From Our Family to Yours, Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!!
This year, Maury’s Music has much to be thankful about, including the bountiful choices to be had in Martin guitar neck shapes! Each is designed for comfort and ease of playability, no matter what size hands a musician may have.
Conceived for today’s players, most Martin guitars now come with their extremely popular Modified Low Oval profile. But some instrument series offer alternative neck shapes, while certain other shapes can be had though the Martin Custom Shop. Here is a quick rundown of the most common Martin guitar neck shapes.
Modified Low Oval Profile
The Modified Low Oval profile is designed to be extremely versatile. Of all the modern, sleek profiles available, it has the roundest shape. It works well for playing with the thumb at the back of the neck for barre chords or playing in the Spanish or Classical style, while also working well for wrapping the thumb around the fingerboard to fret the bass strings in what is sometimes called the American style.
The Modified Low Oval was created by taking an earlier, larger Low Oval shape and making it a little more like the shallower Low Profile shape that was the previous default Martin neck shape on most of their contemporary models.
Martin’s High Performance Neck combines this comfortable Modified Low Oval shape with a fretboard made with Martin’s High Performance Taper. It has a 1-3/4” width at the nut, so it is never cramped out by the headstock, but it also has a fast, sleek taper as the fingerboard reaches toward the body, measuring 2-1/8th at the 12th fret. So, it is not as wide when moving up the frets as the older 1-3/4” Martin necks, which have what is now called Martin’s Standard Taper.
The High Performance Neck is found throughout the Martin line across all price levels, from the affordable 15, the innovative 16 Series, and the Standard Series of classic professional level acoustic Martins like the D-28 and top of the line D-45.
The High Performance neck is also found on limited and special editions like the awesome new D-16E Rock the Vote Guitar, aimed at encouraging young people to actively join in our nation’s political process by voting at the local, state, and national levels. It is an acoustic-electric Dreadnought model with a 000 depth, and gorgeous artwork by Robert F. Goetzl made in collaboration with American patriot, music icon, and longtime political activist David Crosby.
Vintage Deluxe Profile
Too new to appear in the illustration of Martin neck shapes, the Vintage Deluxe Profile was introduced on the 2019 Modern Deluxe Series instruments. It takes its shape from the priceless 1930 OM-45 Deluxe found in the Martin Museum, considered by many to be perhaps the most comfortable vintage Martin neck ever made. But really, the shaping of this new Martin profile is a bit of a trade secret. Shhhh!
The profile is considerably lower than other vintage necks, with a V apex that is softened to be barely noticeable. But the real secret to this new neck is found in what Martin refers to as its “skewed” shape. The deepest part of the neck is off-center and gradually changes position, to better fit into the nook of the hand where the palm and thumb come together. It adjusts to the shape of the hand as it moves up the neck, rather than expecting the hand to adjust to the shape of the neck. It simply must be experienced to be fully appreciated!
The Vintage Deluxe Profile is available with the High Performance Taper on the D-18 Modern Deluxe, D-28 Modern Deluxe, and 000-28 Modern Deluxe. It is also available with the wider Standard Taper on the OM-28 Modern Deluxe.
The 000-28 Modern Deluxe features the Vintage Deluxe neck profile.
The Modified V is found on guitars inspired by pre-war Martins, without the neck being nearly as thick in the upper frets, and not nearly as pointy in the V. The soft shape of the V fits well in a cupped palm, ideal for thumb-fretting or for players who do not like a flattened back to their neck.
Currently available examples of the Modified V profile can be found on the amazingly popular 000-28EC Eric Clapton signature model and the 00-DB Jeff Tweedy signature model, each made with a very comfortable short-scale 1-3/4” Modified V neck. And it can be found on the also-very-popular CEO-7 and its sister model the CEO-9, models designed by C. F. Martin IV in the slope-shoulder 00L body size with a short-scale 1-3/4” Modified V neck that has the 1930’s style heel shape for a slightly fuller feel than the Clapton and Tweedy models offer. All Modified V necks come with the Standard Taper fretboard.
Performing Artist Profile
The Performing Artist Profile debuted on the now retired Performing Artist Series of acoustic-electric Martins that ushered in the modern electronics now found across the entire Martin line. The shape is more of a wide, shallow C, which is a combination of the Modified Low Oval and Low Profile.
Although the first fret measurement of the PA Profile is a little deeper than those other two profiles, the depth is a little shallower by the time one gets to the 10th fret. The effect gives the feeling that the neck hardly changes at all in thickness, and makes it arguably the most like an “electric guitar neck” currently available on a Martin acoustic guitar.
All necks with the Performing Artist Profile come with the High Performance Taper, originally called the Performing Artist Taper. Current Martins models with this profile include the gorgeous GPCPA4 Shaded Top model, and all of the modern acoustic-electric guitars in the fabulously affordable Road Series and X Series.
Martin’s first efforts to offer a modern guitar neck that would be more familiar to players used to electric guitars came in the form of the Low Profile shape. Compared to the Modified Low Oval, it is a little flatter in the palm of the hand and drops off at the sides with a more gradual slope. In the upper frets it has a bit more of a C shape compared to the rounder D or O shape of the Modified Low Oval.
It was used for the Standard Series instruments from the 1980s until the conversion to the High Performance Neck in 2018. Today, the Low Profile remains popular among Custom Shop orders, and is sometimes used on limited edition models from the Custom Shop, like Maury’s Music’s exclusive T Spoon Phillips custom 000 model made with Guatemalan rosewood, an Adirondack spruce top, and many other special features like hide glue construction and the Authentic Series thin finish.
The Martin D-28 Authentic 1937 gets its own special replica neck.
Full Thickness Profile and the Authentic Series Necks
All the guitars in the Authentic Series are exacting replicas of the hand-carved neck of one specific vintage Martin, usually from the 1930s or earlier. Martin will be happy to use any of those Authentic necks on your personal Custom Shop order. And you may also request their Full Thickness profile, if you want a Martin neck from the 1960s or 1970s.
Maury has many close, personal friends at Martin, including the Custom Shop staff, with whom he has worked closely for many years. Give us a call if you want a highly personalized Martin guitar made just for you with the neck shape you love best!
Which neck is your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.
Again, we would like to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving and to thank our many loyal customers for their business.
As our pal Spoon is fond of saying this time of year, “Don’t forget to eat too much pie!” :D