Watch R.J. Ronquillo and Helen Ibe showcase their acoustic blues skills with a dynamic instrumental and raucous Stevie Ray Vaughan cover

Helen Ibe (left) and R.J. Ronquillo play Martin SC acoustics
(Image credit: Helen Ibe music, R.J. Ronquillo/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.

With that in mind, Martin recently 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 comprises two more genre-based face-offs. The winners of those, of course, will advance to the finals. 

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

Today marks the first of the two semifinal matchups, with Ronquillo and Ibe catching a case of the blues. 

Above, Ronquillo salutes one of the great blues guitar heroes of all time, Stevie Ray Vaughan, with a rollicking acoustic version of Rude Mood. Below, meanwhile, Ibe breaks with competition convention with her own original acoustic blues instrumental. 

So, which is the better, more exciting and innovative performance? That's for you to decide. Be sure to check back next week, too, for the next semifinal matchup.

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.