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Woody Mann HonoredWith MC-18 Custom Artist Edition A Professional Performance CutawayWith Simple But Premium Features

Release Date: 04/01/09
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 27 - Jul. 2009
MC-18 Woody Mann

Among guitar aficionados, Woody Mann is considered a modern master. While the blues are his touchstone, he seems to draw inspiration from every direction, blending a myriad of influences with ease and grace.

Pioneering fingerstyle legend John Fahey said it well: "You can hear classical, jazz and blues approaches somehow converging into a single sparkling sound - a sound completely his own. Woody takes a fresh approach to his blues recreations, and his own compositions defy category. If there was a category simply called 'great music,' Woody would belong there."

Woody received his first musical schooling in the living room of Reverend Gary Davis, the legendary blues, gospel and ragtime guitarist. He soon went on to perform with bluesmen Son House and Bukka White, British great Jo Anne Kelly, and fingerstyle wizard John Fahey. During this time, after studying at New York's Juilliard School, Woody began a period of intensive lessons with the dazzling jazz composer and pianist Lennie Tristano.

Since then, Mann has pursued a rich and diverse career that has included playing with jazz great Attila Zoller, accompanying songwriter Dory Previn and giving guitar lessons to recording artist Paul Simon. He has performed in over 15 countries and recorded 11 albums ranging from 1994's "Stories" to 2008's "Road Trip," as well as collaborations with blues legends Son House and John Cephas.

Mann's reach as a teacher and writer has been just as sweeping. He has been a faculty member at the New School in New York and has conducted workshops and master classes throughout the world. He founded International Guitar Seminars and schooled countless guitarists through his many instructional books and DVDs, including "The Art of Acoustic Blues Guitar" DVD series, "The Complete Robert Johnson," and "Lisboa - the Guitar of Woody Mann," a collection of his original compositions. Few guitarists have been so generous in sharing their knowledge.

Woody's eclectic music demands much from the guitar he plays: power, balance, clarity, a "fast" neck and access to the upper frets. His experience with a range of guitars over the years provided the foundation for developing specifications for his namesake Martin Custom Edition guitar, but we at Martin were surprised - and impressed - by his "outside the box" ideas for the Martin MC-18 Woody Mann Custom Edition guitar.

"I was looking for a guitar with a fast attack that projects without compressing when played with a harder touch," said Mann. "Since I use various picking techniques, it should have a balanced sound, from low to high, with a clarity that responds easily to dynamics. Basically, I need a guitar that projects and offers a clean palette to explore a variety of tones, dynamics and textures for various musical styles. This is that guitar!"

The Martin MC-18 Woody Mann Custom Edition starts with the M body style, which combines Grand Auditorium 16" width at the lower bout with 000 4 1/8" depth for a big, clear voice. An elegantly rounded Venetian cutaway provides unfettered access to the upper frets. A rare Adirondack spruce top, scalloped and forward-shifted 1/4" top braces and genuine mahogany back and sides join forces to give the guitar warmth and impressive dynamic range.

But the feature that really sets the MC-18 Woody Mann Custom Edition apart is its oversized 4 5/16" soundhole. As with Martin's HD-16RLSH and the D-28CW Clarence White Special Edition, the large soundhole enhances mid-range and treble projection. The MC-18 Woody Mann is the first Martin Custom Edition guitar in this body style to include this feature.

A 1 3/4" (at the nut) low profile satin finish neck offers both playing comfort and plenty of room on the fingerboard. A straight (rather than belly) black ebony bridge with spacious 2 5/16" string spacing enhances responsiveness and is matched by a black ebony fingerboard.

Woody Mann has specified beautiful, understated appointments for his Custom Edition guitar. An Old Style 18 wood fiber rosette with two (due to the enlarged soundhole) rings complements East Indian rosewood binding and alternating black/white fine line (five on the top and three on the back) purfling. The binding is matched by an East Indian rosewood heelcap and endpiece, the latter framed by black/white fine line inlay. A polished gloss Madagascar rosewood headplate highlights the familiar Martin Old Style decal logo and premium nickel Waverly™ tuners with ebony buttons. The fingerboard is devoid of position markers, except of course for white side position dots in the standard locations. Both the nut and compensated saddle are genuine bone. Aging toner gives the top vintage patina that is accentuated by Martin's polished gloss lacquer finish on the body. In the fingerstyle tradition, the MC-18 Woody Mann Custom Edition comes without a pickguard. This Custom Edition may be ordered as a lefthanded instrument at no additional charge; factory installed electronics are an extra-cost option.

Each Martin MC-18 Woody Mann Custom Edition guitar is delivered in a vintage Geib™-style hardshell case and bears a special, initial-bordered interior label personally signed by Woody Mann and numbered in sequence.

Authorized Martin dealers will begin accepting orders for this open-ended Custom Artist Edition immediately.

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