Martin Ambertone Vs Sunburst [Difference & Which is better]

Welcome to the ultimate guide on the debate between two iconic guitar finishes: “Martin Ambertone vs Sunburst.” The choice of finish is a pivotal decision when selecting a guitar, as it not only impacts the instrument’s visual appeal but can also influence its tone and character.

In this comprehensive exploration, we will delve deep into the distinctions between Martin Ambertone and Sunburst finishes, shedding light on their unique qualities, historical significance. Which is helping you determine which might be the superior choice for your musical aspirations.

Martin Ambertone Vs Sunburst

Whether you’re a seasoned guitarist or a novice on the quest for your perfect instrument, this guide will provide you with the insights needed to make an informed decision. So, let’s embark on this musical journey and uncover the nuances of these timeless finishes.

Comparison Table:

FeatureMartin AmbertoneSunburst
AppearanceWarm, amber-hued finish with a smooth, natural wood grain visible through the finish.Gradual color transition from a darker edge to a lighter center, creating a sunburst effect.
Color RangeTypically shades of amber, brown, and honey tones.Varies from vintage-style sunburst to more modern variations with vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows.
Traditional AppealClassic and timeless appearance, often associated with vintage acoustic guitars.A classic finish with a history dating back to early electric guitars, offering a vintage look.
VersatilitySuits a wide range of guitar body shapes and styles, including both acoustic and electric guitars.Similarly versatile, suitable for various body shapes and styles, including acoustic and electric guitars.
PopularityCommonly used by Martin and other acoustic guitar makers.Widely used by many guitar manufacturers, making it a popular choice among players.
Tone ImpactGenerally does not significantly impact the tone of the guitar.The type of sunburst finish can influence the guitar’s perceived tone, with darker shades sometimes associated with warmer tones.
MaintenanceRequires standard guitar maintenance; relatively easy to clean and maintain.Requires standard guitar maintenance; finish may show wear over time, especially on the edges.
Resale ValueMartin Ambertone can enhance the resale value of vintage and high-end guitars.Sunburst finishes are popular and can positively influence resale value, especially on classic models.
Personal PreferenceOften chosen for its traditional and elegant look.A matter of personal taste; some players prefer the vintage charm of sunburst finishes.
Modern VariationsMartin offers variations like Ambertone Burst and Burst models.Various sunburst styles available, from vintage to custom designs.


History of Martin Ambertone –

The Martin Ambertone finish is a choice presented by C.F. Martin & Co., an esteemed global leader in the guitar manufacturing industry. Distinguished by its inviting and amber-toned shade, it imparts a nostalgic essence to the guitar’s overall look and feel. This particular finish boasts a storied heritage, tracing its roots to the mid-20th century when it was initially unveiled to the world.

The Ambertone finish gained popularity during the folk music revival of the 1960s and has since become an iconic choice for acoustic guitar enthusiasts. It is closely associated with Martin’s famous dreadnought and orchestra model guitars.

Characteristics of Martin Ambertone –

Warm Aesthetics: The most striking feature of Martin Ambertone is its warm, amber color. It exudes a sense of tradition and vintage charm.

Natural Wood Grain: Unlike solid-color finishes, Ambertone allows the natural wood grain to show through. This enhances the guitar’s visual appeal by highlighting the unique patterns and figuring of the wood.

Aged Look: Over time, Martin Ambertone finishes tend to age gracefully, developing a beautiful patina that many guitar enthusiasts find appealing.

Resonance and Tone: Some players believe that the thin Ambertone finish allows the wood to vibrate more freely, contributing to a slightly warmer and more resonant tone compared to thicker finishes.

History of Sunburst Finish –

Sunburst Finish

The Sunburst finish, commonly known as “burst,” boasts a rich and illustrious lineage within the realm of guitars. Its inception can be traced back to the 1930s when it burst onto the scene, rapidly captivating the hearts of guitar enthusiasts. This legendary finish found its earliest application on archtop guitars, with venerable companies like Gibson leading the way.

The moniker “Sunburst” finds its origins in the mesmerizing way this finish unfurls from the very heart of a guitar’s top, mirroring the alluring spectacle of the sun either setting or ascending. Its versatility knows no bounds, having graced an extensive array of both acoustic and electric guitars, garnering acclaim for its captivating and vivacious aesthetics.

Characteristics of Sunburst Finish –

Eye-Catching Appearance: Sunburst finishes is popular for their visually striking appearance, with a burst of color emanating from the center. The transition from a dark outer edge to a lighter center creates a captivating look.

Versatility: Sunburst finishes can be found on various guitar types, from acoustic dreadnoughts to electric solid bodies. This versatility makes it a popular choice for musicians across genres.

Tone Variation: Some players believe that the Sunburst finish can impact the guitar’s tone, with the darker edges contributing to a slightly warmer tone and the lighter center adding brightness.

Historical Significance: Manufacturers have offered many iconic guitars, such as the Gibson Les Paul and the Fender Stratocaster, in Sunburst finishes, contributing to the historical significance of this finish.

Differences Between Martin Ambertone vs Sunburst –

Now that we’ve explored the histories and characteristics of Martin Ambertone and Sunburst finishes, let’s break down the key differences between them.

1. Color and Aesthetics:

Its warm amber hue characterizes Martin Ambertone. Which is offering a vintage and traditional look. On the other hand, Sunburst finishes feature a burst of color radiating from the center, creating a more dynamic and eye-catching appearance. The choice between these two finishes largely depends on your personal aesthetic preferences.

2. Visual Aging:

Both finishes tend to age gracefully, but their aging patterns differ. Martin Ambertone develops a deeper amber patina over time, accentuating its vintage appeal. Sunburst finishes may also age attractively, with the color transitions becoming more pronounced as the guitar matures.

3. Tone and Resonance:

While some players believe that both finishes can influence the guitar’s tone, the impact is subtle. Martin Ambertone is associated with a slightly warmer and more resonant tone due to its thinner application. Sunburst finishes can contribute to tonal variations, with the darker edges potentially adding warmth and the lighter center providing brightness. However, these tonal differences are subjective and may not be significant for all players.

4. Genre and Style:

Your choice between Martin Ambertone and Sunburst may also be influenced by the musical genres you prefer. Many people often associate Martin Ambertone with folk, blues, and traditional acoustic music. In contrast, guitarists from various genres, including rock, jazz, country, and more, often find Sunburst finishes versatile and choose them for their guitars.

Which Finish Is Better for You?

The decision between Martin Ambertone and Sunburst ultimately comes down to your personal preferences, playing style, and the type of music you intend to perform. Here are some considerations to help you make an informed choice:

Choose Martin Ambertone If:

  • You appreciate vintage aesthetics and the warmth of amber hues.
  • You primarily play acoustic guitars, especially dreadnought or orchestra models.
  • You enjoy traditional genres like folk, blues, or fingerstyle acoustic music.
  • You value the potential for a slightly warmer and more resonant tone.

Choose Sunburst If:

  • You prefer eye-catching and dynamic aesthetics.
  • You play a variety of musical styles and need a versatile guitar.
  • You like the historical significance of the Sunburst finish.
  • You are open to tonal variations that the Sunburst finish may offer.

Ultimately, the “better” finish depends on your individual taste and musical requirements. Both Martin Ambertone and Sunburst finishes have their unique charm and can be found on high-quality guitars from reputable manufacturers.


In the world of guitars, the choice between Martin Ambertone vs Sunburst finishes is a matter of personal preference and style. Each finish has its own set of characteristics and historical significance. Which is making them appealing to different players and genres.

As you embark on your guitar journey, take the time to explore both finishes and consider their visual appeal, tonal nuances, and historical context. Ultimately, the guitar you choose should resonate with you both visually and sonically. Whether it’s the warm glow of Martin Ambertone or the vibrant burst of a Sunburst finish.

Remember that the most important factor is how the guitar feels and sounds in your hands. So, don’t hesitate to try out different models with these finishes to find the one that truly speaks to you. Happy strumming!

Last Updated on October 13, 2023 by Perry Garner

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