NAMM 2020: Is Martin's new SC-13E acoustic its most progressive guitar ever?

NAMM 2020: Martin saved its biggest announcement of NAMM to the show itself with the SC-13E; its most forward-thinking guitar for decades and with innovative new features to woo a new generation of players.

Two features on the guitar are immediately striking; its offset body shape and an accessible cutaway that's unlike any acoustic guitar we've encountered with remarkable upper fret access for players.

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

This dramatically enhanced access is created by Martin's innovative new Sure Align Linear Dovetail Neck Joint – pairing dovetail joining with aluminum for glue-less security and stability. 

In its presentation introducing the guitar, the company noted it also enabled the SC-13E's neck to be removed in around three minutes if needed and alluded to the potential of swapping necks in the future. 

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

The neck itself is High Performance Taper to take full advantage of the upper fret access and through the soundhole and in an another change from tradition, you can also see that the Tore Tension X Brace back bracing now crosses it.

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

The 25.4" scale length guitar's body features a 000 depth that feels instantly comfortable and less wieldy than a dreadnought. The redesigned curved bridge and low action complements this and our first experiences with the guitar felt electric-like in playability.

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

On our first impressions, it sounds like a Martin with a full-bodied sound unplugged, but the sense of freedom across the fretboard and ease of action here will open doors for players. 

For plugging in there's a Fishman MX-T system installed with a stealthily-placed tuner placed inside the soundhole too. 

Martin claim the guitar is designed to be played live without the feedback issues that can plague players who use amplification and effects. 

(Image credit: Olly Curtis / Future)

A huge amount of design investment has clearly gone into the SC-13E but as a Road Series model. Martin stated the guitar will have a street price of $1,500. 

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Rob Laing
Guitars Editor, MusicRadar

I'm the Guitars Editor for MusicRadar, handling news, reviews, features, tuition, advice for the strings side of the site and everything in between. Before MusicRadar I worked on guitar magazines for 15 years, including Editor of Total Guitar in the UK. When I'm not rejigging pedalboards I'm usually thinking about rejigging pedalboards.