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What does “Martin Custom Shop” mean?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by Harry Styron, Dec 2, 2020.

  1. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I recently bought a used Martin OM—21, which has a Sitka spruce top and East Indian rosewood back and sides, and an ebony fretboard, bridge and binding. I’m extremely happy with the guitar.

    Here’s the stamp:
    upload_2020-12-2_8-53-51.jpeg

    Was this guitar part of a group ordered with these specifications by Guitar Center, Sweetwater or another volume dealer?
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
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  2. MickM

    MickM Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    Martin is still a small enough company to call and ask. Probably give you all the info you want.
     
  3. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I sent an email, seeking information, before I bought, and Martin sent me a specifications sheet with a lot of detailed information, but nothing about who may have ordered it. I should follow up, as you suggest.
     
  4. teletimetx

    teletimetx Doctor of Teleocity

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    I'm no expert, Harry, but it looks like the Martin Custom Shop guitars may be ordered with custom specs or you can find Martin Custom Shop guitars new, "on-the-shelf" from authorized Martin Custom Shop Experts at selected retailers. Just looking at Fuller Guitars, here in Houston, they had 4 or 5 "Custom Shop" Martins available; both Gruhn and Wildwood had more than 20; Tobias Music, in IL had 4, etc.

    For the most part, it looks like "Custom Shop" off-the-shelf versions have some kind of special woods like sinker mahogany or cocobolo or "Guatamalan Rosewood", Adirondack spruce, etc. There's about 25 or so selected dealers across the US that offer Custom Shop, either as new guitars or as in order your own custom Martin. That's what it sort of looks like.
     
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  5. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Knowing the year from the S/N you should be able to identify any modifications from the standard spec. Could be as small as the neck dots or as much as a different kind of rosewood, spruce, bracing and scale length. I don't know if Martin will tell you for certain if it was made for an individual or part of a larger order/run built in the Custom Shop.
     
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  6. jrblue

    jrblue Friend of Leo's

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    I'm not sure if you can find out for sure, but in practice the designation seems to be used for any special order, and is related to requested features, not some all-encopmpassing higher standard of quality. Martin has done a good job cultivating its identity as a craftsman-oriented workshop thought it is in fact a factory (well, now its factories, plural, including MIM) spewing out guitars. In the industry, the focus used to be older, experienced workers, but now it's on newer robots and algorithms. Personal preference aside, it's fascinating. Both Martin and PRS have negotiated the quality challenges amazingly.
     
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  7. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    Are those the retro monel strings
     
  8. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I do not know what kind of strings they are. I have used the Martin Retro strings on my Gibson J50 and I like them.
     
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  9. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    thanks just curious as the strings were silver-colored, and not like phosphor bronze strings
     
  10. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    The guitar is beautifully crafted, though very plain. The case is quite nice, too. The spec sheet that Martin sent me calls it an OM-21(2012), though the serial number indicates that it was made in 2016, so I'm inferring it was made to conform to a discontinued design. I'll post some photos.
     
  11. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Here are some pics:
    upload_2020-12-2_14-8-43.png

    upload_2020-12-2_14-10-19.png upload_2020-12-2_14-11-17.png
     
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  12. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    Here's the top:
    upload_2020-12-2_14-36-4.png
     
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  13. MickM

    MickM Poster Extraordinaire Platinum Supporter

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    Hate to jack a thread but I've been using the Retro Monels on a J50 and a smaller Collings acoustic and a mandolin. I like 'em too.
    Thanks for the additional pics, looks sweet.
     
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  14. dwh100

    dwh100 Tele-Meister

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    Martin Custom Shop really means anorexic wallet!
     
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  15. DougM

    DougM Poster Extraordinaire

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    In the Martin hierarchy of their standard series, the 21 is the least expensive model with rosewood back and sides, but also have rosewood for the fretboard and bridge. You have to move up to the 28 series to get those in ebony, so I suspect that's the CS aspect of that guitar. The 21 series also has plainer black binding and a simpler rosette than the 28 series.
    They are basically 18s, except with rosewood back and sides, instead of mahogany.
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2020
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  16. Harry Styron

    Harry Styron Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I paid less than $2,000 for the OM-21, which was twice as much as I paid for my 2008 J50. Both looked like great deals to me.
     
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  17. still_fiddlin

    still_fiddlin Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

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    Martin has updated the -21 to use ebony for fingerboard and bridge - maybe starting with the whole "reimagined" thing some years back. I'm curious what OP has in the "custom" spec sheet that differentiates it.
     
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  18. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Holic

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    Sometimes Martin will do a run of custom designs. I have this, number one hundred seventy something out of of 250 they made in 2000. It has that same "Custom Shop" label inside on the neck heel.

    The items which are "custom", on top of their regular equivalent base model, are marked with a diamond.

    The purfling is this cool herringbone with red-and-blue chevrons, the rosette inlay is abalone.

    I bought it on September 16th 2001, I was going to buy in on the 12th but the bank had limited cash withdrawals to $300/day after the 11th so I had to make a couple of trips.

    $1700 list, $1400 out the door with case.
     

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    Last edited: Dec 3, 2020
  19. Freeman Keller

    Freeman Keller Poster Extraordinaire

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  20. beanluc

    beanluc Tele-Holic

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