Slightly wider than a dreadnought (16" across the lower bout!), but with the delicate curves of a 000, the Martin M body (sometimes called a 0000) may be one of the company's most interesting and versatile designs. Most of Martin's popular designs were refined during the company's "Golden Era" of the '20s and '30s, but the M debuted in 1977. The body was a reaction to creative luthiers such as Matt Umanov and Marc Silver who re-constructed '30s Martin archtops with flat spruce tops. Once David Bromberg began playing an archtop conversions on stage, there was growing public demand for these powerful but articulate guitars.
Beyond the Standard Series, Martin hasn't offered many upper-end M models. What about an M with a cutaway? The '90s MC-28 was the only standard production cutaway M, but it has a goofy oval soundhole. The special edition MC-DSM has a regular 4" soundhole, but guess what? This rare Martin was a Limited Edition run of 100.
The MC-DSM is the signature guitar of the Martin sales staff. Seriously. DSM means "District Sales Manager," and DSMs are the a Martin dealer's direct contact to the company. As the story goes, the specs of the MC-DSM were dreamed up by the company's sales staff, and oh boy did they cook up a seriously cool guitar! Not only is it an M-body with a cutaway, but it has an Italian Alpine Spruce top and Flamed Koa back and sides. Black binding, rectangular bridge, Foden inlays, and an Abalone-inlaid "C.F. Martin & Co." logo on the peghead. This was already a rare combination of features, and then they decided to limit production to 100 total guitars!
This MC-DSM is #56 in the series, and the serial number (1265369) technically dates to early 2007 although it has the commemorative 175th Anniversary stamp on the inside. This Martin has been played over the years, but despite some play wear, it finds us in nice shape (see photos). There is an unfortunate scratch on the top right by the bridge, and the top is very slightly bellied behind the bridge, since the bridge is just a straight rectangular shape. The nut measures 1-3/4", the current setup is low and inviting, and the frets are in excellent condition. The original Waverly tuners do exactly what they're supposed to!
In your hands, this MC-DSM sounds like a big OM with the clarity and richness of Koa. It has beautiful bass that rings out and resonates, the mid-range is woody and articulate, and the treble shimmers. This Martin sounds loud and robust like a dreadnought, but it has more balance and clarity like a smaller guitar. It has a versatile sound, and the cutaway only adds to its potential. This an intriguing Limited Edition Martin that may be everything you never knew you wanted. Original TKL hardshell case included!