Historically, Martin's 21 styling has represented the simplest appointment level with rosewood back and sides and a spruce top. Introduced in 2007, M...Click To Read More About This Product
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Solid materials and craftsmanship dressed down to simple elegance.
Historically, Martin's 21 styling has represented the simplest appointment level with rosewood back and sides and a spruce top. Introduced in 2007, Martin's OM-21 Special closely replicates this plain but beautiful style by blending rosewood bindings, a herringbone rosette, a nitrate tortoise pickguard and an ebony fingerboard and pyramid bridge. The D-21 Special Guitar shares identical appointments with the OM-21 Special, but in a dreadnought format. The resulting instrument offers Martin's legacy tone with classic style.
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Having owned a solid 1980 model Alvarez dreadnought since I purchased it in 1981, I had always dreamed of owning a Martin. Finally, I came to the decision that I was ready to take the plunge. From September of 2007 to May of 2008, I poured over the multitude of Martin models, features, specifications, etc. I wanted a quality instrument, but I was not prepared to spend "Golden Era" bucks for it. After just about deciding on either an HD-28 or HD-28V, I learned of a new offering in the Standard Series from Martin, the D-21 Special. Despite its name, it was not a slightly-modified version of the D-21 that Martin produced from 1955-69. Rather, it was more of a new model, offering features that are typically only available either in custom orders or in the Vintage, Golden Era, or Authentic Series guitars. The D-21 Special features a solid Sitka spruce top with solid rosewood back and sides AND solid rosewood binding, which gives it a very understated, yet classy look (the 175th Anniversary America's Guitar featured solid Koa binding). It is also the only Standard Series Martin guitar that features a 1-3/4" wide nut and forward-shifted scalloped bracing, which lends itself to even more sound projection. A solid, black ebony pyramid-style bridge and finger board, herringbone rosette, and vintage toner on the top add to the "antique" look of the instrument. Having seen a photo of a Martin 1929 00-21 on a vintage guitar web site recently, I now know where Martin might have gotten the inspiration for this look. A Delmar beveled and polished tortoise pickguard, Gotoh nickel open-geared tuning machines with oval knobs, and the large old-style Martin logo on the head stock complete an instrument that looks like a 60-year (or more) instrument which has been quietly sitting in its Geib-style deluxe arch-top case (another bonus of this model - it comes standard with the D-21 Special) waiting to be played and appreciated. While the specs are all well and good, the proof of any instrument is in the playing, and this is where the D-21 really shines. I play occasionally in church and at home for personal enjoyment. I had a Fishman Natual II active pick-up installed for times when I need to plug in, but so far, I have not had to use it very much. The term "cannon" probably gets over-used when describing the projection of a dreadnought, but in the case of the D-21 Special, it is spot on. I can't imagine how a few years of "opening up" will make it better, because it already can put out the sound quite masterfully. In fact, one time when I thought I might have to plug in, the D-21 Special projected so well that my vocal microphone (a pretty high-quality piece of equipment) picked up the natural acoustic projection beautifully. While I can work with a 1-11/16" nut (like my Alvarez), the D-21 Special's 1-3/4" nut is much more comfortable for my large hands. I am sure that the somewhat different look of the D-21 Special might cause some not to give it a second thought. If you fail to investigate this model, you are doing yourself a disservice. The D-21 Special just may be one of Martin's best-kept secrets, and I think they should publicize it more. Sure, an HD-28V with a 1-3/4" nut might have been a great alternative choice for me (of course, Martin calls that a D-28 Marquis and charges a lot more for it), but I found my Martin-of-a-lifetime.
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