The M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist EditionA Friend's Favor Culminates In A Perfect Guitar For Acoustic Fingerstyle Blues
Release Date: 11/30/09
M-30 Jorma Kaukonen
Friends let friends play their Martin acoustic guitars. Credit David Bromberg for bringing fellow guitar wizard Jorma Kaukonen back into the C. F. Martin fold and inspiring the impressive new Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition.
"Back in the 1980s, I bought a Martin MC-68," Kaukonen recalls. "It was all maple, had a soft cutaway and of course I had a pickup on it. I loved that guitar, but in the 1990s, I sold it to finance my first 'modern' desktop computer."
Fast-forward to 2006. "I played a gig with David Bromberg somewhere in New Jersey and he brought along the prototype of his Martin M-42 Signature Edition. I played that guitar and immediately fell in love with it. 'When this guitar goes into production, I've got to have one,' I told him. 'Done,' he said.
"A bit later, I was going to play my annual Thanksgiving show near Philadelphia when David called and said, 'I've got your M-42 and I am bringing it to your Philly gig!' I got it, I loved it and I still do." So much so, in fact, he now plays Martin acoustic guitars exclusively.
Of course, the path to a Martin Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition had to have a twist. A few years after Jorma bought his M-42 David Bromberg Signature Edition, it got damaged. He sent it back to Martin for repair and while it was in the shop, Director of Artist Relations Dick Boak loaned him a Martin Custom Shop M. Jorma really loved certain aspects of that particular M (he calls it the "M-5") and decided to combine specifications from it and the M-42 David Bromberg to create the Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition.
One can appreciate Jorma's selection of Martin's M body style (jumbo width, 000 depth and 25.4" scale) for his Custom Artist Edition; it handles everything from fingerpicking to flatpicking with ease. Like the Bromberg Signature Edition, the M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition features a top of rare Italian Alpine spruce and forward-shifted 5/16" scalloped braces for full, saturated tone and impressive dynamic range. Like the M-5, it has an enlarged 4 5/16" soundhole for enhanced midrange and treble response. "I heard Tony Rice play the Clarence White D-28 Martin - a very early example of the large soundhole - around the same time I got the M-5 and loved the tonal 'color' of both guitars, so I had to include it on my Martin."
The top is paired with back and sides of East Indian rosewood for rich, warm bass and strong projection. The 1 3/4" (at the nut) modified V neck with diamond volute is carved from genuine mahogany. "As much as I love my Bromberg, my aging hands need a somewhat wider neck, so I chose the modified V neck of the M-5, but in the 1 3/4" width. It works beautifully for my style of playing."
In a career that has spanned five decades, Jorma Kaukonen has taken fingerstyle guitar from blues to rock & roll and back. He began playing guitar while a teenager in Washington, DC and - inspired by Reverend Gary Davis - quickly gravitated to acoustic blues and roots music. He eventually moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to attend college, where he taught guitar to support himself.
Invited to join a rock band that was coming together in San Francisco, Jorma went electric as the lead guitarist of Jefferson Airplane in 1965. The Airplane became one of America's most popular bands of the era, helped define the San Francisco Sound with hits like "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit," and had eight "top 20" albums during his seven-year tenure. He also first recorded his fingerstyle classic, "Embryonic Journey," while with the group. Jorma was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Jefferson Airplane in 1996.
Before he left the Airplane, Jorma and longtime friend (and Airplane bassist) Jack Casady joined forces in a side project: Hot Tuna. It began as a duo playing acoustic blues and expanded to include additional musicians, different genres, electric sets and original material. More than 35 years and 25 albums later, Hot Tuna is still going strong, with Jorma, Jack and multi-instrumentalist Barry Mitterhoff mixing acoustic and occasional electric performances.
Jorma also recorded 13 albums on his own, beginning with 1974's Quah. In 2002, he released Blue Country Heart, an album of traditional country blues that received a Grammy Award nomination for "Best Traditional Folk Album." Stars in My Crown and River of Time, released in 2007 and 2009 respectively, combine Kaukonen originals with blues, country and bluegrass standards in a style both welcoming and inspiring. He tours as a solo musician and with Hot Tuna, often totaling more than 180 shows a year: In 2009, they included shows in Italy and at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the latter in conjunction with its tribute to Jorma's friend Janis Joplin.
In 1998, Jorma and his wife Vanessa established Fur Peace Ranch in the rolling foothills of southeastern Ohio. Here guitarists of all styles and skill levels stay, play and learn at workshops led by Jorma and an impressive roster of top musicians. Fur Peace Ranch also hosts a concert series throughout the year called "Live From the Fur Peace Ranch." This series is broadcast on the Ohio University NPR affiliate, WOUB.
In complement to its unique design, the Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition showcases handsome vintage Style 30 appointments, the first time they have been used with the M body style and only the second time they have appeared on a modern Martin (the other being the OM-30DB Pat Donohue Custom Edition in 2008). The top is bordered by intricate Style 30 multi-colored "parallelogram" wood marquetry purfling, and the back is divided by a colorful and distinctive Style 30 wood marquetry backstrip. The body is bound in grained ivoroid binding and accented by black/white purfling around the back and black/white/black purfling along the sides. A Style 45 rosette in select abalone pearl (with the inner ring eliminated) encircles the large soundhole and a vintage-inspired polished and beveled Delmar tortoise-color pickguard protects the top.
The polished East Indian rosewood headplate frames an abalone pearl version of the familiar "C. F. Martin" logo, which arches over a slightly modified Martin "torch" inlay, also in abalone pearl. Nickel Waverly tuners with oval ivoroid buttons complete the headstock. The African black ebony fingerboard features rare Maltese "diamond and squares" position markers in abalone pearl, with a Maltese cross at the 3rd fret, two diamonds at the 5th fret, a square at the 7th fret, two diamonds at the 9th fret, a square flanked by cat's eyes at the 12th fret and a cat's eye at the 15th fret, and culminating in his "Jorma" signature - no last name needed here - inlaid between the 19th and 20th frets. Both the headstock and fingerboard are bound in grained ivoroid, and inset with mitered black/white fine line inlays. Black/white fine line inlays also accent the grained ivoroid heel cap and end piece.
The nut, compensated saddle, pearl dot-topped bridge pins and endpin are all crafted from bone. Aging toner on the top adds to the guitar's vintage vibe, and Martin's polished gloss lacquer finish highlights the beauty of both its tonewoods and appointments.
Each Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition guitar is delivered in a vintage style Geib™ hardshell case, and bears an interior label personally signed by Jorma Kaukonen and numbered in sequence without the total, and a second interior label depicting his Fur Peace Ranch. Left-handed guitars may be ordered without additional charge and factory-installed electronics are an extra cost option.Authorized C. F. Martin dealers will begin taking orders for the Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition immediately and participating dealers will be listed on the C. F. Martin website.