Gear Review: Martin Expands Modern Deluxe Acoustics Series

Martin Guitars made a major expansion this year with its popular Modern Deluxe series adding seven new instruments to the collection. Modern Deluxe guitars are built for performance with added custom features and embracing technology to push the boundaries of Martin Vintage instruments. Each of these new models has several common features and some differences as well.

All guitars feature Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) which uses a blend of roasting to age the top and wood spacers to match a particular era in time. Although we don’t know the exact magical method Martin used, we do know that roasting requires removing moisture from the wood and then adding a smaller controlled percentage of moisture back to give the wood an aged sound. The new Modern Deluxe also features Sitka spruce tops, dovetail neck joints and protein glue to secure the necks. They all use Martin’s new Liquidmetal bridge pins to secure the strings and increase volume and a composite carbon fiber bridge plate under the bridge. Each of the modern models also features a redesigned asymmetrical neck shape for more comfortable and faster play.

The 000-18 Modern Deluxe retails for $3,599 and has an East Indian rosewood binding and the 1930s script logo on the headstock. The 00-28 Modern Deluxe has a European flame maple binding and the vintage script logo too – it retails for $4,199. The 000-42 Modern Deluxe Martin Acoustic has European flame maple binding on the headplate, body and fingerboard and sells for $7,199. On the D-45 Modern Deluxe (always a head-turning guitar), Martin went all out with the classic mother-of-pearl encrusted torch logo in the headstock and it sells for $10,499. The D-42 Modern Deluxe has many features of the D-45 and is priced at $7,199.

My two favorites in this collection are the 0012-28 Modern Deluxe and 012-28 Modern Deluxe, both of which are parlor shaped guitars. Twelve fret guitars in this configuration tend to be more forgiving with string tension and playability. I predict these guitars will be very popular this year for Martin, as many musicians seek out smaller guitars for a change in tone and writing. Both models are priced at $4,399.

Manufacturing quality: Martin has high quality control standards, and they are reflected in these new models. The craftsmen and women who create these instruments invest time and skill to make great guitars.

Sound and Tone: All of these models sound great although they are also very different due to their varying body shapes, dimensions, and VTS treatment on the tops and straps. Updated Modern Deluxe features such as deck pins and carbon fiber deck plate provide more volume than standard models.

Material: The new Modern Deluxe models all come with gold tuners, some closed and some open gear depending on the model. Liquid metal bridge pins help increase volume with carbon fiber strings and bridge plate. Some of the updates like the 1930s script logo or the torch logo are purely cosmetic.

Advantages: Like other Martin guitars, these new Modern Deluxe models are designed to last a lifetime if cared for. Enhanced features make them more appealing to players, performers, songwriters, and young musicians while maintaining their iconic shapes and Martin style. Made and made in the USA guitars that will sound better the more you play them.

The inconvenients: They are a bit expensive. If you’re looking for a daily player for songwriter tours or jam sessions, a Modern Deluxe Series guitar might not be the best choice. These aren’t drummers you keep in your trunk or backseat, these are professional guitars.

Verdict: Many of us are fans of Martin acoustic guitars, but also wish they pushed the boundaries of tone and playability more than the iconic vintage instruments they are best known for. The Modern Deluxe series represents the form of Martin, but the upgrades have been added to make them more appealing to today’s players. It’s like a fusion of the past and the future and here are the Modern Deluxe guitars. Traditionalists won’t be fans of these instruments, but that’s okay because there are plenty of guitars to play and choose from. I’m a fan of the Vintage Tone System which makes a new guitar sound like an old one at a fraction of the price of an historic guitar. In addition, Modern Deluxe guitars offer more stable tuning, they are louder and the asymmetrical neck plays much easier.

This is a great expansion from Martin to bring new, young players to the table and some professionals who want more from their guitars. Martin isn’t resting on his laurels by only producing the same iconic acoustics he’s known for. These new Modern Deluxe acoustics push the boundaries, which is good.

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