My design classic: The Martin 000-28 acoustic guitar

For illustrator Michael Gillette, there’s only one candidate for the title of ‘design classic’

I’ve played the guitar since I was 12 years old. As a teen, I studied all the makes and models, hanging out at music shops on the weekends picking up catalogues and mustering the courage to ask to play one off the wall. It was the start of a lifelong obsession – my trainspotting. These days I’ll occasionally get on an eBay guitar-browsing jag, staring slack-jawed and full of want; I’m right back to my 12-year-old self’s mindset.

I have six guitars: three acoustics, an old Epiphone semi-acoustic I bought in 1985, a 1966 Vox 12-string and a kooky 70s bass, but recently I’ve been of the mind to give them all up for The One. My days of plugging in and making a racket are over. I now play finger-picking folk tunes, and all three of my acoustics are like plucking on an egg slice. So, my glad eyes and ears have settled on the snappily named Martin 000-28.

Martin is to the acoustic guitar what Apple is to computers. It has been crafting guitars since 1833, a time when the instrument was a fairly new invention – so much so that in C.F. Martin’s native Germany there were squabbles over who should be allowed to build them. The Violin Makers Guild objected to cabinet-makers like Martin crafting instruments, so C.F. Martin emigrated to America to have the freedom to create many of the innovations that are now archetypes of the instrument.

The company is still family-owned, with many of its instruments hand-crafted in the US. It boasts that the day you take yours home is the poorest it’ll ever sound; it’ll mature over time like wine. There are so few manufactured items that could claim that, in this age of cheap disposability. These guitars are for life, built with pride, skill and love.

The 000-28 has a slightly smaller body than most guitars so it’s more comfortable to play, while retaining a full sound. Its curves are beautifully proportioned and made out of the finest woods, with just the right amount of decorative flair. It’s form and function in perfect harmony. Now all I need is a spare couple of thousand dollars.

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