Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 17 - Jul. 2004
000-ECHF Bellezza Nera
Imagine a guitar cooperatively conceived by a British musical icon and a Japanese trendsetter, built by America's most respected guitar company and affectionately given an Italian name. Now stop imagining and start anticipating the new Martin Eric Clapton/Hiroshi Fujiwara Bellezza Nera, among the most stunning looking and sounding limited editions in Martin history.
A legendary musician and performer for more than 40 years, Eric Clapton needs no introduction. Hiroshi Fujiwara stands as one of modern Japan's most important cultural figures, a visionary DJ responsible for creating and introducing cutting-edge "club" music and fashions to Tokyo in the 1990s. The two became friends while working together on music projects.
During one of Clapton's visits to Japan, he and Fujiwara began envisioning a custom acoustic guitar that blended the best in design and sound. Over time, the ideas were fleshed out and, with Martin's Dick Boak facilitating the project, C.F. Martin built eight of these unique custom guitars. One can be seen on the cover of Clapton's recent album dedicated to the music of blues great Robert Johnson, "Me & Mr. Johnson," while another appears on the cover of Dick Boak's recent book, "Martin Guitar Masterpieces." The completed guitars were so breathtaking that Eric, Hiroshi and Martin agreed to collaborate on a limited edition version for the public.
At Eric Clapton's suggestion, the model is named in Italian, the language of music - "Bellezza" meaning beautiful and "Nera" meaning black. The polished black gloss finished body, neck and headplate, and matching African black ebony fingerboard and bridge on this 14-fret 000 - Clapton's favorite Martin model - provides an eye-catching "canvas" for some beautiful yet tasteful inlays and appointments.
The unique custom rosette that adorns the soundhole features a center ring of Martin's traditional small Mother Of Pearl slotted square inlays set against a black background. Fine pattern herringbone encircles the top, while bold pattern herringbone bordered in white bisects the back. The polished headplate provides an elegant backdrop for Martin's elaborate "alternative torch" inlay, a design originally created on one of the first Martin 00-45s in 1902 and revived in 2000 for Eric Clapton 000-42EC Signature Edition.
Equally striking are specially made sterling silver-plated Schaller tuners with sterling silver-plated buttons. The fingerboard features Martin's Style 45 snowflake inlays, with "Bellezza Nera" inlaid in script above the last fret in mother of pearl. To allow its elegance to shine unrestrained, this guitar comes without a pickguard.
Within the Bellezza Nera's handsome appointments lies a tone monster, crafted in the Martin tradition. Premium Solid tonewoods are featured throughout. The top is Italian alpine spruce, (the same tone wood used by Antonio Stradivari) revered for its rich, powerful tone. The back and sides are crafted from East Indian rosewood, which provides both strong projection and roundness to the tonal palette. Carved from solid genuine mahogany, the neck features Martin's diamond volute at the base of the headstock.
Each Bellezza Nera includes a special black interior label personally signed by Eric Clapton, Hiroshi Fujiwara, Martin Artist Relations head Dick Boak and Martin Chairman C.F. Martin IV. In keeping with the black theme, this guitar comes with a special Geib™ style hardshell case with black plush interior and black anodized hardware. C.F. Martin dealers and distributors will be accepting orders for the Eric Clapton/Hiroshi Fujiwara Bellezza Nera Limited Edition for a limited period concluding on September 27th, 2004. After the order period closes, the size of the edition and the names of participating Martin dealers will be posted on the Martin website, www.martinguitar.com.