Martin Guitar Buying Guide: Choosing the Best Martin Acoustic Guitar for your needs and budget
Since the 1800s, Martin has been known for producing world-class guitars. They’re best known for their dreadnaughts, and even many casual guitarists have heard of the legendary Martin D28. Today, Martin is still known as one of the best acoustic guitar brands in the world.
What artists use Martin acoustic guitars?
Martin guitars have been used by many artists including John Mayer, Ed Sheeran, David Gilmour, John Prine, Colbie Caillat, and Willie Nelson, to name just a few.
Neck & Body: Size, shape, materials & Bracing
Martin is especially well-known for its dreadnaught acoustics, many of which are known for classic, vintage tones. The D-35 is an example of one of Martin’s famous dreadnaughts. However, for fingerstyle players or just those who prefer something smaller, a 000 body may be better. The 000-15M, a mahogany 000, is also excellent for blues players thanks to mahogany’s midrange-focused sound.
Martin also offers a range of neck profiles. These range from the fast Performing Artist taper (a great choice for modern performers) to the classic Low Oval profile (which is more like the profile on vintage acoustics). Some models have satin-finished necks for faster playability.
Components: Martin Acoustic Guitars Score Well Here
Martins are generally well-appointed guitars. However, many of them do not come with electronics, which may not be ideal for performers. An exception to this is the OMJM, the best high-end acoustic guitar on our list. This guitar comes with Martin’s own high-end electronics.
While very high-end Martins are made with ebony fingerboards and bridges, many of their guitars are beginning to incorporate the more sustainable Richlite composite. Martin also pays close attention to detail in all of their models. Most have nuts and saddles made of high-quality composites that add to their tonal richness. Even the affordable LX1 is made with a corian nut and Tusq saddle.
For Sound & Tone, Martin is the choice of the pros
Martin’s guitars have earned enduring popularity thanks to their sound. Many of their models today have the same vintage tone as pre-war Martins do. This has led some players to describe the sound of Martins as “classic” or “traditional.” These dreadnaughts have a booming sound with plenty of low-end response, and they’re especially well suited to bluegrass music and Flatpicking.
If you’re seeking that classic sound, dreadnaughts like the D-35 are a great choice. Like most Martin dreadnaughts, this one has forward-shifted X bracing that enhances its low-end response.
However, Martin’s Road Series acoustics are made with a more modern look and sound in mind. For example, the GPC-13E has a Grand Performance body, which is a lot like Taylor’s Grand Auditorium. This shape offers a clear, bright sound that’s well-suited to contemporary music. Road Series guitars sometimes incorporate non-traditional tonewoods for a truly unique sound.
Action, Fit & Finish: Crucial to playability for any acoustic guitar
The fit and finish on Martins are generally excellent, and higher-end models usually arrive with the guitar carefully set up. For example, the OMJM has a Plek’d fretboard. Plek is a process that machine-treats a fretboard to make sure it is incredibly playable. Most Martins have fairly low action, but you can also adjust the action (or pay a professional to do so) to your liking.
Many Martin finishes are hand-rubbed, and the attention to detail is apparent when you get a closer look at the guitar. With a brand like this one, you aren’t likely to run into any quality control issues.
Reliability & Durability: Expect excellence from a Martin Acoustic Guitar
Like all well-built guitars, Martins will last decades when cared for properly. However, travel guitars like the LX1 have a leg up when it comes to durability. This is because the high-pressure laminate used on the back and sides tend to withstand knocks and temperature changes better than solid wood.
Value: These guitars are not cheap – They do represent some of the best high end acoustic guitars
While Martins aren’t the cheapest guitars out there, most players think they’re worth the expense. However, certain models offer more value than others. The GPC-13E is an all-solid guitar that’s equipped with decent electronics, and it’s significantly more affordable than many Martins. The 000-15M is an all-solid 000 that’s also easy on your wallet. Famous models like the D-35 and D-28 tend to be more expensive.