Martin D-7 Roger McGuinn Guitar
By Todd Stuart Phillips
For the strummer who wants something extra in their sound without having to pay a lot more to get it, C. F. Martin and Co. has introduced a new 7-string guitar, the D-7 Roger McGuinn special edition. This is a Mortis and Tenon neck joint version of the highly regarded HD-7 that Mr. McGuinn helped design for Martin. But this more affordable sequel has its own personality inside and out.
The guitar borrows appointments from several of Martins classic designs and employs them in an understated yet original way. It has the bold herringbone inlay of an HD-28V, but it only appears as the D-7's rosette and back strip. The edges of the top have black and white lines similar to a standard D-28, alongside grained ivoroid binding of a vintage-style Martin, matched with a 1-3/4" Modified V neck that features a special fingerboard pattern of diamonds and squares designed for this guitar. I think it looks very nice indeed. Like many guitars in this year's collection, the use of such appointments is innovative and yet one could imagine such a guitar being introduced in 1937 rather than 2007. I was also impressed with how it sounded.
The place these special 7-Strings really shine is when someone does full out strumming with them. That is because the extra string is a high G set along side the normal G string. It results in special harmonics that have previously been reserved for 12-string guitars. It is like having a 12-string when one is strumming full chords, but still getting solid bass notes and a six-string sound when doing most of their picking work. And perhaps best of all, one does not have to deal with the extra wide neck and laborious attention to detail required to get all six courses of a 12-string to sound in tune.
The Indian rosewood back and sides, topped with Sitka spruce make for a nicely muscled voice that won't get drowned out by other guitars. Since the M&T neck joint design really pops the trebles out it only helps that high G string leap into a room all the more. When I first heard someone playing the prototype for this D-7 I actually thought they were playing a 12-string.
Once a guitarist plays one of these Martin D-7s they must wonder as I did why it took so long for someone to arrive at this concept. It would be ideal for singing groups who want a special chime in their rhythm section or for an individual who wants the sound of a 12-string guitar without having to put up with the hassles that come with maintaining all those extra strings. And all for about half the price of the HD-7 with its flashier pearl inlays. The HD-7 has more resonance and its own unique and full-bodied voice. But this D-7 really rings out loud and clear and just might be the better choice for ensemble playing and the budget-minded soloist.