Martin’s latest 14-fret 00 combines vintage-style design with the latest in amplification technology.
by Teja Gerken
September 30, 2015
Martin’s Retro line of instruments combines some of the company’s most iconic vintage designs with custom-designed Fishman electronics. Having already introduced several OM and dreadnought models, Martin presented a Retro version of the classic 00-15 at the 2015 Summer NAMM show.
From a distance, the 00-15E Retro could easily be mistaken for a vintage guitar. Like other 15-series Martins, the guitar is built with an all-mahogany body and minimal appointments—there’s no body binding, simple dots are used as position markers in the fingerboard, and the rosette is a single ring. True to vintage 00 specs, the guitar has a short, 24.9-inch scale (some contemporary 00s, including the 00-15M, use a long, 25.4-inch scale), and a neck with a nut width of 1¾ inches. But while the neck on a vintage 00-15 would likely have a pronounced V shape, the 00-15E Retro has Martin’s modified low oval shape and Performing Artist neck taper, which give it a more modern feel.
Like other Retro series guitars, the instrument is outfitted with Fishman’s F1 Aura Plus electronics. Part of what makes the Retro guitars unique is that Martin has closely worked with Fishman to create custom Aura sound images for each specific model. For this guitar, Martin provided Fishman with a 1934 or 1935 (the exact year is unclear) 00-17 (also an all-mahogany instrument) from its museum to create the Aura patches.
The F1 Aura Plus electronics consist of an Acoustic Matrix pickup mounted under the guitar’s saddle and an onboard preamp. A small display shows which Aura patch is being used, and also functions as an onboard tuner. Two multifunction buttons do duty as volume and tone controls, and, with a push function, are used to scroll through settings and create custom sounds.
We found the 00-15E Retro to be a great-sounding small-body. The short scale made it very easy to play, and the mahogany top undoubtedly contributed to its warm, rich acoustic voice. Plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini, the guitar had a natural acoustic-electric sound, and the Aura presets added a significant dose of acoustic realism to the straight pickup signal.
In this video, Peghead Nation’s Teja Gerken, Scott Nygaard, and Mark Goldenberg (who used the guitar in two lessons of his Guitar Theory course) demonstrate the instrument played fingerstyle and with a flatpick, acoustically and amplified.
SPECS: 00-size body with 14-fret neck. Solid mahogany top, back, and sides. Hardwood neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 24.9-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Open-gear Grover tuners. Fishman F1 Aura Plus electronics. Made in USA. $2,549 list. martinguitar.com
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