In recent years, Martin Guitars has produced a flurry of new models. Everything from highly ornate museum pieces to artist-endorsed working guitars, in every size and style, are being made in Pennsylvania at the Martin factory, as well as low-priced imports for the budget minded. There was a time when there were only a limited number of choices in their line, but modern tastes are more varied, and contemporary building techniques allow for a wide range of choices.
Bluegrass pickers tend to be a bit more mindful of the traditions Martin established in the last century, preferring the tried and true models that have stood the test of time. And the company has kept them in mind with a growing line of vintage reproductions that copy every detail of the classic dreadnoughts and smaller body guitars of the early-to-mid 20th century.
In particular, their Authentic series is finding favor with flatpickers, who respect the fact that Martin builds this line of guitars just as they used to do. Higher grade woods are set aside for these instruments, which are hand cut and shaped in the old school fashion, and assembled using hide glue. To create this series of guitars, Martin has taken exceptional vintage examples of their most popular models, and analyzed their measurements under a CAT scanner designed for studying antiques. These measurements are then meticulously followed in building the Authentic replicas.
They even offer distressed models which closely resemble an older guitar that has been played for 50 years, and use an artificial aging process to elicit the tonal coloration you expect from an instrument that has been well used and loved.
Of course, this sort of attention to detail doesn’t come cheap, but given the cost of vintage Martins from the 1930s and ’40s, many modern players looking for an exceptional guitar are expecting to part with some cash for their lifetime axe.
Martin now offers ten models in their Authentic line, with more being added each year, starting at about $6,000 retail and going up to as much as $65,000 for the new D45S 1936 aged. But most of the Authentic are below $10,000 and many dealers will order them for you at a lower price. They take a while to receive, but new owners report a high degree of satisfaction.
One that should appeal to grassers is the D28 Authentic 1937 Aged model, which looks for all the world like an 80 year old guitar. This herringbone model has been distressed and aged to appear like a vintage instrument, which they believe sounds like one as well. They use a much thinner finish, and heat-treated wood, to create the look and feel of an old dreadnaught.
This video explains more about the process Martin uses to age this model, which they just started using last year, and how they copied all the details of an historic instrument, including wear patterns from prolonged use.
There is also a D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged guitar available.
You can learn many more details about the Authentic Martin guitars online.