Friends let friends play their Martin guitars. Credit David Bromberg for bringing fellow guitar wizard Jorma Kaukonen back into the C. F. Martin fold and inspiring the impressive new Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition.
“I played a gig with David Bromberg somewhere in New Jersey and he brought along the prototype of his Martin M-42 Signature Edition,” recalls Kaukonen. “I played that guitar and immediately fell in love with it. ‘When this guitar goes into production, I’ve got to have one,’ I told him. ‘Done,’ he said. When I got it, I loved it and I still do.” So much so, in fact, Kaukonen now plays Martin acoustic guitars exclusively.
While playing a loaned Martin Custom Shop M, Jorma began to really love certain aspects of that guitar (which he calls the “M-5”) and decided to combine specifications from it and the M-42 David Bromberg to create the Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition.
One can appreciate Jorma’s selection of Martin’s M body style (jumbo width, 000 depth and 25.4” scale) for his Custom Artist Edition; it handles everything from fingerpicking to flatpicking with ease. The M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition features a top of rare Italian Alpine Spruce and forward-shifted scalloped braces for full, saturated tone and impressive dynamic range. The top is paired with East Indian rosewood back and sides for rich, warm bass and strong projection, with an enlarged soundhole for enhanced midrange and treble response.
The Modified V neck with diamond volute is carved from genuine mahogany. “As much as I love my Bromberg, my aging hands need a somewhat wider neck. This works beautifully for my style of playing.”
In a career that has spanned five decades, Jorma first went electric as the lead guitarist of Jefferson Airplane in 1965. The Airplane became one of America’s most popular bands of the era, helping define the San Francisco Sound with hits like “Somebody to Love,” “White Rabbit,” and had eight Top 20 albums during his seven-year tenure. He also first recorded his fingerstyle classic, “Embryonic Journey,” while with the group. Jorma was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Jefferson Airplane in 1996.
Before he left the Airplane, Jorma and longtime friend (and Airplane bassist) Jack Casady joined forces in a side project: Hot Tuna. It began as a duo playing acoustic blues and expanded to include additional musicians, different genres, electric sets and original material. More than 35 years and 25+ albums later, Hot Tuna is still going strong, with Jorma, Jack and multi-instrumentalist Barry Mitterhoff mixing acoustic and occasional electric performances.
Jorma has also recorded 13 solo albums and in 2002 released “Blue Country Heart,” an album of traditional country blues that received a Grammy Award nomination for “Best Traditional Folk Album.”
In 1998, Jorma and his wife Vanessa established Fur Peace Ranch in the rolling foothills of southeastern Ohio. Here guitarists of all styles and skill levels stay, play and learn at workshops led by Jorma and an impressive roster of top musicians. Fur Peace Ranch also hosts a concert series throughout the year called “Live From the Fur Peace Ranch.” This series is broadcast on the Ohio University NPR affiliate, WOUB.
In complement to its unique design, the Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition showcases handsome vintage Style 30 appointments, the first time they have been used with the M body style and only the second time they have appeared on a modern Martin. A Style 45 rosette in select abalone pearl (with the inner ring eliminated) encircles the large soundhole and a vintage-inspired polished and beveled Delmar tortoise-color pickguard protects the top.
The polished East Indian rosewood headplate frames an abalone pearl version of the familiar “C. F. Martin” logo, which arches over a slightly modified Martin “torch” inlay, also in abalone pearl. Nickel Waverly tuners with oval ivoroid buttons complete the headstock. The African black ebony fingerboard features rare Maltese “diamond and squares” position markers in abalone pearl, with a Maltese cross at the 3rd fret, two diamonds at the 5th fret, a square at the 7th fret, two diamonds at the 9th fret, a square flanked by cats eyes at the 12th fret and a cats eye at the 15th fret, and culminating in his “Jorma” signature – no last name needed here - inlaid between the 19th and 20th frets. Both the headstock and fingerboard are bound in grained ivoroid, and inset with mitered black/white fine line inlays. Black/white fine line inlays also accent the grained ivoroid heel cap and end piece.
The nut, compensated saddle, pearl dot-topped bridge pins and endpin are all crafted from bone. Aging toner on the top adds to the guitar’s vintage vibe, and Martin’s polished gloss lacquer finish highlights the beauty of both its tonewoods and appointments.
Each Martin M-30 Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition guitar is delivered in a vintage style Geib hardshell case, and bears an interior label personally signed by Jorma Kaukonen numbered in sequence without the total, and a second interior label depicting his Fur Peace Ranch. Left-handed guitars may be ordered without additional charge and factory-installed electronics are an extra cost option. Authorized C. F. Martin dealers will begin taking orders for the Jorma Kaukonen Custom Artist Edition immediately and participating dealers will be listed on the C. F. Martin website: www.martinguitar.com.