The Martin Guitar Blog
What do you think of when you hear acoustic/electric mentioned in guitar specifications? Years ago, you may have thought of that slightly quacky sound that is often associated with older piezo pickups or maybe that feedback that you may have ran into when standing in front of a microphone on stage.
Up until just a few years ago you probably would have been spot on with those thoughts, but today that way of thinking couldn’t be farther from the truth! In fact, today's electronic systems offer a very natural sound while giving the volume you need to be heard amongst the banjo players and drummers of the world without that annoying feedback of a microphone.
I have been fortunate enough to be included in many electronic system sound tests and have been able to play almost every electronic system we have offered over the past twelve years. With that in mind, I want to delve into a few of the most popular electronic systems we get requests for in the Custom Shop.
Our most requested system is the Fishman Matrix Infinity system. This system is one of our least invasive options that offers a very natural sound with the added convenience of volume/tone control on the inside edge of the sound hole for easy adjustment during your performance.
We also have a version of the Fishman Matrix with an added bridge plate transducer that will help bring out some more of the body warmth and percussive sounds that some players may want. This system is called the Fishman Matrix VT Enhance. This has an added enhance knob in the soundhole which will adjust the level of the bridge plate transducer signal.
We also receive a lot of requests for the Martin Thinline Gold Plus which is another non-invasive system that has a very natural sound but doesn’t have the volume/tone knob; this is a great option for someone who prefers to adjust volume & tone from the amplifier/board they are plugged into.
Sticking with the lesser invasive options we offer; for the player that uses a preamp to adjust their tone and drive their signal to the PA, we offer the passive Martin Thinline 332. This system is very similar tonally to the Thinline Gold Plus but isn’t powered so it requires the use of an out board preamp.
This is just a sample of the electronic systems we offer in the Martin Custom Shop. If you are interested in adding electronics to an existing Martin Guitar model or building a completely custom guitar, please contact your favorite Martin Guitar dealer and they will help you order the guitar of your dreams!
As a twelve year employee of Martin Guitar, Jimmie has had a love for what he does since day 1. He started his career working on X-series instruments. Because of his enthusiasm, he moved on to final inspection and learned everything from polishing, to running the Plek machines, to all other aspects of final setup. Jimmie spent a few years in customer service because he’s so gosh-darn friendly! Now-a-days, Jimmie spends his time as a custom shop administrator where he helps people build their dream guitars. He’s a guitar nerd but also a true music fan and listens to everything from the Beatles to Black Label Society to Brad Paisley.
The big event that the 2017 Oscars did right was asking Sting to perform!
The singer, songwriter, and Martin player took the stage at the award show to perform "Empty Chair" from JIM: THE JAMES FOLEY STORY. The song was one of the nominees in the Music (Original Song) category. This was Sting's fourth Oscar nomination. His heartfelt, acoustic performance was definitely a favorite of the night.
You can watch a clip of the performance of "Empty Chair" here.
Sting performed at the Oscars with his beloved Custom Martin guitar. You can learn more about creating your own custom Martin guitar and the new Platinum Experience here. You can also find an authorized Martin dealer in your area here.
The world-renowned Martin Guitar Custom Shop is able to make your guitar dreams a reality.
Martin invites guitar enthusiasts purchasing a custom shop or limited edition model priced over $15,000 to our factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania for the unforgettable Platinum Experience.
Your journey begins with transportation provided by Martin Guitar to our factory. Upon arrival, you will be treated to a private behind-the-scenes tour after which our Custom Shop team will present you with your instrument. You will be introduced to the skilled Custom Shop craftspeople who built your instrument and speak with a professional tech who will answer all of your questions.
Your visit will include lunch and, if scheduling permits, a meet and greet with Chairman and CEO, Chris Martin IV. You will also be sent home with a Platinum Experience gift bag!
Let’s talk about Walnut for a second. Let’s talk about how poor Walnut is often overlooked. Everyone has seen English Walnut, Claro Walnut, all the beautiful looking Walnuts. But what about boring old Black Walnut? A little lack luster in appearance, it’s often passed by as a mediocre tonewood. And it isn’t harvested in some exotic location like Central America. It’s from Eastern USA, right in Martin’s backyard. Don’t be fooled though, Black Walnut kicks some serious butt and will surprise you.
Every year, we take some of our favorite in-house builds to the NAMM Show. In 2017, my favorite was a Black Walnut Dreadnought that we’ve been calling the “Clarence Walnut." Inspired by the humongous sound of the Clarence White model from years ago, this thing is a boomer! The Adirondack top paired with forward shifted Golden Era braces, a large soundhole, and Black Walnut all add up to an amazing, huge sounding guitar.
What I like so much about this guitar is that its a cannon but its balanced. That can be hard to find! Sometimes huge sounding guitars quickly lose balance and complexity in the search for sheer volume and power. If you’re strictly buying with your ears, this might be your new favorite.
Emily has worked at Martin Guitar for 10 years. She has been cross-trained in every aspect of guitar building and currently serves as the Martin Guitar Custom Shop Administrator. Dear Emily is an advice column that will appear bi-monthly on the Martin Guitar Blog.
Nothings makes a Monday quite as great as the announcement of the eXceptional sales event!
You can instantly save up to $100 instantly on the D Jr., LX, and X Series models at participating U.S. dealers. But you may want to hurry! This sales event will end on March 31st.
You can find your nearest participating U.S. dealer here.
We are delighted to share with you Volume 7 of the beloved Martin | The Journal Of Acoustic Guitars.
The publications is written exclusively for acoustic guitar enthusiasts, players, dealers, and owners. This volume includes: a new Take It From The Top from CEO and Chairman Chris Martin IV, a special feature on the Two Millionth Martin guitar, new models, an article featuring Martin Ambassador Megan Rapinoe, and more.
Download and enjoy Volume 7 of Martin | The Journal of Acoustic Guitars here.
Looking for an acoustic-electric guitar at a great price with robust sound? Meet the 000X1AE.
The guitar features a solid Sitka spruce top with mahogany-grained high pressure laminate (HPL) back and sides. The 000X1AE includes sustainable wood certified parts. It comes equipped with Fishman electronics which helps the guitar belt out rich clarity and tons of projection. The traditional Dreadnought design is strung with SP Lifespan Martin Strings.
You can learn more about the 000X1AE here.
Martin Ambassador Sam Hunt is putting the pedal to the metal with a new single and headlining tour.
"Body Like A Back Road" is the first single off the Martin Ambassador's much anticipated sophomore album. The new single gives a lightened up feel to an album that is expected to be heavy. You can listen to Sam Hunt's new single here.
The Martin Ambassador will also be headlining an upcoming tour. The "15 In 30" tour will kick off on June 1st and also include Maren Morris, Chris Janson, and Ryan Follese. You can find a full list of tour dates here.
Martin Ambassador Sam Hunt's guitar of choice is the OMJM John Mayer.
Every year, Martin Guitar introduces a guitar that was designed by our very own CEO and Chairman Chris Martin IV. This year, the guitar comes to us in the form of the CEO 8.2 and the CEO 8.2E.
The CEO 8.2 is an FSC certified grand jumbo 14-fret acoustic guitar. The CEO 8.2E is also available and comes equipped with Fishman Blackstack electronics. The top of the guitar is crafted of European Spruce with the Vintage Tone System and a Bourbon Sunset Burst finish with genuine mahogany back and sides. Other features of the CEO 8.2 and CEO 8.2E include a Martin archtop headstock shape, bone nut and saddle, an ebony fingerboard, and mother-of-pearl skeleton diamond pattern inlay. The guitar will come with a TKL Alumin-X case that has patented technology for a strong, lightweight case with great protection. The guitar will be strung with LJ's Choice Martin Strings.
You can learn more about the CEO 8.2 and CEO 8.2E here.
I wish I still had it! My very first guitar was a laminate Mahogany 00-14 fret that set me back $53! As a 14 year old I walked into the Wood Worker's Dream and spoke with a ‘guy’ by the name of Dick Boak. With a big smile he pointed me in the right direction and helped me pick out a great little guitar. As I had mentioned, I wish I still had it!
If we take the time to remember our very first guitar, we all will have stories as to what exact guitar it was and why we chose it. It may have been a Classical or a Steel String, it could have been a Dreadnought or the smaller OM size body. For some of us, our first guitar purchase may have been completely visual ala a Sunburst , but for others it was pure sound or playability, and for others still it was the overall size or how well it fit our body type. Back then if we could find something we liked in a music store that was a huge plus and of course if we could actually afford what we liked that made it even better!
Let’s fast forward to today. There is a lot of information out there and a lot of different guitars have now been played and talked about and guess what? We found some things that we like in these old beauties. Some of them really are pretty special. The Custom Shop allows customers to explore other options. Sometimes the requests are very simple and resemble that old favorite and other times it is more involved. Some of the most popular or common options we see requested by customers are body size, neck shape, and top species.
As for the body size, our list is pretty big. We offer the Dreadnought and other smaller OM/000 size bodies. Most are available in both 12 and 14 fret versions and most can be ordered as a Cutaway. There is also a newer Grand Jumbo body which is really big! Body size is an important factor so if nothing else, be comfortable! Dreadnoughts top the list of most popular but OM’s are chasing them closely every year!
The Neck Shape options offered include both the contour & width. While the Modified V is very popular it is not on every custom guitar. There have been many different neck shapes through our history, with the introduction of the Performing Artist Neck shape being most current. The new PA Neck taper has a nice blend of both current & traditional shape and width. It feels very smooth and playable up the neck. That being said, each individual neck shape will have slightly different feel as you wrap your hand around it and begin to play. Neck shapes such as Low Profile, Modified Low Oval or Full Thickness are all acceptable and sometimes becomes a very personal decision. A players style can sometimes be easily changed or adapted to playing a new neck shape. Other times, a different neck shape can be road block. Face it, when we play that new guitar, our hand is wrapped around the neck 98% of the time…it’s got to feel just right!
I saved the best for last! I was always told…to really change the overall tone of a guitar, change the top species and top bracing. That change in the ‘soundboard’ and how it is put together will give you the biggest bang for your buck! Top species options in the Custom Shop include Sitka Spruce, Adirondack Spruce, Italian Alpine Spruce, Carpathian Spruce, Engelmann Spruce, and Swiss Spruce. Each species comes from a different part of the world and each species of spruce has it’s own character both visually and sonically. Adding an Adirondack Spruce top is still a very popular upgrade in the Custom Shop. That top change will usually make the guitar a little bigger sounding & provide much richer tones. Visually Adirondack Spruce may be less attractive than the other spruces but most opinions will all agree that it makes a great sounding guitar top as well as the previously mentioned materials. And let’s not forget Red Cedar! That top species feels much softer than any of the spruces and there is a visual warmth and tone that Red Cedar provides. In the right hands, an instrument with a Red Cedar top may sound more mature right out of the box! As a guitar player you gotta love that!
Today, in the Martin Custom Shop we offer many different custom options, the important thing is to find the right options that help embellish your own playing style!
Custom Shop Administrative Manager
C.F. Martin & CO., Inc.
Meet the newest signature edition that is stealing everyone's heart!
The Dwight Yoakam DD28 is inspired by the 1972 D-28 that Dwight Yoakam has played his entire career. The model's theme is honky tonks and casinos. It features a Sitka spruce top and East Indian rosewood back and sides. The ebony fingerboard is the backdrop for the inlaid mother-of-pearl and recon stone playing card. The pickguard is unique with its bull horn shape. The guitar will be strung with SP Lifespan medium gauge Martin Strings.
CITES stands for Convention for the International Trade of Endangered Species. It is an international agreement that has been in effect since 1975. Its goal is to ensure that international trade of wildlife does not threaten the survival of species or the ecosystem. Nations participate in and adhere to CITES regulations voluntarily, but for those nations participating it is legally binding.
As many of you know, CITES recently held its 17th Conference of Parties in Johannesburg, South Africa. At that event all Rosewood (except Brazilian Rosewood which was already on Appendix I) and three species of Gubortia aka Bubinga were put on Appendix II. This ruling has caused much confusion and panic in the guitar world. I am here to help. If you have any questions, comment below and I will do my best to answer.
You can learn more about Martin Guitar's commitment to the environment here.
Michael Dickinson is a 26-year veteran of Martin Guitar. Michael has worked in numerous departments , such as the Sawmill and Customer Service, and is the current buyer of exotic, alternative, and sustainable woods. Ask Michael is a bi-monthly column that will appear on the Martin Guitar blog.
Please note, Michael will not be responding to every comment left on the blog.
The new Aged process from the Martin Custom Shop will provide enthusiasts the opportunity to have the sound of an older Martin as well as the look, warmth, and comfort.
The new "Aged" process "ages" a guitar to replicate the appearance of a vintage instrument that is actually new. To achieve this, Martin had to restore a lacquer formula used many years ago.
Martin’s new Aged series features a limited run of 50 1937 D-28 Authentics based on the visual hallmarks of a vintage Martin guitar, each one hand-aged with several new touches such as the thinner lacquer finish, Vintage Tone System (VTS), spruce Adirondack tops and unique Aged tuning machines.
You can place your order for the 1937 D-28 Authentic at your local authorized Martin dealer. To find a Martin dealer, click here.
2017 marks the 100th Anniversary of Martin’s formal catalog introduction of ukuleles to the marketplace. Martin first prototyped ukuleles in 1906, Like Martin guitars, these had spruce tops and didn’t achieve the desired “plinky” tone. Following San Francisco's Panama Pacific Exposition of 1915, the popularity of the ukulele was on the rise and Martin gave it another try, this time shipping a batch of mahogany topped ukuleles that had the perfect tone. During 1916, Martin gradually developed Soprano Styles 1, 2, and 3 and by the time Martin's first ukulele catalog appeared in 1917, Frank Henry Martin boldly claimed that the Style 3 was “superior to original Hawaiian instruments in quality and volume of tone.” In the years that followed, Martin came to define and extend ukulele design by adding larger Concert, Tenor, Taropatch, Tiple, and Baritone configurations, many of which were offered with genuine Hawaiian koa tonewood.
"The Martin Ukulele Celebrates 100 Years" will be on display throughout 2017 in the Martin Guitar Museum. The exhibit traces the vibrant history and spirit of this exquisite little instrument, including a rare 1870 machete (a predecessor of the ukulele) made in Madeira and a 1910 Nunes ukulele made in Hawaii. Throughout the first three decades of the 20th Century, the popularity of the Hawaiian culture swept across America and with it there was an abundance of related Hawaiian cultural ephemera like the many hula statuettes and ukulele related souvenirs displayed, courtesy of the extensive collection of Tom and Nuni Walsh. Other significant instruments in the exhibit are Tin Tim's personal Martin ukulele, plus ukuleles owned by Vaudeville star Art Fowler and the legendary Roy Smeck.
Please join us in celebrating these joyous little cousins of the guitar!
Planning a visit to the Martin Guitar Factory? You can find information regarding visiting here. You can also learn more about our Buy From Factory Program where you can purchase a Martin guitar or ukulele during your visit here.
Martin Guitar has released three new ukuleles for 2017! You can explore the new arrivals here.
If you come across something that you think we would be interested in, please feel free to share it with us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Director: Museum, Archives, Special Projects
Just when you thought it couldn't get better, we went ahead and introduced even more 2017 new Martin guitars, a 25th anniversary Backpacker, and more ukuleles!
- 00LX1AE - This Grand Concert, slope shoulder model is constructed with a Sitka spruce top and mahogany patterned high-pressure laminate back and sides, which offers a greater tolerance from fluctuating temperatures so you can take your guitar anywhere without worry. The high-performance tapered neck is constructed from a rust-colored birch laminate.
- DCRSG - The DCRSG is a cutaway Dreadnought built with a Sitka spruce top and mutenye back and sides. This guitar produces a beautiful even tone with good bass response and clear mids and trebles.
- GPCRSG - The GPCRSG is a cutaway Grand Performance model that is crafted with a Sitka spruce top and mutenye back and sides. This guitar produces a beautiful even tone with good bass response and clear mids and trebles.
- Backpacker 25th Anniversary -To celebrate this milestone, we are introducing the Backpacker 25th Anniversary, available only in 2017. Constructed from sapele top, back and sides, Richlite fingerboard and bridge, black Corian nut, black Tusq saddle, black enclosed gear tuning machines with black buttons and black bridge pins with white dots.
- Style 3 Centennial Uke - This soprano uke is limited to 100 instruments and is crafted from genuine mahogany for the top, back and sides. The mahogany headplate is inlaid with a grained ivoroid kite design found in the earliest Martin ukuleles.
- Style 1 Centennial Uke -This soprano uke is limited to only 100 instruments and is crafted with a mahogany top, back and sides. This uke features a black Tusq nut and saddle, nickel peg tuning machines with black buttons, morado fingerboard and bridge and soft padded gig bag.
- 0X Uke Bamboo Natural - This unique soprano ukulele is crafted from a bamboo patterned high-pressure laminate (HPL) for the top, back and sides. Also available in green, blue or red bamboo pattern HPL.
This week Martin Guitar announced even more 2017 models! These new models include:
- Dwight Yoakam DD28 Signature Edition - The Dwight Yoakam DD28 is inspired from a 1972 D-28, the guitar Dwight has played his whole career. Crafted from Sitka spruce top and East Indian rosewood back and sides, this model honors the classic booming sound of the Dreadnought. An ebony fingerboard is the backdrop for the inlaid mother-of-pearl and recon stone playing cards. The other truly unique feature of this instrument is the bull’s horn shaped pickguard.
- D-28 John Prine - This beautiful model is limited to only 70 instruments. The D-28 John Prine is crafted with an Engelmann spruce top and gorgeous Madagascar rosewood back and sides. The Madagascar rosewood headplate is inlaid with pearl angel wings, a nod to Prine’s masterpiece and most commonly covered song “Angel from Montgomery”. The top bears an antique toner finish for a warm, aged appearance.
- CS-CFMartinOutlaw-17- A limited edition Dreadnought that breaks the rules, this model is crafted with traditional, Authentic Series features such as hide glue construction combined with modern features, such as a modified low oval neck with a high performance taper and modern belly bridge and drop-in saddle.
- 000-30 Authentic 1919 - Remaining true to its origins, the 000-30 Authentic 1919 is meticulously crafted with hide glue construction, dovetail neck joint, solid Adirondack spruce top with Vintage Tone System, solid Madagascar rosewood back and sides with a Vintage Gloss finish, a grained ivoroid bound, black ebony fingerboard inlaid with abalone 1919 snowflakes and a black ebony bridge.
- CEO 8.2 - This beautiful FSC® Certified Grand Jumbo 14-fret acoustic guitar is crafted with a European spruce top with Vintage Tone System and a Bourbon Sunset Burst finish, paired with genuine mahogany back and sides. Other features include a Martin archtop headstock shape, grained ivoroid binding and heelcap, bone nut and saddle, liquid metal bridgepins on an ebony bridge and an ebony fingerboard with a gorgeous mother-of-pearl skeleton diamond pattern inlay.
- CEO 8.2E - A beautiful FSC® Certified Grand Jumbo 14-fret acoustic-electric guitar that is crafted with a European spruce top with Vintage Tone System and a Bourbon Sunset Burst finish, paired with genuine mahogany back and sides. Other features include an archtop headstock shape, grained ivoroid binding and heelcap, bone nut and saddle, liquid metal bridgepins on an ebony bridge and an ebony fingerboard with a gorgeous mother-of-pearl skeleton diamond pattern inlay. This model is equipped with new Fishman® Blackstack™ electronics, a soundhole mounted, magnetic, battery-free, passive pick-up that is specifically designed to work with acoustic guitar strings.
Just last week, Frendly Gathering announced they will be moving their annual festival from Timber Ridge to Sugarbush!
The move to Sugarbush in Vermont allows Frendly Gathering to offer a new layout and more activities as well as car camping and an on site box office. The annual festival is the creation of professional Burton snowboarders and Martin Ambassadors Danny Davis and Jack Mitrani. Martin Guitar is a proud sponsor and attendee of the Frendly Gathering!
The 2017 Frendly Gathering at Sugarbush will be held June 29th through July 1st. Blindfaith tickets are now on sale here.
Martin Ambassador Danny Davis' Martin guitar of choice is a Dreadnought cutaway from the Martin Custom Shop. Martin Ambassador Jack Mitrani's Martin guitar of choice is a 000 Koa from the Martin Custom Shop.
This Martin Monday post is especially close to our hearts as we introduce you to the Two Millionth Martin Guitar.
To commemorate this milestone, Martin Guitar partnered with America's premier watchmaker RGM Watch Co. (http://www.rgmwatches.com/) to create this one-of-a-kind model that features a custom working RGM timepiece built into the head stock of the guitar.
The Two Millionth guitar has a D-45 style body with back and sides constructed of Brazilian rosewood. The top is crafted of highly-figured bearclaw Engelmann spruce. The use of the watch motif marks the anniversary and includes decorative gears, guilloché, decorative inlays, and a working watch embedded into the head stock.
Martin Guitar and RGM will also collaborate on the limited edition D-200 Deluxe. This collector's model will be limited to only 50 guitars and each will feature a watch theme throughout the design, including a pick guard that has pearl inlay watch gears. The D-200 will also include a custom RGM watch. You can learn more about the D-200 Deluxe here.
We always knew the 00-17S Whiskey Sunset was a winner but Guitar & Bass Magazine just confirmed it!
Guitar & Bass Magazine released their Gear Of The Year 2016 issue this month which honored the 00-17S Whiskey Sunset with the highest honor. The review states "the slim neck contributes to easy playing feel and string-to-string balance that can make some of us sound like better acoustic players than we really are." Who doesn't love that? You can read everything Guitar & Bass Magazine has to say about the 00-17S Whiskey Sunset here.
The captivating sunburst finish features a solid Sitka spruce top, mahogany back and sides, with a rosewood fingerboard and bridge. The Grand Concert model is strung with Martin Retro Light strings. You can learn more about the 00-17S Whiskey Sunset here.
Ready to experience the 00-17S Whiskey Sunset in person? You can find an authorized Martin dealer near you here. Already know the 00-17S Whiskey Sunset is the acoustic guitar for you? Order right now from a certified online Martin dealer here.
The new D-16E, one of three new models from Martin's new Americana Series, will be hitting an authorized Martin dealer near you in 2017! The Americana Series uses American grown and harvested Sycamore and Cherry wood.
The new D-16E is a classic Martin Dreadnought with a 000 depth. The new guitar has a Sitka Spruce top and Sycamore back and sides. The silver binding and heel cap makes this new guitar a real stunner! It is also constructed with an ebony fingerboard and mother-of-pearl diamond and square inlays. The D-16E is an easy to play guitar that is equipped with Fishman's Matrix VT Enhance electronics. The guitar will be strung with SP Lifespan medium gauge strings.
You can learn more about the D-16E here.