A look at Martin’s Classical and Magnifico Premium strings and the hybrid 000C Nylon guitar.
by Teja Gerken
August 20, 2018
C.F. Martin and Co. may be primarily known for its iconic steel-string guitars, but it has always had instruments designed for nylon or gut strings in its line, and as one of the industry’s major string manufacturers, it produces several nylon string sets. Earlier this year, Martin introduced its new Magnifico Premium strings, joining the company’s standard Classical strings. In this video, we take a look at both sets, as well as a Martin 000C Nylon acoustic-electric crossover guitar.
The new Magnifico Premium strings ($10.99) are the result of a collaboration with Italian string specialist Aquila. Seeking to develop a string that combines contemporary tuning stability and excellent intonation with some of the tonal characteristics of gut strings, Martin first began working with Aquila on its ukulele strings and realized that Aquila’s proprietary synthetic material was also an excellent choice for guitar strings. On the Magnifico Premium sets, which are available in normal and hard tension, the gray-colored trebles are matched with silver-plated basses.
Martin also continues to offer its standard Classical strings ($5.99), which have clear crystal nylon trebles and are available with silver-plated (hard tension) or 80/20 bronze (normal tension) basses. These strings have a more traditional nylon-string sound and, because they have ball-ends, can also be used on instruments with pin bridges that don’t allow for tie-on strings.
Martin sent us a 000C Nylon guitar strung with the new Magnifico Premium strings. A hybrid instrument that combines dimensions and elements from Martin’s popular 12-fret 000 steel-string guitar with nylon-string features, the 000C Nylon has neck dimensions and a general feel that will be familiar to players used to steel-strings, but, because it is constructed with the lighter tension of nylon strings in mind, it also delivers a sound similar to a standard classical guitar. While most hybrid nylon-string instruments are either modified classical guitars or based on contemporary steel-string designs, the 000C Nylon’s similarity to Martin’s traditional 000 will have great appeal for players familiar with those instruments.
The 000C Nylon is built with a Sitka spruce top and sapele back and sides. Tortoiseshell-style binding and a herringbone rosette are visual reminders of the guitar’s steel-string roots, as is the surprising choice of an X-braced top (most nylon-string guitars, including most earlier Martins, have fan or lattice bracing). The guitar has a long 26.44-inch scale, and its slotted peghead is outfitted with classical-style tuning machines. Our demo guitar had Fishman F1 Analog electronics, but Martin recently made a switch to Fishman’s VT Enhance NT1 system.
As I expected, the 000C Nylon sounded great played fingerstyle, and worked very well for jazz-based material. What surprised me was how nice classical repertoire sounded on the guitar, with a lovely “growly” bass and great balance throughout. I was also impressed with the feel and sound of the Magnifico Premium strings, which have the excellent tuning stability and intonation that Martin promises and are a great tonal match for the 000C Nylon.
Plugging the guitar into a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge amp confirmed my hunch that the 000C Nylon would be an excellent choice for a steel-string guitarist who needs a nylon-string sound for gigs. Based around Fishman’s Acoustic Matrix undersaddle pickup, the system offers practical features and delivers the 000C Nylon’s sound with great accuracy.
Overall, the 000C Nylon is a very cool guitar that will have broad appeal for nonclassical players who want to expand their tonal palette or who need a nylon-string sound in professional settings.
000C NYLON SPECS: 12-fret 000 body with cutaway. Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid sapele back and sides. X-bracing. Select hardwood neck. Richlite fretboard and bridge. 26.44-inch scale. 1⅞-inch nut width. 2⁵/₁₆-inch string-spacing at saddle. Open-gear tuning machines. Fishman VT Enhance NT1 electronics. Made in USA. $2,499 (list). Martinguitar.com
Related Videos | C.F. Martin and Co.
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