Martin Guitars Working On John Renbourn Signature Model

This is not my own scoop, but a re-blogging of a recent article by Marshall Newman. It’s interesting, considering that Renbourn has never been known to play a Martin… but then again, as my friend Steve commented, “Linda Ronstadt has a signature model Martin, and she’s never even played guitar!” In any event, sounds like it’s going to be a fine instrument!  Martin doesn’t seem to have made a formal announcement yet, but Newman’s article let’s us know what’s in store:

John Renbourn’s musical influences range from folk, blues and jazz to early music and classical, and all – separately and in combination – have found a place in t he rich musical landscape he has created during his long career. One of the world’s most brilliant fingerstyle guitarists, Renbourn has dazzled, confounded and inspired, whether solo, paired with Bert Jansch or Stefan Grossman or as a member of Pentangle, and he continues to create music of uncommon beauty and depth.

Over the years, John Renbourn’s acoustic guitar preference has evolved; beginning with a round-hole archtop, he moved to round and square-shouldered dreadnoughts, and eventually settled on orchestra models from both American and European builders. So joining forces with C.F. Martin & Co. – which originated the orchestra model in 1929 – to create the Martin OM John Renbourn Custom Signature Edition is the natural culmination of a lifelong quest.

“I am over the moon about this guitar,” Renbourn commented. “The goal is to combine the best of American and European lutherie; a guitar that has design features that recall the European influence on early Martins, but with all the innovative qualities that Martin has developed since. My own priority is simple – I am after the very best tonal quality and balance.” On both objectives, the Martin OM John Renbourn Custom Signature Edition succeeds spectacularly. This beauty begins with a classic Martin design and exceptional solid premium tonewoods.  Martin’s OM design, with its 15-inch body and long (25.4-inch) scale, is the ultimate fingerstyle guitar; revered for its balance and projection. The back and sides are rare Madagascar rosewood, similar in appearance and sound to the now-endangered Brazilian rosewood. The top is Italian alpine spruce, prized for its clarity and dynamic range, and features 1?4-inch scalloped bracing for exceptional responsiveness. The neck is carved from genuine mahogany. While the neck’s 1 3/4 inch width at the nut – with a low oval profile for playing comfort – is an original Martin OM design element, the diamond volute and slotted headstock with square slots are reminiscent of guitars from the late 19th and early 20th century. The tuners are likewise vintage inspired; Golden Age nickel tuners with ivoroid buttons and engraved plates.

In contrast, the ebony headplate and fingerboard showcase Martin inlay artistry at its best. The polished headstock features richly detailed unicorn inlay in abalone pearl, gold and white mother of pearl, and micarta. The fingerboard provides the “canvas” for unique mother of pearl pentangle (five-point star) position markers at the third, fifth (2), seventh, ninth, twelfth (2), fifteenth and seventeen frets. “Years ago I made a record called The Lady and the Unicorn and the image has stuck,” he explained. “The pentangles pay tribute to my time in the group Pentangle.”

Additional vintage-inspired features complete the Martin OM John Renbourn Custom Signature Edition. The ebony pyramid bridge is fitted with plain ebony bridge pins: the endpin likewise is plain ebony. Fine herringbone purfling and delicate black/white line purfling encircle the top and back, respectively, each protected by grained ivoroid binding. The endpiece also is grained ivoroid, framed by fine black/white inlay. The nut and compensated saddle are crafted from bone. True to fingerstyle – and early Martin – tradition, the guitar comes sans pickguard. Aging toner on the top adds to the vintage-style patina. The body showcases Martin’s flawless polished gloss lacquer finish, while the neck receives a satin finish. Guitars may be ordered with a sunburst top and factory-installed electronics at additional cost: left-handed instruments can be ordered with no additional charge.

Delivered in a Geib TM-style hardshell case, each Martin OM John Renbourn Custom Signature Edition guitar bears an interior label personally signed by John Renbourn and numbered in sequence. Authorized C.F. Martin & Co. dealers are accepting orders for the OM John Renbourn Custom Edition now and a list of participating dealers will be posted on the Martin website,


2 thoughts on “Martin Guitars Working On John Renbourn Signature Model

  1. jimmy bookout

    Actually, you can watch Linda playing a D28 on youtube. The video is from Don Kirshners Rock Concert, she covers Buddy Holly’s song “I guess it doesn’t matter anymore”.


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