Understanding Martin Model Designations

A Primer of C. F. Martin & Co. Model Names

Revised January 16, 2023

Understanding Martin Model Designation onemanz.com


* New: 2023 Guide to Martin Soundboard Bracing *

(What they don’t want you to know about the insides of your Martin)

Note: As the 2023 Martins are released, I will update this guide as time allows

The Model Name – two sides of a dash

There are two halves to a typical Martin model name, separated by a dash.

Example: D-28

The first half refers to the “size” or physical dimensions of the guitar resulting in the specific shape, and the second half refers to specifications governing the visual appearance of the instrument and the materials used to create it, known at Martin as the instrument “style.”

[Note: that statement and what follows does not include the designation “14”, as in D-14, 00-14, et al (often seen listed by guitar dealers online as D14, 0014.)

This is a modern invention to denote a 14-fret guitar that a Martin dealer ordered with custom specifications in size D, 00, etc. To complicate matters further, Martin recently introduced Style 12 in their Road Series, e. g. models D-12E, 000-12E. This will likely get confused with custom order 12-fret guitars that some dealers will list as “D12, 00012, etc. SEE BELOW for more information.]


Beginning in the 1830s, a Martin body size was designated as a number. Using customary sizing of toolmakers and woodworkers, the higher the number on the left side of the dash, the smaller the size of a Martin guitar. Some models introduced in the twentieth century use letters for their size indicator.

C. F. Martin Sr. founded his business in 1833 and was soon offering guitars in sizes ranging up to a size 1, which still seems amazingly small by modern standards. So, when they needed a larger size, Martin used Size 0 starting in 1854. It was considered large enough for a public concert. Hence the term “concert model.” He also introduced the tiny Size 5 that same year.

Size 00 followed, as guitarists began to perform in larger halls, alongside banjos and the mandolin. The 00 was deemed an extra-large guitar for a “grand concert,” and that term has been used ever since to describe guitars of this or similar sizes at Martin and elsewhere.

The 00 size does not appear in the Martin pricelists until 1873, the same year C. F. Sr. passed away at the age of 77. However, recent scholarship has discovered 00s built as early as the 1857.

The 000 first appeared in 1902 and was considered to be enormous at the time. It was dubbed the Auditorium size. It had a string scale one half of an inch longer than previous Martins, to compensate for the wider soundboard, and it put out an accentuated bass register when compared to the tonal balance of the 0 and 00 sizes.

All of these sizes had the traditional 12-fret neck designs similar to modern Classical guitars and typically employed gut strings. Various models were made for certain dealers to accommodate the additional tension of the new steel guitar strings as early as 1915.

In 1923, Martin began offering such steel-worthy guitars to the general public in Style 17, and in 1924 for Style 18, and 1926 for Styles 21 and 28.

Martin made their first 14-fret guitars in 1929. Be they 12-fret or 14-fret guitars, the most common Martins of the twentieth century can be equated thusly:

0 = Concert. The 14-fret version introduced 1934.

00 = Grand Concert. The 14-fret version introduced 1934.

00L = Long Grand Concert, introduced 2013. A 14-fret instrument with the slope shoulder shape inspired by Gibson’s Size L of the 1930s that was based upon Martin’s original 12-fret designs.

000 = Auditorium. The 14-fret version introduced 1934 (see below.)

0000 = Grand Auditorium aka size M. Introduced in 1977 as a flattop guitar with the depth of a 000 that uses the body shape from Martin’s Size F archtop Jazz guitar from the 1930s.

OM = Orchestra Model, shares the same body size as a 14-fret 000, but typically has other differences (see below.) Introduced 1930.

S = Introduced January 2020 as the SC-13E. Martin’s first 13-fret design, with a unique asymmetrical size coming somewhere between OM and GP.

GP = Grand Performance (similar to Taylor’s Size 14.) Introduced 2010.

D = Dreadnought (similar to Gibson’s Jumbo size.) Invented in 1916 but limited to a particular dealer until 1931, when it first appeared under the Martin brand. 14-fret version introduced 1934.

DSS = Dreadnought Slope Shoulders. Introduced 2000. A 14-fret dreadnought with the slope shoulder shape inspired by Gibson’s 1930s Jumbo shape, which was originally inspired by Martin’s original 12-fret designs.

J = Jumbo (similar to Gibson’s Super Jumbo size.) The J is essentially an M with a Dreadnought depth. Introduced 1985.

Grand J = Grand Jumbo (similar to Guild’s Jumbo.) The Grand J is a flattop guitar adapted from the Martin CF-1 archtop of the early 2000s. Introduced 2015.

Other builders of guitars have adopted terms like OM and Grand Concert for generic use since the 1970s, typically indicating a 14-fret instrument with a smaller size and narrower waist than the Martin Dreadnought or Gibson Jumbo body shapes.

As stated above, “grand concert” originated with Martin’s 12-fret 00 body size popular in the 1870s. But OM for Orchestra Model actually meant any 14-fret Martin body regardless of the size, as opposed to their 12-fret guitars originally designed for gut strings, which were referred to as Standard models.

In 1929, the original 14-fret Martins were made for a NYC dealer, the Carl Fischer Company, as a four-string tenor guitar with a smaller upper bout than other Martins. A tenor guitar uses the same tuning as a tenor banjo. The goal was to attract banjoists who were adapting to guitars after they started being braced to use steel strings.

This led one popular bandleader to request a special order six-string instrument inspired by those tenor guitars. That “000-28 Special,” created for Perry Bechtel of Atlanta’s Cable Piano Company, led to the first 14-fret six-string Martins to appear in their official catalog, in 1930. That was also the first year that Martin included the model name on the neck block stamp.

These new 14-fret models were built in the Auditorium size only and were given the name Orchestra Models, or OM for short. Thus appeared the first OM-28 (which included eleven guitars made near the end of 1929,) OM-18, OM-42 (only two made, 1930) OM-45, and the OM-45 Deluxe (1930 only.)

In 1934, the model names and neck block stamp were changed from OM back to 000, when Martin converted all their sizes to 14-fret orchestra models. See further along in this article for the differences between modern Martin OMs and 14-fret 000s.

Martin body sizes with gpc added onemanz.com


Note: This illustration originated in the late 1980s most likely. The MC is shown with the deeper cutaway that was used on the original design, which had an oval sound hole to accommodate a 22-fret neck. The Jumbo size is not listed but it has the same silhouette as the M, only with Dreadnought side depth. The Grand J has the same silhouette as the CF archtop, only without the cutaway. Sizes 00L, and DSS were introduced in the twenty-first century after this chart was constructed. I added the GPC, for comparison’s sake, which first appeared in 2010.

Other Notes: Sizes F, GT, and DF were used for electric guitars. Size L may refer to the Little Martin, if so, it was added by someone later on, as was Size CF.

Dimensions of Common Martin Body Sizes Available Today

14 Fret – 6 String

0, 00, 00 Deep Body, 00L Sloped Shoulder, 000/Orchestra Model, SC, Grand Performance, Grand AuditoriuM (0000), Dreadnought, Jumbo, Grand Jumbo

Note: The SC-13E is Martin’s first 13-fret guitar, introduced in 2020, but included here for convenience.

Total Length38-3/8”38-5/8"38-5/8"39-9/16"39-13/16"*40-1/2"40-3/8"40-5/8"40-1/2"40-5/8"41-1/2"
Body Length18-3/8"18-7/8"18-7/8"19-7/16"19-3/8"20-3/8"19-3/4"20-1/8"20"20-1/8"21"
Body Width13-1/2"14-5/16"14-5/16"14-3/4"15"15-1/2"15-3/4"16"15-5/8"16"17"
Body Depth4-1/4"4-1/8"**4-5/8"4-1/8"**4-1/8"**4"4-1/2"4-1/8"**4-7/8"4-7/8"4-7/8"


1)Table reflects Standard Series and other traditional models. Current 16 Series models in Size D, GP, Grand J are made with 000 side depth.

* Short-scale 000s have slightly shorter Total Length than OM due to shorter neck.

** Modern-day 00, 000, 0000 depth is actually more like 4-1/16″ after final sanding, but the official Martin spec remains 4-1/8″.

12 Fret – 6 String

Total Length37 3/4"39 5/8"37 7/8"
Body Length19 5/8"20 9/16"21"
Body Width14 1/8"15"15 5/8"

NOTE: Starting in 2022, 12-fret Martins have new names. The old convention was to use an S for “Standard” body size, as in 00-17S. The new convention puts a 12 on the left side of the dash and removes the S, since the 12-fret neck hasn’t been the standard design since 1934. The first models to receive the new naming convention are the 012-28 Modern Deluxe and the 0012-28 Modern Deluxe. 


The instrument Style is also represented by a number. With few exceptions, the higher the style number on a Martin model, the fancier and more expensive are its materials and appointments.

Typical examples of model names include: 000-18, D-28, OM-45.

A 000-18 stands for Size “Triple Oh” in Style 18 (or as some older Martin factory workers put it, “Triple Naught”,) which includes mahogany back and sides, and a top of spruce, with dark bindings on the body, an unbound neck and white dots on the fingerboard, etc.

A D-28 stands for a Dreadnought body in Style 28, which includes rosewood for the back sides, a spruce top, white binding, and typically ebony for the fret board and bridge, and white dots or abalone Diamonds and Squares fret markers depending upon specific model and year of production, etc.

An OM-45 is an Orchestra Model size in Style 45, the top of the line for a basic catalog model, which includes top grade rosewood with abalone shell inlaid along the edge of the top-grade spruce soundboard, as well as every edge along the back and sides, in addition to fancy, abalone fret markers, and decorative binding on the neck, etc.

Additional indicators have been added onto some model names in later years.

Examples include: 000-18GE 1937, HD-28VS, JC-12-15E. These translate to:

000-18GE 1937000 size in Style 18, with specs designated for the Golden Era Series of vintage reissues, in this case based upon the 000-18 made in 1937.

HD-28VSHerringbone-trimmed Dreadnought size, in Style 28 with specs of the Vintage Series, using the 12-fret version originally known as the Standard body design. More info on the S for Standard body size can be found at the end of this article.

Guitars with the designation H for Herringbone in their name came with scalloped braces, at a time when many Standard Series Martins did not have scalloped braces. Examples include HD-28, HD-35, and the no-longer-made 000-28H. Today, Standard Series 28 models with the H also get the 1930’s style Zig-Zag back strip, while those without the H get the later Style 28 back strip, even when they have herringbone trim on the top.

JC-12-15E*- Jumbo size with a Cutaway body, 12 string guitar in Style 15 with a built-in Electronic amplification system. The designations of 12, C, and E stand for 12 String, Cutaway and Electronics throughout the Martin line, e.g. MC-28, D-18E, HD-28-12.

* Martin never actually made a JC-12-15E. A pity; I would have bought one had they done so.

Designation 14:  As mentioned above, “14” when appearing in shops or online as in D14, 00014, etc. means it is a 14-fret guitar ordered from the Martin Custom Shop. It is used the way “Orchestra Model” was once used to mean the 14-fret neck design vs. the Standard 12-fret design. Similarly, 12 refers to the 12-fret design in today’s parlance, when appearing in shops or online as in D12, 00012, etc.

A 14 in an advertised model name does NOT denote the guitars “style.” Quite the opposite, since it does not give any indication of what wood or non-wood materials were used to build the instrument, what sort of neck joint, neck block, bracing, finish, the instrument has, as would an actual Martin style designation like 18, 28, 45, etc.

It is not unheard of for some merchants to order customized Martin guitars based on various lower-level Series not represented in this article, which are dressed up to appear like higher-end models, and then sell them as “D14 Custom” with a price beyond their merits when it comes to what is under the hood, as it were. So caveat emptor!

When shopping for Martin guitars and you see something listed as a D14 or OM14 (D-14, or OM-14, etc.) ask the dealer what the base model was or “starter model” for the custom guitar in question, which will tell you a lot more about the level of quality and construction than may be obviously apparent. If they do not know, they can look it up.

In 2019 Martin introduced Styles 10, 11, and 12 in their Road Series of more-affordable acoustic-electric guitars. Therefore 12 now has yet another meaning where Road Series models are concerned.

Beginning in 2022, any new 12-fret guitars entering the Martin catalog will be designated 012-xx, 0012–xx, 00012-xx, D12-xx. The S for Standard 12-fret body size is now retired. There will be some overlap, as the 000-15SM remains in the current catalog.

Important Notice

As of 2023, Martin is no longer listing Sitka spruce as the specification for soundboards for most models previously made with that species of spruce. The designation Martin will now be using simply says “spruce.”

Martin is now using Sitka spruce interchangeably with Lutz spruce, (a naturally-occurring hybrid of Sitka and White spruce,) in much the same way they use various species of mahogany interchangeably when making instruments in the 15 Series.

Lutz spruce grows in and in between the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest where Sitka spruce is found and nearby interior regions where White spruce is found. It is supposed to provide greater volume than Sitka while sounding similar. Other people say it sounds like a cross between Sitka spruce and Engelmann spruce, which has also been used interchangeably with Sitka. For example, in the late 1900s Engelmann was used on some Martin guitars like the HD-28, without any indication provided to dealers.

TABLE: Standard Series Styles and How They Vary Based on the Series

Martin guitars made in the Standard Series Styles 18 and above are built with all-solid tonewood construction and a traditional, full-size, dovetail neck joint set into a solid wood neck block, as were all traditional Martins dating from the era of C. F. Martin Sr.

Styles below Style 18 have had various types of construction, often not consistent with the traditional techniques still found today in the Standard Series instruments. For details of Martins made in Styles 17 and below, see the table further along in this article.

Notes: In 2018, Martin released a revised version of their Standard Series specifications, which homogenized certain features, like the shape of the neck profile, and the use of forward-shifted bracing on all Standard Series models above Size 000/OM. These models were given the suffix (2018) sometimes still used by Martin dealers – except for the Standard D-28, which had (2017) and the D-18 and 000-18, which received their makeover in 2016. I will differentiate the current styles with the same suffixes in the table below.


The Standard Series guitars with E in the model’s name come with onboard electronics. Currently E models come with either the Fishman Aura VT Enhance system or LR Baggs Anthem system, depending on the preference of the specific Martin dealer.

Guitars in the Standard Series that do not have the E in the name can also be ordered by dealers with onboard electronics. The pickup system options available for such guitars are currently the Fishman Gold Plus Natural I, Fishman Infinity Matrix, Fishman Presys Plus, Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend, or the LR Baggs Anthem.

High Performance Neck

All Standard Series six-string Martins now have the High Performance Neck. This is defined as a Modified Low Oval Profile neck shape in combination with a fingerboard that has the High Performance Taper, which starts at 1-3/4″ width at the nut and is 2-1/8″ wide at the 12th fret, with 2-5/32″ string spacing. It offers the nut width of Martin’s traditional 1-3/4” necks but also has the 12th fret width of their traditional 1-11/16” neck, making for a sleeker neck overall compared to the 1-3/4″ necks made prior to this time, and with string spacing a smidgen wider than that on the old 1-11/16” neck models.

The High Performance taper conforms with what is now the industry standard used by many American guitarmakers. It provides a little more room down by the nut where the wrist and elbow are at placed in the most awkward angles, but only widens 5/8″ by the time it reaches the 12th fret, making it more like an electric guitar in this respect than an acoustic guitar from previous eras. Martin 12-string models have a modified version of the High Performance Neck.

Some models moved to the High Performance neck before others, starting around 2016. Standardization occurred in 2018. Previous Standard Series models made with 14-fret necks had a 1-11/16” Low Profile Neck with 2-1/8” string spacing, except OM models and the 000-42. OMs had a 1-3/4” Low Profile Neck with 2-1/4” string spacing.

The 000-42 had a short-scale 1-3/4” Modified V neck, similar to the Eric Clapton models. The 000-42 was identical to the 000-28 Eric Clapton model in construction, except for higher-grade woods and Style 42 abalone inlay. Both guitars had Vintage Series scalloped bracing and a Modified V neck profile, but were not listed in the Vintage Series, since neither model was based on an actual vintage Martin model. The Clapton combines Vintage Style 28 appointments with a pre-1941 Style 21 rosette, while the Style 42 used since the early 1970s looks like pre-1938 Style 45, minus the abalone inlay on the sides and back of an actual Style 45 instrument.

All current Standard Series Martins have Antique White binding as of 2018, except Style 18 and Style 21, which have faux tortoise binding. All models have a faux tortoise pickguard.

All 0, 00, 000 models in the Standard Series have the 24.9” short-scale neck, while OM, GP, GPC, M (0000), D, J, GJ models have the 25.4” long-scale neck. Prior to 2018 most 000s made in styles below Style 18 had a long-scale neck. Martin has since returned to the short-scale neck for all 14-fret 000s, the scale length now being the one consistent difference between a 000 and an OM. All OM in the Standard Series have 1/4″ top bracing, while 000s typically have 5/16″ top braces, regardless of the scale length, but the current 000-18 has 1/4″ bracing.

All Standard Series styles have 100% solid tonewoods throughout. Style 18 has tropical American Big Leaf mahogany back and sides. All others listed below have East Indian rosewood back and sides.

Not listed are the are seldom made Styles 25 and 37 that featured Hawaiian koa back and sides. Also not appearing are Styles 60, 62, 65, and 68, which were made with maple back and sides. None of these styles are currently in production.

Note: The following is not meant to explain the materials or features of vintage Martin instruments made prior to the 1980s, except where specifically mentioned. Vintage Series and Golden Era/Marquis Series instruments are now retired, but still frequently seen on the used guitar market. Ditto for several models mentioned which have been retired since the table was first created.

STYLEStandard SeriesModern Deluxe SeriesVintage SeriesGE/Marquis Series
18Style 18 was revised in 2016.

Genuine Mahogany (tropical American Big Leaf Mahogany) back and sides, spruce soundboard and bracing, ebony fingerboard and bridge, mother of pearl fingerboard dot markers, open-backed tuners, tortoise colored binding and pickguard, aging top toner, with an overall appearance reminiscent of Style 18 from the 1930s.

Scalloped 1/4" braces for 0-18, 00-18, 000-18, OMC-18E, OM-18E.

Forward-shifted, scalloped 5/16" braces on D-18, D-18E, DC-18E, GPC-18E, GP-18E.

Not all models above are currently in production.

Previous Style 18: Rosewood fingerboard and bridge from 1940s until the recent return to ebony. Pickguard and binding were black plastic between 1966 until the 2016 makeover, when it returned to tortoise. Non-scalloped bracing on D-18 and 000-18, each having a 1-11/16" neck from 1939 to 2016 makeover. M-18 (1984-88) had scalloped braces.
D-18 MD and D-18E MD (acoustic-electric version with Fishman Aura HD Blend pickup system.) 000-18MD introduced 2022.

Genuine Mahogany back and sides, East Indian rosewood binding, Vintage Tone System spruce top, VTS Adirondack spruce Golden Era bracing attached with natural protein glue, composite carbon fiber/VTS Adirondack spruce bridge plate, Genuine Mahogany neck with Vintage Deluxe profile, titanium alloy neck rod, ebony fretboard with Authentic Series thickness, High Performance Taper, EVO copper alloy frets, Liquid Metal bridge pins.

Martin's Vintage Tone System is the proprietary torrefaction treatment whereby tonewood is "baked" in a high-pressure, oxygen-free kiln to change the molecular structure so that cellular interiors resemble and behave like wood that has seasoned for decades, even centuries.
Limited to D-18V, D-18VS OM-18V, 00-18V. They have a Modified V neck profile (the D has a 1-11/16" width at nut and 2-1/8" string spacing, the OM has 1-3/4" width at nut and 2-3/8" string spacing, the 00 has a short-scale 1-3/4" neck with 2-5/16" string spacing.) Also, all models with scalloped bracing (1/4" for OM and 00, forward-shifted 5/16" for D and DS. Limited to D-18 Golden Era, 000-18 Golden Era.

Marquis models replaced Brazilian rosewood appointments with Madagascar rosewood appointments.

Vintage Series styling, add Adirondack spruce top, 1-3/4" Modified V neck with '30s Style heel (tubbier overall feel than standard heel,) upgraded tuners, wood fiber inlays instead of plastic, etc.

Golden Era scalloped bracing has more wood removed compared to Standard/Vintage Series scalloped bracing, leading to more flexibility and greater resonance under a lighter attack.
21Style 21 (2018)

Limited to OM-21.

Indian rosewood back and sides, spruce top, ebony bridge and fingerboard with mother-of-pearl microdot markers, faux tortoise binding and pickguard. No top purlfing or back strip.

The D-21 Special (2017) has Indian rosewood fretboard and bridge, and black binding and pickguard, Style 28 rosette and fret markers, Style 18 back strip and simple ply purfling, all similar to the late 1960s D-21. Only 300 produced.

Previous OM-21 1990s - 2012 - Indian rosewood bridge and fingerboard, closed chrome tuners, otherwise same as modern OM-21

Old Style 21 was discontinued in 1969. Typically it had Brazilian rosewood back and sides that were too wild or unusual in figuring to use on the stately Style 28 instruments.

At the start of the 14-fret era Style 21 was limited to the 12-fret 00-21, until 1938 when the 000-21 appeared. Vintage Style 21 had a herringbone rosette and back strip, Diamonds and Squares fretboard markers with one marker at the 5th and 9th fret and two at 7th fret. These features were discontinued in the 1940s, when Style 21 became, basically Style 18 with rosewood for the back and sides instead of mahogany, it traded its ebony fretboard and bridge for rosewood at that time as well.

D-21 introduced in 1955. By this time Style 21 had Style 28 fretboard and rosette, Style 18 back strip, pickguard and bindings.

The D-21 and 000-21 ceased production in 1969 when Brazilian rosewood was discontinued. The 12-fret 00-21 was made in large numbers from the 1800s through the 1960s, decreasing by the 1970s, but was revived every so often.

The tortoise bindings and pickguard were switched to black in 1966.

OM-21 Special (int. 2007) and D-21 Special (int. 2008) have many cosmetic features of Style 21 circa 1940, like herringbone rosette and ebony fretboard and bridge. Otherwise, Standard Series OM and Dreadnought models, but made with rosewood bindings, and Spanish cedar necks that lighten up the weight of the guitar and contributes to a more open, airy sound. Also, they have a 1-3/4" low profile neck and 2-5/16 string spacing.
N/AN/A00-21GE was a special edition that predates GE Series, which had features closer to the Vintage Series specs (Sitka spruce and Indian rosewood, etc.)
28Style 28 (2018)

Indian Rosewood back and sides, spruce top with vintage toner. Ebony fingerboard and bridge, Antique White binding, herringbone top trim, abalone Diamonds and Squares fret position markers, open back tuners.

Scalloped braces on all 28 models except D-28 (2017,) which also has black and white ply top trim and white dot mother-of-pearl fret markers. All others get Vintage Style 28 herringbone trim and Diamonds and Squares fret markers

Dreadnoughts and GP sizes get forward-shifted bracing.

Previous D-28, along with D-28S (discontinued,) and original GPC-28E (intro. 2017) have 5/16" non-scalloped, non-forward-shifted braces.

As of 2018 models with H in the model name, e.g. HD-28 (2018) have the 1930's style Zig Zag back strip from the Vintage/GE/Marquis Series. Style 28 models that do not have H in the model name get the later Style 28 back strip.

OM-28 (2018) initially revised with Zig-zag back strip, changed to Style 28 back strip in 2019.
D-28 MD, OM-28 MD, 000-28 MD, 00-28 MD, 0012-28 MD, 012-28 MD.

Acoustic-electric D-28E MD, OM-28E MD, 000-28E DM and D-18E MD introduced 2020 with with Fishman Aura HD Blend pickup system.

East Indian back and sides, flamed European maple binding, Vintage Tone System spruce top with bold herringbone trim, VTS Adirondack spruce Golden Era bracing attached with natural protein glue, composite carbon fiber/VTS Adirondack spruce bridge plate; Genuine Mahogany neck with Vintage Deluxe profile; titanium alloy neck rod; ebony fretboard with Authentic Series thickness, High Performance Taper (OM models have standard taper,) EVO copper alloy frets, Diamonds and Squares fret markers, Liquid Metal bridge pins.
Higher grade Sitka spruce that Standard Series models, Diamonds and Squares fret position markers, grained ivoroid binding, Zig-zag back strip, tortoise pick guard, bold herringbone top trim, forward-shifted scalloped braces. Modified V neck, with 2-5/16" string spacing, etc. Standard Series (2018) adopted many of these features, but not the grained binding or V neck shape.Vintage Series styling, add Adirondack spruce top, 1-3/4" V neck with '30s heel (tubbier feel overall,) wood fiber inlays instead of plastic, fine herringbone top trim, forward-shifted, Golden Era bracing (see Style 18 above.)
35Style 35 (2018)

Indian rosewood sides and three-piece back. Spruce top with aging in toner, and forward-shifted, non-scalloped 1/4" braces, ebony fingerboard and bridge, white mother-of-pearl dot markers, Antique White binding including neck, faux tortoise pick guard, closed silver tuners with large buttons. OM-35E and HD-35 have scalloped 1/4" braces.

Pre-2018 Style 35 has stark white binding, black pickguard, natural top toner, non-forward-shifted braces. OM-35 has scalloped braces. HD-35 has herringbone top trim and back strips, scalloped braces, faux tortoise pick guard.

Style 35 first appeared in 1965 and had Brazilian rosewood (until 1969,) and faux tortoise binding and pickguard, which were changed to black in 1966.

"35" has appeared in the model name of several special or limited editions, with woods or appointments different from above. The defining 35 features being a three-piece back and a bound fingerboard. Example: HD-35 CFM IV 60th Anniversary and D-12-35 50th Anniversary.
36Limited to M-36

Same as Style 35, add rosewood bridge. The M-36 was named M-35 in earliest production models (1978.)
38Limited to M-38 (retired)

Similar to Style 40, but with rosewood bridge, depending upon year of production.
40Style 40 (2018) Limited to J-40.

Same wood grades as Style 35.

Indian rosewood back and sides, spruce top, forward-shifted, scalloped bracing, 7-ply black and white strip top trim, abalone rosette and small abalone hex fret position markers, Antique White binding on body and neck neck, Abalone headstock inlay and gold color open back tuners, Style 45 mosaic back strip.

Pre-2018 Style 40 had white binding, 1-11/16" Low Profile neck, non-forward-shifted scalloped braces, black pickguard depending upon year of production. D-40 was basically an HD-28 with fancier pearl appointments and a bound neck.

J-40 also available in all-black finish.

Pre-war Style 40 had short snowflake pattern fret markers and abalone top trim like pre-war Style 42, but no pearl around fretboard extension on the top.
41Syle 41 (2018)

Currently limited to D-41.

Higher grade Indian Rosewood and spruce than 28 or 35. Abalone shell trim around top and rosette, but not the fingerboard extension on the soundboard. Abalone hex inlays on neck. Forward-shifted scalloped braces. Aging top toner, Antique White binding, open-gear tuners.

Pre-2018 D-41 had non-forward-shifted braces, natural top toner, white binding. Earlier examples have black pickguards rather than faux tortoise. Non-scalloped bracing before 1986.

D-41 from first year of production (1969) has Brazilian rosewood back and sides.

Style 41 Special - Add Vintage Style 45 snowflake fingerboard, grained ivoroid binding, forward-shifted scalloped braces (Size D and Size J) and Modified V neck (1-3/4" neck width on OM-41 Special.) Basically Style 42 at that time, with a V neck and without abalone inlaid around the fretboard extension.
42Style 42 (2018)

Highest grade Indian Rosewood and spruce top with aging toner. Abalone rosette and top trim including fingerboard extension. Fretboard has Vintage Style 45 snowflake inlays on fingerboard and bridge, Antique White binding, faux tortoise pickguard, gold-color open gear tuners. D-42 has scalloped forward-shifted bracing, OM-42 has 1/4" bracing.

Pre-2018 Style 42 has grained ivoroid binding, scalloped forward-shifted bracing for D, Low Profile neck, 1-11/16" for D, 1-3/4" for OM. 000-42 has 1-3/4" Modified V neck.
D-42 MD, 000-42 MD.

Top grade tonewoods. East Indian back and sides, flamed European maple binding, Vintage Tone System spruce top with bold herringbone trim, VTS Adirondack spruce Golden Era bracing attached with natural protein glue, composite carbon fiber/VTS Adirondack spruce bridge plate; Genuine Mahogany neck with Vintage Deluxe profile; titanium alloy neck rod; ebony fretboard with Authentic Series thickness, High Performance Taper (OM models have standard taper,) EVO copper alloy frets, Mother of pearl embellished Style 42 fretboard inlays and high-color abalone top pearl, and 1930 Style 45 torch headstock inlay. Liquid Metal bridge pins.
N/ALimited to 000-42 Marquis. Add highest grade Adirondack spruce top, 1-3/4" Modified V neck with '30s heel, wood fiber purfling around the pearl trim instead of plastic, etc. Short snowflake pattern on fingerboard. 1/4" GE, scalloped braces.

Vintage Style 42 can be seen on the 2016 000-42 Authentic 1939 with usual Authentic specs (hide glue construction, VTS torrefied Adirondack top, etc.)
45Style 45 (2018) Currently limited to D-45.

Highest grade Indian rosewood and spruce. Abalone trim on all edges of top, sides and back, abalone hex fret markers. Forward-shifted, scalloped braces, Antique White binding, gold color open gear tuners, faux tortoise pick guard.

Pre-2018 Style 45 has white binding, natural top toner, non-forward-shifted braces, 1-11/16" Low Profile neck.

Earliest modern examples (1968-69) had Brazilian rosewood and European Alpine spruce tops with non-scalloped bracing, changed to Sitka shortly thereafter, Indian rosewood from 1970.

Black pickguard replaced with tortoise in recent years.

Scalloped bracing introduced 1986, forward-shifted 2018.
D-45 MD.

Top grade tonewoods. East Indian back and sides, flamed European maple binding, Vintage Tone System spruce top with bold herringbone trim, VTS Adirondack spruce Golden Era bracing attached with natural protein glue, composite carbon fiber/VTS Adirondack spruce bridge plate; Genuine Mahogany neck with Vintage Deluxe profile; titanium alloy neck rod; ebony fretboard with Authentic Series thickness, High Performance Taper (OM models have standard taper,) EVO copper alloy frets, Mother of pearl embellished Style 42 fretboard inlays and 1930 Style 45 torch headstock inlay. High-color abalone pearl inlaid along the edge of the top, back, sides, neck heel. Liquid Metal bridge pins.
Similar to Standard D-45 of that era, but add Modified V neck, pre-1938 Style 45 snowflake fingerboard pattern, grained ivoroid bindings, vintage top toner, tortoise pick guard, forward-shifted scalloped braces. Vintage Series styling, add highest grade Adirondack spruce top, 1-3/4" Modified V neck with '30s style heel, wood fiber purfling around the pearl trim instead of plastic, Golden Era scalloped bracing (see Style 18 GE above.)
Standard SeriesModern Deluxe SeriesVintage SeriesGE/Marquis Series

Table Notes:

1) Specs listed are only notable examples.

2) Sitka spruce was used through 2022. It is now being used interchangeably with Lutz spruce, depending upon what is available at the time a batch of guitars is being made. Lutz spruce is a naturally occurring hybrid of Sitka spruce and White spruce, which grows in more micro-climates than Sitka.

3) Authentic Series not included in this table. Each Authentic model is an as-close-as-possible recreation of a specific Martin guitar from a specific year. Examples include D-18 Authentic 1939, OM-28 Authentic 1931, 00-18 Authentic 1931. See specific reviews HERE.

4) The Golden Era Series was introduced after the Vintage Series, to offer more-accurate vintage reissues, which included the use of Adirondack spruce tops and also Brazilian rosewood as back and sides on Styles 28GE and 45GE and for cosmetic trim on Style 18GE guitars. Prior to the official series getting under way, a version of the D-18GE was made with a Sitka spruce top, as was a 12-fret 000-28GE.

5) The Marquis Series was introduced after the shortages of Brazilian rosewood halted GE production. Marquis guitars are basically identical to GE models, except for the substitution of Brazilian rosewood with Indian rosewood on 28 Marquis and 45 Marquis, as well as Madagascar rosewood as trim on 18 Marquis. Some additional, minor changes occurred over time, like the brand of tuning machines, etc.

All Vintage, GE,  and Marquis Series models were retired as of January 2020. The Standard Series Martins absorbed many of the structural and cosmetic features of the Vintage Series instruments, the major exceptions relating to the neck shape, fingerboard taper, and the corresponding string spacing.

Modern Deluxe Series

Introduced in 2019, the Modern Deluxe Series models are upscale versions of select Standard Series Martins with significant alterations in styling and engineering.

These upgrades include Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) torrefied Sitka or Lutz spruce tops, VTS Adirondack spruce Golden Era bracing, composite carbon fiber/VTS Adirondack spruce bridge plate, Liquidmetal bridge pins, wooden bindings, abalone inlay logo and fret markers, gold-color Waverly tuning machines, EVO copper alloy frets, and the exclusive Vintage Deluxe neck profile that was copied from a particular 1930 OM-45 Deluxe but remains low in girth all the way up the neck thanks to a modern guitar heel.

Acoustic-electric versions of these models appeared in January 2020, with the latest generation of High-Def Fishman Aura electronics.

Review with Video of Modern Deluxe Models Here


TABLE: Modern Martin Styles Below Style 18

17 SeriesSolid wood construction, back and sides of mahogany (typically African sapele/sipo,) spruce top, with thin satin finish, full compliment of scalloped braces (Size DSS forward-shifted,) High Performance Neck with Simple Dovetail neck joint, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, open-back tuners with white buttons. Available in Black Smoke and Whiskey Sunset motifs, in short-scale 14-fret 000, and long-scale Slope Shoulder Dreadnought.

The 17 Series instruments are made in Nazareth, PA.
Modern Style 17 circa 2000 began as a deluxe version of Style 15 with a mahogany top, back, sides, and neck, with high gloss finish, top purfling and binding, Mortise and Tenon neck joint and Hybrid X Bracing like Style 16 at that time.

After it was retired it was briefly revived in satin finish with a Sitka spruce top that had a reddish burst top finish, available only as a 14-fret D and 12-fret 000.
Vintage Style 17 was similar to modern Style 15, being all-mahogany with very little trim, stain finish, rosewood fingerboard and bridge depending upon year of production. The vintage 14-fret 0-17 and 00-17 most commonly seen today.
16 SeriesAll Style 16 models are acoustic-electric instruments with Fishman electronics.

2022 revised specs include all-solid wood construction including Indian rosewood back and sides with satin finish, except were noted below, spruce top with gloss finish and bold herringbone rosette, Antique White binding, full standard scalloped bracing, ebony bridge and fingerboard with Style 28 mother-of-pearl dot markers. Back, sides, and neck have satin finish. High Performance Neck with Simple Dovetail neck joint.

D, GPC, Grand J, and BC bass models have 4-1/8" 000 depth and forward-shifted braces.

000C12-16E Nylon has mahogany back and sides, spruce top, tortoise binding with white purfling, ebony fretboard and bridge. 1-7/8" Low Profile neck and 26.44" string scale, Fishman Matrix VT Enhance NT1 pickup system.

000-16 StreetMaster introduced 2022. Indian rosewood back and sides, VTS Adirondack spruce top, rosewood fingerboard and bridge, no body binding, StreetMaster finish treatment.

The 16 Series instruments are made in Nazareth PA.
Style 16 was invented circa 1961 as the 12-fret 0-16NY (New Yorker) and was meant to be a less expensive version of Style 18 vis-à-vis Style 21 being a less expensive version of Style 28, at that time. The New York models were meant to hark back to the 12-fret Martins from the late 1800s that had gut strings and were lightly constructed. The 0-16NY was made to use nylon strings or extra-light steel strings.

Style 16 resurfaced in 1986 as the D-16 made with scalloped braces and various back and sides tonewood (mahogany, ash, koa, walnut.) The 000-16 and 000C-16 were the first long-scale 14-fret 000s since early 1934 and had scalloped.

This Style 16 had the full dovetail neck joint, gloss finish, tortoise binding and and scalloped braces at a time when Style 18 guitars had black binding and non scalloped braces.

After 1994 Style 16 was converted to the Mortise and Tenon neck joint and requisite Hybrid X bracing. The style went through a series of changes in trim and materials, electronics, made primarily in mahogany or rosewood.

Various models with Aura in the name were Style 16 construction with early versions of the Fishman Aura electronics.
15 SeriesAs of 2020, Style 15M and 15M StreetMaster have all-solid wood construction, including mahogany back, sides, top, and neck (typically African sapele or sipo. But tropical American mahogany is still used depending upon availability,) as well as solid neck and end block (also sipo.)

15 Series instruments have A-Frame X bracing, except the DSS-15M StreetMaster (now retired,) which has full standard forward-shifted, scalloped bracing.

The neck has modified Low Oval Profile. 1-11/16" width at nut (000-15SM 12-fret has 1-3/4",) rosewood fingerboard and bridge. mahogany back, sides, top, and neck, satin finish.

As of 2022, 00, 000, 000-S, D listed on website.

The 15 Series instruments are made in Nazareth, PA.
Previous Style 15 - Originally made from Genuine Mahogany, Style 15 went through various changes, including rosewood fretboard and bridge, non-wood fretboard and bridge, ebony fret board and bridge. Also it started with white dot markers and was changed to diamond markers, etc.

Available in 12-fret D, 14-fret D, Jumbo, 12-fret 000, 14-fret 00, 14-fret 000, OM, OMC, depending on specific years.
Style 15 was limited to the 0-15, circa 1940. Some experimental "Style 15" guitars were made prior to this with other woods.
Road SeriesAffordable acoustic-electric guitars made at Martin's Mexico plant with A-Frame X1 bracing, a more supportive and tone-enhancing version of the A-Frame X bracing used on the original Road Series. 

Special Model introduced 2020, the SC-13E is Martin's first 13-fret model, with a revolutionary heel-less neck, unique bracing, and has many other special features and unique appointments based on the Style 12 Koa models and Style 13 upgrades.

Style 10E and 11E have solid sapele back and sides and satin finish. Style 10E Sapele has sapele top.

Style 12E has solid sapele back and sides, spruce top, and gloss body finish.

Style 12E Koa models have koa fine veneer over solid Khaya core and full gloss body finish.

Style 13E has either solid siris or muteney back and sides, depending on specific body size, and full gloss body finish, except SC-13E, which has fine koa veneers over solid Khaya core. 2021 Ziricote models have ziricote veneers over solid Khaya core.

All Road Series models come standard with Fishman MX-T electronics.

The Road Series instruments are made at Martin's plant in Navojoa, Mexico.
The original Road Series came out of the old 1 Series instruments of the 1990s, aimed at performing musicians who wanted guitars they could take on the road instead of their heirloom Martin instruments. They had the A-Frame X bracing, originally called D1 or 1 Style bracing.N/A
X SeriesMartin's X Series represent their most affordable acoustic instruments, many with Fishman electronics (E models.)

They are made with HPL - a high pressure laminate of wood fiber and resin, which has highly reflective tonal properties resulting in a very pretty treble ring, even midrange and good bass response.

HPL allows Martin to use photographic reproductions of beautiful wood grain, or of many other surfaces, artwork, etc.

As of 2020, Styles X2 and X2E have solid spruce tops. Styles 1X and 1XE have HPL tops.

The X Series instruments are made at Martin's plant in Navojoa, Mexico.

Table Notes:

1) Sitka spruce was used for soundboards through 2022. It is now being used interchangeably with Lutz spruce, depending upon what is available at the time a batch of guitars is being made. Lutz spruce is a naturally occurring hybrid of Sitka spruce and White spruce, which grows in more micro-climates than Sitka.

Just the Facts

Q: Why are there many numbers missing among the Martin Style names?

A: Some styles have gone extinct. The earliest Martins were made in a variety of sizes and cosmetic trim. At one point, Mr. Martin matched one body size with one style of trim. Each was assigned a specific price. A guitar in Size 1 cost $17 and became known as Style 17.

Once prices began to rise, the original Style names stuck, but were associated with the specific trim rather than the price. These set trim styles eventually began to appear on different sizes. C. F. Senior died in 1873. His son and grandsons continued to use and expand upon his methods. By 1900 the current system of Size on one side of the dash and Style on the other was well in place.

Some Style numbers that were gone by 1950 have been resurrected, but with cosmetic specs or woods that are different from their original version.

Example: Style 17

Style 17 had Brazilian rosewood back and sides and a spruce top in the 1800s. It was changed to mahogany back and sides circa 1906 and was retired in 1918, when Style 18 was switched from rosewood to mahogany.

Style 17 was reborn in 1922, in all mahogany (including the top,) with a satin finish, made only in 12-fret Size 2. A semi-gloss finish 14-fret 0-17 and 00-17 appeared in 1930s, the 0 not lasting long. These guitars were similar to today’s Style 15, which only existed as the 0-15 starting in 1940.

The 00-17 was made in smaller and smaller numbers until retired in 1961 (with a one year resurrection in 1967.)

Style 17 returned again as a fancier version of modern Style 15, with white purfling and a high-gloss finish, etc. before being put to bed yet again.

More recently, Style 17 was revived as basically a 15 Series guitar with a spruce top instead of mahogany, and with a reddish finish tint and sunburst top in a 14-fret D-17M size and a 12-fret 000-17SM. Those have since been retired.

In 2016, Style 17 became the 17 Series, and offers spruce-topped instruments in three new size (the 12-fret 00, 14-fret 00L, and 14-fret 000,) with two new cosmetic packages, the Black Smoke (all black with white trim and pickguard) and Whisky Sunset (bronze-orange to black sunburst.) And Style 17 is now re-positioned as quasi-Depression Era budget guitars made of all solid wood with thin matte finish for players looking for a great value with a spruce top.

In 2019 the DSS-17 was introduced and the two 00s were retired. The DSS has the 14-fret Slope-Shoulder Dreadnought body size previously used on some limited editions from the CEO Series of special guitars designed by Company CEO Chris Martin.

DSS-17 Review with Video



More details about Martin model designations

When compared to current designs, Martins prior to 1930 were similar to modern, Classical guitars in many respects, all having an elongated shape with a wide 1-7/8″ neck that offered only 12 frets clear from the body and top braces intended for gut strings. In fact, Martins were the preferred choice for American concert professionals performing the classical repertoire in the decades between the Civil War and the Second World War.

Martins moved into a position of prominence in popular, country, and folk music once their 14-fret steel string guitars appeared during the Great Depression. Andre Segovia’s tours of the US during the 1930s and ’40s shifted Classical guitar firmly toward designs that evolved in Spain at the same time Martins were evolving in America.

Martin shifted their own focus toward steel strings during the early twentieth century, but other than their Hawaiian-style guitars meant for playing with a steel slide, they did not design guitars specifically for steel strings until the OM, which first appeared in the 1930 catalog.

OM – Orchestra Model

The Orchestra Model was the first Martin guitar to break with the numbered size convention, when its model stamp on the neck block was represented by the initials OM. The new design featured a 14-fret neck and a body braced exclusively for steel strings. The new name was meant to attract members of dance orchestra rhythm sections, who were switching from the banjo now that steel strings were becoming the norm for acoustic guitars.

Although some Jazz musicians played the new steel string Martins, it was actually pop music icons like Gene Autry and Roy Rodgers who embraced the revolutionary guitar design while singing in front of bands that were broadcasting on the new sensation of radio.  In later years it was traditional Blues soloists, and eventually New Age fingerstyle guitarists who took the OM into ever expanding genres of guitar music.

Because the OM and the 14-fret 000 share the same body size, there is often confusion about how their modern examples differ and why. (See below for more information about that.)

D – Dreadnought

Other model names without numbers include D for Dreadnought. These are the large, now iconic guitar shapes that Martin invented in a 12-fret size in 1916, exclusively for the Ditson musical department store chain, which intended them to be used as the “bass guitar” in mandolin orchestras.

Dwarfing all other sizes at the time, Dreadnoughts were named after the British battleship H.M.S. Dreadnaught (sic), but also as an insider joke. Their largest sizes were the Naught, Double Naught, and Triple Naught. This new size was the biggest Naught of them all.

Martin first offered a dreadnought sold under their own brand name in 1931, and three years later, a 14-fret version was released as well, which became the most popular steel-string guitar design in history. For example, the memorable acoustic guitars played by Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, and Coldplay’s Chris Martin are Martin dreadnoughts. Almost every major manufacturer of steel string acoustic guitar copied the Martin Dreadnought design.

DSS – Dreadnought Slope-Shoulder

Introduced in 2004 as part of the CEO Series of special edition instruments designed by Company Chief Executive Officer C. F. Martin IV, the DSS combines the slope-shoulder body design of a 12-fret dreadnought with the versatility of the 14-fret dreadnought. It is similar to Gibson’s Jumbo in terms of the silhouette but with many other differences.

The first DSS models in regular production appeared in 2019 and are the DSS-17 Whiskey Sunset/Black Smoke, and the DSS-15M StreetMaster. The 15M was retired in 2022.

M or 0000 – Grand AuditoriuM

The M size was introduced in 1977. It stood for Grand Auditorium and at times is referred to as the 0000, or Quadruple Oh/Naught. It is a flattop guitar that uses a body shape taken from the mold of a Martin Size F archtop model made during the Jazz Age. They used the actual mold from the 1930s to make the sides of the first Ms.

At its introduction, the M had the widest Martin top, 16″ across the lower bout, matched with sides having the depth of an OM. Ms are known for their even balance, sounding similar to the Dreadnought but with the bass pulled back in line with the other registers.

J – Jumbo

The Martin Jumbo was the brainchild of C. F. Martin IV, the current CEO. It combines the depth of a dreadnought with the shape and top width of an M. To my ear it sounds like a super-sized 000, with balance across the registers, but with considerable volume, and a focused, punchy midrange.

GJ – Grand Jumbo

Like the M, the Grand J takes its body from an archtop, only this time it was Martin’s modern Jazz guitar, the CF-1. But after some prototype examples, they altered the exact shape a bit. It has a 17” wide lower bout, the widest flat top Martin has ever made. The Grand Jumbo has only been around a few years. It has appeared as normal 6-string and 12-string models. But it has also been used on limited edition baritone models, designed with a longer neck for lower tunings. The Grand J-16E 12 String was released in 2021, with East Indian rosewood back and sides, a spruce top, and 000 side depth, rather than the dreadnought side depth of past Grand J models.

GP – Grand Performance

The company’s first totally new flat top body size in many decades. With a top slightly wider and rounder than an OM and a deeper body, they are Martin’s version of the “small jumbo” models that have grown in popularity in recent years.

While Gibson’s J-185 from the 1950s might be considered the first true small jumbo, it was in the 1980s that indie luthier Kevin Ryan created the design associated with the term today. But it was a similar design by James Olson that proved most responsible for small jumbo’s surge in popularity among professional artists – mainly thanks to James Taylor adopting Olson’s guitars as his primary concert instruments.

But it was the Size 14 design of the Taylor Guitar Company (no relation to JT) that got small jumbos into the hands of the common guitar player, and in 2017 the small jumbo design outsold dreadnoughts for the first time. And Martin’s GP with a cutaway is almost identical to the Taylor design in terms of dimensions, even if they do not sound much like a Size 14 Taylor. In general, GPs sound like an OM with a more pronounced bottom end, a thicker mid-range, and with greater volume. Now made with 000 depth for many acoustic-electric models, the shallower GPCs have a more-traditional Martin tone.

00L – Slope-Shoulder Grand Concert

The 00L (L for Long) size debuted in 2014 with the CEO-7, which was designed by C. F. Martin IV as a nod to Gibson’s fabled Size L guitars of the 1930s. After a couple of limited edition CEO models that combined Martin’s original slope shoulder dreadnought shape with a 14-fret neck, he decided to put the elongated slope shoulder shape on a short-scale 14-fret 00, creating a smallish guitar with a slightly larger sound chamber than the normal 00, increasing bass response. It was a sensational success. The more affordable 00L-17 followed in 2016  (now retired,)  and various special and limited editions have since used the shape.

Size SC

Introduced in January 2020 on the SC-13E, this is the first truly new Martin-invented body size since 1934. It is also Martin’s first 13-fret design and has an asymmetrical body shape with an internal cubic area between an OM and a GP. It also introduces Martin’s first true bolt-on neck, which has a metal tongue and mortise joint that eliminates the need for a neck heel, very much like certain electric guitar necks. It allows access to the entire fingerboard, in conjunction with a deep cutaway in the body. This debut model is designed with electric guitarists in mind.

The S stands for the S-shape to the silhouette edge noticed during the initial design process, making it the first size name that is not a number or initial, as in D for Dreadnought.

Now back to the OM – 000 confusion…

To make the revolutionary OM, Martin turned to their Standard 12-fret 000, which was the largest size they offered in 1929. Basically, they squashed the slope shoulders down almost flat, which exposed two more frets and pushed the upper bout farther out. This also had the effect of placing the bridge closer to the neck, relative to the overall body length.

Then they narrowed the neck from 1-7/8″ to 1-3/4″ for the target audience of banjoists and added bracing designed to work best with the tensions of steel strings … and viola! They invented the modern, flat top acoustic guitar.

After three years, it was clear Martin was going to convert the bulk of their catalog to the new 14-fret steel string design, so the OM stamp was replaced with 000, sometime in the early months of 1934. This allowed them to get back to their traditional numbered sizes.

During the first few months of 1934, the 14-fret 000-18, 000-28, and 000-45 were identical in all respects to the OM-18, OM-28, and OM-45 made in 1933. After that time the 000 was moved to the short-scale used on the 0 and 00 and at some point the 1/4″ bracing evolved to be 5/16″ bracing. It remains a question of history as to exactly which came first, the change to 5/16″ tone bars, or the short-scale neck, or if they arrived at the same time.

All 14-fret Martins went to a narrower 1-11/16″ neck in 1939 and the company stopped using scalloped bracing in 1944 (Actually this was transitional, as 1945 Martins have what is now called tapered bracing.)

So, by the mid 1940s the 14-fret 000 had an auditorium body size and a short-scale neck like the 0 and 00 sizes, but with bracing of the size and density found on the larger dreadnoughts.

The Martin 000s of the 1950s and 60s continued this overall design, as they stood up well to the thick flat picks and steel fingerpicks popular at that time. And they fit well in group playing, as the guitars’ punchy notes could cut through an ensemble without upstaging other instruments.

At Martin, at least, any guitar made from 1930 onward with a 14-fret design is an “Orchestra Model.” Guitars that retained the elongated body and 12-fret neck were referred to as Standard models. In fact, during the first years that the 14-fret dreadnought was offered in the Martin catalog, it was listed as “Orchestra Model, Size-D”. The 12-fret versions were retired, with a few exceptions, like the 00-21. Some dealers did order the occasional 12-fret Martin, but the future clearly belonged to the 14-fret Orchestra Models.

The Modern OMs

Starting in 1969 Martin answered the call for guitars made in the tradition of the original OM-stamped guitars, with sporadic special editions. The “OM” became an official model type in 1990, which has the same shape as the 14-fret 000. But otherwise, several differences separate the two designs.

The traditional 14-fret 000 had evolved to have a narrow, short-scale neck and 5/16” non-scalloped bracing.

Modern OMs were given a wider, long-scale neck and 1/4” scalloped bracing to help simulate the lighter overall build of pre-war Martins. (The OMs made in the 1930s actually had a center X-brace that was 5/16,” surrounded by 1/4” tone bars.)

The lines dividing the 000s and OMs have since blurred, due to all the vintage reissue models and limited editions that have come out in the past 30 years.

Traditional 000 necks have the short scale, while 000s below Style 18 had a long-scale neck until quite recently, since that is now the industry standard. But the new 000-17 returned to the short scale and also acquired the modern High Performance neck. Martins shall ever and always continue to evolve.

As of 2021 all 14-fret 000s have a short-scale neck and almost all have 5/16″ top braces. OMs have always had a long-scale neck and almost all OMs made since 1969 have had 1/4″ bracing.

Vintage-style 000s often have a 1-3/4” neck, like the Eric Clapton models and the pre-2018 000-42. But they are different than the 1-3/4″ High Performance neck, which is narrower in the upper frets and has a much lower profile.

The modern 000-18 and the retired 000s from the Marquis/GE series also have 1/4″ OM-style bracing to help make them sound like the lighter, more resonant 000s from the 1930s, and this included the original 000-18 Authentic made before the modern Authentic Series. This is partly because modern guitars are made with thicker wood and finishes to withstand the rigors required of a lifetime warranty.

Some Limited Edition/Custom Artist OMs, like the John Mayer and Paul Simon models have necks narrower than 1-3/4” and so on. If one thing is carved in stone at Martin, it is that everything has its exceptions.

To confuse matters more, as of 2018 most every OM and 000 has been converted to the modern High Performance neck. It has a 1-3/4″ width at nut, but the overall neck is closer in width and string spacing to a traditional 1-11/16″ Martin neck. It is just cheated a bit wider down in the “cowboy chords” area below the 5th fret.

Despite the many exceptions, it is safe to say that typical Martin OMs have lighter, scalloped bracing matched with a long-scale neck that has a 1-3/4” width at nut. Any other defining characteristics depend greatly on the specific year or era of construction.

OMs are recognized today by their small, roundish pickguard, often called a “tear drop,” even though the original OMs from the 1930s switched to the longer Martin pickguard about six months into production.

How do they sound? To my ear a typical 000, with 5/16” bracing, has a focused, punchy voice that cuts well as a lead guitar but on the whole is a more intimate instrument.

The OM has different dynamics leading to a different kind of voice. With its lightly braced top matched with the string tension of a long-scale neck, the OM has a more open voice with greater fundamental note separation, a wavering resonance and greater projection, sounding clearer farther away than a 000, which can sound just as loud as an OM to the guitarist, but drops off over distance. Overall, an OM has a lot more going on behind and around the top voice (fundamental string notes and high harmonics,) while the 000 puts most of the energy and sound into that fundamental top voice while the undertone plays more of a supporting role.

But compared to other sizes and types, Martin OM and 000 remain closely related in look, feel and tone. They are famous for having a more-perfect balance to the volume of each string, compared to all other 14-fret guitars.

This quality is also the hallmark of the 12-fret 00 and the 12-fret D sizes, even though the dynamics and volume vary greatly between the three designs.

Read More at: Martin’s 000 vs. OM, What’s the Diff?

The Return of the 12-Fretters and the Pesky S in the Model Stamp

As mentioned above, the “S” at the end of model names like D-28VS stands for the “Standard” body design, meaning the traditional 12-fret Martins with slope-shoulder bodies, as opposed to the 14-fret “Orchestra Model” design introduced in 1930. (And not to be confused with the S size, limited to the SC-13E (see above.))

It has never meant “Slotted Headstock” nor “Sloped Shoulders,” despite uninformed claims to that effect. But that usage of S for Standard only began in the mid-1960s, because Martin had practically ceased to make 12-fret steel-string guitars after 1934.

In 1954, Martin made one 12-fret D-28, which had an S added to the stamp for Standard Body Size. This is sometimes confused with guitars made up through the 1950s that had an S added for “Special Order,” typically meaning some sort of customized Martin guitar from before they had an official custom order policy.

But when it comes to S for Standard 12-fret design, a total of 8 D-28S guitars were made through 1958. Similarly small production numbers continued in the early 1960s. Production picked up in 1965, the year that the D-35S was introduced. The return of the D-45 12-fret took place as a single guitar in 1969, with a total of 24 being built between that year and 1994. The 000-28S appeared in the 1970s. After that, the Vintage Series and many limited and special editions used the 12-fret design and the S in the model stamp.

There are ledger records of guitars stamped D-28 S in the 1950s. But that S would have meant “Special Order,” and the only examples I have seen consist of a normal 14-fret D-28 made with custom fingerboard inlay. And the S is obviously added with a second stamp, so it may appear slightly crooked or set apart from the D-28.

Likewise the 1936 D-45 S that inspired two D-45S Authentic 1936 editions was also a 14-fret Martin “Special Order.” In that case the guitar had a wider top, back, and deeper sides (the Authentic version has normal side depth.)

And I have recently been introduced to the existence of a 1959 00-21 S, which the Martin ledgers showed to be a special order made a great deal like a nineteenth-century Martin. It has an ebony fingerboard and bridge instead of the standard rosewood, was originally built with a truly flat fingerboard with no position markers, like a Classical guitar, as well as having no headstock logo, and an ebony neck rod! It is possible this may have been the inspiration for Martin coming out with the 0-16NY and 00-21NY less than two years later. (See Below)

As of 2022, the S for Standard body size meaning the slope shoulder body with the 12-fret neck has been retired to history. Martin guitars with a 12-fret neck now have a 12 on the left side of the stamp, starting with the 012-28 Modern Deluxe and the 0012-28 Modern Deluxe.

Here are known examples of S meaning Standard Body Size (e.g. 12-fret slope-shoulder body.)

* Available figures end 2005

000-45S – 1974-1976, 11 made

000-28S – 1974-1977, 31 made

000-18S – 1976-1977, 3 made

000-17S – 2002-2004, 196 made

000-15S – 2000-2005, 1918 made*

000-15SM (released post 2005, no figures available)

D-15S – 2001-2005, 557 made*

D-15SM (released post 2005, no figures available)

D-45S – 1969-1994, 24 made (includes SD-45S)

D-41S – 1970-1994, 14 made (includes SD-41S)

D-35S – 1965-1994, 1832 made

D-28S – 1965-1994, 1777 made (I am assuming the 14 D-28S examples made between 1954 and 1964 are 14-fret “Special Orders”)

D-18S – 1967-1994, 1640 made

D-15S – 2001-2005*, 551 made

D-15SM (released post 2005, no figures available)

For some reason, Martin chose to not add the S to the stamp of the 12-fret 00-21, which remained in production from the 1800s to 1994. This may be due to the fact it was not offered in a 14-fret version after they converted their entire line to the Orchestra Model design, and it remained only 12-fret Martin regularly available, until small numbers of 12-fret guitars started being produced in the Folk Boom of the 1960s.

This is also why the 12-fret 00-21GE (Golden Era) did not get an S in its stamp. Nor did the 000-28GE for that matter.

But remember, the C for Classical models and the G for Gut String models were all 12-fret guitars that did not get the S suffix.

And then there are the “New Yorker” models that were 12-fret slotheads as well, but did not have the S suffix.

These included the 0-16NY (6140 made 1961-1994,) the 00-21NY (906 made 1961-1965,) 0-28NY (2 made 1968-69,) the 000-28NY (2 made in 1962.) They were introduced before Martin decided to use the S for Standard designation, and thus named because Fred Martin felt they hearkened back to the 12-fret slothead Martins made in the 1800s, when Martins were sold through one dealer in New York City, even though the guitars were made in Nazareth, PA since the 1840s.

And none of this includes special editions, limited editions, or artist signature editions, several of which do have the S in the stamp, for Standard Body Size.

For example, the 1992 D-45 S Deluxe (the space before the S is intentional and similar to the Special Order S used in the 1950s.) This guitar is a 12-fret D-45 with a solid peghead and extra abalone trim along fingerboard and headstock, etc. A total of 50 were made for Martin’s sporadic Guitar of the Month editions (plus an additional 10 made for export.)

And that is one man’s word on…

Martin Model Designation

More About…

C. F. Martin & Company

2023 Guide to Martin Soundboard Bracing

Martin Authentic Series

This article was originally published in 2013 and revised many times. If you have found this article of use to you, please consider buying me a cup of coffee, or a set of guitar strings, by donating to oneman@onemanz.com. The COVID-19 pandemic upheaval has taken a heavy toll on my ability to meet basic living expenses like rent, healthcare, and guitar strings.


95 thoughts on “Understanding Martin Model Designations

  1. I just bought what I have been told is a GPC-15ME but the model says “SPECIAL” the Serial # is 2421239. How do I verify the Model if it is not shown? I am guessing it is a 2020. Can you help me identify it?

    1. Thank you for your query at One Man’s Guitar.

      The Martin GPC-15E Special is made for Guitar Center as a dealer special order, because Martin does not offer the StreeMaster motif in a Grand Performance body or with onboard electronics. So, GC ordered them in batches and they proved quite popular.

      Still available today for $2K, GC has been offering these guitar since at least 2018.

      Congratulations! I think they look fantastic and I would love to hear one in person someday.

  2. I did not find any reference to my Martin for some reason ( inless I missed it).
    2013 Martin D-28 1931 authentic. Any thoughts ?thoughts on my instrument ?

    1. Hi Kelsey, as stated in the article, I do not go into detail about the Authentic Series instruments, as each model is unique in its specs, as they are copied from one specific vintage Martin guitar. I was happily familiar an example of the D-28 Authentic 1931, owned by a good friend. What a magnificent, robust voice!

      You can read my full review of that model from the year it was released at https://wp.me/P3p2sf-nF

  3. Thanks for this guide. Very helpful and all in one place.

    Think there’s a typo. This is listed in the road series table too:
    “The X Series instruments are made in Martin’s plant in Navojoa, Mexico.”

    Are road series MIM? Are 15s made in US?

    1. Thank you so much for pointing out the typo! I wish more people would do that.

      I also updated the table to make clear that the Road Series is made in Navojoa, but that the 15, 16, and 17 Series are made in Nazareth, PA.

    2. Thank you so much for pointing out the typo! I wish more people would do that.

      I also updated the table to make clear that the X Series and Road Series are made in Navojoa, but the 15, 16, and 17 Series are made in Nazareth, PA.

  4. Love your work here and so much detail. Thank you so much! I am looking at what a music store owner is calling a D-28Z. It has a more distressed looking fretboard, ambertone body with electronics, beautiful guitar. The Z seems to be “zenith”, maybe? I can’t find anything substantive on that designation. Have you heard of it? Thanks!

    1. Thank you JJ for your query. I thought I remembered what the Z was for and that it related to a dealer ordering an onboard pickup but without the modern battery pack in the official E models. Michael Dickinson set me straight. The Z means a standard model that was ordered with some sort of change or upgrade. It is not just a pickup. It could be a upgrade to the case, or tuners, etc.

      It is similar to the use the S in the model stamp in the 30s, 40s, and 50s (before the S was introduced in the 60s to mean a 12-fret Standard body shape.)

      But basically, it is not a Custom Shop guitar, but has some sort of change about it. I am wondering if it is that fingerboard you mention.

  5. Excellent work. It appears the Martin acoustic bass size codes coincide with your listing of code sizes. I just received some pdfs from Martin on two of their acoustic basses and have been searching online for Martin codes and their sizes. While they don’t list actual measurements the BC-16e is listed as an M-14 fret cutaway [0000] . The BCPA4 is listed as J-14 fret cutaway . And their Representative also mentioned as the main difference in body between the two was the BCPA4 had a slightly thicker body than the BC-16e. Which is exactly as your dimensions show between the M and J bodies. So, hopefully they use their same standard size codes for basses , and not use the same codes but different dimensions because they are basses. {Hehe ,smiley face here }. Finding body dimensions on acoustic basses from various manufacturers can be sketchy .So Thank you for your time and body of work.

  6. Excellent article!

    Quick question, I hope: about 20 yrs ago I bought a Martin for my son… I now have it, among others… the model indicator says DC-1R… I understand the DC to mean Dreadnaught Cutaway, but might you explain the 1R half?

    1. Thank you Paul, for your query!

      D = Dreadnought size, C = Cutaway body, 1 = 1 Series, Martin’s first efforts to put out a “more affordable” line of guitars with their own brand, made at the factory in Nazareth PA, R = Rosewood back and sides.

      The rosewood version of the D-1 and DC-1 has laminated back and sides with a good-looking veneer on the outside. The top is solid Sitka spruce. 1 Style bracing (later called A-Frame X Bracing) was developed for these models. It was used in conjunction with the Mortise and Tenon neck joint. The closest thing to a DC-1R today would be found in the Road Series instruments, now made in Mexico. But your guitar was made in Nazareth, PA.

      I bet that top sounds pretty great after all these years!

  7. This is an incredible body of work and I join the legion of folks that appreciate the time, effort and enthusiasm that has gone into it. I’m currently shopping for my first Martin, hopefully a D-28. I’ve found one that I’m interested in, and the description includes “2005-2017”. It describes the guitar as coming off the line in early 2017, but I’ve seen similar date “ranges” on other used Martins and wondered if you can explain the nomenclature? Thank you again for all your efforts!!

    Take care,
    Stephanie Hinton

    1. Thank you very much Stephanie, I am happy you like the site.

      As near as I can tell, there is no logical reason Reverb lists D-28s with the descriptor 2005-2017, at least the 2005 part.

      Now, the important part is that in July of 2017 Martin introduced the newly redesigned D-28. This was a vanguard of the new “Reimagined Standard Series” that debuted in January 2018. The guitar you are considering is the older version described below.

      D-28s made in the first half of 2017 are basically identical to a 2016 D-28, while anything made in July 2017 (and probably for some weeks before then) are identical to D-28s made from 2018 onward.

      But I see at least one post-2017 D-28 coming up under that 2005-2017 category, which is problematic due to the changes made to the model in mid-2017.

      The significant changes include moving the non-scalloped X brace and tone bars closer to the sound hole (farther from the bridge plate, which makes that area more responsive to kinetic energy, which affects the entire lower bout, resulting in more bass response at the cost of less definition.) Personally, I like the focused punch and nicely defined fundamental notes of the earlier version, without forward-shifted bracing. But the throatier, bassier version is loved by many.

      Also, this was when the Standard Series changed to the modern High Performance Neck.

      D-28s from before the redesign have a 1-11/16″ nut width and a neck shape called a Low Profile. That neck shape came in with the first adjustable neck rod (it was adopted as the Standard Series profile in the 1990s.)

      Starting in July 2017, the D-28 has the High Performance neck. It has a Modified Low Oval profile, similar to but definitely different from the Low Profile. And it also has the nut width of 1-3/4″ but retained the same width at the 12th fret as the earlier version, so the fingerboard overall, and string spacing, are not as wide as the traditional 1-3/4″ necks.

      Other changes include aging toner on the top and Antique White binding, which is a little duller and grayer than the vibrant white binding of the pre-2018 D-28. And it gets a tortoise pattern pickguard, instead of the jet black the D-28 got starting in 1967 until the revamping.

      As to why they think 2005 is some sort of watershed year, I do not know. I cannot think of any difference between a 2004 D-28 and one from 2005.

      About the only change I can think of around that time would come from the fact that Martin was using Macassar ebony from Indonesia, for the bridge and fingerboards of some models, including the D-28 (circa year 2000.) Macassar ebony has noticeable striping in it, which some people find attractive. And for a time, Martin was dying Macassar ebony and African ebony that wasn’t uniformly black. Maybe 2005 represents the end of either of those practices. But that is only a guess.

      The guitar you are considering, if from EARLY 2017, would have the same top bracing used at Martin from the late 1940s until July 2017, e.g. the same bracing on the D-28s played by the Beatles, Michael Hedges, Dwight Yoakam, et al.

      That all being said, many people prefer the scalloped bracing used on the HD-28 (which was changed to forward-shifted bracing in January 2018.) I love both the non-scalloped D-28 sound and the scalloped HD-28 sound, which has a more pronounced natural reverb to it.

      Good Hunting!

      1. Thank you so much! It shows your passion for what you do in that you not only answer questions, but in sharing your knowledge, you EDUCATE and make us all better informed!

  8. Great site and great work. I wish there was something like this for their acoustic basses. I own a B1-e. I know the aficionados at Talk Bass who have Martin basses would appreciate it as would I.

  9. Wonderful article. Thank you for your time & effort in having done such a great job of research and reporting. Would you happen to know the top and back radii of the OM models?

    1. Thank Bruce, for your query. Martin’s top radius for traditional guitars is 46″. The Road Series and X Series do not use radial bracing. There is some information about this in my new bracing guide, a link to which is posted at the top of this article.

  10. What category is the ‘Special28 style Adirondack VTS Dreadnaught ‘ is it just a special D-28? It was made in December of 2020.

    1. Thanks for your query, Jack!

      Even if it was a Standard Series D-28 I would never say it was “just” a D-28 :). In recent times Martin has forced dealers to not say things like “D-28 Custom” or “a custom D-28.” They have to say “28 Style.”

      Using the word “special” might imply some dealer like Guitar Center or Sweetwater may have ordered a batch of them so it is in a sense a “model” as opposed to a one-of-a-kind custom order. Or if may just be someone saying it is special, as opposed to “a special.” If that makes sense. Does it actually say SPECIAL on the neck block stamp inside the guitar?

      From your description it could be a Standard D-28 ordered with a VTS Adirondack spruce top (which probably has Adirondack spruce bracing.) But, Style 28 can have black and white ply top purfling and white dots fret markers (which usually comes with non-scalloped bracing,) or it can have herringbone top purfling and diamond fret makers (which usually come with scalloped braces.) This is because Style 28 evolved over the years and Martin now uses both the styling from before 1945 and after 1945. Only the spec sheet can tell you for certain as to what sort of bracing it has.

      But yes, it may be exactly the same as a Standard D-28 except for the change of top wood, which was torrefied with the Vintage Tone System, and probably has corresponding Adirondack bracing. I would be happy to see photos if you care to send them to oneman@onemanz.com and I can put them on the website.

  11. Loved this article very much! Thank you! In the mid-80’s, I purchased a Martin J-40MR. I was told the R stood for Rosewood. From you article the J must be Jumbo. I don’t really know what the 40M represents. Again, thank you for the wonderful article.

    1. Hi Karl, thank you for your query.

      The 40 refers to Style 40. A Martin style number starting with a 4 denotes abalone pearl trim, typically speaking.

      Vintage Style 40 was similar to Style 42, but does not have abalone trim inlaid around the finger board extension. It went extinct when they stopped making pearl-trimmed guitars in 1942.

      Modern Style 40 was created in 1985, beginning with the J-40M and J-12-40M (12-string version.) These were Martin’s first Jumbo models, and the J-40M was the first model designed by C.F. Martin IV. The J-40M is also the first Martin made for regular production with a Low Profile neck.

      The original 1985 version has a body with the same styling as Style 28, but with a bound neck and abalone hexagon fret position markers. The very first batch has a volute (the diamond shape on the back of the neck where it meets the headstock.)

      Starting in 1996 Style 40 was upgraded to an abalone sound hole rosette and multi-color back strip used on Style 41, 42, 45.

      The M in the model stamp refers to the M silhouette. Basically, Martin’s size J has an M shape combined with the side depth of the Dreadnought. The M shape was taken from the side molds of the archtop F size made in the 1930s.

      Normal Ms have a 000 side depth. The M was dropped from the model name in 1990.

      A very cool guitar! Good for you!!

    1. Thank you Larry, for your query. I am glad you asked it, because it concerns one of the worst things Martin has done in the modern era, in my opinion.

      Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how a D14F Matrix compares to a D-28, because D14 is not the name of a Martin model and tells me nothing about the guitar, other than it is made in size D and has 14 frets clear from the body and was ordered through the Custom Shop.

      D14 tells me nothing about what level of woods, appointments, construction techniques, etc. were used to create the guitar. It is a way of allowing dealers to hide a lot of that kind of information, sad to say.

      There is no such model as a D14. That is corporatized designation that has nothing to do with their traditional naming conventions like “D-28,” “D-18,” and so on.

      In the case of a D-28, the D stands for the Dreadnought body side while the 28s stands for Style 28, or “with 28 Style appointments” in modern corporatespeak. And Style 28 tells me very important things, like the bracing pattern, the wood grades involved, and most importantly the kind of neck joint used on the guitar.

      D14 means a Dreadnought with 14-frets, which had always been called a DOM in Martin’s internal specs and record keeping. And now any custom order in the 14-fret Dreadnought body shape is called D14. It could be made of frozen yogurt and have a neck joint made of jello and it is still a D14. And I think the confusion that the designations like D14, D12, 00014, OM14 and so on, was done on purpose.

      So the “D14F Matrix” to which you referred is probably a D14 F Matrix, which stands for the Fishman Matrix pickup system. But how it compares to a D-28, I cannot say.

      I did recently see something called a D14F Matrix for sale, which claimed it was “inspired on the legendary D-28,” or something to this effect. And it lists all kinds of nice specs, like a Carpathian spruce top, etc. But it does not mention if it has the traditional dovetail neck joint and solid mahogany neck block that is used on an actual D-28.

      It could just as easily have the Mortise and Tenon neck joint and A-frame bracing used on the Road Series, or the Simple Dovetail neck joint used on the 16 Series and 17 Series. It did not even mention if the back and sides were rosewood.

      The choice of words saying it was inspired by the D-28 may be used innocently enough and it may very well have everything a D-28 has,except for the customizations mentioned. But is by no means the same as stating clearly that the “starter model” for this custom Martin was a D-28 or HD-28, and then it was upgraded to various cool specs.

      So, I would not take for granted ANYTHING about such a guitar. I would specifically ask what the starter model was for this custom and verify that it had the same neck joint and bracing pattern as a Standard Series Martin before paying Standard Series prices or even more.

      I say all this, because Guitar Center and some other corporate dealers have a history of “tarting up” lower end Martins with high-end cosmetics or woods, while retaining the inferior neck joints and bracing patterns that reduce their wholesale price and increase their profit margins.

      Martin at one point stopped allowing such dealers from ordering a guitar from the 15 Series and replacing the mahogany top with a spruce top and adding some appointment hat made it look like a D-16 or D-18. But it seems the current powers-that-be at Martin no longer care about that, and rescinded that ban some time ago.

      Now, the guitar you are referring to, and the one D-14F Matrix I mentioned might both be very good guitars, and have the traditional full-size, hand-fitted dovetail neck joint and other high end specifications. But the designation D14 tells me nothing other than it is 14-fret Dreadnought-shaped Martin. It does not even tell me how deep the sides are, since they are now building Dreadnoughts with the depth of a 000 for the 16 Series.

      When it comes to Custom Shop Martins being offered by a dealer, rather that built for a specific customer, caveat emptor! There are many wonderful custom Martins out there at many dealers.

      But since you cannot see what’s under the hood, as it were, you need to ask the right questions. And asking me what you did was a very good start.

      Good hunting!

  12. I’m hoping to buy an HD-28E soon and am wondering what the “Z” means when added to the model number at the end of some models (i.e. HD-28E-Z). Some have indicated it means Zenith without really giving any reason. Do you happen to know

    1. Thank you, Mark, for your query at One Man’s Guitar.

      The Z is an internal designation at Martin that stands for the L.R. Baggs electronics that are included in that particular HD-28E.

      It is an add-on to an existing “sku” number, and not meant to be included in a dealer’s listing. A bit funny they would advertise the guitar that way.

  13. Where would the “DM” fall into this categorization? It was a more affordable version of the Dreadnaught manufactured for and sold by Guitar Center. It is the shape and size of a “D” model, and made of solid mahogany back and sides like the D-18. But how does it compare to the D-18 or other Dread models? Is it akin to an Mexican-made X-series or an American-made D model? What sort of bracing does it use compared to the other Dreadnaught models?

    1. Thanks for your query, Lawrence.

      You may be mixing up the DM with the exclusive Guitar Center instruments that were customized from the D-15, which did have solid mahogany back and sides and a spruce top.

      The DM was the dreadnought in the original Road Series. It did not have solid mahogany back and sides. It was officially called “laminated” back and sides. But they have a solid African mahogany (Khaya) core with a mahogany veneer on the outside, so it wasn’t layers of thin plywood like other makers used.

      The same technique is employed on certain Road Series models today, like those made with stunning koa or ziricote on the outside of the back and sides.

      The original DM also had a one-coat dead matte finish, similar to what the 17 Series gets now. I am unsure if that is a different kind of finish, or thickness, than the current Road Series instruments get.

      The DM was based on the D-1, which cost more and had a solid mahogany back matched to laminated sides. The D-1R had a laminated rosewood back.

      All of these instruments had 1-Style bracing, later called A-Frame X bracing. It has an X brace, sometimes scalloped but usually not, one tone bar below the bridge plate and two flat bars on each side of the sound hole. Above the sound hole is the braces that make up the A-Frame that help support the Mortise and Tenon neck joint. Even though the 15s no longer use the M&T neck joint, they retain the A-Frame X bracing because it works so well with the hardwood top.

  14. I have two Martins. The first is a D-20-12 which I bought in 1967 with my first paycheck after graduating from college. The neck is as straight as the day I bought it, and I think it sounds even better. It is LOUD.

    The second is a 000M, and I can’t find any information on it anywhere. I guess it’s out of print. I bought this when I retired in 1998; just went into the store and played them all and picked the one that sounded best to me, without even looking at the prices. This guitar is very loud, and the action is a bit difficult.

    What can you tell me about the construction, materials, and desired customer base for these two?
    Are the sides and back of the 000 M laminated?
    What are the pros and cons of the slotted tuners on the D-20-12 as compared to conventional tuners?

    Thank you

    1. Hi Mike, Thank you for your query. So, you have a 000M from the first year of production. Very nice!

      They were made for five years, 1099 each year except 1125 in the final year.

      The 000M has a solid top, and the back and sides are laminated mahogany. But unlike cheaper guitars, the core is still solid mahogany rather than some sort of non-tonewood, with a better looking veneer on the outside, just like they are doing with many Road Series models today.

      They also have a one-coat matte finish, similar to today’s 17 Series, which makes the body very responsive when it comes to creating and reflecting sound waves.

      As for your lovely 12-string, they are really great guitars, if you have the hands to play a neck that large. It was probably a very good Martin to start out with early on, since everything else would seem much easier to play, one might think. People who are used to slotted headstocks do not feel there is any disadvantage to them.

      Those who are not used to them find changing the strings is more difficult, and in your case X 2! But I would bet devotees of the design might claim there is something superior about the break angle of the strings coming over the nut. But, I know of no empirical evidence to back up such claims.

  15. Hello. I found your article very useful. I read of some of the confusing issues. My question, and I am confused, regards the 000 Junior, specifically the new cutaway model, the 000CJr-10E. It seems to me that the 000 body size is completely different to that of the 000 Junior. The latter is very close to a 0 body size as far as I can tell. Maybe I am completely wrong but I would like clarification that the Junior really isn’t a 000 size. Maybe I am confusing 000 body size and 000 body shape?

    1. The use of 000 in the name is meant to be in relation to the size of the D JR, not in relation to other Martins with the full 24.9″ or 25.4″ string scales used on non-Jr models. It is more a marketing-speak naming than meant to be compared to a normal 0, 00, or 000.

  16. Highly informative and commendable work, indeed—a pleasure to brows.
    My question is: my quite ordinary but lovely D1 has a 947260 serial number which doesn’t show-up on the Martin list. Just curious as to to why that might be (?) Thank you.

    1. The D-1 was introduced in 1993. It was Martins first attempt in modern times to offer a budget instrument with the C. F. Martin & Co. brand, rather than other brands like Sigma and Shenandoah. The 1 models were made in Nazareth, whereas Sigma was made in Asia, and Shenandoah guitars were assembled in Nazareth from parts created in Asia.

      The D-1 has a solid spruce top and solid mahogany back, with laminated mahogany sides. The rosewood versions had laminated backs. They offered very nice guitars for a price well below what we now call Standard Series Martins.

      The D-1 was the first regular use of the Mortise & Tenon neck joint matched with simplified “A-frame” bracing, which became known as Style 1 bracing, until the 1 Series was discontinued in 2007. After that time the called that bracing “A-frame X.” The 1 Series eventually included the 00, 000, OM, M, and J sizes, as well as a cutaway D and at least two acoustic electric bass models.

      Eventually the 1 Series was replaced by the many guitars in the X Series and Road Series.

  17. I have a 59 0021 S. I was told there were only one or two made although I did not confirm that Martin. I thought the S might have meant slotted. Is it possible that it may mean special as in special order?

    Thank you


    1. Steve, I sent an email to the address listed on your comment, asking for more information. Let me know if you do not receive it. Thanks! I am always interested in documenting 1950’s “S” models.

      S never meant “Slotted.” It meant Standard, but that was not used until 1964 or later. So I would like to see photos of your guitar. I also have access to the database that can look up specific serial numbers from those days. So you can send me your serial number privately if you want and I can submit to the database owner.

    2. I don’t know about the ‘S’ but it sounds logical. My ’62 00-21NY (New York) is a 12 fret slotted headstock. Good luck!

      1. The S for “Standard” (meaning the traditional 12-fret body vs. the 14-fret “Orchestra Model” design) wasn’t used until 1964, or possibly later. S meant “Special” in the 1950s. The only S stamps I have seen were D-28s, which custom inlay, like someone’s name, or fret markers with the four suits of playing cards. The S models from before the war include the 00-17 S that Maybelle Carter used on the first Carter Family records, which has an oversized pickguard, at a time when 17s usually didn’t have any pickguard.

        The only 00-21 S I know about was a 14-fret guitar made in the 1937 or there abouts.

        And it does not make sense that Martin would add an S to a 1959 00-21 to mean Standard 12-fret design, when the 00-21 only came in that design since the introduction of the 14-fret Martins, so they never put the S on that model even after they started putting it on models like the D-35S and D-28S.

        So I am curious to see Steve’s guitar.

  18. Is there any changes made on the 2020 00-28? Bracing, neck profile? etc.. If there is, how does those changes possibly affect the tone? Thank you Spoon.

    1. Hi and thanks for your query. The 00-28 and the rest of the Standard Series got their “reimagined” makeover two years ago. I have heard nothing to suggest they have made any changes to any of those main line production models.

  19. I’m still having trouble identifying my Martin, It’s serial number 531915, which would mean 1992, I believe, but instead of the normal D-28 or whatever, it has only the word Custom stamped below the serial number. I bought it at Mandolin Brothers in Staten Island in NYC so I’m wondering if they ordered their own line from Martin, which you mention as something some dealers would do. Thanks for all of your detailed info.

    1. Hi Steve, as I said in the private letter sent to your email address, without photos or details, I suspect your guitar is a Custom 15, as was my first Martin, also purchased from Mandolin Brothers. Rather than being “just” a custom order, it was made via the Custom Shop process from that time, but was offered to certain dealers with a particular spec sheet. Essentially it had the specs of the later D-28V from the Vintage Series, which included forward shifted, scalloped bracing, a 1-11/16″ V neck, grained ivoroid bindings, and the Diamond & Squares fretboard pattern. All of those things were being asked for so often that Martin tried it out. It led to the creation of the Vintage Series instruments. Depending on the exact year, the Custom 15 can be found with closed gear tuners like those on the product D-28 of the day, or with open back butterbean tuners of the later Vintage Series guitars.

  20. I understand that some Martins were labeled H to refer to Hawaiian. What is the history of those guitars?

    1. Hi Wayne. Thanks for your query.

      Hawaiian guitars made by Martin were designed to be played on the lap, with a steel slide bar. The saddle and nut were tall, and the frets were cut and polished to be flush to the fingerboard, essentially just to mark the positions. Most surviving H models were converted to normal hardware in later years.

      Martin’s first “Hawaiian” guitar appeared in 1914, the 00-21H, a year before the Panama–Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco of 1915, which started a national craze in all things Hawaiian. Actually a Broadway show in 1912 first introduced traditional Hawaiian music to the mainland. But it was the Hawaiian pavilion at the Exposition that made the difference. Hawaiian music sold more records and than any other style in 1916. And Martin jumped on the bandwagon as the first major guitarmaker to offer dedicated models.

      Many makers converted their guitars just by adding a high nut and saddle. Martin was the first major maker to build guitars specifically for the style, with a straight (non-angled) non-compensated saddle and flush frets. But they also offered some models with regular frets and a convertible saddle.

      Most of Martin’s Hawaiian-style guitars were made from Hawaiian koa and did NOT have the H in the name. It was the rosewood and mahogany models that got the H to signify they were made for lap steel play.

      The original koa and H models were fan-braced. But they did not hold up well under the tension of steel strings. So Martin abandoned that for X-bracing by about 1919.

      FYI – The Gibson Roy Smeck models now favored by Jackson Browne and others were also originally made for Hawaiian-style slide playing.

  21. Hi Spoon. Do you know when Martin started using aging and vintage toners? I know why Martin uses them, but in a world demanding instant gratification, I’d still prefer a naturally aged spruce top any day…

    1. Hi Joel,

      Sorry for the delay in response.

      The answer may be 1977, when they M-38 appeared. But the toner (which they called stain back then) might have been used on some special edition guitars prior to this.

      The first time they called it “aging toner” may have been in 1980 with the introduction of the Custom 15, which eventually became the HD-28V.

  22. I have a 00-21NY S/N 191796, purchased new in February of 1964. If I did my research right, it was made in 1962. This guitar sounded good when it was new, but it sounds heavenly now. If guitars could achieve sainthood, his one would do it! BTW, we (my wife and I have a pair of HD-28s we bought ourselves for our 30th wedding anniversary in 1996.) Life is good.

    1. The New Yorker guitars are very much matured to a fine age now, Don. And those 28s must be well on there way at 23 years old!

    1. Doug, thank you for your very good question.

      The table is for traditional Martin guitars made in the regularly produced styles that have the full-size, hand-fitted dovetail neck joint used by Martin since the 1840s, and all solid wood construction, which begin at Style 18. Guitars below Style 18 do not have that neck joint nor do they have solid-wood neck blocks. And many do not have a wooden fretboard or bridge, depending on the year of construction, etc.

      But I mentioned Style 17 in the notes as an example of how some styles have been retired and resurrected with considerable changes over the years.

      Style 16 is a modern invention, first appearing in 1961 as small number of 12-fret instruments meant to be to Style 18 what Style 21 was to Style 28, made with simpler appointments and wood considered cosmetically unsuitable for the more expensive style. In the 1980s it reappeared as non-traditional models made with experimental or unusual features, many of which ultimately entered the main Martin line. In the mid-1990s it was turned into the Company’s first attempt at offering budget models under the Martin brand, with cost-cutting features in its design and construction, but which still had solid tonewoods used for the top, back, and sides.

      However, now that the 17 Series, 16 Series, and Road Series have all had their “reimagined” overhauls, I am going to release a new version of this article with a second table for the Sub-18 styles, to coincide with the release of the Summer NAMM 2019 Martin models later this month, of which I am not permitted to speak just yet.

      Check back about July 10th. 😉

    1. Hi Jeff. Thanks for your question.

      The R stood for rosewood. And they put an M for mahogany at the end of the D-18VM.

      No one remembers why this was done and who made the decision. But after about two years they dropped the redundant R and M from the model names of the Vintage Series instruments. But having the R is a quick way for people to know a guitar is one of the first Vintage Series instruments made between 1996 and 1998.

      tsp, nyc

      1. Can you explain why on a 1996 D-28 VR was never stamped on the neck block. 1st line: Vintage Series. 2nd line: HD-28. 3rd line: serial #.

        1. Thank you, Tom for the wonderful query!

          To speculate off the cuff, I would say that might have been the year when they turning into the HD-28V and either Martin were futzing with what to do about the stamp, or it is a plain mistake and somewhat of a collectors item. But I would have to remind myself of what happened when with what became the Vintage Series to get a better idea.

          I would love to see a photo of the stamp and the serial number, so I can pass it on to Martin insiders to see what the ledger has to say about that particular SS#. So please respond at oneman@onemanz.com, if you care to do so. Thanks.

          1. Thank you for the quick reply. I have contacted Martin for their comments. If they are unable to confirm the guitar then I will send you a photo of the neck block. Again thank you.

  23. I was drawn to your site while researching what the “S” actually means in model names like D-35S, et al. I’ve read “slope shoulder” in a few places; however I personally settled on “slothead” a few years back, but since realized a D45S, for example, has a solid peghead.

    Since I’ve only seen the S designation on 12 frets, I now make that association. On this page you touch on the “S” designation as meaning “standard” body style from when 12 fret, slop shoulder was the standard for a dread. Thank you for that piece of the puzzle.

    Maybe a short paragraph on the “S” style is in order for fans of the configuration like me.

    1. Thank you Robert for your comments.

      You are hardly the only person who assumed or was told the S at the end of model names stood for Slotted Headstock or Slothead. “Sloped shoulder” is not one I had heard, but it makes sense someone would assume it at some point.

      Martin’s newest size designation, DSS, does stand for Dreadnought (with) Slope-Shoulder. But it only applies to 14-fret dreadnoughts. I do not expect they will rename all their 12-fret dreads like DSS-28S. 🙂

      But one never knows where the modern-day Martin thinking might go. For example there was the D-28LSV, where the S stands for Sound Hole, as in Large Sound Hole. And the later HD-16R LSH, also “Large Sound Hole.”

      As for the D-45S you mention as having a “solid peghead”, I assume you mean the D-45S Authentic 1936. In that case the S stood for Special Order, as it is a 14-fret dreadnought that has a wider than normal top and back (the 1936 special order guitar it is based on also had deeper sides.)

      Martin only started using an S in the stamp for “Standard” in the mid-1960s, because they were not making any 12-fret guitars until that time, except for the 00-21.

      And of course, this does not include the C for Classical models, G for Gut String models, or the New Yorker models that started showing up in 1961.

      I have decided to follow your suggestion by adding a section about the S in the Martin model stamp, at the end of this article. Thanks for that.

  24. I never post anything. But I have to say, this is the clearest, most concise explanation of Martin & Co’s History and that of their guitars anywhere on the internet. I’m very glad I came across this as I’m reasearching the next guitar to add to the collection.

  25. I am posting here because someone named Kevin tried to post here a while ago with questions about an unusual custom Martin design. I tried to reach out to him via the email address he listed, but it comes back undeliverable. So Kevin G., if you are out there, drop me a line at oneman@onemanz.com

  26. You are awesome for doing this! Any update on the GPC vs. OMC designations – they seem like the same guitar?

    1. I am working on the revision of this page right this very minute, in fact.

      Technical difficulties have kept me from putting up much content so far this year, but that is being resolved. Thanks for the comment!

      A quick answer is, the GP design has a wider top and a deeper body than an OM. But the specific specs will be appearing soon.

  27. Hi, so I was kind of confused what the the difference between higher grade rosewood(41) vs highest grade rosewood(42 & 45) assuming same model and body size? Does it really impact the tone or just more like for cosmetic purpose. Thanks for your post. It help better what those number means.

    1. Martin grades its wood entirely on looks. The primary reason straight grain has a better reputation, and quartersawn wood most of all has to do with stability of the very thin plates of wood being used, over the long haul. But many people have guitars made with “slab cut” wood that never develop any cracks etc.

      Now, there are those who feel certain visual clues can denote good tone, but it is certainly not reliable. I was having lunch with Tim Teel of Martin Guitars recently when the topic came up and he said there are often times when such indicators do not pan out, when it comes to wood the thinks will be great or a dud and the opposite proves to be the case.

      From my own experience, I did encounter a group of Martin guitars made with Brazilian rosewood, for Mandolin Brothers many years ago. And while I loved the look of the ones with wild grain on the backs, the best sounding guitars were consistently the ones with the most boring straight grain. But that is a very small sample size and could be entirely coincidental.

      It is very interesting now that the D-41, D-42, and D-45 all have the same woods and exact same bracing. The D-45 of course has a trench carved into the sides and back to lay in the abalone, so one could argue those plates will be more flexible than the other two guitars. But otherwise, they three models are more similar than ever before.

  28. Can you shed some light on the classical guitars – the “C,” “G,” and “N” model numbers? Do these letters always indicate a classical, nylon or gut string guitar? Are there other model designations that indicate non-steel string instruments?

    1. Hi Gregg.

      Yes all three designate a non-steel string guitar.

      Only the N models were shaped to resemble a Ramirez-style classical guitar. The G models had the same body shape as a 14-fret Martin, but with a 12-fret neck (a concept later copied for the Norman Blake models, which matched a 14-fret 000 body to a 12-fret neck.)

      Only the earliest G models had X bracing. Most have fan bracing.

      The C stood for Classical, but it was the same body shape as the steel-string 12-fret 00. They were very popular in the late 50s on up to the Woodstock era, but as a folksingers guitar more than for the Classical repertoire, although I am sure some people used them that way as well.

      The N models of the late 1980s overlapped with the C models for a time. Other than Willie Nelson’s guitar, they were never big sellers.

      Modern era nylon models have come out there and there, like the 000CDG Doug Greth model and the current the 000C Nylon Cutaway model int he 16 Series that was based on the Greth. They have a cutaway and on-board electronics.

  29. I have a Martin guitar that was purchased in 1964. It was called a folk guitar and the model designation is 00-18C with a the serial number 204752. I can’t find any info on this model from Martin Co. Did they stop making them? If so, what has replaced it?

    1. Your 00-18C was in fact constructed at the Martin factory in 1964, so it was brand new indeed. The C in the name stands for Classical. But it does not have the same body size and shape of a Spanish-style Classical guitar. Rather, it has the exact same body shape as the 12-fret 00-21 from that era, but it is has a fan pattern bracing to work with Classical guitar style strings made from gut or nylon.

      Otherwise it has the same specs as other Style 18 instruments from 1963, with mahogany back and sides, Sitka spruce soundboard, Brazilian rosewood fingerboard and bridge, Style 18 binding, trim, rosette, fret markers, and so forth.

      These guitars were very popular, if not made in quite the same numbers as the steel string, 14-fret Martins. Martin introduced the 00-18C in 1962, They made 325 in 1964. The peak year of production was 1967, when 625 were produced. By the early 1970s, production dropped to below 20 made per year. In 1977 5 were made, and then 2 to 5 were made very other year or so into the 1990s.

      Martin’s only attempt to make a Ramerez-style Classical guitar are the N (for nylon) models that came out in 1986. While not exactly the same shape, they have a wider soundboard and less of a waist than the G or C models, with a mosaic rosette more Spanish in style than typical for a Martin. The shot-scale and long-scale N-20 never sold well, the Cs out performed them by a good ways.

      According to Dick Boak, if it weren’t for Willie Nelson’s N-20 “Trigger,” no one would even remember the Ns. But the 00-16C and the 00-18C were very much at the heart of the 60s folk scene.

      A very cool little guitar to be sure.

  30. My dad has a Martin guitar he traded for in the early 1950’s. It’s identification is 0-18 and 114397. What can you tell us about this guitar?

    1. Hi and thanks for your query at One Man’s Guitar.

      Your father’s 0-18 was built in 1951. It is made with all solid tonewoods, include Big Leaf mahogany for the back and sides, which may have come from Brazil at that time, but it was found throughout Central and tropical South America.

      The species of spruce used for the sound board is most likely Sitka spruce, from the Pacific Northwest.

      Size 0 was originally made in the 1800s as a 12-fret guitar, and was considered large enough to perform a public concert. The 14-fret version first appeared in 1934.

      Although one did not see many an 0-18 on the concert stage in modern times, they were very popular among the general population during the 1950s’ folk boom.

      Martin made 575 in 1951, compared to 551 of the larger 00-18s and 425 the even larger 000-18s, and 550 Dreadnought size D-18s. And starting in 1952 the numbers for the 0-18 typically exceeded 600 made per year, with a slight drop off here and there until 1970, the last regular year of production, when they made 400.

      Perhaps the most famous 0-18 was the one from the late 1960s that Bob Dylan played at the Carnegie Hall benefit concert for Woody Guthrie, in 1968.

      They only started making them again recently. And after decades of Bigger is Better, the 0 size is making a comeback with younger progressive folk artists.

  31. I have an old Martin Guitar with the numbers 1-17 and 49749 inside the body.
    I wonder what style this guitar is and am confused about how to define it better.
    Thanks for any help you can provide.

    1. What a cool piece that must be!

      Your guitar is made in Size 1, with Style 17 appointments. With its mahogany top, back, sides, and neck, no bindings and very little cosmetic embellishment, Style 17 was meant to offer an economically affordable Martin. Style 17 at that time is similar to today’s Style 15 (which did not get a mahogany top until 1940.)

      I believe that serial number means your guitar was completed in 1932.

      What is interesting is I think the Martin catalog did not list any Style 17 instruments below Size 2 after the 1920s. Possibly not even in the ’20s.

      But that does not mean dealers were not allowed to order them.

      I would love to see photos. You may want to go to the Vintage section of the Unofficial Martin Guitar forum to see if anyone else knows of a 1-17 from 1932. Yours could possibly be the only one made that year.

    1. Hello tonexus. Yes you are correct thus far in your assessment.

      SP – SPecial editions in the 16 Series. They had fancier cosmetic appointments than regular 16s, like the snowflake inlays and abalone trim, gold hardware, and maybe full gloss bodies rather than just the top(?).

      000 – Auditorium size. In that period the 000-16s had a long-scale neck like an OM, but it was a 1-11/16″ neck made with either a Low Profile or a Modified Low Oval, depending on year of production. They also had 5/16″ bracing rather than 1/4″ OM bracing (the original 000C-16 had 1/4″ braces, but 1995 was the last year.)

      16 – The 16 Series originally offered scalloped bracing when Style 18 was still using straight bracing, as well as various cosmetic appointments that were less traditional, or more vintage looking, than the straight-laced 18s. In 1995/6 the 16s were changed to the Mortise and Tenon neck joint and Hybrid A-frame bracing. This resulted in guitars a bit brighter or more brilliant in tone, and with less thickness in the undertone and less wavery resonance, so they have less feedback issues when plugged in and played through large sound systems, compared to the traditional dovetail neck joint Martins.

      C – Cutaway body. These days this is usually placed next to the 000 in the model name.

      R – Rosewood back and sides. The 16 Series are made from the mahogany family, usually.

      E – On-board Electronics. And in those days it was a state of the art preamp with fancier than normal tone controls. Depending on the exact special edition, it would be sliders, or dials, and it might have an on-board microphone to blend into the pickup signal, and a notch filter to screen out feedback friendly frequencies, as is the case with the one you linked to in your comment.

      Congratulations! If yours is anything like the one on reverb, I am sure you will enjoy it immensely.

      1. Thank you very much! You have my utmost respect as well. Thank you very much for the very comprehensive answer.

        I suspected R stood for Rosewood. (OK, it was the seller who guessed Rosewood.) It is very much alike the one on Reverb except it looks like that one has no on-board microphone, mine has.

        I truly am enjoying this guitar. I have to, I traded 3 electric guitars plus a bit of cash (and guitar picks) to get this. 😀

  32. Finally!!! the logical explanation that I’ve been searching for. Thank you! The Rosetta Stone is found again!

  33. I have an acoustic/electric single cutaway serial #760407. model #SP00C16AE. date 2001. I can’t find any references. Help?

    1. Rick, your SP00C-16AE is a very interesting guitar.

      It is a thin-body acoustic-electric instrument made in the Grand Concert 00 size from solid South American Mahogany and Sitka spruce, with the Fishman Prefix Pro pickup system.

      The point of the thin body is to reduce the chances of feedback when playing at very loud volumes in concert halls and arenas. It has a Mortise and Tenon neck joint and I believe Hybrid X bracing.

      The SP version of Style 16 had the fancier trim of a pearl rosette, a Style 45 back strip, gold tuners, and snowflake and notched diamond-laden fingerboard and bridge made from solid ebony. Given that it was made in 1999, it is probably Macassar ebony from Indonesia, which has natural striping in it.

      This was one of the first models to have the Modified Low Oval neck profile, which has become the rule rather than the exception these days. But it has the standard 1-11/16″ neck in terms of the “taper” to the fingerboard similar to the D-28 and D-45, rather than today’s High Performance Taper – which really is the same neck, only cheated out a bit down in the “cowboy chords” area, so it ends up 1-3/4″ at the nut.

      As it turns out, this model had a Spanish cedar neck, which should help to lighten the overall weight and was probably used to compensate for the rather massive preamp and fancy controls for the pickup system.

    1. Hello John, and thanks for your question.

      The W stands for Walnut.

      The back and sides of your guitar are made with American walnut. I do not remember offhand, but I believe it is Black walnut, native to much of the Eastern U.S.

      While it does have the same figuring of Claro walnut from the western U.S., it has very nice tonal properties unique to walnut, which makes it different from mahogany or koa, but being closer to those than the thicker, woofier rosewood tonal spectrum. Personally, I believe it may be a bit more resonant than Claro walnut, but so few guitars are made with either that it is hard to know such things for certain.

    1. 🙂

      I know many wives who say so too.

      Martin only makes guitars that sell. So people are buying all those different guitars, and all those different models offered by other guitarmakers.

      As I often said, if we all liked the same thing there would be one model.

  34. As the owner of the following;00028 eric c.om 42,d 35,d 41, d42 and d 45, I cant say how informative this essay is. I can make a little sense out of what I hear(or don’t). Knowing what the differences are helps a lot with the “why” there are differences… if that makes any sense at all. Thanks. Too may guitars

  35. Spoon, thanks for putting this up; so hard to find this information anymore on the CFM website (now in its “second stage” of uh, “improvement”). Keep the flame burning.

  36. I love reading all your stuff. Your enthusiasm is genuine, and your knowledge has my full respect.
    Please continue to write I for one can tell its a labor of love!
    Thank you very much,
    Jerry Eveland

    1. Thank you Jerry, for taking the time to say such nice things.

      I call em like I see em, even if not everyone agrees with my own personal strike zone. And that is a good thing. If everyone liked the exact same thing guitars would come in far fewer varieties and most music would sound the same.

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