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  • Beautiful Ambertone Finish
  • Solid Spruce Top with Black Walnut Back and Sides
  • Full-Bodied and Articulate Tone
  • New Fishman VT Enhance
  • Pickup System
  • Hardshell Case Included
Street Price $2,099.00

When it comes to selecting an acoustic guitar, there are three categories that must be considered: Look, Feel and Tone.

The truth is that any guitar can “make the cut” by fulfilling at least two of the three aforementioned parameters, for example: a guitar that looks and feels great, but doesn’t have great tone can still be a beautiful living room adornment. A visually unappealing guitar that feels and sounds great can make an excellent “workhorse.” And a beautiful looking and sounding guitar with an uncomfortable fit can still be enjoyed in between hand cramps…

But when it comes to choosing that special acoustic guitar – the one to have and to hold, until death do you part – all the criteria must be met. The instrument should hold you as much as you hold it. It must inspire you visually; resistance ought to be futile. And the tone has to make you smile… every time you play.

It’s been a long time since I’ve admitted that an instrument has honestly and truly fulfilled each of the Look, Feel and Tone categories, but the Martin GPCE Black Walnut Ambertone is, in fact, a winner in every single department.

Upon opening the reassuringly sturdy hardshell case, one is treated to a beautiful Ambertone (think: desert sunset sunburst) gloss finish that highlights the tight grain of its solid spruce top. The soundhole is decorated with a variation on the familiar “Style 28” multi-stripe rosette, hearkening back to the D-28, one of Martin’s most recognizable guitars. White binding dresses the satin finished black walnut back and sides – a welcome pop of color against the natural brown wood tones. Both its bridge and fingerboard sport matching Richlite – a composite material whose jet-black uniformity I have always loved. Looking to the headstock, a Granadillo (Mexican Rosewood) headplate crowns the guitar with a golden, reddish-brown hue, complementing the Ambertone finish and creating aesthetic cohesion from head to toe.

In addition to a proper “setup” (which is always worth the investment), feel can be quantified by, more often than not, a combination of neck shape, nut width, body depth and body width. Martin’s “Modified Low Oval” is very satisfying, offering just the right amount of thickness to fill the hand, while maintaining a “fast” feel. This neck shape manages to “be there” when you need it and get out of the way when it’s time to fly. A 1.75” nut width offers plenty of spacing for fingerstyle, lead lines and comping along with both cowboy and jazz chords. Body depth and width at the crucial point where the instrument is tucked under the arm are measured at 4.25” deep and 15.75” wide – well within the range of comfort for the average-sized guitarist. Finally, a beautiful cutaway offers an invitation to feel right at home in the upper register of this Grand Performance model.

Because the Martin Grand Performance shape can be found somewhere on the spectrum between the 000/OM and Dreadnaught models, its inherent acoustic tone has characteristics from both of these models! First things first, this guitar has got volume. When strummed, it is very Dreadnought-like in nature with a “meaty,” full-bodied, resonant tone. However, when fingerpicked, it retains all the articulation of a smaller bodied guitar – especially with the included, fresh set of 92/8 Phosphor bronze strings. In addition, lead lines sing when played with a guitar pick, there is a natural compression and sustain as the notes are struck! All of these wonderful tonal qualities are due in part to the Grand Performance’s shape and the forward shifted scalloped bracing pattern, a Martin innovation that has revolutionized the way that a guitar “moves” and “moves air.” It’s an incredibly gratifying experience to hear from both player and audience perspective.

And as an added bonus, the Martin GPCE Black Walnut Ambertone comes pre-fitted with Fishman Transducers’ cutting edge acoustic guitar pickup system, the New Matrix VT Enhance! This system employs Fishman’s famed under-saddle piezo transducer with a “bridge plate mounted transducer,” designed to add dimension and capture the natural resonance and body of the guitar – all without any cuts into the wood! The amplified tone is beautiful and naturally represents all the wonderful qualities of this fine instrument. The output jack has been thoughtfully redesigned for easy access to the battery compartment, and the separation of the output jack and strap button has eliminated the stress that can so often ruin a guitar and its pickup system – a welcome update to previous systems!

Many years ago, my parents helped me purchase my first “professional” guitar, a Martin 000C-16RGTE Aura. This guitar has always been the measure, birthing the purchase parameters: Look, Feel and Tone. What a treat it is to share that the Martin GPCE Black Walnut Ambertone lives right up in the “premium guitar sweet spot” with a street price of $2,099.00. If you’re looking for a guitar to serve you well into your career, the search can end here – this one’s got it all.

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