Watch Gretchen Menn and Helen Ibe give the acoustic performances of a lifetime in the finale of the No Limits Challenge competition

Gretchen Menn (left) and Helen Ibe
(Image credit: Gretchen Menn/YouTube, Helen Ibe music/YouTube)

When it first unveiled the offset SC design at NAMM two years ago, Martin wanted guitarists to re-think what was possible on an acoustic guitar. 

Featuring a bold cutaway that grants unprecedented upper fret access for an acoustic, the SC line – which was expanded with the unveiling of the SC-10E, SC-13E Special and SC-13E Special Burst in January – was a significant step for the storied company.

To celebrate the models, earlier this spring Martin launched – in partnership with Guitar World – the No Limits Challenge, an exciting competition where eight up-and-coming guitarists face off against one another, covering tunes one wouldn't normally associate with an acoustic using a Martin SC model. 

For the quarterfinal round, the eight competitors were split into four genres – funk/R&B, '80s rock, '90s rock and classic rock. Sophie BurrellR.J. RonquilloHelen Ibe and Gretchen Menn advanced from there to the semifinal round, which featured two more genre-based face-offs.

From there, in turn, Ibe and Menn advanced to the much-anticipated final round.

For this grand finale matchup, the two guitarists truly brought their A-game. Menn wows with a serene acoustic instrumental called Venice, while Ibe shows off her impeccable compositional skills with a unique mashup of Classical Gas and Stevie Wonder's Superstition.

Who decides the winner, then? That distinction belongs to you, the reader! Take a look at the two performance videos, and cast your ballot for your favorite in the box at the bottom of the article. It's that simple.

For more info on Martin's SC acoustics, visit the company's website.

Jackson Maxwell

Jackson is an Associate Editor at He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.