In 2007 Earle moved to New York City and soon found his way to Matt Umanov Guitars. Matt Umanov, who has been matching players with instruments since 1965, guided his new customer in the purchase of a few Martin guitars and along the way introduced him to the M body style, which combines jumbo (0000) size with 000 depth. The Martin M quickly became Earle’s favorite acoustic, so much so that he now tours with a pair of them.
His enthusiasm for the Martin M jump-started development of a Martin Steve Earle signature guitar. Earle turned to Umanov for help with the details and together they created the Martin M-21 Steve Earle Custom Edition, a “poor man’s” M that showcases this body style’s big, balanced sound and playing comfort in an elegant, affordable package.
With two guitar perfectionists like Steve Earle and Matt Umanov in charge, The M-21 Steve Earle Custom Edition naturally receives superb solid tonewoods. The top is Italian alpine spruce, revered for its clear, rich tone, and the forward-shifted scalloped top bracing enhances balance and responsiveness. The back and sides are East Indian rosewood for warmth and power. The low profile neck is carved from genuine mahogany. The headplate, fingerboard and bridge are all East Indian rosewood.
Like Martin Style 21s of the past, the M-21 Steve Earle Custom Edition blends Style 18 and Style 28 appointments, plus a few unique to Style 21. The rosette and checkerboard backstrip blend beautifully with the subtle top and back purfling and tortoise-color binding. The polished headplate frames the Old Style gold C.F. Martin logo decal and Waverly nickel tuners with butterbean buttons give the headstock a decidedly “old school” look. The fingerboard features Style 28 position markers becoming progressively smaller from the 5th to the 17th frets, and the “black with white dots” bridge pins and end pin also are Style 21.
The polished and beveled Delmar nitrate pickguard and aging toner on the top complete the instrument’s vintage-inspired style. The body showcases Martin’s flawless polished gloss lacquer finish: the neck receives a satin finish for player comfort.
Delivered in a blue molded hardshell case, each Martin M-21 Steve Earle Custom Edition guitar features an interior label personally signed by Steve Earle and Matt Umanov, numbered in sequence without a total. Left-handed instruments may be ordered at no additional charge: factory-installed electronics and a sunburst finish are extra-cost options. Authorized C.F. Martin dealers will begin accepting orders for the M-21 Steve Earle Custom Edition immediately and dealers participating in this “unlimited” edition will be posted on the C.F. Martin website.