Martin CPCE Inception Maple | Review

Published 2 months ago on April 11, 2024

By Guitar Interactive Magazine

Martin GPCE Inception Maple | Review

MSRP: (UK) £3999 / (US) $4150

Martin is unlocking the sonic beauty of sustainable tonewoods with the all-new GPCE Inception Maple. Made from a combination of sustainable and domestically abundant tonewoods, The GPCE Inception features a European spruce top, maple sides, and an eye-catching three-piece back of maple and black walnut, providing a clear, projective, and balanced tone. Nick Jennison reviews.

As the oldest guitar manufacturer in the world, we often associate Martin with its long and storied past. While this is perfectly understandable, Martin always has one eye on the future. In recent years, their SC models paired electric-esque hyper-playability and modern construction methods with the classic “Martin” sound. At the same time, the Street Legend introduced photo-accurate ageing to production guitars without having to take a set of car keys to the guitar’s top.

New for NAMM 2024, the GPCE Inception Maple embraces the same spirit of innovation, but at its heart is sustainability. Specifically, the use of “domestic hardwoods” refers to species that are native to the USA. In this case, it’s the near-ubiquitous spruce top paired with maple back and sides and a walnut back “wedge”. Now, maple acoustics are nothing new, but since maple is such a bright-sounding wood, these guitars are usually larger body styles to compensate for the toppy-sounding timber. Surprisingly though, the GPCE Inception Maple makes use of Martin’s Grand Performance body style - a compact and very comfortable shape that is perhaps more akin to a guitar from California than one from Nazareth. 

So it’s a small-bodied maple guitar - it’s going to be bright, bright, bright, right? Nope! Somehow, Martin has defied the laws of physics and produced a warm, sweet and full-bodied guitar. This is likely due to a few factors. Firstly, the inclusion of a walnut “wedge” in the back. Widest when it’s directly opposite the guitar’s bridge, this wedge introduces some warmth into the equation. The biggest factor is probably the bracing, though, and this is where things get really interesting. It’s still a traditional X Braced guitar, but these braces are “skeletonized”, with strategically cut hexagonal holes in the braces that look a lot like a honeycomb - a very strong, naturally occurring structure. This is combined with “sonic channels” where the top is strategically thinned out around the bracing. The result is top with more projection and sustain without drastically changing the core sound that we love from Martin’s X Braced guitars.

So, while the GPCE Inception Maple sounds fantastic, it’s distinctly more “modern” than your typical Martin sound, and the same goes for the playability. Where Martin guitars traditionally “make you work for it”, the GPCE Inception Maple plays like a breeze - more like an SC-13 than a D-18. The play feel is very comfortable and easy, and this is further enhanced by the smooth tactile feel of Martin’s Luxe Kovar strings.

The GPCE Inception Maple is a Martin guitar for folks who want to embrace modern design and sustainability while still having one foot in the tradition and heritage of Martin’s past. It plays and sounds great and has a lot more body and warmth than you’d expect from a smaller-bodied maple guitar. It comes equipped with an LR Baggs Anthem for tried-and-true plugged-in tones and a moulded hardshell case. It’s not cheap, but if you’re looking for a guitar that perfectly blends west-coast modernism with Pennsylvanian heritage, this is it.

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