Martin custom-shop tribute to bluegrass guitar legends.
by Teja Gerken
August 29, 2016
This year marks the 100th anniversary of Martin’s dreadnought design, and the company is celebrating the milestone with several limited-edition instruments. One particularly interesting release is the CS-Bluegrass-16, which is inspired by Clarence White’s famous 1935 D-28, owned and played for the last 40 years or so by Tony Rice.
Built in Martin’s custom shop, the CS-Bluegrass-16 features meticulous craftsmanship and first-rate materials. Martin chose Guatemalan rosewood instead of the endangered Brazilian rosewood that would have been used on vintage D-28s. The wood on the guitar Martin sent us to check out looked beautiful, with rich coloring and straight grain, not unlike that of a vintage Brazilian rosewood instrument. The guitar also has an Adirondack spruce top treated with Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VST) thermo-curing process. Hide glue is used throughout, and the instrument is finished with Martin’s ultrathin Vintage Gloss finish.
Like the Clarence White/Tony Rice guitar, the CS-Bluegrass-16 features an enlarged soundhole, white neck binding, and a “dalmation” pickguard. It also has a relatively wide neck that measures 1¾ inches at the nut, matched with string spacing of 2⁵/₃₂ inches at the saddle.
The CS-Bluegrass-16 is a powerful guitar. Incredibly loud, the guitar would have no problem being heard in a bluegrass band or other situation where acoustic volume is important. But the instrument isn’t all about brute force; its excellent dynamic range also allows it to sound sweet when picked softly, and its sound has a lot of complexity no matter how it’s played. The CS-Bluegrass-16 is limited to 100 instruments, so its owners will form an exclusive club. But until they’re all sold, try to find a Martin dealer with one in stock so you can experience the sound and playability of the company’s latest interpretation of a hot-rodded dreadnought.
SPECS: 14-fret dreadnought body. Solid Adirondack spruce top with Vintage Tone System treatment. Forward-shifted, scalloped X-bracing. Solid Guatemalan rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck with dovetail joint. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. Hide glue construction. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at saddle. Waverly tuning machines. Made in the USA. $7.999 (list). Martinguitar.com
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