Gear Review: C.F. Martin & Co. Bentley Snowflake Guitar

C. F. Martin & Co., the preeminent American guitar builder who has been building classic acoustic instruments since 1833, is offering Martin devotees, guitar collectors, and art-conscious players the chance to own an elegant, limited-edition acoustic guitar inspired by the historically significant photography of Wilson A. Bentley. The Bentley Snowflake First Edition will be a custom instrument from the designers at Martin and promises to be both something special and as individual as a snowflake.

The name C. F. Martin & Co. has been associated with so many classic and collectible acoustic instruments over the years, the headstock and logo lettering has become an icon for serious guitar collectors as much as accomplished performers. People treasure their Martin guitars not only as great-sounding instruments that play well but also because they carry forward the quality and artistic concepts of Martin’s ageless design. So when the designers at Martin are inspired enough to announce a creative first edition guitar based on the work of a renowned photographer, Wison A. Bentley, people pay attention. Bentley is an interesting artist for Martin to acknowledge, being the first person to successfully photograph a single snow crystal in 1885 employing a technique known as photomicrography. It is the artistic and unique nature of snowflakes that Martin has elected to feature in this special guitar.

Many consider Wilson A. Bentley to be the “Ansel Adams” of snowflakes. When he died in 1931, he left behind a brilliant collection of weather-related photographs, pioneering meteorological photography, and a collection of atmospheric observation recording techniques still in use today. His collection of snowflake images (his only book) was published the year of his death, and more recently his work has appeared in Scientific American and National Geographic magazines. In addition to having posthumous notoriety for his images of snow’s one-of-a-kind crystalline structure, he is known to have been the first to say definitively that no two snowflakes are alike.

The Jericho Historical Society—custodian of an important image and document archive— has recently granted Martin exclusive rights to use Bentley’s snowflake images for the creation of unique inlay packages, as only the master guitar builder could create. While the traditional snowflake inlay pattern used at Martin Guitar has been popular for generations of instrument owners, the silhouette has been largely unchanged until now.

Key to Martin’s Bentley Snowflake Guitar project is that the Jericho Historical Society has allowed the Martin Custom Shop to select images from the Bentley Archives as inspiration. Selected images will be used as a starting point from which to create new snowflake inlay patterns for use on the headplate, fingerboard, heel, pickguard, and bridge of the 2022 edition of this model. 

It is important to note that the ultimate 2022 snowflake inlay design will be featured only for this limited run of instruments, and then will be retired. After the first edition, Martin’s agreement with the historical society allows for fresh inlay design packages to be developed periodically. Of course, each will be special to be seen only in limited quantities from the guitar builder, and then similarly retired. The realization of a series of beautiful instruments that encompass this kind of historically significant element makes the Bentley Snowflake Guitar—especially in its first edition—a dream instrument for the avid Martin collector. 

The Bentley Snowflake First Edition is crafted with stunning Madagascar rosewood for the back and sides paired with a Sitka spruce top. The combination is known for its warm and articulate tone, resulting in a beautifully playable guitar that will sound as amazing as it looks. Adding to the package, each guitar comes with a crystal glass snowflake presentation piece that will be shipped to the owner upon registering the guitar for warranty.

You can learn more about the Bentley Snowflake First Edition and the upcoming special series from C.F. Martin & Co. HERE.

The price for the Bentley Snowflake First Edition is $15,499.00.

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