It’s that time of year again. Today, January 21st, is the opening day of NAMM 2016, the largest Music trade show in the world. Every year Martin uses NAMM as an opportunity to announce their latest offerings to the world and this year they've gone above and beyond, adding about 20 new models to their already impressive lineup. Here's what you should keep an eye out for over the next few days. These guitars will start finding their way into the hands of players and reviewers.
The Standard Series gets some new members
Martin really seems to doubling down on stage-ready Acoustic/Electrics this year. The 15, 18, 28 and 35 series are all getting new additions in the form of cutaway guitars equipped from the factory with Fishman undersaddle pickups. The 15 Series will be gaining a revamp of the previous DC-15ME as well as a new OM sized model. The 18, 28 and 35 series will also be getting a Dreadnought and OM model but, perhaps most excitingly, these three series will also be getting their own respective Grand Performance guitar, a size rarely seen outside of the Performing Artist series. All of these guitars will be long scale instruments with 1-3/4” nuts.
The first thing that catches your eyes about these new guitars are the cutaways. Previously it seemed like Martin was always leery of cutaway construction, offering them on their Performing Artist guitars (as well as a select few other models) but never really applying them to their Standard Series offerings. There seemed to be an intentional separation between their “traditional” guitars and their “modern” ones without any real intermixing beyond maybe a limited edition model or a custom build. These new guitars seem to bridge this gap, giving cutaway bodies that are otherwise almost identical to their older siblings. This is going to make things a lot easier for players who are drawn to that Martin sound but still want that extended fretboard reach.
There’s one other detail about the new acoustic/electrics that is a little more subtle but is probably my favorite. All of the Acoustic/Electric guitars released in the standard series this year feature Fishman’s new “Enhance” pickups. These new systems provide the sound quality and flexibility we’ve come to expect from Fishman’s collaborations with Martin but do in a much more discrete way. Call me a traditionalist, but I’ve never been a huge fan of pickup controls mounted on the outside of the guitar. No matter how fancy your pickup may be today, you can rest assured that it’s going to be out of date in 5 years time, leaving you with an antiquated control on the outside of your guitar, making an otherwise timeless design appear dated. It seems that Fishman and Martin agree with this sentiment as the new “Enhance” pickup systems all feature controls that are concealed within the sound holes of the guitars. This strikes me as a nice balance that will still allow players to make quick and easy adjustments on stage while leaving the guitar’s exterior uncluttered.
New Additions to the 17 Series
The 17 Series will also be getting some new members. Martin has announced three new models: The 000-17, the 00L-17 and the 00-17S. All three will be available in Smoke Black as well as a new burst known as Whiskey Sunset. While all three models look promising, I think it’s the 00L-17 that be end up being the most anticipated. This guitar features a 00-14 Fret Slope Shoulder body and Mahogany back/sides, making it very reminiscent of the CEO-7, a model which has steadily been gaining a cult following among Martin collectors.
Martin 00L-17 Black Smoke Martin 00L-17 Whiskey Sunset
I think that at this point most of us expect to see at least one new Authentic model unveiled at NAMM and we weren’t disappointed. 2016 will see the introduction of the 000-42 Authentic 1939 and the 00-18 Authentic 1931, both of which are small bodied short scale instruments. Personally, I’m excited to see the Authentic series expand in this manner. As much as I love Dreadnoughts (and own nothing but) it’s nice to see variety in the Authentic line.
The 00-18 Authentic 1931 is a welcome addition to the Authentic Series and is currently the smallest guitar in Martin's lineup. This 00-12 Fret guitar is made with Genuine Mahogany and Adirondack Spruce. With it's 1-7/8" nut and 2-3/8" bridge spacing this guitar seems to have fingerpickers in mind. But while the 00-18A instruments look great I’m probably most anticipating getting the 000-42A in my hands. Rear-Shifted braces are a rarity in Martin guitars and so far I've been very impressed with their only other Forward Shifted model, the D-28A 1941. I’m very interested to see in person how a smaller body reacts to this same bracing.
Martin 00-18 Authentic 1931 Martin 000-42 Authentic 1939
Martin Limited Editions
Martin is releasing a few Limited Edition guitars this year, but two are particularly attention grabbing. The first is the D-28 John Lennon 75th Anniversary. Beyond the fact that this model was inspired by one of the most influential artists in music history, the John Lennon signature seems to be a guitar that can stand on it’s own two feet regardless of whose name is on the headstock. This guitar combines straight bracing with a VTS top and Madagascar backs/sides all of which I’m sure will add up to a very interestingly balanced tone. Limited to only 75 made, this guitar is sure to be a sought after piece for die hard fans of John Lennon as well as Martin guitars.
Martin D-28 John Lennon 75th Anniversary
Also available this year is the Martin D-222, built to commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Dreadnought body shape. Originally created to be sold under the Oliver Ditson brand, the Dreadnought is undoubtedly one of Martin’s most influential contributions to the world of acoustic guitars and has been a staple of popular music for the last 75 years. The D-222, with it’s D-12 Fret body and VTS top, captures the spirit of these early Ditson acoustics. Limited to only 100 made, this guitar is sure to be high on the wishlist of Martin collectors eager to own a piece of Martin history.
View all of Martin's new NAMM models in one easy place. And be sure to keep an eye on Maury’s Music as we will be releasing videos of these new models, giving you one of your first chances to hear them in action.
Join the conversation, let us know which model you want to see first!