatemalan rosewood to produce an exceptionally lush and complex voice. And adding to that musical mojo are scalloped, 1/4″ Adirondack spruce top braces, forward-shifted like those found on vintage Martins. That should all make for one seriously resonant, rumbling, and roaring voice.
Other vintage-esque Martin features include the grained ivoroid bindings, open back tuners, and Aging Toner, which help give the appearance of a pre-war D-45, while a 1-11/16″ Full Thickness neck like that found on the resurrected D-45s of the late 1960s should provide a faster, less fist-filling fretting experience than the original old-timers.
Martin makes a humdinger dreadnought in their CS-Bluegrass-16
Modern Martin playability meets classic herringbone tone
CS Bluegrass 2016 specs include: All-solid woods with hide glue construction throughout; Guatemalan rosewood back and sides; Adirondack spruce top with Vintage Tone System torrefaction, antique toner and fine herringbone purfling, large sound hole, forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” VTS bracing; mahogany High Performance Neck with Modified Low Oval profile, ebony fingerboard with 1-3/4” width at nut and 2-1/8” at 12th fret, white dot position markers; ebony bridge with 2-5/32” string spacing; chrome open back butter bean tuners
“There is something charming to the chime ringing off the unwound treble strings, supported by a palpable cushion of rosewood undertone welling up from the bottom end, where the bassiest string is plump and succulent. Overall, this is a guitar of power and personality.”
A new President, a new 12-string guitar, a new “mahogany” are among Summer NAMM Martin offerings.
When the doors open Thursday morning at the Summer NAMM show in Nashville, Tennessee, a new era will officially begin at C.F. Martin & Co., the oldest guitar producing entity in America, and one of the nation’s oldest family-owned businesses.
On June 2, 2015, Martin announced the appointment of Jacqueline Renner as their new President, after a two-year search. It is presumed she will be present at Summer NAMM to meet and greet dealers and journalists in person.
According to CEO and Chairman C.F. Martin IV, “Jacqueline is an outstanding business leader whose strategic thinking and brand-building experience will serve us well as we continue to grow our brand while maintaining unparalleled business and manufacturing standards expected by our customers worldwide… We warmly welcome Jackie to the Martin Guitar family.”
It is expected that Ms. Renner will use her extensive expertise in the markets of international luxury items to strengthen and expand Martin’s global presence in much the same way Amani Duncan used her youth-market savvy to develop Martin’s image and presence among the youthful Gen Xers and Milleniums when she was hired in 2012 as Vice President of Brand Marketing. Read the full press release announcing Renner’s appointment HERE.
The New Martins with the New Woods
*A full review of each new Martin models will appear on One Man’s Guitar beginning in a few days.*
Every one of these new instruments matches up traditional designs with progressive features and materials, including exotic, non-traditional (for Martin) woods like Guatemalan rosewood, Asian siris, South American gonçalo alves, and African utile aka sipro mahogany, which has now replaced South American mahogany on the 15M series of Martin guitars.
The show-stopper is clearly the limited edition NAMM Show Special.
This guitar takes the specs of the modest yet phenomenally popular CEO-7 to create a high-end stunner by adding a torrefied Vintage Tone System Adirondack spruce top with a unique “Cinnamon Teardrop Burst” shading, ultra-fancy pearl inlays, and gorgeous Guatemalan rosewood, which Martin only began using on certain exclusive models a year ago. It also comes with on-board Fishman Aura VT electronics.
Although the custom shop has been receiving a great many orders that use the CEO-7 as the starter for unique instruments, this is Martin’s first official model using the CEO-7 body with different appointments and tonewoods. And this one has a modified V neck. It is certainly an impressive instrument and hopefully the first of many new models to use this body size, which was inspired by a vintage Gibson design that was itself inspired by some earlier Martin designs.
HD-35 CFM IV 60th
Chris Martin turns 60 this year and to celebrate, the venerable guitar company has produced a special limited edition of 60 instruments. A dreadnought made in a unique version of Style 35 to likewise commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-35, this guitar has the outline hexagon fingerboard markers originally designed by Mr. Martin decades ago, and the pearly herringbone trim that also first appeared on a limited edition during the early years of his reign over the family business.
What makes it most interesting to me is the use of siris for the back and sides, with a top of torrefied European spruce. Siris has lovely tonal properties that work very well large bodies like the dreadnought. I look forward to hearing what influence the European top and the Indian rosewood center wedge on the style 35 three-piece back has on the overall voice.
D12-35 50th Anniversary
Like the 6-string version released in January, this new 12-string 12-fretter released to celebrate a half century of Style 35 is made with Indian rosewood back and sides, and it has a torrefied European spruce top. Unlike the 6-string version, it has Sitka spruce bracing rather than Adirondack, and unlike the original 1965 edition this modern one has a slightly narrower 1-13/16” width at the nut and a modified low oval profile. I am looking very forward to seeing how this baby feels and sounds when I test drive it later this week! They are only making 183, the same as the original 1965 run.
Martin’s occasional series of cowboy guitars has taken a major step up with the latest edition. The entire guitar is made from solid tonewoods and the artwork was created by William Matthews, a celebrated painter of western motif art.
The previous Martin cowboy guitars were basically budget guitars inspired by the budget guitars of the 1930s and 40s that had various western scenes stenciled onto the tops. They were the sorts of things acquired from mail order catalogs and sold as novelty items. The Martin versions were rather cute and kitschy, often featuring caricatures of Martin executives among the cartoon cowboys. The guitars themselves were made with the X Series specs that uses high pressure laminates to create a modern budget Martin model.
The LE-Cowboy-2015 is a traditional Martin 12-fretter similar to guitars made during the late 1800s. And it is made out of solid tonewood, including a genuine mahogany neck, ebony bridge and fingerboard, and a torrefied Sitka spruce top to go along with the solid gonçalo alves back and sides. Native to South and Central America, gonçalo alves has been used for years by independent luthiers and has been available from the Martin custom shop for some time. Otherwise, this limited edition is built to the same level of specs as the 000-15SM.
The Retro Series at Martin features on-board Fishman F1 Aura plus electronics, which allows the player to blend their pickup signal with high-tech “images” that apply special tonal effects derived from recording a similar guitar with high end microphones. In the Retro series, the images were made from recording vintage Martins, in this case a pre-war 00-15.
Otherwise the guitar is basically today’s 00-15M with the extra electronics and Tusq saddle that comes with them. It also has the special “15-Style Burst” on the top, previously only available in the D and 000 sizes.
It provides the looks of a vintage 14-fret 00-15 from the prewar era, with many twenty-first century specs. While it has a short-scale neck with the short pattern diamonds and squares fingerboard markers, the neck is carved in their modern modified low oval shape, with the Performing Artist taper and corresponding 2-13/16” string spacing.
It is a fine crop of new Martins to be sure, bringing together the old Martin with the new, just as the new President takes over and the CEO starts to look toward a well-earned retirement from daily operations.
And it also establishes the fact that Martin’s Vintage Tone System of wood torrefaction is front and center of the modern Martin world, as is the increased used of alternative tonewoods. I am pleased to see torrefaction appearing on Sitka spruce, and a return of siris and Guatemalan rosewood to Martin back and sides. But it is the change to sipo on the entire 15 Series line that is the real big news from Martin, even as it goes unmentioned in their press releases.
African sipo, the New “Mahogany”
The least assuming of the new Martin models, the 00-15E Retro represents a quiet change of considerable significance. At C.F. Martin, the term “mahogany” no longer refers to South American mahogany, as it has since company’s founding. The term now officially refers to an African wood called sipo, also known by its scientific name utile.
The term “genuine mahogany” will remain in use at Martin when referring to, well, genuine mahogany.
Sipo is a close genetic relative to sapele. Both are members of the botanical mahogany family, but where Martin always listed sapele as its own type of wood, and referred to it as “African mahogany,” sipo is only referred to as “mahogany”.
All Martins in the 15 Series, including all 15M guitars, are now made with sipo. This is a clear sign of the limited availability of instrument-grade South American mahogany. It is also a sign of Martin’s embracing sipo as a suitable replacement for genuine mahogany as that wood drawers nearer and nearer to possible extinction, at least when it comes to wide availability in international trade.
In general, the timber industry considers sipo to be much more like South American mahogany in its physical properties than any other alternative. But when it comes to guitar making, one industry insider described it this way: “It looked, worked and had a tap tone like Mahogany… I do think out of all the “cousins” of mahogany… (Spanish) Cedar, Sapele, African Mahogany (Khaya)… Sipo has the most similar tonal qualities to genuine Mahogany.”
One owner of a sipro 00-15 recently arrived from the custom shop with a full gloss body, simply said his guitar “looks and sounds great.”
It is indeed a new era beginning at C.F. Martin & Co., and I join with millions of guitarists around the world in wishing President Jacqueline Renner good luck and great success to her and everyone at Martin Guitars.