It’s been a long, long, time — over 20 years — since I’ve had a “true acoustic” guitar. By “True Acoustic” I mean a guitar that was created not be amplified out-of-the-box and one that is made to sound right straight from the vibrating wood into your ear.
To my aesthetic, there is really only one acoustic guitar maker of merit and delight — and that is C.F. Martin & Company. Since 1833, they’ve been building grand and beautiful works of Art that sound luscious in, and on, the ear. My first guitar was a Martin HD-28 that I had to sell to make the rent, and I have been heartbroken ever since:
However, as time and tide crushed the standard of living the young artist’s life in NYC, years later I ended up having to sell my beloved Martin HD-28 to make the rent. It was such a heart-rasping experience giving up that HD-28 that I refused allow the joy of a guitar back into my life for 20 years.
The lesson in selling a beloved to make rent is that there is no faster compression of time into space than the moments of the first of the month arriving twelve times a year. You will run out of beloveds faster than you can delay the inevitable. Confess defeat. Preserve your joy. Move on in your humiliation. Your saved beloved will later heal your broken pride. Unless, of course, you sold it — then you’re just left broken and empty and joyless.
Now, as a man of more modest means, I decided the time was finally right again to dip my toe into the acoustic Martin sea, and I knew I wanted my new guitar to be the Martin Eric Clapton acoustic — the “000-28EC” — to be absolutely specific.
I wanted the Clapton acoustic because I loved the sound.
I have the Fender Clapton Custom Stratocaster — one of my favorite guitars — and I know that playing a reproduction of Clapton’s own 1939 Martin 000-28 would be a necessary experience, and this was the same sort of guitar Clapton played during his iconic, and live, and unforgettable, January 16, 1992 MTV Unplugged performance.
I’ve had the guitar in my hands for 24 hours, and I haven’t stopped playing it. The guitar speaks to me on a gut level of learning intuition.
My first call to arms to get this Clapton Acoustic was to Wildwood Guitars and my old buddy, Troy Benns. Troy and Wildwood have always done me right over the years and this time was no exception — except that, for the first time in a half-dozen purchases of new guitars from them — Troy wasn’t working that day!
Instead of talking with Troy, I connected with with Steve Mesple. Steve owns Wildwood, and it was the first time in all these years we’ve actually spoken with each other.
Steve and I spent 10 minutes on the phone — not talking much about the Clapton guitar, but rather how much we both love and admire Troy Benns as a man and a musician! It was a Benns lovefest!
Steve Mesple, as ever, gave me a great and fair deal on the guitar and, as always, the guitar arrived instantly and in magnificent shape. You cannot go wrong with Wildwood. They’re all about the guitar fitting you and not the other way around.
The reason I was so attracted to this particular Clapton acoustic Wildwood was selling was the lovely silking that the guitar already had on the top even though it’s a new build. The woodgrain was already fine and smooth and moody and — if you look closely in the image below — you can see four “silked swirls” in the solid sitka spruce top that catch and reflect the light in a unique way and provide a musical 3D effect for the eye — it’s God’s thumbprint embedded in woodsong. Truly a magical and beautiful wonder.
The guitar plays flawlessly.
The action is smooth and just right.
The neck is the classic Clapton “Modified V” and I’ve always liked that a lot.
The back is a beautiful solid East Indian rosewood.
The Clapton acoustic guitar fits my body well, and that’s important when you’re playing for a long time.
The 000-28EC is a mid-sized guitar — not a back-of-the-room boomer, and not a traveler — but the classic, rich, sound of a hallmark Martin guitar is there in full force. The bass thumps. The treble notes ping and sing. Construction is flawless.
If you ever want to get a great guitar — like my new Clapton Acoustic — I encourage you to get in touch with Wildwood and Troy Benns and Steve Mesple. They’re good people who will do you right and, in the end, you’ll end up with a fine guitar in hand and heart.