While creating a finish that looks older and (a lot) more lived-in is still relatively new in the guitar world, antiquing a brand-new instrument has been the norm in the violin world for centuries. In spite of my love for a guitar that’s come by its playwear honestly, I couldn’t help but find myself pulled to the look and sounds of the Martin 000-15M StreetMaster again and again.
Taking It to the Streets
Martin says that it made the StreetMaster series, which also includes an identically priced dreadnought version, for the working musician. But the Martin 000-15M SteetMaster, with its distinctive distressed look, is an all-solid-wood guitar sorted out with a suite of cool features that would be easy for any guitar aficionado to fall for.
As part of Martin’s 15 series, the StreetMaster has a satin-finished all-mahogany body and mahogany neck, A-frame X-bracing, Martin’s simplified dovetail neck joint, and no binding. The StreetMaster is very similar to Martin’s popular 000-15M, with a few notable differences, such as a katalox fingerboard and bridge, and no pickguard on the ready-to-rumble finish.
Maybe because it looks like it’s already lived a little, I didn’t feel the need to baby the StreetMaster during our time together. Even with several other guitars nearby, I found myself reaching for it when playing through the music in this issue, learning new songs, or just strumming a few chords while watching TV. The modified low-oval shape and Martin’s standard taper made the neck very comfortable, and the triple-0 size body felt good tucked under my right arm for fingerpicking or flatpicking.
As you might expect from an all-mahogany guitar, the StreetMaster has miles of clarity and focused fundamentals, and a strong midrange with a dry throatiness on the lower mids. The highs are sweet and not too bright and the bass is not too boomy, which all adds up to a guitar that seems like a great companion for singers and fans of a full, balanced tone that’s not too potent in any direction.
The easy playability and rich tones of the Martin 000-15M StreetMaster kept calling me to play it and the faux-distressed finish kept me from feeling too precious about it. In other words, it’s a fun guitar that you won’t want to put down.
Martin 000-15M StreetMaster
Body 000-size, 14-fret all-mahogany body; non-scalloped A-frame X-braced top; katalox belly-style bridge with compensated drop-in bone saddle; satin distressed mahogany burst finish
Neck 25.4″-scale mahogany neck with dovetail neck joint; 20-fret katalox fingerboard with abalone diamonds-and-squares short pattern position inlays; 1-11/16″-wide bone nut; Golden Age Relic nickel tuners with cream knobs; satin finish
Other Martin SP Acoustic 92/8 Phosphor Bronze Light (.012–.054); soft gig bag; available left-handed
Price $1,799 (MSRP);
Made in USA
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This article originally appeared in the May 2018 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.