Acoustic guitars of note among the booths and pavilions of Nashville NAMM
Something for every budget and taste
The summer installment of the biannual trade show of the National Association of Music Merchants took place on July 28-30, at the Music City Center in Nashville, Tennessee. While never having quite the impact and inventory of Winter NAMM, the 2018 summer show provided some interesting additions to this year’s lineup of new guitars. Most of those being electric guitars, the acoustics required some sleuthing to track down. But they still cover most price ranges and a great deal of the familiar brand names.
Here are some of the most interesting acoustic guitars seen at Summer NAMM
Alvarez Artist Series was attracting attention with the updated AGW77AR showing up on Twitter videos throughout the weekend.
This long-scale Grand Auditorium model has walnut top with forward-shifted scalloped bracing and walnut back and sides, and their new, sleeker body bevel. Priced to sell at $499.
Luthier Dana Bourgeois clearly enjoys his trips to NAMM, and always comes up with some some seriously amazing one-of-a-kind guitars, like this OMS wood deluxe, with a redwood top and figured English walnut for the back and sides!
Check out Bourgeois Guitars’ Facebook page for an eye-popping array of this NAMM’s belles of the ball.
Or go to their main website to what’s new and interesting, and which dealers landed these very special instruments.
“The AJ-220S has a unique bell-like shape, a larger lower bout, and a small round upperbout which gives this new addition to our Advanced Jumbo family of guitars a unique voice.” These guitars feature a glued-in dovetail neck joint, mahogany back and sides, and solid Sitka Spruce tops, or an optional solid mahogany top that has its own mahogany burst toner option.
Typical price $269. And there is also the cutaway acoustic-electric AJ-220SCE for $369.
Offered in a variety of colored and burst finishes, these cutaway Super Jumbos feature the Shadow eSonic-II™ Stereo Pickup System and Grover machine heads, pricing starts at $459.
“The EJ-200SCE reimagines the historic ‘J-200 Jumbo’ acoustic guitar now featuring a Solid Spruce top, Grover Rotomatic™ machine heads, and the revolutionary new Shadow eSonic-II™ Stereo Pickup System that maintains your true acoustic tone when plugged in to an amp or PA system.”
The new Jumbo Junior is a smaller jumbo model made with a solid Sitka top and Guild’s arched back of either mahogany or maple. These should prove comfortable couch or travel guitars for a MSRP of $555
C. F. Martin & Co. had a smallish offering compared to the January show, but it is spread across board. These include, but are not limited to a new affordable Road Series model, the 000RSG, with solid Siris back and sides and a solid Sitka spruce top (MAP $1,499,) two limited edition models made from black walnut, GPCE Black Walnut Ambertone, and the DE Black Walnut Ambertone which come with Fishman electronics(MAP $2,649 each,) a black, slope shoulder Jimmy Buffet Custom edition to go along with the Broadway musical Margaritaville (MAP $5,999,) the had-to-happen D-16EPD with soundboard featuring the iconic poker playing dogs painting (MAP $2,799,) and the stunning OM Arts and Crafts 2018 featuring ornate pearl inlay evoking the aesthetic of the Arts and Crafts movement in design, as well as German white oak back and sides, a torrefied Adirondack spruce top, Guatemalan rosewood trim with a MAP of $13,999.00.
After introducing their new “V Class” bracing at Winter NAMM, Taylor Guitars released a new Builder’s Series model at Summer NAMM, the maple Builder’s Edition 614ce, as well as new Grand Auditorium models in their affordable 300 Series, the 314ce (Saple/Sitka) and the 324ce (Tasmanian Blackwood/mahogany) and 400 Series, 414ce (Ovankok/Sitka) and the 414ce-R (Indian rosewood/Stika) that feature V Class bracing, and individual cosmetic appointments.
This debut was accompanied by the announcement that Taylor expects to convert all their series to the new bracing. It is intended to deliver a “more dynamic voice.” And from my experience with their Winter NAMM offering it does do exactly that, at least when compared to similar Taylors made the previous year.
The Builder’s Edition 14ce has solid figured Big Leaf maple back and sides with a torrefied solid Sitka spruce top, beveled armrest, new Silent Satin finish with a Wild Honey burst on the back and sides (optional for the top,) and Scepter faceplate and fretboard inlays are among the impressive features.
The 300 and 400 Series instruments will begin shipping in July and include the 314, 314ce, 324, 324e, 324ce, 414e-R,414ce, 414ce-R
NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants (NAMM), established in 1901, is the not-for-profit association that strengthens the $17 billion global music, sound and event technology products industry. Our association and our trade shows serve as the crossroads for professionals wanting to seek out the newest innovations in music, recording technology, sound, stage and lighting products. Membership also includes access to the latest industry news and education, opportunities for music advocacy and cost-saving programs that will help your business thrive. All of these activities and programs are designed to promote music making for people of all ages and to help create a more musical world.
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.
The torrefied Sitka spruce top and American Sycamore back and sides of the Martin D-18 Sycamore marks 50 years Martin guitars made on Sycamore Street.
With all the features of the popular D-18 and very special additions.
A D-18 with a difference, the D-18 Sycamore comes in somewhere between maple and mahogany in looks and in tone.
“It sounds like a more complex maple, with thicker top notes, more overtones and complexity over all, like mahogany, but with a maple-like bass that shifts the focus into the mid-range, which has the same kind of defined top notes and high overtone ring as the trebles.
I realize this description might make it seem more like a Jazz archtop than a dreadnought. It is not. It still has plenty of the complexity, resonance and sustain one looks for in a dreadnought. In fact, it excels at traditional flatpicking, with the kind of punch and “cut” that would leap out of a Bluegrass jam when it is time to switch from playing rhythm to a solo break.”
New Martin Guitar Prototypes Revealed In Exclusive Video
In Depth Reviews To Follow
At the same moment the doors opened at the NAMM trade show out in sunny Southern California, we were in frozen Nazareth, Pennsylvania having lunch with Tim Teel, Head of Instrument Design at C.F. Martin, discussing the 2014 Martin guitars. Dessert consisted of a sampling of seven Martin prototypes, recorded in 1080p hi-def video, which was later synched to hi-def audio recorded in stereo with one large diaphragm microphone and one small diaphragm microphone.
Taylor Guitars celebrates their 40th Anniversary in business with a series of special performances, and a whole new bunch of Taylor guitars at NAMM 2014, January 23 -26, in Anaheim, California.
After 40 years making guitars, Taylor has risen to become one of the most popular brands of acoustic guitars in the country. Their fast, sleek necks and on-board electronics are favored by many electric guitarists when the time comes for playing an acoustic guitar on stage. They are also seen in the hands of acoustic-oriented artists like Jewel, Taylor Swift, and Leo Kottke.
For those not able to attend the show, which is not open to the public, Taylor will be streaming live from their showcase area.
The schedule of performances is currently as follows
Friday, January 24
Andy Powers and Jack Tempchin
Good Old War
Saturday, January 25
Jason Mraz with Raining Jane
Read More about Taylor Guitars at NAMM HERE
[UPDATED PREVIEW of the CS-00S-14 HERE]
[UPDATED PREVIEW of the OM-ECHF Navy Blues HERE
Among the new and very cool NAMM items, I am most looking forward to the latest edition the CS Series, the Martin CS-00S-14, which will be unveiled at the NAMM show, January 23, in Anaheim, California.
Just as I was about to post a news item with some details of this and other new and exciting guitars, I received a gag order from one of my sources on my revealing any details. Sigh.
This latest model continues the new tradition of luthiery offered within this series of unique guitars, each made by the Martin Custom Shop, combining vintage vibe with cutting edge features as designed by Fred Greene, Vice President of Manufacturing at C.F. Martin & Co.
The new model has features that appear on previous CS models, like the CS-OM-13, and the CS-D18-12, among others, but also significant features never seen on a Martin before now. Chairman of the Board C.F. Martin IV has been quoted publicly mentioning the fact his company was on the verge of introducing one such feature, so it will not be too big a surprise for some people.
An anonymous source within Martin’s highest executives went on record to say “…it is very different from anything we have done before.” And since those with a keen eye for detail may already have some knowledge of this model, I am prepared to come clean with more details, should other media sources or Martin Guitars publish such details first.
But for now, I shall simply remind people that some CS models were limited to specific build totals the moment they were announced, while others were not. So someone interested may not want to wait too long before deciding upon a purchase in the near future.