Martin guitars have a long-standing history that dates back almost two full centuries. These instruments have been used to create some of the most famous songs in history and continue to be an all-time favorite among musicians of all genres. With such an exclusive clientele base, it’s worth asking – who are the most famous Martin guitar players?
8 Famous Martin guitar players include Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Kurt Kobain, Ed Sheeran, Willie Nelson, Chris Cornell, and Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons. Each of these artists has helped cement Martin’s reputation as one of the best guitar makers in the world.
If you want to learn more about how these artists have used their trusty Martin guitars to bring their sound to life, make sure to read on.
Martin Guitars: Some Background Info
Martin guitars are a true American classic, handcrafted with a rich history dating back to 1833. Known for their exceptional tone and playability, Martin guitars are played by world renowned musicians around the world.
Before diving into the list of the most famous artists who play Martin guitars, let’s quickly go through some background info on the company and its iconic instruments.
Martin Guitars is an American guitar manufacturer that was founded in 1833 by Christian Frederick Martin. It’s undoubtedly one of the oldest and most prestigious guitar makers in the world.
Their already rich history is made even more impressive by the giant names in the music industry that have consistently relied on Martin guitars throughout their careers.
The artists listed below are just a handful of those who’ve valued the quality and craftsmanship of these instruments, so if you’re looking for an even more comprehensive list, go over to Martin’s own website to check out a list of their VIP clientele.
However, the exclusive client base is far from the only reason why Martin has managed to have such a strong chokehold over the music industry.
Their guitars aren’t only masterly crafted, but they’ve also introduced a wide array of innovative features, including the development of the X-bracing system, which is now standard in most acoustic guitars.
Now that you know a bit more about the brand itself and its historical importance, let’s dive into its most famous clients.
Check out our guide on the Best Martin Guitars
List of Famous Artists Who Play Martin Guitars
Here’s a more thorough list of famous artists (past and present) who play Martin guitars:
The fact that the king himself never parted ways with his trusty Martins has had a major impact on the company’s reputation in the music world. Though Elvis did switch between models from time to time, he rarely strayed from the brand itself. The D-18 and D-28 in particular were two of his most used models, with the latter famously being branded with “ELVIS” metal stickers on the front.
The iconic D-28 was also the king’s guitar of choice during his later career, which undoubtedly contributed to the guitar’s rise into legendary status.
Elvis did experiment with other brands from time to time, including (but not limited to):
- Recording King
However, it’s now obvious that Martins seemed to have a special place in his heart. In fact, he even used his trusty D-28 in his last concert on June 26th, 1977.
Elvis Presley isn’t the only musical legend who favored Martin Guitars. Bob Dylan, often regarded as one of the greatest musicians of all time, was also infatuated with the brand from a young age.
That’s why you’ll spot him using a wide array of Martin guitars even in his earlier career, with some of his favorite models being the 00-17 and the 0-45. Though the former unfortunately wasn’t included in any of the artist’s official recordings, it was used in his iconic Minnesota Hotel Tapes.
Dylan seemed to favor smaller, more humble models, as their softer sound seemed to fit his style better, allowing his musical abilities to shine.
Moving on from one musical legend to another, Johnny Cash is another one of Martin’s most famous clients. In fact, he became known for his gorgeous, custom-built Martin D-35. An appreciation for the D series seems to be a common denominator among all these names.
His custom Martin was easily identifiable by its black lacquered finish, which was an especially eye-catching choice for live performances. The love for Martin guitars seemed to run in the family for Cash since his father also showed an immense appreciation for the brand.
If you’re interested in getting your hands on a modern variation of Cash’s signature guitar, you can do so by getting the “Martin DX Johnny Cash.”
If you weren’t already impressed by the lineup, you’re bound to be now. Kurt Kobain was also known to love his martins, especially a 1950s D-18E. He used this particular model in one of Nirvana’s most famous performances with MTV.
The band’s songs were supported beautifully by the soft, acoustic sounds of the D-18, so the lead singer rarely strayed from it. In fact, this favorite model of his was endearingly nicknamed the “grandpa.” This monicker is believed to be used in reference to the guitar’s old-school, yet sturdy and reliable build.
Martin has never ceased being the go-to choice for some of the biggest names in the music industry, and this next artist goes to prove just that. Ed Sheeran is one of the most famous and highly-esteemed musicians of our generation, and he still seems to stick to the same instruments as some of the other all-time greats mentioned on this list.
The British superstar actually relies on a smaller, more humble model for most of his performances, a 3/4 Martin LX1. If you think about it, the iconic Martin sound goes beautifully with Sheeran’s style, so this collaboration makes perfect sense.
Speaking of collaboration, Sheeran was given his own signature Martin model, the Martin Ed Sheeran x Signature Collection. Unfortunately, though, this model has since been discontinued.
Read Also: What Guitar Does Ed Sheeran Play?
Remember how I said that Martin guitars have had a chokehold over the music industry across all different genres? This iconic country musician goes on to prove just that.
Willie Nelson is one of the main figures of outlaw country, a country subgenre that gained a life of its own in the 1960s. On his road to becoming a musical revolutionary and legend, he consistently relied on Martin guitars, namely the N-29.
Since his early career, the icon never retired his most-used instrument, which quickly became associated with the “Willie Nelson” name itself.
Chris Cornell of Soundgarden and Audioslave has often been regarded as one of the most skilled guitarists of his generation. Though both of his bands were known for their rock n roll sound, he often relied on acoustic Martins, namely the iconic D-28.
In fact, he used this exact model for one of his most famous performances, his cover of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” You can check out the performance yourself in the clip embedded below:
Unfortunately, the specific Martin releases that Cornell most often played, the DCPA4 and the D-28 Marquis have both been discontinued. With that said it’s still important to note that every time the musical icon had to use an acoustic guitar, he chose a Martin every single time.
Last but certainly not least, Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons concludes today’s list of the most famous Martin guitar players. In fact, the lead singer of the small, yet widely successful London-based band has performed most of their biggest hits on a D-28.
Some of his other favorite Martin models include the OM-21 and the D-42, though it’s clear that his trusty D-28 holds a special place in his heart. Though the artist has experimented with other brands and models as well, these particular guitars have played a significant role in his career and the band’s repertoire.
In fact, his Martin D-28 was included in the band’s music video for “Babel,” which you can find below:
Frequently Asked Questions
Before wrapping things up, let’s answer some of your most frequently asked questions about Martin guitars.
What Artists Play Martin D-28?
Some of the most famous artists that play Martin D-28 include John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, Chris Martin, Noel Gallagher, Nick Drake, Lester Flatt, John Martyn, Scott Hutchison, Brad Paisley, Jimmy Page, Harry Nilson, and Marcus Mumford.
What Is Martin’s Most Famous Guitar?
Martin’s most famous guitar is arguably the Martin D-28. This iconic model is the go-to acoustic guitar for many of the biggest names in the music industry. Though the original version of this instrument was crafted back in the 1930s, it has been consistently improved upon since then.
Is Martin or Gibson Better?
Martin guitars are better for those looking for dreadnoughts or mid-sized models with a more delicate sound. The brand also offers a wider array of instruments at varying prices. Gibson guitars, on the other hand, are better for those who want a fuller sound and a higher-end model.
Ultimately, the choice between the two is a personal one, and your preferences, budget, and playing style all need to be considered before making a decision.