In 1998, Martin began an intriguing collaboration with classical guitar luthier Thomas Humphrey. At the time, Humphrey's guitars were highly revered by many top classical guitarists, and some players were willing to wait as long as five years to get one of Humphrey's creations. Through the collaboration, Martin used its full-scale production line to build more-accessible versions of Humphrey's creations.
The Martin C-1R borrows many features from Humphrey's critically-acclaimed Millennium guitar. Because of that, it doesn't look much like your average Martin guitar. Most striking is its gracefully arched Western Cedar top and elevated fingerboard, which combine to create a negative neck angle. This interesting design causes the neck to point at the top of the guitar (instead of running parallel with it), so the strings pull on the bridge more similar to how a harp's strings pull on its soundboard. Under the hood, the top is supported by Humphrey's intricate lattice-bracing design. All of this combines to keep the top nicely responsive, even with the reduced tension of nylon strings. East Indian Rosewood back and sides add shimmer and complexity, and its 650 mm scale length combined with 2-3/32" nut provide a traditional classical feel.
This 2001 Martin C-1R is in excellent condition all around. In keeping with classical guitar tradition, the C-1R has a satin finish instead of a thicker gloss finish. Even though the thinner satin finish may be less durable, this one has been properly cared for, so the guitar is free of severe dings, scratches, and cosmetic issues. It shows some play wear here and there (see photos), but it's in nice shape for its age.
On all of the Martin Thomas Humphrey guitars, the negative neck angle can be a little tricky. It's hard to pull off to begin with, and with no truss rod, many of these have action that teeters on the high side. But not the case here! The neck on this '01 C-1R looks to have been reset, and since the neck is at the proper angle, the action is nice and low. The frets have plenty of life left as well, and the new saddle has a ton of material remaining for future adjustments.
This 2001 Martin C-1R produces the well-balanced, nuanced voice that built Thomas Humphrey's reputation. It is formidable classical guitar, and it sounds fantastic. It's unlike any other Martin, but you can tell that it was built with every bit of the structural integrity you'd expect from Martin Guitar. Original hardshell case included.