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4 Martin classical guitar models – Rare beauties from the masters

martin classical guitar

Martin is, without a doubt, the biggest name on the list of acoustic guitar manufacturers. Any steel string player who can afford a Martin is virtually sure to own it.

While Martin’s design and craftsmanship of steel string guitars are unparalleled, they’ve never ventured too deep into the world of classical guitars.

Nonetheless, several Martin classical guitars exist, and it is my pleasure to introduce them to you.

If you are a newbie and looking for your very first guitar, we suggest you check out our list of guitars for beginners!

Martin 000C12-16E Nylon Cutaway Acoustic-Electric Guitar Natural – 2199$

The Martin 000C12-16E is an extraordinary nylon-string acoustic-electric guitar, merging Martin’s rich heritage of craftsmanship with contemporary design and electronics. This model offers musicians an exciting opportunity to explore the unique tonal textures of nylon guitar while enjoying the exceptional playability and quality for which Martin is renowned. This is the only nylon model listed on Martin’s official website to be currently in production.

Image By Martin

Key Features

Body Design

The 000C12-16E showcases Martin’s 000 body shape, providing a comfortable, ergonomic playing experience. This body design balances the projection and resonance of the guitar while ensuring playability.

Tonewood

The guitar boasts a solid Sitka spruce top, known for its responsiveness and dynamic range, and its back and sides are made of mahogany, offering a warm, rich tone with pronounced midrange presence.

Long scale length

The model comes with a whopping 26.44” scale length, allowing ample space between frets for easier fingering.

Electronics

Equipped with Martin’s Fishman Matrix VT Enhance NT2 electronics, this model ensures that its captivating 12-string tones can be accurately amplified and enjoyed on stage or in the studio. The onboard electronics preserve the instrument’s natural sound while providing comprehensive tonal control.

Craftsmanship

True to Martin’s legacy, the 000C12-16E is crafted with meticulous attention to detail, featuring high-quality materials, elegant inlays, and a protective finish that enhances its aesthetic appeal.

Pros and Cons of the Martin 000C12-16E

Pros

  • Comfortable 000 body shape for extended playability.
  • Onboard Fishman electronics for quality amplification.

Cons

  • 12-string guitars may require more frequent tuning and maintenance.
  • Slightly higher cost compared to some 6-string acoustic guitars.

Unavailable Classical Guitars of Martin


Martin 000C – 1800$

The Martin 000C is a small-bodied nylon string guitar known for its superior craftsmanship and rich tonal qualities. The classical model has been discontinued by Martin, but it is possible to find previously produced ones.

Image By Martin

Key Features

Body Design

The 000C features a comfortable 000 body shape, perfect for those who prefer a smaller, more ergonomic design. This style enhances playability and comfort.

Tonewoods

The top is constructed with solid Sitka spruce, offering vibrant resonance and responsiveness. Complementing this, the Indian rosewood back and sides contribute to a warm, rich, and well-balanced tonal character.

Cutaway

Many versions of the 000C incorporate a Venetian cutaway, making access to the upper frets effortless and improving its versatility for various musical styles.

Nylon Strings

The guitar is strung with nylon strings, providing a mellower, warmer tonal palette suitable for classical and fingerstyle playing, offering a traditional, mellow sound.

Electronics

Some models come with built-in electronics, making them ideal for live performances and recording, with the ability to amplify the guitar while preserving its natural, warm acoustic qualities.

Craftsmanship

Known for meticulous attention to detail and top-notch build quality, Martin ensures that the 000C maintains this tradition, complete with exquisite inlays and a high-quality finish.

Pros and Cons of the Martin 000C

Pros

  • The body is small and comfortable to hold
  • Fusion of classical design with modern cutaway for convenience
  • Hi-fidelity built-in electronics

Cons

  • Potential higher cost compared to some classical guitars.
  • Cutaway design may alter the traditional appearance (based on personal preference).

Limited Edition Guitars

Martin, throughout their centuries-old history, has crafted limited edition vintage classical guitars. Such notable models include:

Vintage 1971 Martin 00-18C

The Vintage 1971 Martin 00-18C is a classic and highly sought-after nylon-string acoustic guitar that represents a beautiful piece of musical history. It was a limited edition model, now only available second-hand. A timeless piece of work.

Image By Guitar Center

Key Features

Body Design

The 00-18C features the 00 body shape, which is slightly smaller and more comfortable compared to larger classical guitars. This design is ideal for fingerstyle playing.

Tonewoods

This vintage Martin model sports a solid Sitka spruce top, known for its responsive and balanced sound. The back and sides are crafted from mahogany, imparting a warm tone that complements the spruce top.

Vintage Aesthetics

The 1971 00-18C often showcases vintage-style appointments, including herringbone top purfling, an ebony fingerboard and bridge, and a slotted headstock, which enhances its nostalgic appeal.

Want to know more about guitar headstock? Click here!

Open Gear Tuning machines

The open-gear tuners assure stability, precision in tuning, and ease of use.

Craftsmanship

Martin’s commitment to craftsmanship is evident in this vintage model. Each 1971 00-18C is a testament to the company’s dedication to detail and precision.

Vintage 1954 Martin 00-28G

The Vintage 1954 Martin 00-28G is a highly esteemed and collectible steel-string acoustic guitar that hails from an era renowned for its exceptional craftsmanship. Martin Guitar Company’s 00-28 series, with its iconic combination of small body size and premium tonewoods, has long been coveted by guitar enthusiasts and players seeking vintage excellence.

Key Features

Body Design

The 00-28G features a compact and comfortable 00 body size, making it a versatile instrument for a variety of playing styles. Its smaller size delivers a focused, balanced tonal response.

Tonewoods

This vintage Martin model typically includes a solid Sitka spruce top, known for its clarity and projection, paired with gorgeous Brazilian rosewood back and sides. Brazilian rosewood is highly prized for its rich, resonant, and complex tonal qualities.

Vintage Aesthetics

The 1954 00-28G exudes vintage charm with classic appointments such as herringbone top purfling, an ebony fingerboard and bridge, and a slotted headstock. These vintage details contribute to its visual allure and authenticity.

Historical value

The guitar is 69 years old as of today, making it a relic of an age long gone. This makes its price undeterminable by wood quality or craftsmanship alone. 

How do guitar bodies change with age?

Guitar bodies can change with age in several ways, and these changes can have a significant impact on the instrument’s tone, playability, and appearance.

These changes are often more pronounced in acoustic guitars but can also affect electric guitars to some extent. Here are some of the common ways in which guitar bodies change with age:

Tonewood Aging

Over time, the tonewoods used in the guitar’s construction, such as the top, back, and sides, can mature and mellow, leading to an enhancement in the instrument’s tonal qualities. This aging process can result in a richer, more resonant, and complex sound.

Finish and Patina

Finish Cracking

The finish on the guitar can develop tiny cracks or crazing lines as it ages. This is more common in nitrocellulose finishes, and while it may be seen as a cosmetic flaw, it can also contribute to the guitar’s vintage appeal.

Patina

The exposed wood surfaces can develop a patina over time, often referred to as “aging” or “yellowing.” This can give the guitar a vintage look and is especially noticeable on acoustic guitar tops.

Binding and Purfling

The binding around the edges of the guitar can sometimes separate or show signs of shrinking due to changes in temperature and humidity over the years. While this can affect the guitar’s appearance, it’s generally not a structural issue.

Neck and Fingerboard

Neck Settling

The neck of a guitar can settle into a slightly different angle over time. This can affect playability, but it’s often correctable through neck adjustments.

Fret Wear

As the guitar is played, the frets can wear down, affecting playability and intonation. Periodic fret dressing or refretting may be necessary to maintain optimal playability.

Bracing and Structural Changes:

Brace Alterations

In acoustic guitars, the bracing under the top can undergo subtle changes over time, which can impact the guitar’s tone and resonance. These changes may be influenced by fluctuations in humidity and temperature.

Age-Related Cracks

Guitars may develop cracks in the wood due to changes in humidity and temperature. These cracks, if not properly repaired, can affect the instrument’s structural integrity and tone.

Repair Work

Older guitars often have signs of past repair work, which can include repaired cracks, reglued joints, and replaced parts. The quality of these repairs can vary and influence the guitar’s value and sound.

Tone and Sound Changes

Tonal Maturation

With age, the guitar’s tone can mature and become more balanced and resonant. Some vintage guitars are highly sought after for their well-aged sound.

Playability:

Action and Feel

The guitar’s playability can change with age as the neck settles, frets wear down, and other factors come into play. Periodic setup adjustments can help maintain optimal playability.

Why Vintage Classical Guitars Are Highly valued?

Vintage guitars are highly valued for several reasons, including their historical significance, rarity, craftsmanship, and often superior tonal qualities. Here are some key factors that contribute to the high value of vintage guitars:

Historical Significance

Vintage guitars are often associated with important moments in the history of music. Some iconic models have been played by legendary musicians and featured in famous recordings, adding to their historical allure.

Craftsmanship

Many vintage guitars were handcrafted with meticulous attention to detail by skilled luthiers. The craftsmanship and build quality of these instruments often surpass modern mass-produced guitars.

Tonal Quality

Vintage guitars may exhibit tonal characteristics that are highly prized by musicians. As the wood used in these guitars has aged and matured, it can produce a richer, more complex, and well-balanced sound.

Rarity

Vintage guitars are often rare due to limited production runs, discontinuation, or even the passage of time. Certain vintage models are sought after because they are hard to find.

Materials

Vintage guitars may feature tonewoods that are no longer readily available or harvested, contributing to their unique sound and desirability. This can be especially true for older, now-protected wood species.

Collectibility

Vintage guitars are often collectible items for enthusiasts and investors. Collectors are willing to pay a premium for instruments that are part of their collection, increasing demand and value.

Scarcity

As vintage guitars age, they may become more scarce due to damage, loss, or irreversible alterations. This scarcity can drive up the prices of existing examples.

Cultural and Iconic Value

Some vintage guitars are associated with specific musical movements, genres, or cultural phenomena, making them even more valuable to collectors and enthusiasts.

Investment Potential

Many collectors and investors see vintage guitars as a sound investment. They often appreciate value over time, making them an attractive asset class.

Unique Features

Vintage guitars may have unique or unusual features that set them apart from modern instruments, further enhancing their appeal.

Conclusion

Martin classical guitar models may be few in variety and most are not in production anymore, but they are works of art that deserve a place in your collection. Especially the vintage models are rare beauties holding significant historical value.

Martin Classical Guitar FAQ

Rafsan Ahmed

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