NAMM 2024: “It’s a testament to our relentless pursuit of innovation”: Martin unveils the GPCE Inception Maple – a high-end electro-acoustic with a sustainable build and skeletonised bracing for 20% more sustain

Martin GPCE Inception Maple
(Image credit: Martin)

NAMM 2024: Martin has launched the GPCE Inception Maple, an exquisite high-end acoustic guitar that debuts a groundbreaking system of skeletonised bracing and sonic channels that enhances sustain, volume and resonance. 

Furthermore, this is a sustainable build, featuring “domestically abundant” tonewoods with FSC-certified European spruce used for its top. Martin has used these tonewoods judiciously. Just look at the three-piece back, with an eye-catching wedge of black walnut adding some warmth and detail to the maple on either side. 

The GPCE Inception Maple also features onboard electronics from LR Baggs and a fresh Amber Fade Sunburst satin finish, but its story is one of tonewoods and how Martin has used them on this 14-fret Grand Performance cutaway. 

The skeletonised bracing and sonic channels make for a lighter take on traditional scalloped bracing patterns without compromising the structural integrity of the instrument, and it is a system that allows more airflow through the guitar, yielding more resonance and tone.

Martin even puts a figure on it. All things being equal, the skeletonised bracing and sonic channels offer six per cent more amplitude than its control instrument, with 20 per cent more sustain. 

Martin says the design circumvents the issues luthiers have when taking measures to increase sustain or volume, attempts to increase one would typically reduce the other. As you can see from the pictures, the woodwork involved in creating this system looks incredibly intricate, like a miniaturised civil engineering project.

Tone-wise, the GPCE Inception Maple is described as “clear, projective, and balanced”, and a wholly new take on the sound you might expect from a maple-bodied acoustic.

Martin will be showing this model off at their booth at NAMM 2024. And if you are in Anaheim for the event, then you might see Martin’s vice president of product management, Fred Greene, beaming like a Cheshire cat. Because this guitar is a big deal for the Nazareth, Pennsylvania brand.

“The new Martin GPCE Inception Maple marks a new innovative approach to building acoustic guitars utilising sustainable domestic woods,” said Greene. “Our new innovative design will allow guitar players to experience the Martin tone they have always loved in a guitar made from woods sourced in North America. I am super proud of our design team for taking on this challenge and providing a creative and unique solution that guitar players will find both fun and inspiring to play.”

The GPCE Inception Maple’s sustainability bona fides are supported by Martin’s eschewing of plastic for inlays and binding. Here it has used black walnut for the latter, with the frets counted out with maple arrow inlays. 

Other features to note include the superlative LR Baggs Anthem acoustic guitar pickup and preamp, the black walnut fingerboard and bridge, the 25.4” scale length, gold open-gear tuners, and the guitar ships in a moulded hard-shell guitar case

And the GPCE Inception Maple is shipping now, priced £4,150/$3,599. See Martin Guitar for more details.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.