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Martin GPCE Inception Maple
 
A highly innovative instrument featuring “skeletonized” bracing and sustainable woods.
January 22, 2024
 

With good reason, Martin is thought of as being heavily steeped in tradition. And indeed, not only has Martin influenced every other maker of steel-string flattop guitars, most of its models have body shapes or features that have been in use for decades. But in the last 20 years or so the company has also introduced many highly innovative instruments and designs. At this week’s NAMM show, Martin is officially releasing perhaps its most innovative new model yet: the GPCE Inception Maple. I had a chance to preview the guitar a few weeks ago, and in this video, I demo it in the Peghead Nation studio and discuss its unique combination of features and new design elements.

The GPCE Inception Maple is built with Martin’s grand performance body, which is among the company’s more recent body styles, and, as the guitar’s name indicates, maple is used for the Inception’s back and sides. However, like Martin’s well-known style 35, the back has a three-piece design, with a center wedge made from black walnut. Interestingly, walnut is also used for the guitar’s neck, fingerboard, bridge, and binding. It’s unusual to see a neck and fingerboard made from the same wood, and you have to look closely to see that they’re two separate pieces, as the coloring is almost identical. The top is made from FSC-certified European spruce, and the entire body has a lovely amber fade sunburst finish. 

OK, now to the more radical aspects of the GPCE Inception Maple. Martin is using the model to introduce what it calls “skeletonized” bracing, as well as sonic channels. The term “skeletonized” describes braces with strategically placed holes that reduce weight and change the airflow inside the body, while otherwise following what is essentially a standard scalloped X-pattern on the top and familiar lateral bracing on the back. In an attempt to further influence the internal airflow, Martin has developed what it calls sonic channels: grooves in sections of the top and back that are positioned to direct airflow and, by extension, sound waves developing inside the guitar. While the full extent of the skeletonizing can only be seen by sticking a mirror inside the guitar (the video includes several inside photos), some of it is visible through the soundhole. 

Tonally, I was impressed by how the GPCE Inception Maple combines a fundamentally traditional Martin voice with an extended dynamic range and contemporary feel. The guitar is super-responsive and great fun to play fingerstyle, but it also handles strumming duties very well. Its volume when played fingerstyle was especially impressive. I used it in a rehearsal with Peghead Nation Alternate Tunings Fingerstyle instructor Doug Young, and I immediately noticed that I had to restrain my picking hand to keep the volume balanced. The GPCE Inception Maple also includes L.R. Baggs’ acclaimed Anthem pickup system, which is more familiar as a high-end aftermarket choice than as a stock feature. Played through a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge, the system predictably delivered a great representation of the guitar’s acoustic sound, and based on my experience with the Anthem in other guitars, I’d feel very comfortable using it in any kind of performance situation.

The GPCE Inception Maple is a very cool new instrument that continues Martin’s dedication to sustainable woods while also adding several forward-thinking design elements. The result is a guitar that expands on the classic Martin DNA and sounds and plays great!

SPECS: Grand performance body. FSC-certified European spruce top. Maple back and sides with black walnut center wedge. Skeletonized bracing. Black walnut neck, fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Gold open gear tuners. L.R. Baggs Anthem electronics. Made in USA. $3,999. Martinguitar.com

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    ● 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