By Bruce Adolph, courtesy of %%Christian Musician%%

When it comes to hand-crafted guitars, the CF Martin Company does have a bit of a head start on its competition. It's that they've been making guitars since 1833 or so, and it just so happens that they are very much a part of acoustic guitar folklore in the minds of acoustic guitarists worldwide. While the stories of people haphazardly discovering old pre-war Martins may bring a mist to the eyes of many admirers and collectors, the C.F. Martin Company has worked hard to preserve that legendary hand-crafted status and to empower their current models to have that "something special" sound, feel and look about them.

Sounds Good to Me

The SPD-16W (the W stands for walnut back and sides) doesn't disappoint us as we put it through its paces. First off, the sound is F-U-L-L. The bass notes have this presence about them, not boomy or bottom heavy, but a round and clear bass that reminds you of the first time you really listened to a compact disc and noticed how much the tonal range of sound was enhanced. This rings true for the middle and high strings. There is a smooth blend of balance from string to string. The highs don't have too much treble to them and the chordal resonance has that long lasting wonderful ring. What really makes this work for the SPD-16W is the combination of a solid spruce top, a scalloped hybrid "A-frame" bracing and the solid Claro Walnut back and sides. The interesting notion is that this guitar will only sound better as the solid woods age with time. The guitar feels both light to hold and well balanced.

More Than A Feeling

The fretwork is precise and the East Indian rosewood fingerboard plays with ease. The neck is solid mahogany as well and the shape of the neck is a low oval with adjustable rod; the "feel" to your hand is comfortable. The neck width at the nut is 1 & 11/16" and is finished with satin. The scale length is 25.4" long scale and the tuning machines are Gotoh gold enclosed with large buttons.

Looks Like A Million Bucks

From the classic understated Martin headstock, to the modified snowflake fingerboard pattern, to the tortoise colored binding, to the 4 point abalone snowflake design on the bridge, this guitar says "Special Edition." To top it all off, the guitar is signed by C.F. Martin IV himself on the interior label.

All in all we found this guitar to be very responsive to the dynamics of both touch and sound projection. It gets high marks across the board. With the popularity and growing market appreciation of quality instruments increasing, we believe Martin has a hit with the Special Edition SPD-16W guitar. The retail for this model is a very reasonable $1,900.00 and comes with a hard-shell case included. Left-handed models are available at no extra charge. The model is also available with different woods: maple ($1,900), rosewood ($2,000) and a black finish ($2,200). For more information you can call the Martin Company at 1-800-633-2060 or visit the Martin website.