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Martin SC-13E Special
 
A brand-new version of Martin’s innovative acoustic-electric.
January 26, 2022
 

When Martin introduced its SC-13E at the 2020 NAMM show, it quickly became one of the most-talked about instruments of the event. Not only did the model have a new body (which in itself is a rarity for Martin), its shape was asymmetrical, it had a deep cutaway, and most significantly, it had a completely adjustable neck joint. Designed with contemporary players who desire electric guitar–like playability in mind, the SC-13E ushered in a new era for Martin, and the instrument’s success indicates that the company’s intuition about the design was right on target. At the time of the SC-13E’s introduction, Martin promised additional models with similar features, but due to various factors related to COVID-19, the company has only now expanded the line. I recently had a chance to check out the trio of new instruments, and in this video, I demonstrate the SC-13E Special Burst and discuss the standard SC-13E Special (the two models only differ in their finish). And we’ll be featuring a demo of the new lower-cost SC-10E very soon. 

The SC-13E Special features the same fundamental elements shared by all the SC models. Besides the original body shape, this includes the revolutionary Sure Align neck joint design, which uses a dovetail joint–shaped set of hardware inside the neck pocket for total adjustability via a set of hex-key operated bolts. Another shared feature is X-bracing on the top that is only scalloped on the treble side, mirrored by another set of X-bracing on the back. The SC-13E Special is built with a solid Sitka spruce top and ziricote veneer back and sides. On the two guitars that I was able to check out, the quality of the woods was outstanding, with the ziricote lending a “boutique” character to the instruments. Built in Martin’s factory in Navojoa, Mexico, the instrument easily meets the company’s high standard for fit, finish, and craftsmanship. 

The  SC-13E Special sets itself apart from other SC models with some of its hardware choices. Among these is a set of open-geared Graph Tech Ratio tuning machines, which feature a different tuning ratio for each string, resulting in the same number turns leading to similar changes in pitch. And while other SC models use Fishman electronics, the SC-13E Special is equipped with a custom version of the L.R. Baggs Element system, which includes an undersaddle pickup, onboard preamp, and miniature control panel with wheels for volume and tone mounted inside the soundhole. 

I was impressed with the ease of playability of the original SC-13E, so I was pleased to find the same excellent setup on the SC-13E Special. The guitar’s Low Profile Velocity neck shape has a very contemporary and almost electric guitar–like feel, and strung with .011 gauge strings, the SC-13E Special makes playing barré chords and string bends easy. What’s remarkable is that despite the outwardly very different design, the guitar retains its fundamental Martin DNA, in that when you play a first-position G chord, there’s no question that you’re playing a Martin. Plugged into our Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge, the friendly character continued, and I found it easy to dial in a warm, amplified sound using the onboard tone control. 

It’s great to see Martin expanding the SC line with a slightly higher-end model than the original. Players who want a fantastically easy to play acoustic-electric that sounds great plugged in or acoustically while retaining a solid dose of bonafide Martin tone should give this one a try!

SPECS: S-13 body with cutaway. Sitka spruce top with treble-side scalloped X-bracing. Veneered ziricote back and sides. Select hardwood neck with Sure Align joint. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Nickel open-gear tuning machines. L.R. Baggs Element electronics. Made in Mexico. $1,999 (sunburst)/$1,799 (natural). 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
 
 
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