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NAMM 2022: Martin introduces five lavish special edition acoustics

Martin special edition acoustics
(Image credit: Martin)

NAMM 2022: Martin has continued its fine NAMM form by unveiling five ornate special edition acoustic guitars.

Offering a mix of contemporary innovations, vintage-inspired vibes, retro artwork and luxurious aesthetics, the suite of special edition six-strings cover a number of body shapes, tonewood combinations and functional appointments.

Highlights from the batch include an ornate spin on the brand’s state-of-the-art SC blueprint and a complexly crafted D-42 Special, which has been 25 years in the making.

Read on for a full breakdown of Martin’s latest special edition offerings.

Martin DSS Hops and Barley 

Martin DSS Hops and Barley

(Image credit: Martin)

First up is the DSS Hops and Barley, which pays tribute to the grains involved in the production of beer. Composed of highly flamed walnut back and sides – which supposedly offers a sound that mellows over time – and a sinker redwood top, the limited-edition model also features a Guatemalan rosewood headplate and pickguard. 

A concoction of abalone, mother-of-pearl and wood is used to create the complex headstock, fingerboard, pickguard and bridge aesthetics, which depict hops and barley of various sorts.

Other specs include Liquidmetal bridge pins, a 1931 old-style logo and a dovetail neck joint. The DSS Hops and Barley is limited to only 100 units, and will be available for $12,999.

Martin CS-SC-2022 

Martin CS-SC-2022

(Image credit: Martin)

Following suit is the Custom Shop SC-2022 – the first Nazareth-made acoustic with the newly unveiled SC body shape. At its core, it features East Indian rosewood back and sides – as opposed to the ziricote / koa alternatives of the flagship SC models – as well as European flamed maple top binding.

It also offers Martin’s patented Sure Align neck system, a low-profile velocity neck barrel for easy upper fret access and the patented internal soundboard recurve, which promises extra bass response.

More notable appointments include the Vintage Tone System – which ages the top and bracing to provide a vintage Martin tone – Liquidmetal bridge pins and Fishman Aura VT Blend electronics.

The Martin CS-SC-2022 retails for $7,999.

Martin Custom Major Kealakai 

Martin Major Kealakai

(Image credit: Martin)

One of the more eye-catching inclusions in the drop is the Custom Major Kealakai, which honors guitar, trombone and flute player Major Kealakai, who trained with the Royal Hawaiian Band and was inducted into the Hawaiian Music Hall of Fame in 1996.

Martin had made the Major a guitar in 1916 – a custom instrument described as the precursor to the dreadnought. Now, the company is paying tribute to Kealakai with this limited-edition model, which sports sinker mahogany back and sides and an Adirondack spruce top.

It also boasts the Vintage Tone System, 1931 X-bracing, a dovetail neck joint and Golden Age relic nickel side-mount tuners. Oh, and it’s got a unique bridge shape.

The Custom Major Kealakai will be available for $7,999.

Martin D-17 Squadron 

Martin D-17 Squadron

(Image credit: Martin)

Okay, we spoke too soon: this D-17 Squadron is the most eye-catching of the drop. The artwork was composed by Robert Goetzl, and was inspired by the WWII squadron planes that were made famous by the Flying Tigers.

It’s a regular D-17 at heart, though features the iconic aesthetic that has been digitally applied on to its Sitka spruce top.

The D-17 Squadron also happens to be the cheapest of the bunch, and is available for $1,999.

Martin D-42 Special

Martin's D-42 Special guitar

(Image credit: Martin Guitar)

Another five-figure offering, the D-42 Special was made in conjunction with former Martin employee Dick Boak. Said to be 25 years in the making, the roots of this luxurious acoustic goes back to when Martin installed its premiere laser engraver machine, and Boak began experimenting with different ways to use it.

He ended up composing a floral artwork that at the time could not be engraved onto a tortoise shell pickguard. Now, that same design has been revisited – with the help of Bill Seymour and Jeremy Chism of Pearlworks – and has been transformed into a pearl inlay.

Less exotic specs include East Indian rosewood back and sides, a Sitka spruce top and scalloped forward-shifted X-bracing. The ornate vibe is complemented by white binding, abalone top inlay, nickel open-gear tuners and a fingerboard extension.

The $12,199 D-42 special is available now, and will be limited to 100 instruments only.

For more information about all the new releases, head over to Martin (opens in new tab).

The special edition acoustics join the rest of Martin's NAMM season releases, which include fresh StreetMaster, Authentic and Road Series models.

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Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.