Video: Martin Goes Offset with a Jaguar-Inspired Acoustic-Electric | NAMM 2020

How can a company beloved for its traditional body shapes try something different? How can it reach a new audience of players without imperiling its reputation?

For inspiration for the SC-13E, Martin looked to Fender Jaguars, Jazzmasters, and other offsets to bring a sense of movement and modernity to its new acoustic-electric. The sloping bouts, asymmetrical rosette, and exposed X bracing offer fresh looks. Meanwhile, a thin body, deeply contoured heel and single-cutaway, and low string height make it a fast, electric-style player all the way up the neck.

The result is an entirely new type of guitar for Martin. And even when compared to other models from companies that have made slick acoustic hybrids for decades, the SC-13E is more versatile and easier to play than just about any other single-cutaway acoustic. The sound, however, is still Martin, if with less of the booming bass register you'd find on a dreadnought. When plugged in, the Fishman pickup offers a wide range of natural-sounding acoustic tones.

As for the particulars: The body is made from laminate koa, with a solid sitka top, mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard, and ebony bridge. Though the bridge looks the same as a traditional Martin, the strings rest lower on it, allowing for a low string height from the bridge through the nut.

The neck, while at regular scale, is set a bit farther into the body, allowing for a short-scale feel at a regular-scale length. The creative dove-tail neck joint is held in place with screws that don't penetrate the neck—allowing you to make adjustments easily if necessary. The almost non-existent heel is reminiscent of those found on the new Fender Ultra high-performance electrics, giving you truly easy access to the upper registers.

Outside of the design, there are more parallels to be found between the new Martin and Fender's latest instruments. Like the Acoustasonic Telecaster (and now Acoustasonic Stratocaster), the SC-13E is an instrument meant to appeal to new audiences: younger guitarists whose musical instruments lie beyond cowboy chords, smaller players looking for an easier to hold and ergonomic instrument, and worship artists that want one acoustic-electric for both traditional chords and pedalboard soundscapes.

Martin plans for this to be the first of the new S body shapes, so be on the lookout for more offset acoustic-electrics to follow. The SC-13E will be available in May for $1,499 USD. And for those traditionalists that just want a standard D-28, well, Martin assures us, those aren't going anywhere.

For more information on the SC-13E, check out Martin's website here.

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