Martin guitars...WTF ?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Timmo, Nov 22, 2005.

  1. matte

    matte Senior Member

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  2. Trandy

    Trandy Supporting Member

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    I have been selling Martin guitars for over 20 years. I have heard some great old Martin guitars....but old does not a great guitar make....it's about the particular guitar...not the age.

    With that much said I can tell you from first-hand experience that the Martin guitars they are making now are just fine....maybe the best ever from a QC viewpoint. Martin flat out owned the "Made in USA" guitar market for a very long time...maybe I should say they dominated it.

    Now with Collings, Bourgeois, Froggy Bottom, Santa Cruz,Taylor, etc. the bar has been raised quite a bit...and I think, after stumbling a bit initially, Martin has responded in spades. It's hard to argue with a D-18GE from a traditional tonal aspect. However, that may not be what you are looking for...and if not...so be it. There's plenty of other guitars to consider in all the price ranges.

    Generalizing is never a good thing...what works just fine for one person may be absolutely poison for the next. And, you know, they're just guitars and there's plenty of them out there.
     
  3. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    Couldn't agree more. I love Collings but I've played plenty of new Martins that were doing all the same things for me that Bill's guitars do.
     
  4. IIIBOOMERIII

    IIIBOOMERIII Member

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    Martin Guitars hhmmmmm, where to begin? Let me start off by saying they are probably the best sounding acoustic guitars on the planet. They have more deep bottom end and overall volume than any guitar made….ANY guitar. I own an HD-28 and an HD-1932.

    While Martin’s sound GREAT I do have a complaint. They are actually difficult guitars to set up and play. Martins are guitars that tend to fight you as you play them. This alone is the single most difficult issue to try to understand. No matter what gauge of strings you use they are difficult to play. However, I believe their superb tone and volume make this an issue that is worth tolerating.

    I absolutely LOVE how Taylor guitars play. They are very comfortable to play and string tensions seem to be very light on these instruments, they are a very easy playing guitar. However, they sound thin and tinny. It is this issue with tone that makes me shy away from Taylor guitars. I really do love playing these instruments; I just cannot get passed the tone.

    The last guitar I bought was a CA Legend. I love this guitar. It is amazing to me that this guitar sounds rich and full and there is NO WOOD in this guitar….with the exception of the finger board. These instruments sound awesome. They are not as warm sounding as a Martin but they are close. You can actually abuse these guitars and do things you can not do with a wooden guitar. You can leave them in a hot car all day long and they do not care. When going from one environment to another they do not need time to adjust.

    Martins still are and always will be the holy grail of tone in acoustic guitars, they are not for everyone, and yes, they are worth every penny.
     
  5. jimmybcool

    jimmybcool Member

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    Boomer

    I have only played one Martin (mine) for any length of time and I agree that the way it came from the factory it was very difficult to play. The day after I bought it I was wondering if I could return it.

    I went back and my guitar pusher (gotta feed the jones) said he could lower the action.

    So they worked on the thing a bit using a lower saddle and did some other magic to the nut and some slightly lighter strings and in the end I still got the tone and NOW it plays well. I think it was worth the extra effort.

    I asked him why would Martin ship an expensive guitar from the factory with such high action. He noted that some people are pretty much strummers and the higher action is easier to play without any fret buzz plus apparetnly you get more volume that way.

    Any case my meager experience mirrors yours. Hard to play until it was setup for my taste.
     
  6. matte

    matte Senior Member

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    I couldn't disagree more. My Martin was built in 1986. It's the only guitar that I've kept. The Schoenberg OMs were built by Martin (tuned by Dana B)in the "80s as well.
     
  7. jimmybcool

    jimmybcool Member

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    Travis

    First of all I would like to know where you work that carries all those lines. WOW. :AOK

    I am no expert and my opinions don't carry the same weight as yours. I can only comment on what my ears and fingers sense.

    I agree about the Martins. I recently bought a DC-AURA and can not be happier with it. If it doesn't sound good then my ears are no good.

    I would disagree about the McPherson. I also bought one of these with the Redwood Sprice top and Quilted Maple sidea and back. It sounds great.

    But people can disagree. :D
     
  8. ChrisP

    ChrisP Member

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    Taylor / Martin

    I bought my 000-16 Martin at Chuck Levin's about 5 years ago. I bought the cheapest all wood Martin. That was my budget...

    I was primarily an electric player so I asked the salesman for a benchmark acoustic...he grinned and handed me a 2200 taylor...it played like absolute butter...very nice...He then started handing me guitars left and right for the next couple hours, mainly taylors...it seemed like he wanted me to buy one. Maybe he was just into taylors.

    THEN he handed me the 000-16 ($1K guitar). I played one chord and was sold. It played NOTHING like the taylor, but it had THAT tone. I kept playing for another hour but I knew that guitar was the one for me.

    It is such a sweet sounding guitar. I was getting lost in it last night.
     
  9. 1959burst

    1959burst boogieman

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    i own a new 2002 custom d-45 and custom d-42.........................utterly amazing guits.
     
  10. Heliman

    Heliman Member

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    I can not speak for all Martins, but my D-41 is one of the best sounding guitars I have heard or played in my 54 years. It is not as bright or as easy to play as my Taylor 914-C, but to call it a toneless, vibeless, volumeless, dead sounding dog is going a wee bit off the deep end in my opinion. :eek:
     
  11. jimmybcool

    jimmybcool Member

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    Travis,

    Its OK. I see you are in Nashville and I doubt I'll get out that way. I just envy your work that puts that level of quality and variety in your hands daily.

    But I'll not whine. Between my Markin, McPherson and old Guild D-50 I feel I have more than enough instruments. What I need is more skill. And that will take time ande effort.
     
  12. bobeau

    bobeau Member

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  13. KenSea

    KenSea Member

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    I have owned Collings, three Martins and a Goodall. I can truely say the current Martin I own is the best guitar I have had. With that being said the problem with Martin is they build guitars like a carpenter would build a house, he pulls off the next 2x4 and goes with. Martin doesnt match tops with back and sides, so it comes out ok and sometimes even great. This is true even in there custom shop guitars. Many small shops have ways of matching their tops to the back and sides by either tapping or weighing the tops. Many of the Martins are very expensive, $5000.00 or more and for that they need to expect more from their production , I know I do.
     
  14. jokerjkny

    jokerjkny Member

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    dunno where you're shopping,

    but all the martins i've tried at Mandolin Bros. and Acoustic Roots have been actually above par what i expected.

    me thinks you walked into a GC. ;)
     
  15. KenSea

    KenSea Member

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    When was the last time you saw Collings and Goodall hanging with Martins at Guitar Center? Look at the finish on even a custom Martin and then at Collings, Huss and Dalton, Froggy Bottom, Goodall to name a few and tell me Martin spends the time finishing their guitars the way others do.
    Incase You missed my comment. the Martin I have right now is the best acoustic guitar I have ever had in terms of sound.:YinYang
     
  16. lydog

    lydog Member

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    Another vote here for Martin.

    My pops has a '71 D-28 that I grew up with and loved (still do).

    My first acoustic was a mid-level Takamine. It was a great value, sounds pretty damn good, and has stood the test of time. (The inside is literally splattered with blood from a drunken hootenany in college when I wore my finger out strumming for hours!)

    Last year I decided buy an acoustic exculsively for home/studio use. I shopped in the $3k range at McCabe's in LA. They carry 80% of the brands mentioned here. I started out with 25-30 guitars and narrowed it down to 3 that I played, and listened to others play. The guitar I bought: Martin J-40.

    This year, I upgraded my guitar for gigs. I got a Taylor 615ce with the Expression System. I liked the 600 series guitars I played and thought the guitar would be a nice contrast for studio use with my J-40, while at the same time being a legit guitar for gigs. But it just doesn't hold a candle to the Martin in terms of tone. It's nasally and flat. When I was in the studio, I never even used it as the Martin sounded better for every track. Just last week the Exp System went kaput, and now I'm considering ditching it altogether, leaning towards another Martin w/ the Sunrise pickup system.
     
  17. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    I go to Mandolin brothers all the time, and play all of the vintage and top end builders guitars side by side. The stock Martin guitars sound as good and better than anything being made today. A decent HD 28 (which are AMAZINGLY consistent) sound better than just about any other guitar I have found, costing 10-15 times more. Top of the line Monteleone, Walker, Santa Cruz, Taylor, Bourgeois, Goodal, Collings and on and on. Stock Martins just sound better. A STEAL at the price they are asking for them tonally speaking.
     
    SRQGuitar likes this.
  18. JPERRYROCKS

    JPERRYROCKS Member

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    You're going to pay through the nose to get Brazillian Rosewood from Martin. It's way overpriced, IMO. You're paying for the name and overhead. You can get a top notch Brazillian guitar from many top independent luthiers for $6-7,000.
     
  19. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    There are many guitar makers who are offering product that I think eclipses Martin. They would be: Trauggot, Lowden, Froggy Bottom, Bashkin, Claxton and Santa Cruz. Keep an open mind, and listen with your ears and not your eyes.
     
  20. johnlg

    johnlg Guest

    I'm biased; I own seven Martins.

    Martin Co. refuses to ship new guitars with coated strings.

    The "coated strings vs. non-coated string" debate is a firey debate with most Martin players

    Taylor ships with coated strings.
    Larrivee Ships with coated strings.
    Yamaha ships with coated strings.
    (I could go on and on.)

    The marketing folks at Martin believe that coated strings fail to bring out 100% of the potential tone ina guitar. I believe that one month old coated strings sound much better than one month old traditional strings that have picked up persperation, body oils and moisture from 200 customers handling a guitar in a guitar shop.

    The marketing folks at Martin believe that the shop owners should change the strings on the Martins in their shops frequently. I dissagree. I really don't want the 16 year old at Guitar Center who makes $6.15 per hour restringing the HD-28V that I'm looking at. I especially don't want him restringing that HD-28V on a bi-weekly basis.

    In business, we get one chance to make a first impression. When I walk into a large store and see shiney perfect strings on the Larrivees and Taylors and the MArtin strings are green and crusty and they look like they have snot chunks, it really makes me sad.

    I play D'Addario EXP (coated) strings 12-53's. I think that the Martin coated product feels very brittle. I know very few people who play Martin coated strings. The EXP's have an elastic quality that I love for fingerstyle.

    I wish that Chris IV could just buy a company that makes a good coated string.

    It's the strings.

    John
     
    wlalpaugh likes this.

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