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Martin Custom Shop Super D
 
A supersized dreadnought that sounds as big as it looks.
November 30, 2022
 

Martin’s dreadnought guitar is among the most popular guitars ever made, and it has served as a template for countless versions and variations by Martin and other manufacturers. It’s not uncommon to see the shape used in a reduced size, even down to travel guitar dimensions. But what about increasing the dreadnought’s size? While this has likely been done by someone in the past, it was new territory when Martin announced its Custom Shop Super D earlier this year. Enlarging the body’s size to a width of 16⅜ inches (compared to 15⅝ on a standard dreadnought) yields about 20 percent more internal air volume, bringing the guitar into jumbo territory. Though the Super D is offered as a regular model, it is currently only available from Martin Custom Shop dealers. The guitar is available with either koa or Guatemalan rosewood back and sides, and we recently had a chance to check out the koa version. In this video, San Francisco Bay Area flatpicking ace Jim Nunally and I demonstrate the guitar in the Peghead Nation video studio.

As a Custom Shop guitar, the Super D is built with a grade of woods typical for high-end Martins. The Sitka top has been treated with Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) torrefaction process, and it’s a beautifully even-grained piece of wood. The koa used for the back and sides is on the lighter end of the color spectrum for the species and features attractive figuring. Martin chose a three-piece back for the Super D, and the two bookmatched outer pieces are offset by the center wedge, which has a different grain pattern. A pair of zig-zag style strips is used between the three back pieces. Most of the guitar’s appointments are similar to a style 28. The top has herringbone purfling, but instead of the standard black-and-white pattern, the Super D has a tricolor style, which adds a reddish-brown element to the design. The ebony fingerboard has long-pattern diamonds and square position markers, and the peghead is home to a set of open-gear Grover tuners.  

The Super D’s XL size is apparent before the actual guitar rests on your lap. Even the case is significantly larger than a standard dreadnought. Once the guitar is on your lap, it definitely feels big, but the reward is found on the first strum. Tonally, the Super D is larger than the sum of its parts, and its sound can only be described as huge! Fortunately, the supersizing of the guitar only applies to the body; the scale length is the same 25.4 inches as on a standard dreadnought, and the Super D has Martin’s familiar high-performance taper neck with a low-oval shape and a width of 1¾ inches at the nut. While physically smaller players may find the guitar a bit to wrestle with, I didn’t find it uncomfortable to play, and its excellent setup made for great playability. 

Both Jim and I were taken by the guitar’s big dynamic range. It sounded monstrous when Jim dug in with his flatpick, yet it offered delicious tonal complexity when played softer, and I greatly enjoyed playing fingerstyle on it in open-G tuning. I would even say that the guitar offered a more responsive fingerstyle voice than most dreadnoughts, and it would make a wonderful guitar for playing in acoustic settings in a variety of styles. 

Bigger isn’t automatically better, but in the case of the Super D, Martin has created much more than a novelty. The guitar has power to spare, is fun to play, and hey, it’s definitely a conversation starter! 

SPECS: 14-fret super dreadnought body. Solid VTS-treated Sitka spruce top. Scalloped X-bracing. Three-piece koa back. Koa sides. Genuine mahogany neck with dovetail joint. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Open back Gotoh tuning machines. Made in the USA. $4,999. Martinguitar.com

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© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com
 
 
    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com