The Avett Brothers
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 23 - July 2007
000-18 Norman Blake
There are few musicians that can be instantly recognized by their first name alone and a smaller number yet by simply hearing a few notes. Norman Blake is such a musician. He has blazed the path for many fans of acoustic music to discover the fine art of flat-picking through rare song gems, highly original compositions and solid instrumental playing.
Through the years, he has recorded or performed with a wide variety of bluegrass and country music stars, as well as making a series of wonderful recordings on his own and with his wife Nancy, chock full of quality picking and sweet southern harmony.
Martin is very pleased to once again partner with Norman in the creation of the Norman Blake Special Signature Edition 000-18 guitar.
Through the near half-century that Norman has played professionally, he has altered his playing style as well as changed his guitar preference. Early in his solo career, his playing was swift with a veritable stream of notes spilling from his vintage Martin D-28 and D-18 models; but as he has matured, his playing has become more intimate and his array of Martin guitars has evolved and expanded as well. He is presently playing a unique smaller bodied instrument, and that guitar was the basis of the initial offering of the 000-28 and 000-28B Norman Blake Signature Edition guitars.
These two signature models have been extremely well received. This is due in part to the fact that Norman was very much involved in all aspects of their unusual design, from the appointments to the interior bracing and the decision to utilize a 14-fret “000” body with a 12-fret neck. The idea for offering a version with genuine mahogany back and sides was Norman’s as well; and using his suggestions once again, Martin has developed the Norman Blake Special Signature Edition 000-18 guitar.
For this guitar, mahogany was chosen for its wonderful breathy tone, great volume, clarity and crispness. It is a natural contrast to small-bodied rosewood instruments with their warm bass notes and sustain. The new mahogany edition shares many of the same appointments as the previous models as well as the comfort of a “000” size body and the worldfamous Martin tone.
As with the initial rosewood offerings, the 000-18 Norman Blake Special Signature Edition will feature the standard “000” (14-fret) body with a 12-fret neck. This permits the top braces to be shifted forward, crossing just below the sound hole, placing the bridge lower on the Italian Alpine Spruce top. This allows for greater vibration of the soundboard. The soundhole is the diameter of a “00” model with the Golden Era® style rosette, with black and white wood inlays with ivoroid in the center. The decreased size of the soundhole, along with the 1/4” scalloped Sitka spruce bracing, allows for accentuated bass response. The back and sides are constructed of genuine mahogany with Style 18 back purfling and tortoise-colored binding. The body and top are finished in polished high gloss, and the top is left natural with no aging toner added to the finish.
The pyramid bridge is genuine black African ebony and features a drop-in bone saddle with 2 5/16” spacing and plain ebony bridge pins. The polished and beveled “000”-sized pickguard is crafted from newly developed and vintageinspired cellulose nitrate laminate; but unlike its nitrate predecessor, there is no risk of shrinkage or associated top cracks.
The neck is satin-finished and craf ted from genuine mahogany. The genuine black African ebony fingerboard features a wider 1 13/16” spacing at the nut, which is fashioned from genuine bone. The scale length is 24.9” with 12 of a total 19 frets clear. The fingerboard is adorned with long-pattern abalone diamonds and squares at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th and 15th frets. Once again, in keeping with the more simple classic st yle of the “18” model, there is no binding on the fingerboard, but position markers are supplied at the 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 12th, 15th and 17th frets. The headstock is the Martin traditional solid square design (an alteration from the previous two models which featured the slotted style) with an East Indian rosewood headplate, large size Golden Era® decal, C. F. Martin & Co. stamping on the back and premium Waverly #4073 nickel-plated tuners with ivoroid butterbean knobs.
The guitar is protected in a custom-sized vintage Geib style #532C hardshell case. Electronics are optional at an additional cost, though left-hand versions are available at no extra charge.
Each 000-18 Norman Blake Special Signature Edition will be personally signed by Norman Blake, numbered sequentially (without total) and sold on an ongoing basis. Authorized Martin dealers will begin accepting orders for the new Norman Blake Special Signature Edition 000-18 immediately. Specifications and details can be found on the Martin website.