Tag Archive | torrefaction

Martin Modern Deluxe Series Announced

Martin Modern Deluxe Series Breaks New Ground for 2019

 Debuting at Winter NAMM – Four New Models: D-28 Modern Deluxe, D-18 Modern Deluxe, OM-28 Modern Deluxe, 000-28 Modern Deluxe

Combining modern takes on vintage Martins with ultra-modern design specs, Martins newly announced Modern Deluxe Series breaks new ground by offering revved up versions of their Standard Series models with features previously only available on select Limited Editions.

VTS Top and Bracing

With the same tonewoods for the back, sides and top of the Standard Series, these Modern Deluxe Series models get Sitka spruce soundboards that have the extra benefit of Martin’s Vintage Tone System, their propriety torrefaction treatment, adding considerable depth to the voice of a brand new guitar that makes it sound “opened up” right out of the box.

Unlike Standard Series Martins, these new models get top bracing made from Adirondack spruce with the VTS treatment. They are shaped with Golden Era style scalloping that removes more wood via carving angles different from the Standard Series scalloped bracing, allowing the denser Adirondack spruce extra flexibility and responsiveness while having greater stiffness along and across the grain compared to Sitka spruce bracing.

This is a feature I have longed for on Sitka-topped Martins, particularly on the short-scale 000s. And while I was aware these guitars were approaching release, I did not know they were treating these Adirondack spruce braces with the Vintage Tone System! That had been previously reserved exclusively for the Authentic Series of high-priced vintage Martin recreations.

Another vintage Martin feature is the use of natural protein glues, which bond with wood, and more deeply into it, for joinery even better than what is on most Martin guitars.

This is also a new specification for Martin, as the glue on the Modern Deluxe models is different from the traditional animal Hide Glue they use on Authentic Series instruments. This new glue is derived from fish protein primarily, and is already being used elsewhere in the high-end guitar making industry.

I have since learned that this new-to-Martin glue is being used to secure the top braces, but is not being used on the other joinery.

Maritn 000-28 Modern Deluxe VTS Sitka NAMM 2019

Modern Metals

For the first time, Martin is using three ultra-modern Limited Edition specifications as standard features. A two-way adjustable titanium rod supports the neck with greater strength than a steel rod, but with less weight. And an ultra-light carbon fiber bridge plate, made from composite layers of wood and carbon fiber pressed together, contributes to an overall instrument weight closer to a vintage Martin, while reputedly increasing resonance as well. So too do the bridge pins, which I have found to noticeably increase the initial sustain of fundamental notes.

New Look Appointments

The Style 28 instruments show off flamed European maple for the binding, heel cap, and end piece, while Style 18 gets dark and woody Indian rosewood. All of the Modern Deluxe Series instruments get gold frets that are more sturdy than typical Martin frets, and the position markers and script logos are inlaid with colorful abalone. The 18s also get gold bridge pins with red dots, and the Style 28 bridges sport Liquidmetal pins that look like vintage red dot pins made of bleached white bone.

The prototypes I have seen all have matching gold Waverly tuners. But the published spec sheets do not mention this, so the brand may be subject to change by the time they get to the NAMM show, which opens Thursday, January 24.

New Neck Shape

The new Vintage Deluxe neck profile is publicly referred to as “slightly skewed.”

Maritn 000-28 Modern Deluxe glamour1 NAMM 2019Rather than having the apex of the carved profile running straight and directly at the center of the neck, with identical shaping on either side, this new neck shape is slightly asymmetrical, to fit the shape of the human hand in a more-natural way.

Or rather, it is a new neck shape inspired by old Martin neck shapes from the 1920s and 1930s. This is special shaping was discovered in 2014, and I happened to be visiting my friends in the Martin Custom Shop offices the moment that discovery was made.

Martin purchased at auction a priceless 1930 OM-45 Deluxe, and they were beginning to investigate it for their upcoming Authentic Series version of that rarest of vintage Martin guitars. After spending some 30 minutes with such a mouthwatering vintage Martin masterpiece, I had remarked that they should use that very neck shape for every OM they made from that day forward, as it was marvelously comfortable.

So began the discussion of why and what made that neck different from other necks. It seemed to my hand that the apex of that V neck wasn’t directly centered, so the mass and grade of the slope on the bass (thumb) side and the treble (fingers) side were slightly different. But it was quite subtle and difficult to tell for certain.

So, they had an employee fetch a proprietary gadget and took a convex mold from a section of the neck.

To everyone’s surprise, I was correct. But no one was prepared for just how asymmetrical the factory workers had shaped necks at that important time in the Company’s history. And yet, once we saw the mold, it became quite obvious when in the hand.

A 1931 OM-28 was sent for, and it had an even more extreme difference between the two slopes of the barrel, while having a similarly “skewed” apex.

Martin applied this new knowledge in the making of the OM-45 Deluxe Authentic 1930. But to date, that $99,999.00 wonderment has been the only modern Martin to take advantage of this discovery – despite my repeated lobbying to the contrary.

Now, at long last, they have applied that knowledge in the creation of the new Modern Deluxe Series, which feature the new neck shape they are calling the Vintage Deluxe profile. Most interesting to me is the fact they are using it in combination with their modern High Performance Taper, which narrows the width of the fretboard faster than on traditional Martin necks, giving the entire neck a faster, sleeker feel.

The only new model that does not get the High Performance Taper is the OM-28, which has the Standard Taper, meaning it measures 2-1/4″ wide at the 12th fret, like actual vintage Martin OMs!

And so the instruments in Martin’s oh-so-Modern Deluxe Series combine vintage Martin aspects with modern day know-how and high-tech advancements in a most exciting way.

D-18 Modern Deluxe Detail NAMM 2019

Related Reading

OM-28 Modern Deluxe Review

000-28 Modern Deluxe Review

D-18 Modern Deluxe Review

D-28 Modern Deluxe Review

Vintage Deluxe Neck Compared to Actual Vintage Martin

Martin 000-42 Conversion from a 1953 000-28 – Review

A 1953 000-28 converted by the Martin factory to 1939 000-42 specs

Old Brazilian rosewood retopped with torrefied Adirondack spruce and solid abalone pearl

*This instrument is currently for sale. Inquire at oneman@onemanz.com*

Specs include: All-solid wood with hide glue construction throughout; Brazilian rosewood back and sides originally constructed as a 1953 000-28; highest grade Adirondack spruce top, torrefied with level M1 of Martin’s proprietary Vintage Tone System; Vintage Style 42 appointments including period correct solid abalone pearl rosette ring, top purfling, and snowflake fret markers; grained ivoroid binding with ebony borders at end pin box; aggressively-scalloped 1/4″ Golden Era style bracing with period correct rear-shifted X brace; genuine Big Leaf mahogany neck with full vintage V profile supported by an internal steel T-bar, 1-11/16” width at nut and 2-1/8” at the 12th fret; ebony fingerboard and Golden Era style bridge; bone nut and glued in saddle with 2-1/8” string spacing; open-back Grover tuning machines; period-correct gold foil headstock logo on Brazilian rosewood face plate grained; ivoroid binding; thin high gloss nitrocellulose finish with faux tortoise shell pickguard under the finish.

“This converted 000-28 has my favorite kind of Brazilian/Adirondack tone, warm and richly colored, with a bass that is plump but not woofy, spawning a rich undertone that at times hugs but never smothers the higher registers, and trebles of fine purity that are precise but solid, yet radiating shimmery harmonic overtones.”

Read the Full Review Here

Martin 000-42 conversion pearl work

Martin CEO-8 Grand Jumbo Review

Facets reminiscent of various iconic guitars embellish core elements with some rarity about them, making Mr. Martin’s CEO-8 an appealing musical instrument that seems familiar yet very much its own entity.

Martin CEO-8 smallA Grand Jumbo body of sycamore and a Sitka spruce top torrefied with Maritn’s VTS – Vintage Tone System

“The fundamental notes leap out from the strings with a good deal of pop to them. They are quite solid, yet slender, with space between each, and between the fundamentals and the expansive harmonic tonescape humming below, around, and above them…

While not as warm as mahogany, sycamore’s tonal palette has extra presence down below when compared to maple or cherry, and the Grand J size makes the most of it. The large body promotes that bottom end, which is helpful to drier, leaner tonewood, so each plunk, thunk, and nuanced picking holds its own with the punchy mids and vivacious treble…”

Read the Full CEO-8 Review

New Martins for Winter NAMM 2015

The new Martins slated for the Winter NAMM show are out of the bag.

One Man’s Guitar will offer exclusive video on January 22, the day the NAMM show opens its doors. Written reviews to follow in the coming days.

Vintage Tone Right Out of the Box

In addition, Martin has gone public with their new Vintage Tone System (VTS) that is featured on most of the new models. Martin’s VTS is a proprietary technique that employs the torrefication of spruce soundboards and bracing to artificially “age” the wood, with positive results in tone production and in the wood’s resistance to fluctuation in environmental humidity. To learn more about torrefaction and its use in modern luthiery, go HERE.

See the excellent video below, released today by Martin, explaining how their new technique differs from all previous forms of torrefaction used at the factory and by other guitarmakers. But first…

A Quick Rundown of the New Martins

000-15 Burst

The only “basic” model among the new Martins is the smaller sibling to the D-15M Burst already on the market. These 15 Series guitars offer exceptional value, with all-solid wood construction including South American mahogany for the back, sides, top and neck, and an Indian rosewood fingerboard and bridge.

Of all Martins made without a traditional, hand-fitted dovetail neck joint, these are my favorites. Mahogany tops have their own special musicality, with a certain sweetness to the highs and special kind of presence in the lows.

And now that the 15s are made with the recently introduced “simplified dovetail” joint they sound even better. What makes this model new and different is the shaded top – something Martin only recently started using on mahogany.

Dreadnought Junior

The other modestly priced guitar among the new Martins has a shape like a dreadnought, but in a smaller size. They are cool too look at and to play. This is being targeted as a travel guitar, but also one ideal for children or those who simply prefer smaller guitars.

This is made out of sapele along with other features of less-expensive Martins. But since this is being listed under the “Junior series” it is hoped we will see other versions.

The original R&D version of the Dreadnought Junior was made exactly like the Standard Series dreadnoughts, with the traditional dovetail neck joint, all solid woods, gloss finish, etc. It was sensational. I’d buy one in a heartbeat.

But I was told it would likely never make it into production that way. Hopefully this more economical version will sell well enough, and eventually we will see full blown Style 18 or 28 versions someday.

These are different than the old 7-28 reduced size dreadnought from the late 1970s, as they tweaked the junior’s shape so it is not exactly the same dimensions as a full-size dread only smaller. Those guitars were fun and novel, but over built and didn’t really sing.

The full gloss prototype I played sounded wonderful. It is a very successful design in terms of feel and comfort and sound volume. I am sure the more-affordable sapele version will also sound good and likely sell well.

D-35 Brazilian 50th Anniversary

Martin introduced the D-35 in the mid-1960s. The first Martin with a three-piece back, it was conceived to take advantage of nicely figured Brazilian rosewood that was too small to use on a two-piece back.

They also introduced 1/4″ non-scalloped bracing on a dreadnought, in an early attempt to replicate the vintage Martin resonance and tone. Instead, they invented a new type of Martin resonance and tone with a rich, round bottom end and pinpoint clarity in the top trebles.

This commemoration model has Madagascar rosewood for the sides and back, with a Brazilian rosewood center wedge. It also has “Certified European spruce” on top, which is Martin’s way of saying it is European spruce, but the Swiss dealer who sold it to them was unable to specify the actual country where it was harvested.

Other special D-35s made with Alpine spruce tops have all been realllllly great. This one also comes with the modern neck shape and string spacing sometimes called the High Performance neck with Performing Artist taper.

CEO – 8

Following in the footsteps of the smash hit CEO-7, the latest model designed by C.F. Martin IV is another tribute to a classic Gibson model, the SJ-200. A prototype has been seen at some public events already, so the gossip mill of Martin copying Gibson designs is well underway.

While this new guitar looks obviously similar to a Gibson SJ-200 with a sunburst top, it is very much a unique musical instrument, and I look forward to getting to know its personality better next week.

Instead of creating a new body shape, this is a Martin Grand Jumbo, their largest size, with some very interesting features.

It sports solid sycamore for the back, sides and neck. Last year’s D-18 Sycamore is an open and airy guitar that has a leaner, more defined bass than typical Martin dreadnoughts. The extra-large sound chamber on the CEO-8 should increase bass response, without overdoing things.

It also has a top of torrefied Sitka spruce, given Martin’s new VTS treatment, and a non-scalloped 5/16” X-braces with “graduated scalloped tone bars,” a bracing configuration seen on a Martin for the first time. AND it has the D-TAR Wave-length multi source pickup system, basically the same thing that Laurence Juber uses on all his stage guitars, like his Martin OMC-44K LJ.

OM-28 Authentic 1931 and OM-45 De Luxe Authentic 1930

The most anticipated of new Martins in memory has finally arrived. Closely based on a 1931 OM-28, but with Madagascar rosewood for the back and sides rather than the ultra rare and expensive Brazilian rosewood, this new 28 should be every bit as impressive as previous Authentic Series offerings, if not more so thanks to the new VTS treatment, which offers a top and bracing artificially aged so that it is structurally similar to spruce found on real pre-war Martins.

I am sure there is so much anticipation involved with this model that it will never live up to the hopes and dreams of certain people – at least one person I know of gave a down payment for one several months before any public announcement was made that it would be appearing in 2015.

But I have every expectation that it will be one seriously great OM. Once examples get out among the shops and general population, it will be fun seeing how it stacks up side by side with some of those small-shop luthier replicas that have been appearing for the past 40 years. The new VST treatment should give it a head start when it comes to opening up and breaking in.

But where the OM-28A will sell in large numbers, the OM-45DXA is limited to 11 instruments at an astronomical price, even if it is a 3rd the cost of the real thing, if you could even find one for sale. Made only in 1930, it is considerably rarer than the more famous pre-war D-45.

This new 45 does have Brazilian rosewood, along with the VTS Adirondack spruce top and bracing. Only the elephant ivory nut and saddle is missing from the original, due to its worldwide ban, and to Martin’s commitment to environmentally sound practices. But frankly, I think good old bone sounds so much like ivory, even more than partially fossilized ivory, that it matters not.

I have played 3 of the existing prewar OM-45DX models. Each is different from the almost-as-rare OM-45 made between 1930 and 1933 by virtue of a pickguard inlaid with a flower arrangement made of abalone shell, and ornate banjo tuners that stick out the back of the headstock, although at least one had the tuners replaced with side tuners. One of the three was owned by the late cowboy crooner Roy Rodgers and among of the most excellent acoustic guitars I have ever played. The one used to create this new Authentic series instrument may be even better.

I played these two masterpieces 5 years apart, so I cannot compare them with any fairness. Both qualify as the kind of guitar that one could sit alone with for hours, perfectly enraptured. It is too bad the replicas are so limited and so expensive.

My only other lament about these new OMs is the fact I played both of the vintage Martins used to create them and, frankly, the neck on the 1930 OM-45 DX is THE most wonderful OM neck I have ever had in my hands, and it is being reproduced on only 11 Authentics.

I lobbied from the heart for it to be put on the OM-28A. As far as I am concerned Martin should retool their entire line to put a replica of this neck, down to smallest detail, on every OM they produce from now until the unmaking of the world. It is that wonderful, comfortable, and effortless to play.

But the decision was made to stay with the convention of creating an Authentic series model based on one specific vintage Martin. So the world will be denied that wonderful neck, except for the 11 very lucky and very wealthy individuals who buy the new Authentic version of the 45.

Not that the 28 neck is a bad OM neck. But it has more of a pup tent V to it and is what I consider a typical prewar OM-28 neck – less bulky than the late 1933 version and not as pointy as some others – rather than than the exceptional perfection that appeared on certain OMs made in 1930, like the 45 here mentioned.

Read more about Martin’s Authentic series HERE.

 CS-00041-15

The Custom Shop series provides another winner for 2015 in a guitar I am anticipating more than any CS model since the first CS-21-11.  The CS models offer unique aesthetic features in combination with woods and special touches like hide glue and ultra-responsive light construction, at a cost considerably less than what a private customer would be charged by the Custom Shop if the exact same guitar had been built as a one-off custom order.

This guitar is a 000 made with 1/4″ bracing and a short-scale version of the High Performance neck, that has the modified low oval profile in combination with the Performing Artist taper and string spacing. It also has figured cocobolo for the back and sides, wood fiber inlays, including a lovely intertwined ribbon marquetry on the back made from East Indian rosewood and South American mahogany, and figured koa binding and accents.

Reviews of other CS Models can be found HERE.

The rest of the new Martins are all limited editions. There is a cocobolo version of the fancy Purple Martin bird theme already seen in a koa version. The D-41 Purple Martin K sounded magnificent and full-bodied, so this darker rosewood version will likely be more of a powerful beast in tone and dynamics than the pretty songbird motif suggests.

And then there are two NAMM Show Specials, available only to dealers who come to the Martin booth during the show.

The SSC-OM35-15 is made exclusively for Canadian dealers and features a cherry wood body with a maple center wedge on the back, herringbone trim around the Adirondack spruce top and sound hole, and Style 42 snowflakes on the ebony fingerboard.

The SS-GP42-15 is the NAMM Show Special available world wide but limited to fifty guitars max. This is the second Martin limited edition to feature the Grand Performance body size without the usual cutaway on the treble side. Last year’s CS-GP-14 was lightly-built and geared toward nuanced fingerstyle playing. This Show Special is fancier and made from stunning woods, festooned with intricate inlays, and like the GP-14 it has cutting edge Fishman Aura VT electronics.

Read the official Martin Press Release of all the models HERE

Learn more about Martin’s Vintage Tone System treatment and watch the official VTS video in the post below this one.

Martin VTS – Vintage Tone System

Torrefaction perfected, the Martin VTS or Vintage Tone System has taken the torrefication of acoustic guitar tops into new territory.

A proprietary version of an ancient craft, Martin has partnered with a veteran wood treatment company to develop a new approach to torrefaction designed expressly to take new spruce used for soundboards and bracing, and alter it on the molecular level though natural forces to, in a sense, accelerate the aging process.

Torrefication treatments remove moisture from wood, permanently changing its cell structure. It evolved centuries ago as a way of preserving grain stores and to weatherproof construction timber. Some 200 years ago, French violins had their tops torrefied. Now many years on, it has become more common in guitar making. But the Martin Vintage Tone System is unique.

Learn more about torrefaction in detail HERE.

Under the microscope, typical examples of torrefied wood are nearly indistinguishable from wood 300 years old. But Martin has perfected the process to the point they can control the results almost down to the exact decade, and are releasing new models with brand new spruce tops that possess many of the properties found in Martin guitars made in the early twentieth century – known as Martin’s Golden Era.

Martin has also released a new video, explaining a lot about this new Vintage Tone System and how they are putting it to use across a wide range of instruments.

I have been privy to much of this for some time, and I feel they have done a great job in explaining the details of the Martin VTS and why it matters, without getting too technical, and keeping a few trade secrets well up their sleeve.

As I had hinted in some previous reviews, torrefied tops appearing on recent Martins was but the tip of the iceberg. They have been quietly excited about this zeroing-in process for quite a while.

The first test model I played was handed to me with out any explanation. It appeared to be a typical Martin vintage reissue sort of guitar. But it sounded noticeably alive with big 3D depth and loads of charm and character, and there was nothing to look at that might have clued me into it being torrefied in any way.

It had the top and braces “cooked,” and yet it did not have the usual darkened coloring associated with torrefied wood.

Previous Martins made with torrefied spruce tops have all been very successful in the tone department. But they were all cooked until they were more like 200 year old wood, or older. Next week two new members of the Authentic series of exacting vintage Martin replicas are making their debut, with torrefied tops.

These are the first guitars to feature this zeroed-in version of the Martin VTS top and braces, tweaked to get the spruce as close in accelerated aging to a 1930s Martin as possible.

I have been awaiting them almost as long as the folks at Martin, and this informative video only piques my appetite all the more.

Other models are appearing with torrefied tops as well, but were treated to different levels of torrefaction. For now, if you want the new-prewar top, you will have to buy an Authentic.

Further Reading Related to Martin VTS

Torrefaction and how it is used in guitar making

2015 Martins Announced

Martin Authentic series

Martin Custom Shop series, some featuring torrefied tops