How Martin reinvented the acoustic again with the SC model
The company that invented the dreadnought and laid down the blueprint for the modern flat-top has continued to innovate in the decades since – and the SC model might be its most radical yet.
Martin SC guitar in use, photo by Martin Guitar
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Back in 1916, Martin Guitar invented a new type of acoustic guitar, one that broke with most of the conventions of acoustic guitar building at the time, and had many luthiers scratching their head at this monster of a guitar. But Martin knew that it was creating an instrument in response to the increasing need for volume and projection from the musicians of the day.
Fast-forward over a hundred years and Martin was again leaving a lot of people bewildered when at Winter NAMM 2020 the company revealed what it had been working on for over four years – a radical reinvention of the acoustic guitar that challenged a lot of preconceptions about how an acoustic guitar could look and feel, that was once again designed to cater to the evolving needs of players at the time. That guitar was the SC-13E.
Changing The Game
“We viewed this project as an opportunity to fill a void in the guitar market,” explains Rameen Shayegan, Martin’s Instrument Design Manager. “Where we felt there really wasn’t a perfect option for the guitarist who wants to take one guitar to a gig, who wants to play acoustic guitar, but also wants to have the access in the high register and the playability and comfort to play the electric guitar parts they might want to play, without having to bring several guitars to one show.”
The SC-13E offered this in a compelling and unconventional answer to this quandary, thanks to innovations including a patented SureAlign Neck System and heel-less design to offer players unfettered playability and access to the dusty end of the guitar, with a revolutionary offset body shape that was designed to ergonomically encourage the player up its hugely comfortable neck.
“We’ve always been a company really rooted in traditional body shapes,” reflects Martin’s Chief Product Office, Fred Greene on the shape. “So as we were working on this shape we really wanted to put something out there that would stand the test of time. Something that would not only look good today, but would look good a hundred years from now.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Martin acoustic if you had to play it plugged in to sound good, and that’s where the real genius of the SC platform is found – unplugged it still has the deep, warm, iconic tone of a quality Martin guitar, just in a more ergonomic package that enables you to play it as comfortably as you would your favourite electric.
“Because the shape of the body was so different, it forced us to rethink what was possible,” says Martin Director of Instrument Design, Tim Teel.
Part Of A Family
In the years since the SC-13E launched, the SC model range has expanded and diversified – from the exotic wood choices of the SC-13E special and CS-SC, to the more affordable and accessible SC-10, which for 2023 is now available in an all-sapele configuration, giving players on a budget more choice than ever when it comes to the most radical and player-friendly Martin ever made.
The SC model was about removing limits on the creative vision of Martin’s worldwide community of songwriters – if you want to stretch your horizons, make sure to demo one of these inspirational instruments soon.