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Steve Howe Sparks Return Of M Cutaway With New Martin Oval Soundhole Special Edition

Release Date: 07/17/09
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 27 - Jul. 2009
MC-38 Steve Howe

Has it really been a decade since Martin launched the 00-18SH Steve Howe Limited Edition? Apparently so: inspired by Howe's beloved 1953 Martin 00-18, the Martin 00-18SH Limited Edition - the first spruce and mahogany 00 Martin to be produced in several years - was introduced early in 1999, and Martin sold the entire edition of 250 guitars.

As for famed guitarist Steve Howe himself, he has been incredibly busy since the Martin 00-18SH Limited Edition debuted. In the last decade alone, he has released twelve solo or small combo albums, the latter with either Remedy or the Steve Howe Trio; rejoined Yes in 1995 to record five albums - Keys to Ascension, Keys to Ascension Two, Open Your Eyes, The Ladder and Magnification - and tour North America (three times), Europe (twice) and the Far East; reunited with the original members of Asia in 2006 and 2007 to tour North America and Japan, and record two albums: Fantasia: Live in Tokyo and Phoenix; and joined forces with Yes compatriots Alan White and Chris Squire for a North American tour in 2008 and early 2009. His plans for the rest of 2009 include a major tour with Asia that includes Russia, Europe and the United Kingdom. For someone already legendary for his guitar work with Yes in the 1970s and Asia in the 1980s , only one conclusion can be made: the man's passion for playing - whether acoustic or electric - is as strong as ever.

"You really can't go wrong with a Martin, an old one or a new one," Howe says. One Martin that has been a constant on his guitar rack in recent years is an early 1980s MC-28. Martin made only about 1100 of this unusual model between 1981 and 1996, but its grand auditorium cutaway body, oval soundhole, 22 fret fingerboard and superb "live" tone so won over Howe that he suggested it be the starting point for a new Steve Howe Special Edition. With the addition of some personal touches and a bit of abalone pearl to give it stage presence, the MC-38 Steve Howe Special Edition - the first Martin to have an oval soundhole in more than a decade - was born.

The MC-38 Steve Howe Special Edition retains the East Indian rosewood of its inspiration and adds a top of Carpathian spruce, which combines the power and clarity of Adirondack spruce with the responsiveness of European spruce. Forward shifted 5/16" scalloped top braces enhance clarity and dynamic range. The low profile 1 11/16-inch (at the nut) neck with a square slotted headstock and diamond volute is carved from genuine mahogany. The nut and compensated saddle are crafted from genuine bone.

Handsome appointments abound. A mother of pearl Yin/Yang symbol nestles under the gold Martin decal logo on the polished ebony headplate, replacing the traditional "Est. 1833." Precision Waverly/Sloane tuners feature engraved and polished brass sideplates. Style 42 abalone pearl snowflake position markers begin at the 5th fret on the African black ebony fingerboard, with Steve Howe's signature inlaid in mother of pearl between the 19th and 21st frets. The matching African black ebony belly bridge is accented by abalone pearl snowflakes on the wings. The rosette is a single ring of abalone pearl, eye-catching against the light amber vintage toner on the top. Style 28 white bridge and end pins also are inlaid with black dots.

The top, back and sides are bound in grained ivoroid, the top is encircled by seven layers of alternating black/white fine line purfling, while the sides and back are bordered with black/white inlay. The ivoroid endpiece and heelcap are likewise accented with fine black white inlays. Colorful Style 45 mosaic purfling bisects the back. A polished and beveled black pickguard, shaped to fit the oval soundhole, protects the top. Martin's polished gloss lacquer finish with vintage toner assures the instrument will - with basic care - retain its good looks for years to come.

A left-handed version of the MC-38 Steve Howe Limited Edition can be ordered at no additional charge: factory-installed electronics are an extra-cost option. The guitar is delivered in a fitted, vintage inspired Geib™ style case.

Each MC-38 Steve Howe Special Edition bears an interior label personally signed by Steve Howe and numbered in sequence without total. Authorized Martin dealers will begin taking orders for this Special Edition immediately.

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