Steve Earle (right) With His Martin M-21 Guitar

Steve Earle and His Martin M-21 guitar

Steve Earle

Steve Earle is an American singer, song writer, author, actor, and political activist.  He's been a star, and he's been to prison, and then he's remade himself into a much better artist.  Steve Earle, of course, is also a guitarist, and has always accompanied himself on records with one.  Early in his career, Steve was more of a rockabilly sort of musician, and played electric guitars; but as he's gotten older, he's become devoted to acoustic instruments.

Born in Texas in 1955, Steve spent years in Nashville, Tennessee; and now resides in New York City.  As for myself, I've always been a huge fan of Steve Earle, and what I have always appreciated was the way he's never been one to try to make "hits," he's a guy who has always had serious subject matter that was closest to his heart, and so pretty often, his songs are about controversial topics. The man, however, also has a serious sense of humor.

Steve Earle's music spans a lot of styles.  Some of his music could nearly be considered "rock music," and other things were once country music radio staples.  He's done albums that were straight Bluegrass music, and he's done a lot of things with some dark country music themes.  He's lived a rough life, drugs and alcohol, seven marriages, prison.

Mostly, Steve Earle's albums have some of this, some of that, and some of the other all inside.  My personal favorite is called Train a' Comin', as it features multi instrumentalist folk master, Norman Blake.  I'm a huge fan of Steve's, but I have to admit that I've not read any of his books.  I'll remedy that at some point in time should I get the chance.

The Martin M-21 Steve Earle Signature Guitar

The Martin M-21 Steve Earle Signature Guitar

It's little wonder the world's most renowned guitar builders built a guitar for an American classic like Steve Earle.  Steve Earle and Martin guitars go together live the proverbial peas and carrots.  This is, however, not a guitar you will often see, and it is similar to the Martin D-18 Gordon Lightfoot in that it isn't in production any longer.  None of this means, however, that a demand won't at some point or another reintroduce the guitar to standard production,  and Steve is still around to sign them, and we hope he will be for a long time to come.

So what the heck is an M-21?  I've never heard of anything like that?

 Well, there's nothing really strange or odd about the "M" body style guitars by C.F. Martin & Company at all.  These guitars are actually pretty popular, and a lot of renowned guitarists who aren't exactly famous, play them exclusively.  People like David Bromberg come to mind here, as he also has his own "M" body design produced by Martin.  The most common of the "M" body guitars is probably the Martin M-38, the David Bromberg guitar is an M-42.

Essentially, an "M" model acoustic guitar, is the same shape as is an OM, or "orchestra model," but the overall size of the "M" guitars is larger, despite being proportionally the same as OM's, just larger.  Did that make any sense?  I hope it did.

Whenever you are looking at, or reading about a Martin guitar, the number after the letter tells you how expensive the guitar is going to be.  Why more expensive?  Well, with Martin guitars, more expensive DOES NOT mean "better," it only means MORE EXPENSIVE.  For these reasons, this Steve Earle signature guitar is going to be priced really well until its no longer in production status drives the market price for the thing upwards.

Steve and His Martin Signature Guitar


Don't let the enlarged OM or "orchestra model" design of these guitars fool you, these M body guitars are actually larger instruments than a Martin dreadnought, like a D-28.  Like I'd stated before, Martin guitars aren't priced for their size,  their price is generally indicated by the number following the letter.  I'm pricing this instrument on the web for $4,299 dollars.  It is a custom guitar, and they're all signed by Steve Earle; so this guitar is a bit more expensive than it otherwise would be.

The exact dimensions of this guitar are those of a 0000 body with a 000 body depth  This is absolutely a "high X" guitar, which is to say it features forward shifted scalloped X bracing.  All such instruments are fragile, but are built for someone desiring the best in sound the most known for it on the planet manufacturer can offer.  When you buy something like this, you go in knowing you're purchasing a very precious and fragile thing that requires attention to care.

The back and sides are of East Indian rosewood, and the top is Alpine spruce.  It is an entirely all solid wood guitar.  The neck is carved from mahogany, and the fretboard and bridge are of East Indian rosewood as well.  The rosette is style 18, but the backstrip is style 28. Waverly tuning machines can't be beaten, and those are what are used here.  "Doppler Dot" fretboard position markers are used, and this is unique to Martin "21" style guitars.  Martin's polished gloss lacquer finish is the standard everyone else is measured by; and it will shine for quite a long long while, showing off that top grade wood that produces such crystalline tonality.

All Martin guitars come with a full limited lifetime warranty to the original owner, and a deluxe hardshell case.  Let's hear ol' Steve pick one, shall we?