When you see a Martin model name like D-15 or 000-18, the number on the right side of the dash refers to the “Style” of decoration and the materials used to create the instrument. The letter or number on the left side of the dash refers to the body size. And today we will look at the various Martin body sizes available in 2020, starting with the newest one!
Martin SC-13E - new for 2020!
In January, Martin unveiled the SC-13E, with its revolutionary ergonomic body shape designed with player comfort in mind. Unlike previous sizes, the S is not short for something, the way OM is short for Orchestra Model. Rather, it was inspired by the shape of the silhouette. Martin’s first 13-fret guitar has a long-scale neck that feels like a short-scale neck. And the body has the same depth but a wider top area than the long-scale OM or short-scale 000. While this new model is likely just the first of several S-sized models, it will be a long time before it reaches the status of Martin’s famous D-size, which is the single most-popular guitar shape in history.
Invented as a 12-fret guitar in 1916, the D stands for Dreadnought. It was named after the largest battleship of the time, because of its size compared to the parlor guitars of that era, and because of its booming voice. The iconic 14-fret version of the Dreadnought appeared in 1934 and instantly became immensely popular. It is considered one of the best guitar designs ever conceived for the solo singer, as the clear treble notes provide harmony that extends beyond the range of the human voice, while the full, rich bottom end is like having a built-in bass player. And its impressive volume works great when playing in large ensembles.
The Dreadnought became the quintessential acoustic guitar for all genres of music from the banjo-killing canons of Bluegrass to the soulful singing of Folk to the far reaching expanses of Rock of all types, the list of Martin Dreadnought players and the music is practically the history of popular music itself, from Hank Willams, to the Beatles, to Harry Styles, to name but a few. Be it a D-15M like the one favored by Coldplay’s Chris Martin, or the amazingly awesome D-35 Johnny Cash commemorative model, or the amazingly affordable DX1E Mahogany, to the vintage vibes of the D-28 Authentic 1937 Aged, or the new D-18E Modern Deluxe, there is a wide variety of Martin Dreadnoughts available across the current Martin lineup to fit any budget and musical style, made in many styles and many different tonewoods.
The Slope Shoulder Dreadnoughts began as limited editions in the CEO Series, but now can be found in both the 15 Series with the D-15M Streetmaster and the 17 Series with the DSS-17 Black Smoke and DSS-17 Whiskey Sunset. This size combines the versatility of the 14-fret Dreadnought with the extended body shape of the original 12-fret Dreadnoughts, for a unique tone that is bold, articulate, and expressive.
The Grand Performance body size is Martin’s unique take on the small jumbo concept, with a tighter waist than a dreadnought and rounder lower bout, but still a good-sized soundboard for a big voice that has nice bass response but an overall balance that makes it quite versatile. It is desinged for players who want a large voice but find the D size a little too large. This is especially true of the full-size Grand Performance models like the GPC-28E from the Standard Series and the GPC-11E from the Road Series, and the GPC-X2E Macassar in the X Series. And then there are the GPC’s made with the same shape, but with a shallower 000 depth to the sides, like the GPC-16E and GPC-16E Mahogany, designed for added comfort and additional anti-feedback control when playing through large concert sound systems.
The OM stands for Orchestra Model, as it was originally marketed toward the guitarists in the dance orchestras of the Great Depression Era, even if it was the singing bandleaders of the day who came to appreciate OMs most. Afterwards it was the Blues and New Age players of later eras that came to appreciate the OMs for their prowess as excellent fingerstyle guitars. The OM-28 was the first OM and the first truly modern 14-fret steel string guitar, when it was invented in 1929. The combination of the long-scale 1-3/4” neck with the specific Auditorium-size spruce soundboard and 4-1/8” side depth provide a perfect string to string balance, along with tremendous projection and marvelous room-filling resonance emanating from a relatively compact and comfortable body.
The OM is one of the most influential guitar designs of all time, and there isn’t a Martin model series that hasn’t offered an OM at one point or another. Current models include but are not limited to the OMJM John Mayer signature model, OMC-X1E Black in the X Series, the OM-28 Modern Deluxe and OM-28E Modern Deluxe in the Modern Deluxe Series, the OMCE-16 Burst with its gorgeous ovangkol top in the 16 Series, the OMC-15ME in the 15 Series, and the classic line up of OM-21, OM-28, OM-28E, and OM-42 in the Standard Series.
The Auditorium size, also known as the 000, began as a long-scale 12-fret instrument. A prime example is today’s 000-15SM. The reason this lightly-built, all-mahogany 12-fretter has remained so popular with players like Leo Kottke and Eddy Vedder is immediately apparent when you pick one up and give it a strum. But it is even better when it comes to fingerpicking. And for lovers of nylon string guitars, there is the new for 2020 000C12-16E Nylon, a versatile acoustic-electric 12-fret guitar with a cutaway and a comfortable neck for players of Latin, Jazz, and of course Classical music.
Today’s 14-fret 000s are short-scale guitars, just like the vintage 000s favored by Eric Clapton, and all of Martin’s 00 and 0 size instruments. Otherwise 000 has the same body size as the OM. The short-scale neck allows for greater bendability to the strings, making them ideal for playing lead guitar. Less string tension also gives them a focused voice, with notes that cut through in a mix of instruments, compared to the more spread out voice of an OM. The short-scale 000 remains a best-selling design which is why it is found in the X Series, Road Series, 15 Series, 16 Series, 17 Series, Standard Series, and Modern Deluxe Series.
Inspired by models from the Depression Era, the 00L with its long slope-shoulder body has an internal sound chamber that falls between the 000 and 00. The 00L-X2E with its solid Sitka spruce top and the CEO-7 with its solid Adirondack spruce top, and the exclusive CEO-9 with its solid curly mango top all offer an increased bass response than the more-balanced tone of the class 14-fret 00s.
In the 1870s, Martin’s 12-fret 00 guitars were called Grand Concert because they were considered large enough for an extra-large acoustic concert audience. And whether you want the old timey tone of the 12-fret Grand Concert 00-17 Authentic 1931, with its Genuine Mahogany top, V neck, and hide glue construction, or one of the many 14-fret Grand Concert 00 models made with spruce tops, found throughout the Martin line, a 00 size Martin offers a lot of beautiful tone in a relatively small body. A 00 has the same depth as a 000, but the slightly smaller top brings all the frets a little closer to the body. They are ideal for smaller guitarists, or people who want a petite playmate for their larger guitars. But make no mistake; these are fully-realized musical instruments and sound like it. In fact, you may be genuinely surprised how much tone comes out of a 00, like the very popular 00-18 for example.
The Concert size 0 models were quite popular during the years before World War II, because they are small enough to be easily portable, while being large enough to use while performing a professional concert. And many of today’s professional singer-songwriters rediscovered just how comfortable and versatile an 0-size Martin can be. So now they are making them again and the professional-level 0-18 continues to sell well as a result, and the most-affordable acoustic-electric 0-X1E has just been released for the gigging musician on a budget.
The Road Less Traveled
There are two related Martin sizes still in production from the late twentieth century that have always appealed to players looking for something a little out of the ordinary from the classic Dreadnought models, Size M and Size J.
Size M aka 0000
In the Woodstock era some adventurous singer-songwriters like David Bromberg and Arlo Guthrie took vintage Martin archtop guitars from the Jazz Age and had them converted to flattop guitars with the traditional round sound hole. This proved so successful that Martin got out the original mold used for the archtop sides and started producing new flattops in the 1970s, to create a new Martin size that they called the Grand Auditorium, or M for short. An M has a 15” wide top with a shallow waist, but the same side depth as the smaller 000, 00, and 0 sizes. The size was rechristened the 0000 for a time, to fit that naming convention. This body size produces a very even tone with a punchy midrange, so that it sounds a lot like a Dreadnought with the bass EQ’d back in line with the rest of the strings.
By far, the most popular M is the M-36. And today’s version has been upgraded to the contemporary features of the modern Standard Series.
Martin’s Jumbo size was the brainchild of current CEO Chris Martin and represents the first of his many contributions to the legacy of this venerable American family-owned business. It combines the shape and top size of the M with the depth of a Dreadnought. The results are a mammoth voice with a satisfying bass matched by a projecting midrange and treble to boot. The J-40, with its gorgeous abalone fret markers and rosette, has remained the most popular Martin Jumbo, including the all-black version favored by the Indigo Girls.
Whether you're seeking your first and only Martin guitar or looking for an alternative size and shape to add to your collection, there is a Martin size at a price point to suit your needs and fulfill your musical dreams. So please feel free to browse through our extensive stock of Martins for the 0, 00, 000, OM, M, J, and D sizes in all the many series and price points to choose from.
And if you are interested in any Martin size not currently in production, from the sweet little 12-fret 0 to super-sized Grand Jumbo, it can be yours for the asking when you order your dream guitar from Martin’s legendary Custom Shop. Just give us a call at (610) 871-1673 and we will answer all your questions and help you choose just the right Martin size for you!
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