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 00L-17 is a slope-shouldered 14-fret with slightly trimmer dimensions than its similarly finished 000-17. The 00L-17 boasts a Sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides with ivoroid binding to the top. The Whiskey Sunset finish brings a vintage vibe to the proceedings, not only because of its old-time-y faded sunburst appearance, but also with the feel of it in the hand.
The 00L-17 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 00L-17 is diminutive, although the 14-fret neck makes it feel a little bigger in play when compared to the 00-17S. It's a comfortable ride and, like the other 00, has bags of power in it, with that distinct Martin timbre hanging in the background.