In the mid-'80s, a young Chris Martin wondered why his company didn't build a jumbo, so he asked the crew to design an M-body with the depth of dreadnought. Right off the line, it sounded like it should, but Chris realized this was a "front" guitar—a guitar that would be out in front with the lead singer. Because of that, it needed to look the part, too. With an abalone rosette, hexagon fingerboard inlays, and the iconic "C.F. Martin" vertical inlay, the J-40 was born.
"That's my guitar," says Chris. "That's the guitar that someday people are going to say, 'What did Chris do for the company? Chris put together the J-40.' It wasn't rocket science, it was just let's mix and match. And it worked."
Although it closely resembles current J-40 specs, this 1996 Martin J-40 is actually a custom-spec guitar. At the time, the J-40 came standard with Maple back and sides, but many dealers realized its potential with East Indian Rosewood, so these Customs aren't particularly rare and ultimately the catalog model followed suit. This one is in excellent condition. It sports a new saddle, but otherwise it is very clean cosmetically and free of repairs or issues. It sounds enormous, but its tone is nicely balanced. Throaty, powerful, and also lush complex overtones.