Posted by Doug Young
Most guitarists associate Martin with steel-string guitars like its popular dreadnought and OM models. However, the company has been building guitars since 1833, and steel strings only became common in the early 1900s. Before that, guitars were strung with gut strings. Martin began offering a “classical” model in the mid-1930s based on its 00 size and has offered classical models ever since. In the 1990s, Martin even collaborated with the late Thomas Humphrey on a model based on his Millennium design.
The 000C Nylon we received for review has several unusual features, including an extralong 670-mm (26.44- inch) scale—even longer than the 665-mm scale on some classicals—and a fingerboard and bridge made of Richlite, an eco-friendly product made from recycled paper and resin that looks and feels like black ebony. Internally, the 000C Nylon uses an A-frame variation on Martin’s traditional X-bracing pattern. The A-frame bracing supports the fingerboard extension in the upper bout, while a version of standard X-bracing graces the lower bout. This makes the 000C Nylon the only guitar in this review that is not fan braced.
Acoustically, the 000C Nylon has an interesting blend of nylon strings and the familiar Martin steel-string sound—its strong lower mids combine with a crisp high end to produce a scooped tone completely different from the sound usually associated with classical instruments. Perhaps due to the longer scale length, the instrument has pronounced sustain and a feeling of more tension, which steel-string players are bound to appreciate.
The Fishman F1 Analog electronics include a Sonicore undersaddle pickup and unobtrusive tone and volume controls and built-in tuner in the guitar’s upper bout. The amplified tone was much crisper than the mellow acoustic sound of the guitar, but it should help the guitar be heard among other instruments in a band.
I appreciated the familiar feel of the Martin body size, the excellent string definition, and the greater string tension, and I liked the roomy feel of the wide string spacing at the saddle. The instrument behaved so much like a steel-string that I found myself exploring alternate tunings like D A D G A D and discovered that the guitar works well for strumming. Fiore noted that, with his eyes closed, he could almost believe he was playing a subdued steel-string. He gravitated toward some gentle folk-style pattern picking and noticed a percussive steel-string- like attack when playing single notes, but struggled when trying to draw a more typical classical tone from the guitar, noting that this would be a good transitional choice for someone used to the steel-string sound.
SPECS: Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid sapele back and sides. Venetian cutaway. Low-profile 12-fret mahogany neck with mortise/tenon neck joint. Black Richlite fingerboard and bridge. A-frame X-bracing. 670-mm (26.44- inch) scale. 1 7/8-inch nut width. 2 5/16-inch string spacing at the saddle. Corian nut and Tusq saddle. Fishman F1 Analog electronics. Martin Classic M-120 strings. Made in USA. Left-handed version available.
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PRICE: $1,999 list/$1,499 street.
MAKER: C.F. Martin and Co.: (610) 759-2837; martinguitar.com.