Instruments & Gear: New Gear

Martin 000-17E Whiskey Sunset

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Great-sounding mahogany and spruce 000 includes Fishman electronics.

by Teja Gerken
December 12, 2016

Martin’s mid-size 14-fret 000 guitars offer a great balance between volume, bass response, and playing comfort, and their versatility makes them suitable to just about any musical style. The latest 000 in Martin’s line is the 000-17E Whiskey Sunset, part of the company’s recently revamped 17 series. The instrument, built with mahogany back and sides and a Sitka spruce top, has a new look for Martin that combines its vintage style with the simple appointments and satin finish of prewar catalog guitars. The 000-17E is, of course, built to Martin’s high standards, with high-quality woods and the impeccable craftsmanship the company is known for.

The 000-17E Whiskey Sunset sounds the way a mahogany-and-spruce 000 should. It has a well-balanced, bright and clear tonal quality with plenty of volume and responds well to a variety of playing styles. The guitar’s short 24.9-inch scale makes it easy on the hands, and the relatively wide string spacing will appeal to fingerstyle players.

The 000-17E we checked out includes the optional Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics, which combines a bridge-plate-mounted transducer with an Acoustic Matrix undersaddle pickup. Two sets of soundhole-mounted dials control volume, tone, and the amount of transducer signal that is added to the undersaddle pickup. Plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini, the amplified sound of the 000-17E was present and natural, and the “Enhance” control easily allows you to get a variety of sounds by adding more or less of the transducer’s signal to the basic sound.

The 000-17E Whiskey Sunset is a cool new twist on a proven design that includes a great pickup system. Martin’s new 17 series also includes the 000-17E Black Smoke, which is the same guitar with a black finish.

SPECS: 14-fret 000-size body. Solid Sitka spruce top with scalloped X-bracing. Solid mahogany back and sides. Select hardwood neck with simple dovetail joint. Rosewood fingerboard and bridge. 24.9-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Open-gear tuning machines. Made in the USA. $2,549 (list).


Category: Instruments & Gear

Comments and Discussion

Posted by TejaGerken on
Hi Rick,
Thanks for your note. The guitar in the demo was stock, as described in the Martin specs: As such, it didn't have a torrefied top, and I'm guessing it was strung with Martin Retro Lights. It's been more than a year since I played the guitar, but I remember liking it a lot, and thinking that it sounded a lot like some 000-18s that I've played, which makes sense, given the wood combination. And I do like the stock Fishman electronics, but it's a fairly sophisticated system that will take some experimenting to get the best results from, and it will also depend on what you're playing through. But ultimately, choosing a guitar is a very personal decision, and it's possible that the 000-17E just isn't the best match for what you're looking for.

I hope this helps,

Teja Gerken
Peghead Nation
Posted by Rick Chorebanian on
Teja I have been following your reviews for quite some time. I think you play well and offer great information well presented. I have to say I wanted one of these in the worst way. I picked one up and brought it home and returned it. I played four of them and could not warm up to this guitar. Imo, the sound unplugged was lacking something. Maybe finger style it's ok or single notes flat picked but it stops there for me. Plugged in I found in confusing to dial in a sound and it sounded like fake sound, nothing like an acoustic guitar. What strings are you using in this video? Looks like Martin Retro? Is the guitar you are playing have a tortified top? I would reconsider this guitar if I'm missing something but I just could not warm up to this guitar and all the while was wondering what the heck Martin missed here, Help!
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