The huge projection and reverberant bass notes that pour out of the Martin Custom Sinker Mahogany Dreadnought are largely the result of the extraordinary wood used for the back and sides. But before we get to the guitar itself, the story behind that mahogany is a fascinating one worth telling.
So-called “sinker mahogany” has its origins in the Central American country of Belize roughly 300 years ago when the British felled massive, 250-300 year-old trees ideal for shipbuilding. The enormous logs were floated downstream to be processed near the port where they would be exported. Along the way, the oldest, most dense logs would settle on the bottom of the floating mass. Some would become trapped by obstructions, while others would take on enough water to ultimately lose their buoyancy and sink to the bottom of the river. Once trapped underwater—often at great depths—the logs became somewhat “preserved” by a relentless barrage of river silt, algae, and lack of oxygen. The wood’s density is a luthier’s dream.
Brian Baggett of Private Reserve Guitars drives this remarkable D14 hard to show off its barrel-chested bottom end and crisp, articulate treble range.
In the intervening three centuries the rivers changed course, in some cases making these long-submerged logs accessible. A cottage industry has sprung up in Belize in which these logs are re-harvested by locals. The work is laborious and dangerous but lucrative. Re-harvested sinker logs command big prices from the luxury yacht and auto builders as well as furniture makers who covet its marvelous properties.
As a relatively small-volume buyer, Martin faced fierce competition for the sinker mahogany harvest. But by having their specialists in-country to evaluate the harvest early on, Martin was able to secure this rarest of woods. And the huge-voiced Martin Custom Sinker Dreadnought is the result.
Built with a time-tested D-14 body and forward-shifted bracing that extracts every ounce of clarity from the Adirondack spruce top, bluegrass players will love its cannon-like power. It thrives on being played hard and its attack is extremely responsive to your picking.
Here are the reactions of two of our Guitar Advisors after examining and playing the D14 Sinker Dreadnought:
The Martin Custom Shop Sinker Mahogany Dreadnought is perhaps one of the most powerful dreads that I've ever played. It rings for days! When you hold the guitar against you, you can feel the guitar move. I can't imagine how this guitar is going to sound in five,10, even 20 years. This is one of the strongest mahogany Martins I've ever played—that’s why we hand-picked this guitar from the factory!
I've seen the logs of old sinker mahogany at the Martin Custom Shop and it's wild seeing and feeling that same wood transformed into this guitar. It's interesting, the sap in the log actually all flows out to the outer portion of the log when it falls into a river, preserving the inside of the log as it ages. The side effect of this is a truly unique-sounding and looking piece of mahogany. These are really strong sounding dreadnoughts without being boomy. The lows are really clear, even when digging into the strings, and the high end is chimey and articulate.
You can explore all the specs for the Martin Custom D14 Sinker Mahogany Dreadnought here. We also invite you to call one of our Guitar Advisors at 866-926-1923 for an in-hand tone report, additional photos, or to schedule a Skype session to personally audition this extraordinary guitar.