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.

21 Comments

          1. Yes, the “I” in INTJ! More than three people in a room and I start going my own way. I don’t “mingle” well. SMILE! If, though, I’m leading something, or have a task, that’s a different thang. It’s the unfocused, unguided, hanging out that makes me wander off…

            I’m not that great a playing guitar, so to come up with something semi-good and representative would take me a long time and delay the review. I’m not too worried about image — just because that can’t really be controlled or defined by me — all I can do is do what I do and that’s what’s done. Others perceive and define the image, and that’s fine with me, because I really don’t care. GRIN!

          2. I can only “suffer”crowds if I have purpose – I am the same as you with the leading/task/function/aim …..

            I think I may be more aware of the image factor – because of my previous occupation where there were certain expectations of me – ie some of my customers thought they owned a piece of me and expected to see it every so often.

            The video can wait – I have sat and listened to the whole of Clapton unplugged and I am now very chilled out …….

          3. Nicola! Yes, I certainly understand the crowd syndrome. Going on vacation with a plan always helps! SMILE!

            That’s interesting about your previous job and how people tended to want to own a bit of you — and rent you outright! That must have been a delicate balance between privacy and public expectation.

            That Clapton Unplugged performance is the best thing he’s ever done. It sealed his legacy. There is no doubt left that he is, and was, and forever will be, a formidable talent and a historic icon. Unplugged was such a great series because it offered no hiding to the performers. You could either play and sing or you could not. That’s also the first public performance of “Tears in Heaven” and you can see him checking his cheat sheet right at the start of the song. He doesn’t quite seem to know the words yet. Moments like that make the man indelible. He, of course, goes on to sing it perfectly.

            I had previously purchased a couple of songs from his Unplugged concert, and I bought the rest of the album on iTunes this morning. The whole of it must be experienced and the sound on the iTunes version is deep and rich. So gorgeous!

    1. Yes! The top is one of the best I’ve seen and it will only get better as it ages and gets played and time takes over.

      There’s a temptation to put electronics inside, but one of the greatest gifts of this guitar is that it is so lightweight. Adding wires and plugs and magnets all make it heavier for little musical profit.

  1. I actually saw EC from 6 feet away with Cream in the 60’s. I was right in front of him, elbows on the stage as he played all the Cream songs. But the best was Crossroads. It was a breathtaking performance and why I am still a EC fan today. I also saw him unplugged in concert. He’s why I still play Martin guitars today. My next Martin? The OOO28EC.

    1. Fantastic story! You saw something that can never be experienced again — and it is still fresh and alive within you!

      There was a Crossroads concert on MTV Live this afternoon. Watched it all again. Eric is such a great and mesmerizing talent compared to the “musicians” we have working today.

      He will leave a giant hole when he departs this mortal coil!