Martin's No Limits Challenge is literally taking acoustic playing to the limit

Gretchen Menn
(Image credit: Gretchen Menn)

MusicRadar's sister site Guitar World has been playing host to the Martin No Limits Challenge for the past four weeks, an acoustic competition that's pitted eight of the world's most exciting guitarists against one another, each one covering tunes you wouldn't normally associate with acoustic playing.

The results have been some of the most entertaining, bizarre, and finger-twisting performances we've seen in years. AC/DC's Thunderstuck with a guest appearance from Yoda? Check. Nili Brosh playing the guitar solo AND the keyboard solo of Van Halen's Jump? Check. A trap/hip-hop version of Say My Name by Destiny's Child? Why the hell not.

The quarterfinals have ended and the winners – Gretchen Menn (pictured above), Sophie Burrell, R.J. Ronquillo and Helen Ibe – will now advance to the semifinals. 

The first semifinal lands on Monday, with Ronquillo and Ibe rearranging blues tunes.  We can't wait. Until then, here are those performances so far.

The semi-finalists

And the others

The No Limits Challenge has been designed to show off Martin's offset SC range. Designed to help rethink what's possible on an acoustic guitar, our reviewers were impressed: we said that the SC-13E was one of the greatest guitars of 2020. 

Featuring a striking 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 bold new step for the legendary company. 

Fingers crossed the rest of the No Limits Challenge pushes the finalists in the same way. 

Tom Poak

Tom Poak has written for Guitar World, Total Guitar, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Esquire, The Big Issue and more. In a writing career that has spanned decades, he has interviewed Brian May, Brian Cant, and cadged a light off Brian Molko. He has stood on a glacier with Thunder, in a Norwegian fjord with Ozzy and Slash, and on the roof of the Houses of Parliament with Thin Lizzy's Scott Gorham (until some nice men with guns came and told them to get down). He has had a drink with Shane MacGowan, mortally offended Lightning Seed Ian Broudie and been asked if he was homeless by Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch.