New from NAMM, the CS-SC-22 is deluxe indeed
Martin’s first S model made with solid tonewoods in Nazareth, PA
The in-depth review will be published soon, so stay tune.
The in-depth review will be published soon, so stay tune.
At long last, I may now share with you the first glimpses of the SEVEN new Modern Deluxe Series Martin guitars, released in lieu of the canceled Winter NAMM show. These guitars blend classic Martin guitar specifications with ultramodern technological enhancements to realize twenty-first century musical instruments that are both modern and deluxe.
The new Modern Deluxe Martins include a 12-fret 0-size rosewood model in rosewood Style 28, the 012-28 Modern Deluxe. A 12-fret 00 and 14-fret 00 join it, the 0012-28 Modern Deluxe and 00-28 Modern Deluxe.
Yes, that is a new naming convention for 12-fret Martin guitars, with the 12 on the LEFT side of the dash, replacing the archaic S for a “Standard” body size on the right side of the dash. And about time too, I say! The 12-fret configuration hasn’t actually been the standard design since 1934.
Moving to the next larger size, the mahogany 000-18 Modern Deluxe is also included, and super-fancy rosewood 000-42 Modern Deluxe have arrived. Larger still are the full-size Dreadnoughts, the D-42 Modern Deluxe and, at the top of the Series, the D-45 Modern Deluxe.
The D-45 Modern Deluxe heralds the return of the classic torch inlay that graced the headstock face plates of Martin’s Style 45 guitars up through 1930. It also brings back the snowflake fingerboard pattern to a D-45, like those made pre-1939. But this time, the exquisite diamonds, snowflakes, and cat’s eye fret position markers are not just inlaid with high-color abalone shell; each marker is outlined in even more pearl.
Around the East Indian Rosewood back and sides are the glittering abalone pearl trim that sets Style 45 Martins apart from their other handmade, professional-level acoustic guitars. But unlike other D-45s out there, the D-45 Modern Deluxe has flamed European maple binding on the body and the neck.
All guitars in the Modern Deluxe Series include a unique set of advanced features engineered to increase tonal depth (a Vintage Tone System aged Sitka spruce soundboard supported by VTS Adirondack spruce braces with Golden Era scalloping and set in place with natural protein glue,) increased volume and sustain (Liquid Metal bridge pins and a VTS Adirondack spruce bridge plate protected by thin outer layers of carbon fiber,) extended fret life thanks to the copper-infused EVO Gold frets with matching gold tuners, and a wonderfully comfortable neck shape based on the 1930 OM-45 Deluxe owned by the Martin museum.
The MD neck is asymmetrical with an apex that gradually drifts off center, to effortlessly fit into the palm of the hand at every position along the fingerboard, just like a marvelous pre-war Martin neck, except that it is a lower profile, made without the tubby vintage heel where the neck fits into that all-all important solid mahogany neck block with the traditional, hand-fitted dovetail neck joint.
The D-42 Modern Deluxe and 000-42 Modern Deluxe also have the pre-war Style 45 torch and same fretboard inlays, plus the addition of two large abalone snowflakes on the bridge extensions. But they do not have the extra pearl inlay around the back and sides, greatly reducing the price compared to the D-45 Modern Deluxe.
The mahogany 000-18 now joins the D-18 Modern Deluxe, combining these advanced tone enhancements with the clear, woody tone of a mahogany Martin. The 14-fret 00-28 Modern Deluxe brings an even smaller body to the MD Series, as do the two 12-fret models, each with a traditional slotted headstock.
I look forward to sharing more details about these exiting new Martin guitars soon, including full reviews of as many of them as I can get into my hands and ears.
Saddened they could not do this in person, I am sure, Breedlove releases their 30th Anniversary model, the
Handcrafted and hand voiced from clear-cut free, sustainable master grade Sitka spruce and highly figured Oregon myrtle, this versatile new Breedlove has figured walnut binding and myrtle appointments, this “Sound Optimized® Masterclass limited edition” is an acoustic-electric guitar has a maple neck, and a fingerboard and winged bridge made of ebony. LR Baggs Anthem electronics and a custom Ameritage case come standard with this anything but standard guitar.
Made from East Indian rosewood and Sitka spruce, these high-end Breelove acoustic guitars are available in their three standardized sizes, the Concertina, Concert, and Concerto.
Breedlove is now offering the new Jeff Bridges Oregon Concerto Bourbon CE signature model, made with Oregon myrtle and an LR Baggs Anthem TRU-Mic pickup system.
“Powerful and responsive like a dreadnought, tonally the acoustic electric Breedlove Jeff Bridges’ Signature Model emphasizes the unique qualities of myrtle, with a deep rosewood-like bass, the fundamental clarity of mahogany and the enchanting shimmer of koa… co-designed by Breedlove, Bridges and Jeff Bridges & The Abiders’ lead guitarist Chris Pelonis, is fitted with a signature gigbag and furnished with an inside label and certificate of authenticity signed by Jeff Bridges, who reminds us we are “All in this Together.”
The Breedlove Jeff Bridges signature “All in this Together” project benefits Amazon Conservation Team, which works in partnership with indigenous colleagues to protect rain forests and traditional culture.
Taylor’s Grand Theater size sounds gigantic and yet it designed to create a more compact instrument with a 24.5” string scale and a 1-23/32” nut width, and body shape similar to their largest models, only smaller. These “travel guitars” come with a lightweight but protective Aerocase, and their asymmetrical C Class bracing, which is designed to increase bass response in guitar designs that need it.
Both instruments are larger than ukulele size guitars out there, while still satisfying those who want a petite instrument that is easily portable and and easy to play.
The GT K21e features all-koa construction, while the GT 811e features solid Indian rosewood back and sides and solid Sitka spruce top. Each model has the C Class bracing, ES2 pickup system, and an ebony fretboard and bridge, with wood from environmentally-friendly sustainable forests in Africa.
The rosewood 811e has 800 Series appointments that include an abalone rosette, and the GT811e has burst edge finish to the koa top, a maple rosette and decorative vine fretboard art.
Other 2021 Acoustic Guitar News to Come…
Gibson USA focused on electric instruments for Winter NAMM 2021, including a gold top Les Paul Slash signature model and a Pelham Blue Thunderbird bass. They confined their acoustic guitar releases to vague references to upcoming artist signature models, including a signature model for Noel Gallagher of Oaisis, based on his favorite J-150, a less-decorated version of the SJ-200, made 2019-2005. “I sent it there to be photographed, the grain and the whole thing,” Gallagher told Guitar Magazine. “It’s not even a J-200, you know. It’s a J-150 that I just took off the shelf in London, played it, and I was like, ‘Yeah, I’ll take it.’ I never thought anything of it. But I’ve written some great fucking songs on that guitar.”
There will also be two SJ-200s with various cosmetic differences: a yet to be seen posthumous Tom Petty “Wildflower” edition and a red signature model with a lotus flower pickguard and a for Australian star Orianthi, which includes a customized L.R. Baggs pickup system and a neck derived from an ES-345.
“Having an electric guitar neck on the acoustic body is like just a perfect scenario.”
That’s what she said. And it is right in line with the times. From Martin’s converting their line to their High Performance Neck in 2018 and the hybrid SC-13E acoustic-electric released this time last year, the trend toward making acoustic guitars to please electric guitarists first and foremost does march onward.
There is some irony involved here, since Bob Taylor first was the first person to make a success out of putting what was essentially an electric guitar neck on an acoustic guitar, way back when, only to have Taylor Guitars evolve their neck joint and neck shapes over the years toward a more acoustic guitar-esque feel and construction. And we will take a look at the 2021 Taylor models next.
Still, there were hundreds of events, including performances by musicians, famous and not so famous, as well as interviews and discussions. But while there were also actual products being released, few acoustic guitars were among them, compared to normal years. Even lil’ ol’ Huss & Dalton of Lynchberg, VA has recently gotten into making electric guitars!
C.F. Martin & Co. made a valiant effort for 2021, by offering four new acoustic guitar models across their pricing tiers, and four ukuleles. While it was reduced from what was originally planned for this NAMM show, it was considerably more of an offering than anyone else could muster, among the major players in the acoustic guitar industry.
There is still some news of interest, from companies like…
Click on Links
UPDATED Monday 10:00 AM after a talk with Fred Greene at Martin and with guitarist Craig Thatcher providing some demo playing.
In a scaled-down offering for a scaled-down NAMM Show, the 2021 Martin guitars still offer plenty of excitement. And none are more thrilling for me than the long-awaited David Gilmour signature models.
Designed by Martin’s Fred Greene and David Gilmour in a close collaboration, the D-35 David Gilmour its companion D-35 David Gilmour 12 String are inspired by some iconic Martins that the guitarist has played and loved since he first skyrocketed to superstardom with Pink Floyd. These include a pre-war Martin D-18, and the two instruments he used to record the immortal classic, Wish You Were Here – a 1969 D-35 and 1971 D12-28. And I wish both where here with me right this very minute! But you can click below to read about why I feel that way, in my twin reviews.
Click on Photos to Enlarge
For the forward-thinking 16 Series, Martin has released the new Grand J-16E 12 String made with all solid tonewoods including East Indian back and sides and a Sitka spruce top with scalloped bracing, It is unusual for Martin to put scalloped bracing on a twelve-string guitar, not to mention giving it a long-scale neck. And these are not typical Martin braces. Having Martin’s largest soundboard, they are progressively scalloped, so they taper shallower as they expand toward the sides, and it has an additional tone bar below the bridge. But then this guitar is unique even for a Grand J, as it is the first one made with 000 depth to side, considerably shallower than other Grand J guitars like the Pete Seeger baritone models and the CEO-8. Despite having less depth, which makes it more comfortable for the player, it still has a full and complex voice that reminded me of a harpsichord, and brought to mind Leo Kottke’s early albums.
Martin had great success with using the 000 depth on their Dreadnought and Grand Performance sizes in the 16 Series of acoustic electric performance instruments and the more affordable Road Series as well. So I am looking forward to giving this one a test drive as soon as possible. The Grand J-16E 12 string comes standard with Fishman’s Matrix VT Enhance NT2, fine-tuned for guitars with shallow sound chambers.
As for the Road Series, two gorgeous debutantes are the D-13E Ziricote and the GPC-13E Ziricote. Both have the 000 depth and Fishman MX-T electronics that offer a volume and tone wheel inside the sound hole on the bass side, as well as an on-board tuner hidden on the treble side.
Ziricote is a dense hard wood from tropical America, and when used as a solid tonewood it has great thickness to the tone and pronounced bass response. But here, it is being used as a cosmetic veneer, laid down over top a core of solid khaya, also called African mahogany, which does most of the heavy lifting when it comes to enhancing the tone of the spruce soundboard. But there is also a layer of ziricote on the inside, which does add its influence. Having now heard one of these guitars, they do sound darker and fuller in the low mids than the Style 13 Martins with koa veneer, which also use a kyaya core. And they offer a very different look, as ziricote has dramatic grain patterns often resembling Rorschach drawings, and rich, dark colors that rival the wildest rosewoods. As with the SC-13E (see my article in the new issue of Martin – The Journal of American Guitars) these new ziricote Martins have the kind of hypnotic beauty that can lead a guitarist to sit for long periods of time just admiring the amazing back and sides.
The Journal of American Guitars issue for 2021 is dedicated primarily to environmental sustainability of precious natural resources like wood. And Martin has released a model dedicated to exactly that proposition. The 00L Earth is a short-scale, slope shoulder Grand Concert guitar made entirely from wood certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council, including quartersawn sapele with perfect copper banding, and Sitka spruce from a sustainable timber forest. And it contains no plastic. But it also contains a stunning piece of artwork of Mother Earth printed on the top, created by artist Robert F. Goetzl. There is also a high-end FSC Ukulele, a Concert size instrument with all FSC Certified woods, including Big Leaf mahogany for the back, sides, and top, just like the professional level ukes from the 1920s, and ebony for the fingerboard and bridge. It has a lovely and surprisingly warm tone for the size, but also has the comfortable Concert size string scale with plenty of room for the fretting hand.
Rounding out this winter’s Martin lineup is a new Junior Series guitar with a dreadnought shape and the fabulous Streetmaster styling from the 15 Series, and a matching T1 Uke Streetmaster, made from mahogany (sapele) with the same sort of styling. The mahogany top imparts a terrific bottom end on the DJr. that makes it sound like a much larger guitar. And it has a USB port, to go direct from the Fishman pickup to your PC recording software! The Tenor size uke has a pretty, woody tone.
T1 Uke StreetmasterThere is an even more-affordable ukulele in the X Series, the OXK Concert Uke with a glorious koa pattern. But being made from Martin’s High Pressure Laminate, it looks way more expensive than it is while being the ideal travel instrument, virtually impervious to weather, spills, or the heat from a campfire.
A pretty great showing for an officially scaled-down release!
I am not allowed to comment on what didn’t come out. But I will say I must now look forward to 2022 with even greater anticipation. And I am hoping we might see something from the postponed releases in July for Summer NAMM.
January 15, 2020
At three o’clock today, Pacific Standard Time, C. F. Martin & Co. unveiled to the public the SC-13E. With its innovative S size, deep angular Cutaway, and the attractive updated Style 13 appointments, this acoustic-Electric guitar introduces to the world the first new Martin-invented body design since 1934.
SC-13E specs include: New S body size with deep scoop cutaway; fine koa veneer back and sides over solid Khaya core; solid Sitka spruce top; unique asymmetrical bracing with partial scalloping; new heel-less Sure Align neck with new asymmetrical ergonomic Velocity profile; FSC Certified Richlite fingerboard with High Performance Taper; FSC Certified Richlite bridge with 2-5/32” string spacing; newly revised Road Series Style 13 appointments; faux tortoise teardrop pickguard; chrome open back tuners; Fishman XT electronics with onboard tuner.
Note: Specs based on final prototypes, subject to change between now and actual production models.
“Not your granddad’s Martin, the SC-13E is an ultramodern acoustic-electric guitar of tremendous versatility. Its ergonomic design is ideal for long term playing sessions and its innovative shape and bracing provide satisfying tonal balance, good for countless musical styles.”
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
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.
What a gift of a website you have created. Thank you. I recently purchased a D-45 Celtic Knot. Whatever background information regarding the concept, design and construction of it would be really helpful.
– Robert in Texas
Thank you Robert, for your kind and encouraging words.
Allow me to say meal do naidheachd on the purchase of your Martin D-45 Celtic Knot! It is my personal favorite among all the “45 +” guitars that Martin has come up with over the years.
That’s Scottish Gaelic, by the way. The oldest existing designs known as Celtic knots are found in illuminated Christian manuscripts from the eighth century, associated with the Abbey of Hii on the Isle of Iona, while others dated to 800 A.D. are believed to come from the Abbey of Kells, in County Meath, Ireland. It is assumed that earlier Celtic knot patterns evolved in Eire and Britain, in decorative textiles and other art forms, after similar “continuous cord” designs were introduced from Roman Europe sometime during the fourth century.
Your wonderful twenty-first century Martin guitar is essentially a D-45 Golden Era, in terms of bracing, neck shape, and string spacing. But of course the Brazilian rosewood and Adirondack spruce came from Chris Martin’s personal reserve. As a musical instrument, every one of them I have played sounded spectacular.
As an example of exquisite artistry in world-class luthiery, they are visually astounding as well. The inlay was done at Pearl Works in Charlotte Hall, Maryland, founded by the late Larry Sifel. The inspiration for the overall design came from Martin’s 600,000th guitar, completed in 1997. Known as “the Celtic” Martin, it was designed and embellished by Larry Robinson, who has created stunning inlays for electric and acoustic guitars for half a century.
Although this earlier instrument has even greater complexity to its various “knots” and, if I recall, abalone herringbone purfling around the edge of the top and sound hole, I have always preferred the aesthetic of the D-45 Celtic Knot. It strikes me as elegant and stately, compared to the rather over-the-top pizazz of the Celtic guitar. But I also very much like the special Gotoh tuners with Celtic designs, and the pearl inlay of Chris Martin’s signature on the rosewood back!
The limited edition of fifty D-45 Celtic Knot guitars was announced at Winter NAMM 2004, along with Martin’s One Millionth Guitar and the D-100 model based on it. The Celtic Knot guitars have sequential serial numbers leading up to #1,000,000. The fifty D-100s have sequential serial numbers starting with #1,000,001.
However, Martin did not build all fifty Celtic Knot guitars. There has been some contention as to the actual production number. Although all official printed references claim that thirty D-45 Celtic Knot guitars were built, the actual quantity is in fact thirty-six.
No one knows why the discrepancy exists. I suspect all accounts were based on one original reporting that contained a typo. Knowing how things happen at Martin, it might even be due to a typist incorrectly reading someone’s handwriting, where the 6 looked like a 0.
In any case, you have a very special Martin. If I could have any of the beyond-Style-45-Deluxe instruments Martin has built, it would be a D-45 Celtic Knot. But you actually get to own one.
I therefore, and with great pomp and solemnity, hereby induct you into the Order of the Lucky Dog, with all rights and privileges afforded said title.
Pearl Works Website:
Larry Robinson Website:
(photo: Pearl Works)
(photo: Pearl Works)
(photo: Dream Guitars)
(photo: Dave’s Guitars)