Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Troubador

Best sounding Martin

Recommended Posts

I know this is subjective, but I just want opinions anyway. What is the best sounding Martin guitar, considering both low-end and high-end price-wise?

  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Oboy..you want deep, bassy, midrangey, high end?  Lots of sounds in them guitars.  I heard a “ 00-17 Authentic 1931” on YouTube recently that sounded great (used a decent speaker), and at a 4k retail, it should.  Some are really going to dig a D28 sound, others an OM, still others a 00 or 0  because they sound so sweet.  Volume, tone, etc., it really is subjective.  What are you after?  Looking for a Martin?  They’re ALL pretty good to excellent, but the most pedestrian acoustic sound is going to come out of one of the lower end models.  If there’s a screen print scene on it (think Cowboy models), definitely pedestrian.  If there’s “authentic” in the title, probably a racehorse.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Played a bunch but best, within the brand itself, never occurred to me to sort out. Not sure I know anyone else who has, or anyone who has ever attempted to sort it out and state the outcome. But, then again, I don't know many players and those cats don't play Martins.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I should have added this in my OP: I prefer spruce/rosewood instead of spruce/mahogany. I am sure about that much anyway.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Are you looking for a Martin, or just curious about people’s opinions?  I write that mainly because there’s no such thing as the best sounding of any maker.  I can see this question as part of a Masters Thesis, like a philosophy question, “who was the most influential philosopher of all time, and why?” 😃  please keep it to a minimum of 1200 words.  Or, 20% of those queried preferred D28, 30% preferred the OM style, while 48% preferred eggs and toast and 2% were totally weirded out by the question🤪.

Seriously, what is the basis of the question, that gives a lot more to work with and understand.  My fav Martin, BTW was an OM-28 I played some years ago, it was a 30’s, and not mine...definitely not mine...but it resonates with me still.  So I’ll say THAT IS the best sounding Martin, and I’ll fight any man who says otherwise!  I think they still make those...yes, they still make those.

Now, if a lady says otherwise, then SHE gets the stink eye!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with that. I've tried the mahogany from guitars using it with back and sides to guitars using it everywhere. You do things like that when people rave about it enough to brainwash you into pursuing mahogany like it's an elixir of tone. Anyway, back to spruce over rosewood, that's my preference.

The Martins I've owned are few. The models were D-35, D12-35, D-18, DM and OMV-16E. I bought one of those HPL concert size Martins I bashed into a nylon string cross-over for a friend to learn on but that was bought to experiment with so I don't count it. The only memorable one of those was the D-35. I liked its sound a lot. The last one flew the coup in 2005 and I haven't seriously considered the brand since then, or played one. If I was to get curious again it would be about the D-35. I liked it over the D-28 series. But, I prefer classical these days so that will probably not happen. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Gibson29 said:

Are you looking for a Martin, or just curious about people’s opinions?  I write that mainly because there’s no such thing as the best sounding of any maker.  I can see this question as part of a Masters Thesis, like a philosophy question, “who was the most influential philosopher of all time, and why?” 😃  please keep it to a minimum of 1200 words.  Or, 20% of those queried preferred D28, 30% preferred the OM style, while 48% preferred eggs and toast and 2% were totally weirded out by the question🤪.

Seriously, what is the basis of the question, that gives a lot more to work with and understand.  My fav Martin, BTW was an OM-28 I played some years ago, it was a 30’s, and not mine...definitely not mine...but it resonates with me still.  So I’ll say THAT IS the best sounding Martin, and I’ll fight any man who says otherwise!  I think they still make those...yes, they still make those.

Now, if a lady says otherwise, then SHE gets the stink eye!

 

Yes, I'm looking for a Martin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Aha!  You have a preferred body style?  D, Jumbo, 00, OM?  Do you have a preferred nut width, scale length?  Do you like 14 or 12 frets, maybe cutaway?  Old?  New?  Price no option?  Pro, amateur, been playing long (guessing amateur, but that’s me, too)?  Swayed by the Martin Mystique?  C’mon bub, fess up.  Tell more, expand on what it is you’re looking for in the way of advice.  Let’s have a conversation about Martin and YOUR inquiry.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The best sounding Martin usually belongs to a friend or acquaintance and they're not willing to sell/trade or give it to you. If by some odd chance you do get a hold of it, somehow the sound isn't quite so good. Probably has something to do with your listening position relative to the guitar being played. That's my position and I'm sticking to it. :)

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 hours ago, Gibson29 said:

Aha!  You have a preferred body style?  D, Jumbo, 00, OM?  Do you have a preferred nut width, scale length?  Do you like 14 or 12 frets, maybe cutaway?  Old?  New?  Price no option?  Pro, amateur, been playing long (guessing amateur, but that’s me, too)?  Swayed by the Martin Mystique?  C’mon bub, fess up.  Tell more, expand on what it is you’re looking for in the way of advice.  Let’s have a conversation about Martin and YOUR inquiry.

 

Okay, I prefer a dreadnought. Nut width -- I'd say more than 1 11/16. Scale length, frets -- no preference. Prefer no cutaway. With my budget, I'd prefer to buy used, would even have to do so with the higher end models. Been playing 50 years, am a songwriter. I haven't played any Gibsons or Martins or other big name brands in person -- no music stores within 90 miles that carry those brands. But I do have a Sigma SDR 28, and it sounds a lot like the Martins that I have heard in Youtube videos. From listening to those videos, I like the way Martins sound compared to other brands. I also have a Norman ST68, all solid spruce/rosewood, great guitar -- but I like the Sigma better, so i have put the Norman on the market. I like some Gibsons a lot, but not quite as much as the Martins I've heard -- again, all of these from Youtube videos, where I know the sound quality varies considerably.

I want to play all these guitars in person, but I'll have to make a 4-hour round trip to do that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've never cared for Martin guitars. I've played quite a few different models over the years and the thought that went through my head each time was: So what's all the fuss about?" To be sure they are generally well made, good quality instruments that play and sound OK but exactly the same thing can be said for guitars costing 1/4 of the price, spec for spec. And personally I'd much rather have four different guitars - each as good in every way - to keep me amused.

 

PS. Never, ever base your longing for a guitar on what you hear in Youtube vids.

Edited by garthman
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Given all the variables of room acoustics, mic types and placement, recording equipment, and even playing style, not to mention your playback equipment, you can be pretty sure that YouTube videos will not necessarily faithfully reproduce the true sound of a guitar.

No guitar maker, even Martin, produces guitars that are one hundred percent consistent. One particular Martin guitar might appeal to you and another practically identical one may not.

Martin guitars come from the factory with only a minimal set-up done on them. Even used ones may or may not be set up to suit your playing style. That may affect a particular guitar's appeal to you.

That said, there are lots of Martin solid spruce/rosewood dreadnoughts with 1 11/16 minimum nut widths out there. The good ones fall under the category of "standard series."  That would start with the plain old D-28 and go upward in cost from that. I'm betting that a good D-28 would do you just fine... but... you gotta go play some personally, new or used, (more than one) and see. Sorry. No way around it.

Edited by FretFiend.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
20 hours ago, Troubador said:

I know this is subjective, but I just want opinions anyway. What is the best sounding Martin guitar, considering both low-end and high-end price-wise?

Try an HD-35 if you have about $3K - or a regular D-35 for around $300-$500 less; the former has herringbone purfling (hence the 'H') and scalloped braces, that latter does not. If you're looking for something in spruce and rosewood but don't want to spend that much go to Guitar Center and look for the MMV dreadnought; they're braced like a D-15 but with spruce and rosewood in all gloss. They call them the "poor man's D-28" and start at about $800 on Reverb. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If, as you say, you have never played a Gibson or a Martin....just the Norman and the Sigma? Normans are very good guitars, and Sigmas [Sigmae?] are fine as well, but you are stepping into a realm of possibilities with these open ended questions. Do you want deep tone, projection, warmth...and which is most important...because that is some of what you'll need to figure out when you start playing Martins...and don't limit yourself on what woods [really, based on lesser instruments? Never!], because there are combinations available you may have never even considered.Invest in the round trip...experience what you can in a day...and go back in a week and do it again!

 

And...don't lock yourself to Martin only...especially based on the Sigma.

Gibson, Guild, Gretsch, Taylor, Breedlove, Seagull...ad nauseum...all worth trying! [Okay, maybe not all...]

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/14/2020 at 11:02 PM, daddymack said:

If, as you say, you have never played a Gibson or a Martin....just the Norman and the Sigma? Normans are very good guitars, and Sigmas [Sigmae?] are fine as well, but you are stepping into a realm of possibilities with these open ended questions. Do you want deep tone, projection, warmth...and which is most important...because that is some of what you'll need to figure out when you start playing Martins...and don't limit yourself on what woods [really, based on lesser instruments? Never!], because there are combinations available you may have never even considered.Invest in the round trip...experience what you can in a day...and go back in a week and do it again!

 

And...don't lock yourself to Martin only...especially based on the Sigma.

Gibson, Guild, Gretsch, Taylor, Breedlove, Seagull...ad nauseum...all worth trying! [Okay, maybe not all...]

Yes, it looks like I'll need to get my traveling shoes on soon.  :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/14/2020 at 5:57 AM, garthman said:

I've never cared for Martin guitars. I've played quite a few different models over the years and the thought that went through my head each time was: So what's all the fuss about?" To be sure they are generally well made, good quality instruments that play and sound OK but exactly the same thing can be said for guitars costing 1/4 of the price, spec for spec. And personally I'd much rather have four different guitars - each as good in every way - to keep me amused.

 

PS. Never, ever base your longing for a guitar on what you hear in Youtube vids.

In 73 there wasn't much else out there to compare. Gibson (a non-contender to this day) was the brand I asked myself what the fuss was all about. Compared to the sound of a Martin, I thought the entire Gibson line-up was meek. I was 18 and could hear a pin drop in the next room (with a carpeted floor). But, I've been told that's because I don't appreciate the Gibson sound, which is a defensive forum-coined term that suggests subjectivity without sacrificing a reputation for quality of sound (in the right ear). I've simply determined Gibson owners to have tin ears - which is also a permissible citing in subjectivity. Tit for tat.

Then there was Guild, second to Martin, leaving the Gibson brand a very distant third but well appointed for store wall decorations. I played Cort Jumbos that made the Gibson J-200 sound like it's in the next room (also carpeted). 

Of the (then) big three, Martin was clearly (clean ears) the only choice for quality of sound, Guild held its own and with the F-412/512 series 12-strings (I owned the F-412) it blew away all others, and Gibson was there for the people who liked bling on their shirts, fingers, belt buckles, boots, hat bands and guitars.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Idunno said:

In 73 there wasn't much else out there to compare. Gibson (a non-contender to this day) was the brand I asked myself what the fuss was all about. Compared to the sound of a Martin, I thought the entire Gibson line-up was meek. I was 18 and could hear a pin drop in the next room (with a carpeted floor). But, I've been told that's because I don't appreciate the Gibson sound, which is a defensive forum-coined term that suggests subjectivity without sacrificing a reputation for quality of sound (in the right ear). I've simply determined Gibson owners to have tin ears - which is also a permissible citing in subjectivity. Tit for tat.

Then there was Guild, second to Martin, leaving the Gibson brand a very distant third but well appointed for store wall decorations. I played Cort Jumbos that made the Gibson J-200 sound like it's in the next room (also carpeted). 

Of the (then) big three, Martin was clearly (clean ears) the only choice for quality of sound, Guild held its own and with the F-412/512 series 12-strings (I owned the F-412) it blew away all others, and Gibson was there for the people who liked bling on their shirts, fingers, belt buckles, boots, hat bands and guitars.

 

Sure, Joe, back in the 70s there was very little about. And here in the UK there was even less. Martin, Gibson and Guild were there but way, way beyond our means. I worked all through the summer vacation from college in 1971 to save up for a steel string acoustic (I'd bought a classical two years earlier for £10 new). I walked into a good music store in London with £30 in my pocket and found there were just two guitars at that price: an Eko made in Italy and IIRC a Hohner. I bought the Eko and it served me well for many years. That £30 then would be worth £425 in today's money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/16/2020 at 7:17 AM, Idunno said:

In 73 there wasn't much else out there to compare. Gibson (a non-contender to this day) was the brand I asked myself what the fuss was all about. Compared to the sound of a Martin, I thought the entire Gibson line-up was meek. I was 18 and could hear a pin drop in the next room (with a carpeted floor). But, I've been told that's because I don't appreciate the Gibson sound, which is a defensive forum-coined term that suggests subjectivity without sacrificing a reputation for quality of sound (in the right ear). I've simply determined Gibson owners to have tin ears - which is also a permissible citing in subjectivity. Tit for tat.

Then there was Guild, second to Martin, leaving the Gibson brand a very distant third but well appointed for store wall decorations. I played Cort Jumbos that made the Gibson J-200 sound like it's in the next room (also carpeted). 

Of the (then) big three, Martin was clearly (clean ears) the only choice for quality of sound, Guild held its own and with the F-412/512 series 12-strings (I owned the F-412) it blew away all others, and Gibson was there for the people who liked bling on their shirts, fingers, belt buckles, boots, hat bands and guitars.

 

For comparison, I've only had Youtube videos. I had read on some forums where people had asked what was the Gibson that sounded closest to a Martin. Answers were:  Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard; Gibson J-60; Gibson J-29; Gibson Advanced Jumbo; Gibson J-45 Rosewood; and even the Gibson J-15. I listened to all these on Youtube, where they even had a few comparison videos with a Martin. I liked the Martin sound better. I also listened to/watched some Youtube videos of Guild, Alvarez, Eastman, Aria, Blueridge. The only one that sounded as good to me as a Martin was the Blueridge BR-260, but since it costs as much as a Martin, I asked myself why not get the Martin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Many Martin's produce the signature Martin low end sound, but for me, many guitars can do that, my concern about Martins is the neck size and profile, I fought it for years and then just gave up.  The number one requirement to meet when choosing a guitar is the fit in your lap and hands.  Is the guitar part of your body, can you play it without special sitting or twisting.  Is the neck too small , too large, etc...    In my opinion.

Edited by Donny G

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 I played in a string band for a while and really wanted a D-28 to help keep up with a loud dobro. That said I have owned a 1970 D-18 for 45 years and it is an awesome instrument to record. It sits in a mix better than a similar aged HD-28 owned by my brother. I have recently purchase a CEO-7 and it is also a really great mahogany back and sides instrument that records really well.  I would not discount the hogs I think they are a bit tighter when recorded. 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/16/2020 at 10:41 AM, garthman said:

Sure, Joe, back in the 70s there was very little about. And here in the UK there was even less. Martin, Gibson and Guild were there but way, way beyond our means. I worked all through the summer vacation from college in 1971 to save up for a steel string acoustic (I'd bought a classical two years earlier for £10 new). I walked into a good music store in London with £30 in my pocket and found there were just two guitars at that price: an Eko made in Italy and IIRC a Hohner. I bought the Eko and it served me well for many years. That £30 then would be worth £425 in today's money.

Howard, my first steel string was a Yamaha FG230 12-string. I think the exchange rate between US and Pound Stirling at the time was about $2.90. That Yamaha with cardboard case cost me $135.00 (or £46), but I was a union laborer at that time knocking down a whopping $7.10/hour. My apartment rent was $235.00/month, I was single and could afford to lavish myself with a much more expensive guitar. But, my ignorance of guitars let me choose by ear and that Yamaha sounded great.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 2/13/2020 at 9:14 PM, Emory said:

The best sounding Martin usually belongs to a friend or acquaintance and they're not willing to sell/trade or give it to you. If by some odd chance you do get a hold of it, somehow the sound isn't quite so good. Probably has something to do with your listening position relative to the guitar being played. That's my position and I'm sticking to it. :)

Whenever I'm shopping for acoustic guitars in-store, not only am I going to try it out, I try to take a guitar playing friend with me, or at the very least, I'll have one of the people at the shop play it for me so that I can hear it from that perspective. Most of my guitars will get played by other people too eventually (in the studio) and not only do I want to hear how it sounds from both perspectives, I want to hear how it's going to sound to the microphones... 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...