According to Martin's catalogue, its brand-new models are reflective of the company's desire to "address the challenges facing musicians by introducing austerely appointed models, devoid of fanciness, but certainly not lacking in craftsmanship or excellent tone".
As we all know, Martin's numbering system gives a clue to an individual model's level of luxury with the super cheap and ecologically sound 16 Series, right up to the heady heights of the 45s. So, with these spanking new 17s, at least we are prepared for a no-frills ride, but the expectation is that we're still going to discover some stunning tone lurking within these 'austerity' Martins.
So, what exactly do we have here? The 00-17S is a 12-fretter, available in either, as seen here, Black Smoke finish or Whiskey Sunset.
We've seen this kind of Black Smoke look quite a lot in recent years – both Guild and Gretsch spring to mind, in fact, in this respect. It's attractive, although purists who like to look wood grain straight in the eye may be dissuaded a little.
Just a thought. Incidentally, the term 'Black Smoke' is derived from the fact that Martin puts the finish on very thinly in order to preserve, as far as possible, the tonal qualities of the woods – thin as smoke, geddit?
The top is Sitka spruce with mahogany back and sides, mahogany neck and those fine- looking vintage nickel tuners. Interestingly, Martin refers to the logo here as being "Script Authentic 1933 Overlay", which, once again, gives some idea of the rich heritage of the 17 Series that Martin is trying to preserve.
Overall, the diminutive appearance of the 00-17S sets it apart from the other two 17 models recently-released by Martin and its good looks border on being cute in some respects!
The 00-17S is subject to Martin's "playability enhanced" system, whereby each guitar's frets undergo computer-aided fine tuning before being dispatched to the player.
The guitar neck sits well in the hand, with none of the clubbiness associated with some genuinely vintage models. The little 00-17S positively bounds onto the lap and, where the general feel is very similar to the 000, the sound is even more boisterous than before, with a distinct 'bump' in the bass register – in a good way, too.
This little chap has some considerable power under the hood!