Matthew Arcara certainly isn't the only guitar maker building excellent contemporary versions of Martin's classic pre-WWII models, but he stands out by having very impressive credentials as a musician (winner of a National Flatpicking Championship, founder of the Joy Kills Sorrow stringband which has recorded 4 albums, countless appearances on major world stages etc). Playing guitar at such a high level doesn't guarantee that he's a great luthier, but it does tell us he's spent a lot of time listening to other excellent guitars besides his own.
You don't have to spend much time with this Dreadnought to realize that Matthew is indeed an excellent luthier. The fit & finish is impeccable, and Arcara's dedication to the traditional building techniques, such as hot hide glue construction throughout, is inspiring. This D1 checks all the boxes for tone, volume and playability. While it conforms to Martin's mid-1930s D-18 specs–the top is Adirondack spruce and the back and sides are Honduran mahogany–it's not a slavish copy. The ebony fingerboard surface is blank, and the soundhole is slightly larger (4 1/4" diameter instead of Martin's 4 inch standard) with a two-ring rosette instead of three. Why the larger soundhole? We don't know, but we're betting Arcara's ear informed his reasoning. The results are what counts, and this is an excellent guitar that's been well cared for. While used, this one shows few signs of playing wear and the frets and finish are nearly perfect. Includes a hardshell case in similar clean condition.
faux tortoiseshell celluloid
Adirondack scalloped braces, hot hide glue