Is The New Martin CEO-9 Worth All The Hype? (Review)

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Martin has been around for 187 years and counting. In fact, they’re still one of the best contenders for acoustic guitars.

Now:

The CEO recently created an entirely new guitar from a unique tonewood, which you might fall in love with!

martin ceo9 review

In short:

If you want to experience something new and awesome, Martin CEO-9 is worth checking out!

There’s only 50 of this guitar, so we better be fast!

Review of: Martin CEO-9

Sound Quality

9 out of 10

Price

8 out of 10

Playability

9 out of 10

Aesthetics

10 out of 10

Martin CEO9

Pros

  • Excellent investment
  • Mango has lovely tonal qualities
  • Unique aesthetics
  • Sweet tones, sustains, and overtones
  • Great volume and projection
  • Plek’d to perfection
  • Stays in tune
  • New Liquidmetal Bridge pins
  • Environment-friendly
  • Available for left-handed
  • Optional electronics

Cons

  • Limited edition, it might run out soon
  • It will mature later than regular guitars
  • V-neck might be uncomfortable
  • It might be too expensive
  • No cutaway version

The Martin CEO-9 is the amazing result of a scientific method that took a lot of sweat and effort. It’s a new tonewood for Martin, but the end-product is just wonderful.

This guitar is one of the expensive ones.

If you’re a beginner, this isn’t the guitar that I would suggest.

Even if you have a lot of money, it’s better to experience beginner guitars first.

If you’re an advanced player, then you might love this beauty!

For now, here are my suggestions for beginners:

kid learning from father

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Besides, the design of this guitar is more suited for fingerstyle, flat pickers, and blues.

Curly Mango on a Martin Guitar?

When I traveled to the Philippines, I saw a lot of mango trees. But I never imagined that they can be used as a tonewood.

Even when I saw the Martin CEO-9, I was kind of skeptical.

I told myself:

“It does look awesome and unique, but will it even sound good?”

If you’d like to know the answer, stay tuned, and you’re in for a surprise.

This particular guitar is the custom signature of the current CEO of Martin, Chris Martin IV.

It’s quite similar to the previous CEO-7, but it’s the first one made from a mango tree.

Here’s the kicker:

It looks surprisingly stunning and sounds fantastic!

Here’s the thing:

As an environmentalist, I salute the present CEO’s commitment. 

Right now, they are carrying out the worldwide environmental conservation and exploring the potential in the alternatives to the traditional tonewoods

This is a good thing since the most used tonewood is quickly disappearing. With all the wildfires and illegal deforestation, most of our wood resource is almost gone.

(That and the fact that our planet is in deep trouble.)

Hence, I applaud Martin for doing their part.

Martin CEO-9 Guitar Specs

Body Type00-14 Fret Slope Shoulder
TopSolid Curly Mango
Back & SidesCurly Mango
FinishGloss
BracingScalloped X-bracing
NeckMahogany
Neck ShapeModified V Standard Taper
FingerboardEbony
Frets20 frets joined at 14th
Scale Length25.4 inches
Nut Width1.75 inches
Hand OrientationRight-handed and Left-handed

Martin CEO-9: A Unique And Beautiful Guitar

martin ceo 9 body

This stunningly gorgeous guitar is based on the company’s pre-WWII “Golden Era.”

Have you seen a Gibson guitar from the 30s?

If not, the CEO-9 has that kind of personality. 

Interesting, eh?

Here’s the thing:

Mango is most definitely a unique material to use in a guitar. Just like its fruits, the end result of the guitar is “sweet” looking.

martin ceo 9 back

In terms of color, this guitar is somewhere between blonde, beige, and brown.

It has a glossy sunburst finish, which exceptionally blends with the wood’s color.

Let’s zoom in a little and look at the guitar in a more detailed way.

For most of the guitars, the head plate is just the natural color of the wood. The Martin CEO-9, on the other hand, has a more exciting headstock.

For starters, the head plate of this guitar features a faux tortoise design. The open-gear tuners exhibit a vintage copper color.

Both of these perfectly compliments the whole aesthetics of the guitar. 

Mango is actually from tropical islands, wherein it never snows. Which is why having a style 42 snowflake inlay was kind of weird for me.

In the end, it still looks cool on the guitar. And in design, contradiction isn’t a bad thing.

A little extra:

The bridge of CEO-9 has pyramids, which is really cool.

Also, this guitar features a Style 30 binding or simply put, it has a multi-color rope binding.

Overall, Martin CEO-9 has a fantastic design enhanced by its well-detailed features.

Of course, this guitar is NOT JUST about the looks.

A Guitar Body Unlike Any Other

Grand Concert is known as 00 in the Martin world. Although, the Martin CEO-9 is not the same as the rest of 00 guitars.

 00-1200-1400 Sloped Shoulder
Total Length37.75"38.625"39.5625"
Body Length19.625"18.875"19.4375"
Body Width14.125"14.3125"14.75"
Body Depth4.0625"4.125"4.125"

Compared to 00-12, this guitar is a bit shorter, more comprehensive, and has more depth.

But it is more extended and more extensive compared to the 00-14.

Here’s the kicker:

The hardness of mango falls somewhere between genuine mahogany and claro walnut.

It’s hard to pinpoint its actual quality, but it does have similarities with mahogany, walnut, and koa.

CEO 9 emphasizes a scalloped x-bracing, giving it a lightweight feeling.

For a premium guitar, you can only expect that it’s a solid guitar; otherwise, it’s not just that worth it.

martin ceo 9 body

We’re lucky that it is. Which means it’s an excellent investment.

The only downside is that it doesn’t develop as fast as a Spruce.

But, once it does?

The wait is undoubtedly worthwhile.

Sweet Sounding Tonewood

It sounds sweet, just like how mangoes (should) taste.

Here’s  the thing:

Mango isn’t usually used as a tonewood, which is why I’m pretty unfamiliar with it. But based on what I hear:

Martin CEO 9 has the personalities of a walnut, koa, and/or mahogany. The sound quality is like throaty and/or round.

Its hardwood top generates a more substantial and warmer sound. Martin’s X-bracing also gives it a rich tone, deep bass, and more volume.

These qualities are more enhanced with the mango tonewood.

Overall, it has glimmering overtones, bright trebles, punchy midrange, round bass, and excellent volume.

It’s definitely one-of-a-kind!

Fast Fingerwork

martin ceo 9 headstock

The solid genuine mahogany neck of CEO-9 is a standard tapered v-neck, just like Martin 000-28ec.

Some people might not like it but here’s the thing:

If you’re not used to it, it will only be uncomfortable for a few days.

Once you get used to it, you’ll surely love v-neck guitars.

Surprisingly, this shape is perfect for fast fingerwork. So, if you’re a fingerstyle player or a flat picker, you’ll love this neck shape.

Here’s more:

It has a composite bridge plate with spruce stabilized with thin layers of carbon fiber.

With it, the bridge is unaffected by weather effects and produces an excellent projection.

Bonus:

The bridge plate has been treated with Vintage Tone System. In other words, it’s been matured to a point.

Its quality is so much better than regular plates. In fact, because of the way its made plus the pins, the sustain and volume are honed to perfection.

The nut and saddle are made with compensated bone, which is one of the expensive materials for this part.

Theoretically, bone materials are better than plastic since they are denser. In other words, they have better projection and tone.

Let’s not forget about the dual-action truss rod. Having this truss rod is excellent for maintaining the guitar’s best shape.

This is most especially true if you frequently travel.

Check Pricing and Availability on Amazon.com

NEW! Liquidmetal Bridge Pins

A little extra:

It has Liquidmetal bridge pins, which is also a new exciting thing!

If you buy it individually, it’s kind of expensive. But, the quality of this new technology?

Out of this world!

Usually, bridge pins won’t have that drastic change on a guitar; this Liquidmetal bridge pins, on the other hand, has noticeable changes.

liquid metal bridge pins

The sustain, clarity, and volume improve dramatically!

Here’s more:

Liquidmetal bridge pins have longer “audible” life than standard ones.

Plek Pro fret treatment

This kind of treatment is applied to premium Martin guitars such as CEO-9.

It’s a computer-guided delicate process. It levels and dresses the guitar’s fret with insane accuracy.

Whether you’re playing low or high on the neck, you can rest assured. Why?

Martin CEO-9 will have no loss of sustain, minimized fret buzz and, no fretting out!

Simply put:

All the frets are ensured that every note rings big and bright.

Excellent playability, am I right?

Martin CEO-9 vs. CEO-7

 
Martin CEO-7
Martin CEO-9
TopAdirondack SpruceMango
Back & SidesMahoganyFigured Mango
Binding; Endpiece; HeelcapGrained IvoroidAntique White; with multi-stripe
Top InlayBlack StripeStyle 30
Top DetailN/AFigured
Bridge StyleStraight Line - Drop in SaddleModern Pyramid - Drop in Saddle
PinsBlack PlasticLiquidmetal
Back Purfling/StripN/AZig-Zag with Black Stripe
Back & Sides InlayBlack StripeMulti-Stripe
Neck MaterialSelect HardwoodGenuine Mahogany
Fingerboard InlaysAbalone Old Style 18Corian 42 Snowflake
Headplate MaterialEbonyFaux Tortoise
Logo StyleScript Authentic 1933 OverlayStylized Script Inlay
Tuning MachinesGolden Age Relic NickelVintage Copper Open Gear
KnobCream PlasticButter Bean

Thanks to the burst finish, they look a little bit similar. Other than that, not so much.

The new version looks more exotic and attractive thanks to the curly mango. It’s intriguing, isn’t it?

In fact, CEO-9 is more detailed than CEO-7. And it is most definitely nothing like the CEO-8 and 8.1 which wasn’t successful.

Although CEO 7 is much cheaper, CEO 9 has more premium and modern technologies.

Martin CEO-7

Martin CEO7

So, simply put:

The newer version has better qualities thanks to the modern advancements of Martin.

Here’s the thing:

They both sound great, I cannot deny that. 

If you don’t agree, then prove me wrong.

The CEO-7 is brighter, with excellent fundamentals and overtones.

On the other hand, CEO-9 has a fuller warmer tone. It also has a stronger volume and better sustain. 

So, for blues players, sliders, or even fingerstyle players, you’ll fall in love with the new version.

For both of these “small” guitars, they sure do pack a punch. They have excellent tone and volume, unlike other smaller guitars.

Winner: Martin CEO-9

Pros

  • Solid tonewood, hence it ages well (Excellent investment)
  • Mango might be new, but it has lovely tonal qualities
  • Unique aesthetics
  • Sweet tones, sustains, and overtones
  • Great volume and projection
  • Plek’d to perfection
  • Stays in tune
  • New Liquidmetal Bridge pins
  • Environment-friendly
  • Available for left-handed people
  • Optional electronics

Cons

  • Limited edition, it might run out soon
  • It will mature later than regular guitars
  • Some might find v-neck uncomfortable
  • It might be too expensive for others
  • No cutaway version

Final Thoughts

The Martin CEO-9 is an experiment for fresh new looks, materials, and technology.

With that said, Chris really did a great job with this one. It has an excellent result, totally got a lot of guitarists interested in this new guitar.

If it got you hooked (just like I did), I suggest you get this soon. It’s a limited edition, so it might run out real fast. 

From what I’ve heard, there’s only 50 of this guitar.

Given the price, it will undoubtedly be worth it and an excellent investment for you.

Enjoy? Share with your friends!

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