A limited edition model of a classic Martin dreadnought.
by Teja Gerken
December 18, 2017
Martin first introduced the style 21 in the mid-1800s, and while there have been some variations, style 21 can essentially be thought of as style 18, but with rosewood back and sides instead of mahogany, typically making these models a more-affordable alternative to Martin’s popular style-28 rosewood guitars. Models with the style-21 designation have been part of the company’s line for most of the time since it was introduced, but they’ve never been as popular as the more common 18-, 28-, and 45-style instruments. The D-21, originally produced from 1955 to 1969, has been among the better known style-21 guitars, and this year, Martin is producing a limited-edition run of the model. We had a chance to check out a D-21 Special in the Peghead Nation video studio.
The D-21 Special is a dreadnought built with a Sitka spruce top and Indian rosewood back and sides. Over the years, style-21 guitars have been built with either ebony or rosewood fingerboards and bridges, and the new D-21 Special’s are rosewood, the same as the D-21s Martin built in the 1950s. Rosewood is also used for the headplate. The guitar has vintage-style forward-shifted scalloped bracing and open-back tuners, and appointments include a multi-stripe rosette, matching multi-stripe purfling, black body binding, and mother-of-pearl dot position markers. It also has Martin’s high-performance-taper neck, which has a modified-low-oval shape and measures 1¾ inches at the nut.
The D-21 Special we checked out sounded great. It had the dynamic response, muscular tone, and large frequency range you’ll hear in fine examples of this instrument, and it would work well in any setting where a powerful acoustic voice is desired. It had excellent definition when flatpicking single notes, and it responded well to a softer attack, making it great for fingerstyle players as well.
All in all, the D-21 Special is an excellent rosewood dreadnought. With a limited edition of just 300, the supply won’t last forever, so interested guitarists should definitely act quickly.
SPECS: 14-fret dreadnought body. Solid Sitka spruce top with forward-shifted, scalloped X-bracing. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Hardwood neck with dovetail joint. Indian rosewood fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Open-gear tuning machines. Made in the USA. $3,149 (list). Martinguitar.com
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