Introducing the Martin Custom Shop Super D
It seems the trend over the past couple of years in flattop acoustic guitar has been focused on the never-ending quest for the ultimate parlor guitar. “How does it couch?” has been a question on every guitar designer’s mind for quite some time. Leave it to the fine folks at the Martin Custom Shop to flip a middle lane U-turn and mash the pedal to the floor with their latest creation, the Martin Custom Shop Super D. That’s right, the baseline for modern acoustic guitar design for over 100 years has been super-sized and somehow the team at Martin have managed to keep the answer to “Does it Couch?” a surprising “Yes it does!”
Super D Origins
Like most great inventions, the Super D was born of benign office banter about a Black Sabbath song. Story goes that the team was sitting around listening to Black Sabbath’s Supernaut when someone posed the harmless question ‘Can the Dreadnought company be the Super Dreadnought company?’, and as it turns out, the answer to that is also a “Yes!”. A little bit more digging and the crew discovered that Super Dreadnought was also a class of warship, connecting even further to the origin of the moniker of the OG Dreadnought guitars. So, there you have it, combine some heavy metal wordplay with a touch of historical accuracy, and the Super D was well on its way to becoming a reality.
Truth in Numbers
The Super D has approximately 20% larger internal air volume over a standard Martin Dreadnought guitar. Traditional Dreadnoughts have an internal air volume of roughly 1,000 cubic inches, where the new Super D comes in at over 1,200 cubic inches! Body proportions are all to scale with increases in the width and length of the shape. Shoulders are slightly under 0.5 inches wider while the lower bout is roughly 0.6 inches wider. What is NOT affected, is the depth of the body, maintaining that comfortable reach to the strings. Also unchanged is the scale length at a standard 25.4” from nut to saddle. The end result of these dimensional changes is a 12dB boost in volume on the same attack/input pressure on an instrument that doesn’t feel particularly larger than a standard Dreadnought until you have both in your hands at once.
VTS Sitka Spruce Tops
The Vintage Tone System (VTS) treatment is applied to the Sitka Spruce tops. With this process Martin is able to “cook out” the moisture and sugars with a series of heat and cooling cycles, effectively creating an aged spruce top for a new guitar. The process increases the stability of the top while adding tonal characteristics akin to older guitars. The process also darkens the color of the top visually enhancing the wood grain/characteristics. There is no toner applied to the top of these guitars in the finish process, all the coloration you see on the spruce is a result of the VTS treatment. 5/16” scalloped Sitka braces support the top in an updated X-Brace pattern for the new Martin Super D body size.
Two Flavors of Tone Woods
The Super D at launch is available in 2 tone wood configurations, Guatemalan Rosewood and High Flame Koa. Both offer the 12dB volume boost, but they possess different tonal characteristics and EQ curves. Both offer exceptional tone, but the rosewood will punch a little harder in the low midrange, while the Koa is a bit brighter and more prominent on the higher side of the curve. Both options have a 3 piece back, much like a traditional D-35. Due to the increased size, the inclusion of a center wedge allows consistent manufacturing of the Super D while adding the elegance of the 3-piece design with a heavily detailed zigzag purfling.
The Finer Details
Martin has designed a new herringbone pattern specifically for the Super D, which incorporates a tri-color herringbone design around the top of the guitars. Binding and heel cap are antique white on both models. Each model’s headplate matches the back/side wood as is traditional design technique on many Martin guitars. Both sport the CFM Script logo, done in abalone on the headstock which compliments the Diamond and Square long pattern fingerboard inlays. Tuning machines are open gear with a butterbean button. The combination of the 1 ¾” nut width and the modified low oval neck profile will feel comfortable to most Martin fans. All Martin Custom Shop Super D’s come complete with a ply hard shell case.
Was it Worth It?
The idea in general that someone looked at a Dreadnought and decided it need to be bigger is interesting in itself. The fact that the Martin Custom Shop was able to pull it off while maintaining a comfortable playing guitar with significantly noticeable tonal distinction from a standard Dreadnought is quite remarkable. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for the new Super D body size. For now, its available only through Martin Custom Shop Expert dealers.