But it is true. Martin decided to jump into the electric guitar market in 1959 by taking some of their traditional instruments and putting DeArmond pickups on them, complete with tone and volume controls on the lower bouts.
Their first type of guitars produced were given the designations the D-18E, the D-28E and the 00-18E.
The pickguard needed to be cut to maintain the pickup rings.
All of these guitars had the same accoutrements as their acoustic cousins. All had a spruce top. The D-18E and the 00-18E had mahogany back and sides and the D-28E had rosewood back and sides. The D-28E had gold plated Grover Roto tuners.
Besides the pickups the biggest difference between the electric and acoustic models of this series was, due to the pickups mounting, the electrics were made with transverse bracing on the top. This changed the sound when the guitar was played acoustically. Subsequently they sound thinner than a typical X braced Martin.
Although Martin guitars did not become expensive until around 1973, electric guitar pickups that are screwed into a Martin acoustic guitar and holes drilled into the top and ladder bracing? That is a sacrilege!
The D-18E was discontinued within a year. The D-28E and the 00-18E were produced through 1964.
|F-55 - F-65 - F-50 from the A Marshall Collection|
The bodies measured slightly less than 2” in thickness. The tops and backs were maple plywood with the tops being bound. All had a sort of dreadnaught shape, though the lower bout was wider. The cutaways on these were different than any guitar of the day as they were wide and stood at almost a right angle from the neck and had a modified Florentine shape. The necks were glued into the instrument and processed a 20-fret rosewood fingerboard which joined the body at the 14th fret.
The headstock was a typical Martin shaped with 3 plus 3 style tuners. Another unusual feature on this series was the use of a clear Plexiglas adjustable bridge. Like most archtops, the pickguard was elevated.
The F-50 bore a single humbucking pickup at the bottom of the neck and a single volume and tone control on the lower bout.
All of these guitars were produced from 1962 through 1965.
These guitars could be purchased with solid state amplifiers which bore the Martin logo.
|Martin 112T amplifier|
The Martin Model 110T and 112T were made by the DeArmond Company. In fact, but for the color of the covering and grill cloth these amps were virtually identical.
By late 1965 the Martin F series was discontinued due to lack of interest. However Martin stayed the course and created a new series of electrics dubbed the GT series that became available the following year.
Two models were available this time, the GT-70 and GT-75. These were thinline guitars with two F-holes and a neck that joined the body at the 15th fret. The 22 fret rosewood fretboard was bound. The guitars inlays had dot position markers and the headstock was redesigned and bound.
The GT-75 was similarly equipped to the G-70; however there were twin cutaways on the upper bout.
Martin also made 12 string versions of the GT-75 sans the Bigsby. These guitars bore the Martin M trapeze tailpiece. All models were available in black or burgundy finishes.
Along with the new guitars, Martin offered a new amplifier designated the SS-140. In keeping up with popular amplifier designs of the era, this amp was the size of a refrigerator and is assumed to have 140 watts of power. As a kid, I recall lugging those big heavy amplifiers around. Thankfully some brilliant unknown engineer discovered that amps could be “miked” and their sound could be run through the public address system eliminating the need to drag around amplifiers that weighed 200pounds and up.
They were copies of well known electric guitar shapes with a self-styled headstock. Their sales were dismal and discontinued in the mid 1970’s.
In 1974 Martin went back to producing a domestic series of electric guitars designated the E series. The headstock was sort of a variation of the old Stauffer Martin design with the exception the tuners were 3 per side.
|E-18 - E-28|
Later models eliminated the mahogany. The Martin brand was stamped into the back of the body. The necks had 22 frets. A CFM script logo was decaled on the head. The tuners were Sperzels.
The E-18 and the EM-18 were similar guitars but for the pickups and electronics. The E-18 came with twin DiMarzio pickups and a toggle switch to put them in or out of phase. The neck pickup was a PAF style and the bridge pickup was a DiMarzio super distortion. Both had brass nuts and Leo Quan bridges.
The EM-18 had twin Mighty Mite pickups and a 3 way switch that could put the pickups in or out of phase and also split the coils.
In 1980 Martin added a model designated the E-28. This was a fancier version of the E-18. The nut was made of Micarta. The fretboard was ebony instead of rosewood. The neck was extended to 24 frets giving it a two octave range.
Some of the later models had sunburst finishes. The headstock was overlaid with ebony. An active circuit was added.
An EB-28 bass was added to the line-up during this period with similar accoutrements. This had DiMarzio P-bass and J-bass pickups.
All models came with a molded plastic case. The entire line was gone by 1982.
These products were geared to beginning guitar students and all had a low retail price. They were sold under the corporate name Martin Telemarketing. The Stinger series lasted until 1990 when Martin came to its senses and went back to what they do better than any other company - build high quality acoustic guitars.