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New Martin Performing Artist Series 4 OMCPA4 GPCPA4 DCPA4 guitars

These all have list prices of $1599 and seem comparable to much pricier Martins.  Anyone know the backstory?

 

I have been thinking about getting a small body acoustic guitar for some time and had been considering several of the Martin OM 16 series such as the OMC-16GTE and OMC-16OGTE.  Martin recently announced several new guitars in their Performing Artist series that are comparatively less expensive and I'm curious if anyone knows how they are making them.

 

My question is: Why does the OMCPA4 list for $600 less than the OMC-16GTE?  There are some seemingly minor differences in terms of the pickguard, electronics, fingerboard width at the 12th fret and endpiece but on paper they look extremely similar.  Does anyone know why they are so much less expensive?.  Is Martin just trying to be more cost competetive?  Is there a difference in construction that doesn't show up in the specs?  Are these new models being made in Mexico?  Just hoping someone out there knows.  I haven't laid my hands on any of these new models yet so perhaps time will tell.  Thanks.

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They all seem comparable to a certain extent... on paper. However, I once owned a Martin OMC-16GTE-Aura. I loved the sound of the guitar. I thought it was comparable to other more pricier Martins. And overall, it is a great sounding guitar. A great value. Then, I was blessed to purchase a Martin Custom OMC-28. Playing the two guitars side by side, there was simply no comparison. Suddenly the OMC-16 didn't sound as good. While I once thought it played better then any guitar I had ever owned, after the playing the more pricier Martin, I was dissatisfied with the 16 series. I eventually sold it. Make no mistake, you do get what you pay for in the long run. I do not know what Martin is doing to keep the price down, but there is a reason it is $600.00 cheaper. Call Martin and ask them. Their customer service department is usually very helpful.
John, thanks for your input and "sound" advice :).  I did ask customer service where this new line was being made and the rep said they that they are made at the Nazareth plant so that at least answers one question.  They are just starting to appear at the dealers so I think my next step is to try playing them and see if I can tell / hear the difference.
The latest issue of Martin's magazine, "Sounding Board" has an article on this line of guitars (Performing Artist Series). To quote, "In the most simple sense, the number suffix for the Performing Artist Series models (1, 2, 3 and 4) refers to the appointment level and price. The original PA1 guitars have premium appointments. The PA2 model is slightly simplified with a slightly lower price." What this means is: The OMCPA4 is going to be the lowest level of the line in terms of appointments. It is also of interest to note, that in the front of the magazine you find this quote from C.F. Martin IV "Our dealers and distributors have told us that the market place is more competitive than ever. This is a tremendous advantage for you, the consumer, because all of us who compete for your hard earned dollars have to be at the top of our game or get out of the way." Perhaps that is exactly what you are seeing?
Harold ... I just bought the DCPA4 dreadnought version yesterday for $1,119 "out the door" including hardshell case and extra set of strings.  While I agree with John in his comments regarding the general superiority of Martin's that cost $600 more, I must say that in this instance I also believe that Martin is trying hard to break into the profitable acoustic/electric market where other premium names like Taylor are entrenched.  There is no doubt that in order to reach the "affordable" price point for the Performance Artist PA4's, some concessions in material were made, and as John points out, you do usually get what you pay for.  But with this Martin, you get solid sapele while a comparably priced Taylor still gives you laminate sides and back for example.  Personally, I feel like I got a huge bargain for my $1,119.  I'm now a Martin owner and I'm a happy camper.
I just bought an OMCPA4 with case for $1080. My primary guitar has been a Taylor 100 just to give a sense for what I'm used to -- the OMCPA4 is a couple steps up in sound and finish. The OMC is smaller, which is what I was looking for as I've been doing a lot of fingerpicking and wanted a smaller reach for my fretting hand. I didn't have the Martin in mind, but fell in love in the store and walked out with it. This was in a smallish Guitar Center in DeWitt, NY, where the high end was probably about a $3k Taylor. I was in the room that just had a mess of Taylors and Martins in it, and when I picked up this one and started playing the other guys in the room just stopped what they were doing and asked "What is that? That sounds awesome." And that's just what I was thinking, too. And that was after picking up a mess of different $2-3k guitars and playing the same licks on each. So far, so good. I can tell you that the guitar is bright sounding (brighter than the Taylor, which is hard to believe), and also that it resonates cleanly -- sometimes too cleanly, I really have to damp the strings sometimes. This thing has a built-in electronic tuner, which is pretty funny since I didn't even notice that in the store. I checked out how it sounded through some amps and it seemed clean enough to me, but I'm not a performer and don't know the nuances. I wasn't looking for the electronics anyway, just the best sounding OM in the store, which this easily was.
@ Steve ... You're the first person I've heard from that got to play the OMCPA4 ... nice to get a review of the little model.  Neither of the shops I went to had one, so I chose from the other two and ended up getting the dreadnought.  I'm pretty tall and reaching over a dread for several hours doesn't bother me like it does some people.  However, I continue to find that I have trouble singing over a dreadnought unless I'm mic'ed.  My other guitar is a Seagull S-6 Original dread.
I recently purchased a GPCPA1. The reason I went with this model was for the ebony fret-board and rose-wood sides. I payed more but feel that if I ever wanted to sell it that the value won't be much different from the purchase price. The OMCPA4 and OMC- 16GTE although fine instruments as is any Martin guitar uses Sapele sides(African mahoghany) and a manufactured material for the fret-board. I think it is called Micarta. Martin also saved on the finish and the neck is stratabound. That said these instruments sound very good with good Martin tone. I hope this helps.
Hi Dan ... I certainly played the PA1 when I was looking ... but, frankly I stretched my budget just to get the PA4.  In addition to the higher grade material and finish, on the PA1, you also get a more sophisticated version of the Fishman onboard electronics which are analog on the PA4.  One point of clarification, though regarding concessions on materials.  On the PA4 line, the neck is actually solid rather than stratabond.
Hey Jud, Nice to meet you. I may have confused that neck with a different model. The fret-board material is also in need of clarification. It is called "Richlite". I googled it and from what I can understand it is an epoxy resin blended with paper and some other stuff formed and pressed. When the process is complete it is a very dense,hard, and durable material used in a variety of manufacturing.

Dan ... I do believe the Richlite material is very similar to Micarta.  The PA1 is an absolutely gorgeous guitar and if I had been in a financial position to get it, I certainly would have.  I played it extensively while shopping and although I personally couldn't tell much difference in playability or sound compared to the PA4, the premium materials used in the PA1 will probably make more appealing upon re-sale.

 

Is that your son backing you on drums?  :-)

Just checking back in here after a couple years, hi! I still have my OMCPA4 and it's definitely become my "go to" guitar. Sounds great, feels great. Last summer I took it over to Rudy's Music Stop here in Manhattan for a setup and they recommended I get the truss rod reset or some such. It was still under warranty, so no problem. It was a really good guitar before but after the work, it was even better. They set the action nice and low and the intonation is a little more accurate, too. Yay Rudy's! Have been enjoying the OM over my Taylor 110 dread for fingerpicking and music that is more scale than chord-oriented. The dread still gets the nod for out and out strumming and rhythm playing -- it has a fuller sound where the OMCPA4 is a little more delicate and intimate.

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