I don't own a Martin, but I'd love to. Being a a Martin owner appeals to me on a lot of levels, but I have a quandry.
As a non-Martin owner, but someone who wants eventually to become one, I need constructive opinions from the group.
Here's the question ... where, in the Martin line-up does one first encounter a "real" Martin?
At the risk of offending some Martin owners, doesn't Martin now have their name on some products that probably don't qualify?
What about the "X" line? Real Martins? The D-1 ? A real Martin?
Like I say, I'm not out to offend anyone, I just want to get a consensus of some sort on what I'd have to spend to get a "real" Martin guitar.
Thanks --- Blackville
Blackville: I appreciate your sincere hope not to offend; I hope I can return the favor. My opinons follow:
Any guitar Martin makes and puts their name on is a real Martin. I don't care if the wood is not spruce, if it's laminated, or how the neck is joined to the guitar.
I also don't want to start a discussion on the above topics as we've all been through a lot of them.
However, what I noticed more than once in your post was the word "Investment." Again, just my opinion, I don't consider buying a guitar is an investment. You love the way it feels, the way it sounds, and the way it plays, or you don't buy it. There are enough speculators out there to drive up the price of instruments so musicians, or folks who actually play them, can no longer afford them. It is some sort of sin to think of these guitars sitting silently in collections. Besides, I don't believe you will ever get rich - and you probably won't even make a profit - on any current model Martin guitar within your lifetime anyway. There are better ways to make money, if that is your focus. I bought a D-28, new, in 1984 and got her for a really good price. I doubt I could get what I paid for her today on the used market. That's 27 years later. Same with my D-41 Special (2005), my Eric Clapton model (2006), and even my backpacker.
If your mentions of "investment" and "real" intend to invoke images of a guitar that will make the folks silently say "Wow!" to themselves when you take it out of the case at a jam somewhere... don't live for others. Get one you really like and love to play. One that won't let you walk by without picking it up and escaping from the world for a while. One that makes you WANT to play.
Again, this is just me but I don't think in monetary terms when I decide to share my life with a good guitar. When I die I won't be able to take the guitar, or the money I sell it for, with me but I sure as hell will be able to take the enjoyment, memories, and the music with me (assuming there is an after life).
Just the view across the upper bout of one of my Martins.
Michael ... great comments. I appreciate it.
I didn't mean to imply by the term investment that I was a guitar speculator. Just the opposite in fact. I don't want to get caught up in buying a guitar just for the sake of owning a "Martin." I realize that I cannot afford to swim in the deepest end of the Martin pool, so I was just trying to ascertain from more experienced owners, exactly how to decide if buying a Martin is even something I should consider since $1,000 would be on the absolute upper-end of my price range.
My fear was that there were Martins that were put out simply to attract a buyer like me, and that in buying one, I would have been essentially buying the name, while I could have perhaps gotten more guitar for the money with a less prestigious brand.
From what I can see in the replies today, I am probably way off base in assuming that Martin would put out a less than worthy instrument just to gain entry into the lower-dollar market.
Thanks once again to you and the others for setting me straight. :-)
Blackville: I'm glad you understood my meaning. I have this dog that I would die for - he has taught me more about life and love than any human ever could. Every night I express my gratitude that he has come to spend his life with me and to make mine whole.
I feel somewhat the same about a guitar. If you are looking for a guitar to enjoy, don't be hampered by the things the collectors and speculators get caught up in. As I get older, I am less inclined to give in to pomp and stance and I have come to appreciate truly meaningful things. A quick glance back at the posts on this group will show you many, many players who truly love their Martins, regardless of model. Play them all and decide for yourself if the all solid wood and the neck joint on the D-18 and up really make a difference. Also you should match the guitar to you playing style. That is to say, if you play finger style you want a wider string spacing at the saddle, such as found in the OM line. If power is what you are after, the dreadnaughts are the way to go.
Then try an HD-18 or, better yet, a vintage reissue of an HD-18. At this point you'll have to decide if you want to save up more money. If that sound is what you are after, it's worth sacrificing for and spending more. I know you'll never regret it and years from now you'll be glad you did. I held out for my D-41 Special (a blinged-up version of the HD-28 vintage) for a long time and found a new one with a few dings that resulted in the music store selling her to me for about $1,200.00 less than the street price.
I was once one of those who wanted only an all solid wood guitar, etc. But when I began really listening to guitars, and read a couple of tests that were conducted on the subject, I changed my outlook. I once also considered Martin to be just another factory guitar. Yes, they are factory guitars but unless you have $5k to $10k (or more) to spend on a custom, hand made guitar, Martin is as close as you're gonna get. And there is no guarantee that the custom guitar will sound or play any better. Sure, there is some of the brand name thing going on and even the folks who work at Martin have been quoted as saying, "We don't make them like we used to - but we never did." Today I consider Martin as one of the top, if not the very top, guitars on the market based upon their sound, quality, and market.
If $1k truly is your limit, you can hold out for a used D-18 but might have a bit of a wait. They are out there. But I'd play one first to see what I thought of it. As I said, I'd also play every Martin I could get my hands on and compare. I am sure you will find what you are looking for - just don't be in a hurry yet be ready to pounce once you are there. I don't believe you find a great guitar - it finds you.
By the way, I never did answer, but I consider the HD-18 (especially the vintage model) to be the definition of a Martin. Hands down the benchmark of the company.
Again, just my view across the lower bout...
Take care and best of luck in your search!
x series martins, little martins and all those priced below 1k us dollars are made in mexico with solid tops
Actually, they are, but there were plenty of X models made in the US before they made the plant in Mexico.
Seagulls are nice instruments, and a Martin would be a great contrast to one, completely different sound.
I know why I wanted one, it was pretty simple really. When I was a kid, i read "a Solitary Blue" at a really hard time in my life, even before I started playing guitar, and the way the kid responded and described the tone of his martin ( an 000) , made me want one years before I started playing. Don't get me wrong, IMO the guitar I bought was perfect for me tonally and feels like it was built just for my hands, but if it wasn't for that, and for the old fella who played his martin for 60 years in my town, and let me play it once, I would probably have been more open to other brands.