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Martin Owners

For those who own one or more Martin guitars, those who want to own a Martin, or those who just like talking about Martins

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Discussion Forum

A Family Affair at Martin Guitar 2 Replies

Started by Dave Fengler. Last reply by Jud Hair Dec 6.

Time for a Change 8 Replies

Started by Mike Bishop. Last reply by Alan Land Oct 31.

anyone been to the exhibit at the Met Museum? 2 Replies

Started by michael schwartz. Last reply by michael schwartz Oct 30.

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Comment by Ed Rhoades on February 5, 2011 at 10:50am

The price difference in Martins is due to labor intensity and cost of materials. They make sure those expensive Martins sound great before they leave the factory, but they don't make sure the lower cost guitars sound inferior. Our local store has a beautiful HD28 that I've been admiring. Of the last three HD28 models they've had, this one is my favorite. Since I don't use family money for guitars, it would take a number of gigs, drawings, and magazine articles for me to save up for it. I got sidetracked more than once. I bought a used SWDGT that came into the store. It's mortise-tenon and local tone wood and used, so the cost was pretty low, and the sound was outstanding. (Plus it had a beautiful case and pickup)

In November, they got in a brand new D15M. I had never played a mahogany top Martin dreadnought before, and it blew me away. I played it next to the HD28 and like it's sound and feel as much. I'm playing it constantly.

Now the store has a used Custom D rosewood with pickup and case almost a third of the cost of the HD28 and I played them side by side and I liked the less expensive one more. (It doesn't have fancy appointments or snob appeal, but if you chose guitars blindfolded, you might like more than most Martins.)


When I'm playing through my Crate Acoustic amp, my DC1E and DCX1E sound best, If I'm recording through the board my D16RGT with an Ellipse Blend pickup sounds best and the action and micarta fingerboard are incredible.

If I have the luxury of recording the guitar by itself though a mic, my old D18 and my new D15M work best for me. 


The confusing thing about guitars is this. You might play two guitars side by side in the store and decide which one sounds best, but in few months, the tone will change and the one you like least can overtake the other. I have seen it happen more than once. In my experience the top contributes most to the tone. Some of those road series, X models, 15 and 16 series guitars are killer guitars.

Chris Martin said the D15 is the best bargain, he likened it to a D45 without the bling.


Comment by Bernie on February 5, 2011 at 10:45am
Ginger I am happy to know that you like your D12X1 I am still GASing for a J12-40E this will hold me over for a while LOL
Comment by chris mirabile on February 5, 2011 at 10:38am
by making martin guitars more affordable with lamanits and more available and less expensive tone woods they are able to charge more for the brazilian rosewood and others that they have in storage . those tone woods not as available anymore
Comment by J. D. Woods on February 5, 2011 at 10:14am


Thanks for those insightful and encouraging words. You're exactly correct. I'm feeling a warm welcome, and haven't detected a hint of arrogant elitism like I've seen on some other sites/blogs, etc. I'm already learning a lot from all of you!

Wondered if I could get your opinions on something however... Do you think that the advent of CNC manufacturing has been one of the main reasons for a narrowing of the big price gulf we've seen in recent years? Back in the sixties and seventies, Martin guitars were simply out of the question for a typical blue-collar folkie. Heck, it would have been a sizable loan even on my college professor's salary! Now, we seem to have a plethora of really decent-sounding acoustic guitars for under $500. Or, would it be a better understanding of how to combine less expensive materials with traditional tone woods? This has been a mystery to me and was just wondering. Thanks.

Comment by Michael S. Jackson on February 5, 2011 at 9:55am

Regarding stage vs recording, etc., for recroding I use pure acoustic for the best sound I can get, tailored to me needs. I do have two acoustic/electric guitars (neither one a Martin) that I use for stage work. Like some have mentioned, I need to move around and, though I sometimes must be in the proximity of a mic, I can engage the audience at various times and the internal mic on my guitar lets me do so.

Both of these guitars use the Fishman system and they sound OK. But I use them only in a group situation, that is with a band. In such a setting tone quality is not a big deal. So the guitar I use most often is one I picked up new for $180.00. It's easy to play, looks good, sounds like any other acoustic with a pick up in it and I won't feel so bad if it gets damaged (though I take VERY good care of all of my instuments).

However, if I am in a setting where it's just me (coffe shop, solo stage, etc.) tone quality becomes more critical and I almost always go with the clearer, more natural sound of the externally mic'd guitar though a good PA system (or acoustic amp) via a good pre-amp. The same goes for bluegrass where my unelecrtified D-28 really shines.

These are just my tastes, and ways to get the sound I want. I've read posts months ago from folks like Ed Sparks and what he uses. Ed has a lot of experience in equipment and reading about his set-ups caused me to do a lot of experimenting. The problem is, I don't have access to all of the equipment he spelled out. But I'm continally experimenting.

As I said, I was completely down on the performance series guitars when they first came out. But after detailed experimenting, I now would like to own one someday. I like their sound and the flexibility you have in obtaining the sound you want. Ed Rhoades listed a site where you can learn more. If I hadn't researched these out, and played some of them, I would probably still think they sound like my $180 guitar.

But they definitely do not.

Thanks all!

Comment by Ginger on February 5, 2011 at 9:39am

Hi JD & welcome to the group. I believe if you joined here then you belong here. There is no criteria other than a love of guitars, guitar music & playing. You have that enough to belong. =) I do know the feeling tho', 'cuz I felt the same way when I joined. I have the love - I have the guitars, but whoa there's a lot of talented people here that can intimidate you if you let them.

We have three Martins at our house - two which are listed in the mid-echelon of Martin...a D-15 & a D-18. My 12 string however, is a D12X1 & I like it a lot. This was a surprisingly playable guitar & rivaled all guitars, six & twelve alike in it's price class. Does it rival the D12-28? No...but then do you fairly compare anything else that is such a difference in price? $3000.00 vs $800.00. I wouldn't even expect the $800.00 to sound as good. But y'know what? It isn't that far behind. No, it doesn't have the power of a D12-28 or the Guild 12's for that matter, but it does have a nice range & can be bright without losing any of the bass end.  Just my opinion of course.

I think the worry comes with durability. How will these instruments hold up over the long haul? Who really knows? But at $800, I figure oh hell, I'll just buy another one! LOL!

I have an old Framus 12 string which are constantly being criticized by everyone for being German tanks, but I love the sound of mine & would not ever part with it.  ♪ ♫
Comment by Michael S. Jackson on February 5, 2011 at 9:39am

JD - I'll join with the others in welcoming you! As you can read, we sometimes have lively discussions on various topics and the cool thing about it is we can do so without offending anyone. We realize that a lot of what is written here is out of personal taste and opinion, driven by the love of a great guitar. That great guitar can be a cardboard box with a broomstick handle and rubber bands on it or whatever makes it great to the owner but this is the Martin Group and I don't think they make such a guitar - yet.

I've written about another site I belong to that is no so warm and open. It's a breath of fresh air to read the posts on this site and to chime in with your two cents. Even if it is purely a subjective opinion, we can all learn something.

I believe when you call them "low end" Martins you are talking about price. There is nothing low end about their sound or "quality." I've played a lot of them and would own everyone if I could, but that's not practical. It doesn't take a lot of money, exotic woods, nor engineering feats to make a guitar your companion for life, as you know.

When you read these posts you see a common thread: Almost all have played guitar for a long time and have wanted a Martin for a long time. We finally got one, or more, but it wasn't unitl relatively late in life. Would it not be the height of arrogance for anyone to put down someone else's guitar when that person played whatever he could for decades before owning a Martin? I mean, if you graph it out you'll see that if St Peter asks what kind of guitar you owned, and you say, "Martin" he might send you away. You might have owned a Martin for 20% of your guitar life but you owned others for 80%. I think a more appropriate question of ol' St Peter would be, "Did you love playing the guitars you owned?"

We're all just guitar and music lovers in the end - regardless of the appraised value of our instruments. But it sure if fun to brag about what we love!

Take care - m.

Comment by Bernie on February 5, 2011 at 9:18am
I played a lot of different Martins before I decided on my D-41Special. I will admit that I skipped over the DX's 15's 16's 18's and started trying 28's and worked my way up. I thought I would like the 45's sound the best but the 41 Special won me over
Comment by J. D. Woods on February 5, 2011 at 8:39am

Wow, that really helps! I first started playing in the summer of 1966 and it was on a student model Harmony (ok, dinosaur vintage, I know). Then I went to a Gibson SJ, Alvarez 12, Ovation12, Ovation Adamas and finally to Martin in 2000. Gosh, by that time I'd been playing for over 30 years and when I picked up the Road Series JM (approx $650 then), even with the laminated mahogany b&s, it had that incredible, tight popular sound that I was always looking for. Especially on power strum patterns that I rememberd from the Kingston Trio, Christy Minstrals, etc. I literally "came home" to Martin.

Yeah Bernie, you said what I was afraid to say. It actually was true from my experience. I'd go up to Elderlys Instruments in Lansing, take the 000X1 off the rack and try it out side-by-side with a $1,200 or $1,500 000 from the other room. And from my perspective, I couln't justify the cost differential. Hey, I'm sure I'm overlooking a LOT of important stuff here, and I'm not suggesting for a second that Martin isn't justified in setting the prices the way they do. Maybe it's the fact that I'm too easy to satisfy and I've gotten 10 years of exquisite musical enjoyment out of the low-end Martin line.

Ok, all that to say thanks to Michael, Chris, Alan and Bernie for your most excellent comments. I feel a lot better already!

Comment by Bernie on February 5, 2011 at 8:16am
Welcome JD I kind of know what you are coming from I have a Martin D-41Special, I think this is the nicest sounding guitar I have ever played. I recently put a deposit on a D12X1AE, this is also a fine sounding guitar

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