Founded 175 years ago, in 1833, and still located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, acoustic guitars from family-owned C.F. Martin & Co. have gained a truly legendary reputation worldwide. Few acoustics can hold a candle to a hand-crafted Martin, which is why most world-class musicians own at least one of these magnificient instruments.
Highly regarded and most collectible are guitars from Martin's "Vintage Series." Carefully hand-built by Old World luthiers to vintage specifications, they provide the breathtaking beauty and heavenly sound of a vintage guitar, combined with advanced built methods, truly the best of both worlds.
Part of Martin's "Vintage Series," my 000-28EC Signature Model presented here is largely a faithful recreation of Eric Clapton's 1938 Martin (a $50K instrument), with some thoughtful input from the master himself. Featuring Clapton's trademark V-shaped neck, it's exactly the custom guitar Eric would have ordered from C.F. Martin back in the 1930s, had he had the chance, and it's one of the guitars he used during his "Unplugged" tour.
Purchased in November 2007 from Guitar Center in Sherman Oaks, California, I got the guitar with the luxurious, TKL-made Martin 6-lock hardshell case shown.
List price for this guitar at the time of this writing is $4,149.00; street price from most major authorized retailers is $3,099.00 or close to it.
Since purchasing it, I played this Martin just a few times. It still looks brand new and emits the aroma of freshly cut rosewood, literally!
When not in use, the guitar rests in the original hardshell case. Once a week I use a humidifier to keep its condition "like new" while allowing the wood to age slowly and gracefully, as intended.
Factory interior label shows C.F. Martin IV's and Eric Claptons' signatures and the guitar's production
The guitar's body is made exclusively from the finest woods available on planet Earth. The bookmatched top is made from select quartersawn, solid Sitka spruce, which is toned using a vintage toner that gives the guitar a color to die for. Can wood be anymore beautiful than this?
The guitar also features a hand-beveled tortoise pickguard.
Back and the sides are made from premium East Indian rosewood. Since genuine ivory cannot be sold legally anymore (something that I support wholeheartedly), the binding is made from grained ivoroid material; rosette and soundboard inlays are genuine Herringbone.
Solid mahagony headstock shows old-style Martin & Co. company logo and comes equipped with nickel-plated, open-geared, butterbean tuners that hold the tune perfectly. Understated elegance, indeed.
Click on any of the above images for a full-size view
Details, from left to right:
- Ebony fingerboard with diamonds-and-squares abalone inlay pattern
- Eric Clapton's signature inlaid in mother-of-pearl between the 19th and 20th frets
- Solid mahagony bridge
The Martin 000-28EC has been a desirable collectible since its introduction in 1996 and will continue to be one forever. Paramount to its value is to keep the guitar in as new condition as possible. Since even dead wood is alive, keeping it humidified without any drastic temperature changes is the most important key. The other one is use. The less it is used, the better.
Isn't that sad and ironic at the same time?
Created on Monday, August 4, 2008.