D18 “the Sinker” Grhun Belize Mahogany 2017 Martin
We have several of these amazing instruments, built for Gruhn Guitars with a very special mahogany and Adirondack spruce top.
The Thrill of the Sinker
It has long been an elusive goal to build new acoustic guitars that sound and feel equivalent to some of the finest golden era vintage instruments of the 1930s. We feel like the new Martin sinker mahogany guitars are among the closest new instruments to meet that goal we have ever seen.
All Wood is not Equal
While it is possible to meticulously measure vintage instruments and attempt to duplicate these specifications, it has proved to be extraordinarily difficult to duplicate the tone and feel of the vintage originals. What makes a guitar great first and foremost is design, followed by structural craftsmanship, followed by materials, and finally aesthetic beauty. While there are quite a few skilled craftsmen producing very good instruments today, endangered tropical hardwoods are in short supply and some are highly regulated and in some cases prohibited from import. In addition, even when the proper species of wood is available, very little virgin forest old-growth wood is obtainable and much of what is currently offered for sale is either not properly aged and stabilized or has been torrified (oven baked) rather than air seasoned.
We were excited to learn that Martin had obtained a small quantity of mahogany from trees that had been cut in virgin forests in Belize in Central America between 1880 and 1920. The Central American mahogany is the type used by Martin on the pre-World War II golden era instruments. This wood which matured slowly in a dimly lit virgin forest is denser, darker in color, more attractive, as well as different sounding than the wood on standard new model instruments. When these trees were cut down, the logs were floated down rivers to the sawmills. Approximately one third of the wood sank during the process. The wood was lost for nearly a century. With the use of sonar and scuba gear, the wood was found and has been acquired by Martin Guitars.
This wood was selected for the neck, back, sides, neck block, and end block on these spectacular guitars. The sinker Mahogany is used in conjunction with non-torrified Adirondack spruce with forward shifted scalloped bracing and meticulous design work—incorporating the best features of vintage instruments and modern features including a two-way adjustable truss rod and comfortable neck dimensions. When combined with Martin’s superb Custom Shop workmanship, this has yielded instruments that we feel are some of the finest quality new guitars made by any maker since prior to World War II.
The Sound of the Sinker
While tone is subjective, instruments can be objectively judged on five standards which are indeed measurable: balanced volume on all strings on the entire length of the fingerboard, balanced sustain such that all notes on all strings sustain equally, balanced dynamic range such that all notes on all strings respond equally well to low, medium, or high volume, balanced complexity of tone such that all notes on all strings have a similar complexity of tone with a balance of high-end and low-end harmonics in addition to a strong fundamental note, and finally balanced clarity of articulation such that all notes on all strings in all positions are balanced in clarity. These are objectively measurable criteria.. Few guitars excel in all five criteria, but when they do, they are typically superb instruments. The new sinker mahogany Martins excel in all of these measures. ”
From Gruhn’s website at the time.