Martin’s Standard Series, Reimagined for the Twenty-First Century
In 2018, Martin Guitars released the Reimagined Standard Series, with upgraded features for acoustic guitar models made in Styles 18 and above. This is why you will see (2018) next to the name of a Martin guitar model, e. g. 00-18 (2018) or D-42 (2018.)
This does not mean the guitar for sale on our website was made in 2018. Rather, it signifies that this brand new Martin guitar was built with the revised specs that were unveiled at the Winter NAMM Show in January of 2018.
This is also why the classic D-28 now has the suffix (2017). The most celebrated acoustic guitar in the world, the D-28 was given the honor of being released with its reimagined specifications on its own, at Summer NAMM 2017. It was the vanguard of the new Reimagined Standard Series instruments that followed.
Back to the Future
The specific designs of these excellent Martin guitars were improved upon with technological innovations, like Martin’s modern High Performance Neck, in combination with other upgrades, like their stylish retro aesthetic details, many of which were derived from the now-retired Vintage Series. Each model in the Reimagined Standard Series now has retro Antique White Binding and vintage Aging Toner that looks as if the world-class Sitka spruce soundboard has mellowed through decades of seasoning.
But while cosmetic changes add vintage mystique, and the structural changes in bracing and neck shape that now defined the Reimagined Standard Series has improved upon the tone and playability of each model, the core specs that define Style 28 or Style 45, et al, have been retained. So, the 000-28 is still a 000-28 and a D-45 is still a D-45, only better!
A Neck Made for the Height of Performance
The High Performance Neck is engineered for the music makers of today and beyond. It was invented by taking Martin’s comfortable Modified Low Oval Profile neck shape, first used on the progressive Aura Series models, and combining it with a fingerboard that has Martin’s modern High Performance Taper, which debuted in the Performing Artist Series of experimental acoustic-electric guitars for on-stage concerts.
Martin retired the PA Series when they decided to take its two most successful features and transfer them to the Standard Series of premiere professional acoustic guitars. These were the High Performance Taper, now used on all the models, and the state-of-the-art technology found only in Fishman’s Aura electronics, which became a standard feature on all Reimagined Standard Series E models, like the GPC-28E, HD-28E, and OM-28E – now with an even more advanced generation of that world-class pickup system.
The High Performance Taper has a 1-3/4” width at the nut, but at the 12th fret it measures 2-1/8”, providing string spacing in the first position that isn’t too cramped, while remaining sleek and fast in the upper frets. And the Modified Low Oval Profile fits naturally into the guitarist’s palm when playing chord progressions or lead riffs, while remaining low and smooth enough it is arc for comfortable barre chords or thumb-fretting.
Tim Teel, Martin’s Head of Instrument Design, told Maury that the decision to go with this neck for the new Reimagined Standard Series was inspired by the fact that the Custom Shop kept getting orders that requested the Modified Low Oval and High Performance Taper be put on guitars that normally came with the old the 1-11/16” necks or the wider 1-3/4” necks and had the Low Profile of the Standard Series or the Modified V of the Vintage Series. And so, by popular demand, the High Performance neck has become the default shaping, taper, and string spacing on almost every Martin made today.
But what sets the High Performance Neck on the Reimagined Standard Series apart from other Martin models is the fact it is also attached to the solid tonewood top, back, and sides by a traditional full-sized compound dovetail neck joint. The heel of the neck is shaped by a chisel in the hands of the master craftsman or craftswoman who fits it into a solid mahogany neck block, carved with such precision that it guarantees the most tone-producing energy possible makes its way from the vibrating strings to the sound chamber of the handmade body, to immerge from the musical instrument with a purity of tone that our friend Spoon Phillips equates to “a classical violin” and is the envy of the guitarmaking world.
The traditional dovetail neck joint is just one attribute that these twenty-first century Martins have in common with the legendary guitars made at C. F. Martin & Co. in previous eras, like the Folk Boom of the 1960s, the Martin’s Golden Era of the 1930s, and all the way back to 1800s. In fact, Martin took the best-loved models and features from the Standard Series, the Vintage Series, and the Performing Artist Series and combined them to create the new and improved Reimagined Standard Series.
Bracing and Rich Tone
Martin looked to its long heritage of awesome acoustic guitar tone when redesigning the top bracing to maximize power and richness, by taking the forward-shifted top bracing of the legendary pre-war Dreadnoughts and adapting it to every six-string model in the Reimagined Standard Series that is made with a large soundboard. Therefore, the tops of world-class Sitka spruce used on all guitars made in the Grand Performance (GP) Grand Auditorium (M aka 0000,) Dreadnought (D) and Jumbo (J) sizes are now made with forward-shifted bracing. This bracing pattern moves the main X-brace closer to the sound hole and far enough away from the thin maple bridge plate to free up the area of the top near and behind the bridge, which increases volume, bass response, and bottom end resonance.
Therefore, the cannon-like boom of the D-35 has been increased in caliber. The rich and resonant complexity of the top-of-the-line D-45 is even richer and more resonant. And the clear, open roar of a banjo-killing D-18 is as bracing as a prairie gale on a cloudless winter night. So too have the M-36, J-40, GPC-28E had their bass response turned up to increase the satisfying growl and purr of their respective bottom ends, thanks to forward-shifted braces.
The bracing on HD-28-12 twelve-string guitar is not officially forward-shifted, but has an X-brace placement designed to best balance tone, power, and stability when under the extra-impressive tension from twice as many strings. And boy sound it sounds extra-impressive!
As for smaller bodies, the 0, 00, and 000 models in the Reimagined Standard Series now all have the scalloped bracing that once was only found in the vintage reissue models of the Vintage Series. This makes each of these short-scale guitars exceptionally responsive to light, nuanced playing, while increasing the resonating frequencies radiating from the sound chamber, yet staying strong enough to transform heavy strumming into powerful projection without losing definition, just like the long-scale OMs that always had scalloped braces since they were resurrected in the early 1990s, seeing how they are inspired by the original Orchestra Models that were only built during the scalloped-bracing days of the early 1930s, predating all other 14-fret Martins.
Company CEO, Chris Martin, decided he did not want to charge guitarists a premium to obtain the much-desired looks of a vintage Martin. And since it was clear that most guitarists preferred the comfort of the High Performance Neck over the bulkier V necks of the Vintage Series instruments, the decision was made to retire the Vintage Series and to upgrade the Reimagined Standard Series with many retro Martin appointments at no extra cost to the consumer.
Now, all but one Martin made with 28 styling get herringbone top trim and the Diamonds and Squares fret position markers of a 1930s Martin. This goes along perfectly with their vintage-style scalloped bracing.
The exception here is the D-28 (2017). Since it is the lone 28 with the non-scalloped bracing introduced in 1946, which offers greater fundamental definition during flatpicking and when under heavy strumming, Martin adorns this legendary workhorse of a rosewood Martin dreadnought with the Art Deco styling used on the D-28 from the late 1940s until the present day. This décor includes the classic domino dot fret markers made from genuine mother-of-pearl, and multi-ply black and white line purfling inlaid around the edge of the Sitka spruce top, design elements copied by other acoustic guitar makers ever afterwards.
D-35 was introduced in 1965, with its accentuated bass and high end definition achieved through light, non-scalloped 1/4" bracing. The Reimagined D-35 now has the Aging Toner and Antique White Binding, while retaining the black and white ply purfling and sound hole rosette and large white dot fret makers unique to Style 35. And with its faux tortoise pickguard, it looks more like a 1965 D-35 than ever before. And it still gets the spectacular three-piece back of alternating rosewood grain, and the closed Rotomatic tuning machines of its vintage predecessors. The unique M-36 with its rosewood bridge and Grand Auditorium body size was introduced in the 1970s and has similar styling to the D-35, while putting out a balanced tone unique to this scalloped-braced model. But since the HD-35 has scalloped 1/4" bracing, it now gets the 1930s style Diamond and Squares fretboard markers and open vintage back tuners to go along with its herringbone top trim and back strips, even though Martin wasn’t making guitars with gorgeous three-piece backs way back when.
Now we come to the luxurious models adorned with high-color abalone shell by the expert inlay artists at C. F. Martin & Co. The J-40, D-41, D-42, OM-42, 000-42, and the top-of-the-line D-45 have all been upgraded to the Antique White binding, open back tuning machines and the High Performance Neck, while the Jumbo and Dreadnoughts all have forward-shifted scalloped bracing. They look, feel, and sound spectacular!
The most affordable rosewood model in the Reimagined Standard Series is the OM-21, which was upgraded from a rosewood fingerboard and bridge to black ebony when it was converted to the new specs that include the High Performance Neck and Aging Toner to the top that looks lovely against the dark faux tortoise bindings used on this model.
The models in the Reimagined Standard Series made with Genuine Mahogany back and sides are designated as Style 18. The D-18 and 000-18 had received their makeover before any of the other Standard Series models, when they were given scalloped bracing and the cosmetic styling taken from the D-18V in the Vintage Series and converted to the new High Performance neck, to see how they would be accepted by a guitar playing public – which started buying them like hotcakes! The 00-18 and 0-18 were added to the line, with the same scalloped bracing and 1930s looks as the retired 00-18V, to provide smaller, easy to play offerings at a very easy price.
Martin’s Reimagined Standard Series include the iconic musical instruments that have, for nearly a century, set the industry standard to which all other professional-level acoustic guitars must compare, no matter when they were made or in what nation around the globe. Many of these models had evolved individually over decades of design innovation and experimentation. But now, Martin has effectively standardized the Standard Series. As a result, they are more popular than ever!
Which of the Reimagined Standard Series models will be the most popular model in your home?
All Models Have Martin’s High Performance Neck and a Sitka Spruce Top with Aging Toner:
0-18 (2018) – Short-scale Concert size with scalloped 1/4" bracing, Genuine Mahogany back and sides, faux tortoise binding
00-18 (2018) – Short-scale Grand Concert size with scalloped 1/4" bracing, Genuine Mahogany back and sides, faux tortoise binding
000-18 (2018) – Short-scale Auditorium size with scalloped 1/4" bracing, Genuine Mahogany back and sides, faux tortoise binding
D-18 (2018) – Long-scale Dreadnought size with forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” bracing, Genuine Mahogany back and sides, faux tortoise binding
OM-21 (2018) – Long-scale Orchestra Model size with scalloped 1/4" bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, faux tortoise binding
00-28 (2018) – Short-scale Concert size with scalloped 1/4" bracing, Genuine Mahogany back and sides
000-28 (2018) – Short-scale Concert size with scalloped 5/16" bracing, Genuine Mahogany back and sides
OM-28 (2018) – Long-scale Orchestra Model size with scalloped 1/4" bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
OM-28E (2018) – Long-scale Orchestra Model size with scalloped 1/4" bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding, Fishman Aura Electronics
D-28 (2017) – Long-scale Dreadnought size with forward-shifted non-scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
GPC-28E (2018) – Long-scale Grand Performance size with forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding, Fishman Aura Electronics
HD-28 (2018) – Long-scale Dreadnought size with forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
HD-28E (2018) – Long-scale Dreadnought size with forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding, Fishman Aura Electronics
HD12-28 (2018) – Short-scale twelve-string Dreadnought size with non-scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
D-35 (2018) – Long-scale Dreadnought size with forward-shifted non-scalloped 1/4” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
HD-35 (2018) – Long-scale Dreadnought size with forward-shifted scalloped 1/4” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
M-36 (2018) – Long-scale Grand Auditorium size with forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides and bridge, Antique White binding
J-40 (2018) – Long-scale Jumbo size with forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
000-42 (2018) – Short-scale Auditorium size with scalloped 5/16" bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides
D-41 (2018) – Long-scale Dreadnought size with forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
D-42 (2018) – Long-scale Dreadnought size with forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
OM-42 (2018) – Long-scale Orchestra Model size with scalloped 1/4" bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding
D-45 (2018) – Long-scale Dreadnought size with forward-shifted non-scalloped 5/16” bracing, Indian Rosewood back and sides, Antique White binding