The Ultimate C.F. Martin Guitars Buyer’s Guide
Hello, everybody! Today I’m going to attempt to take you through the wonderful world of Martin acoustic guitars. After reading this you’ll be equipped with all the knowledge needed to select the perfect Martin for you. If not, hopefully, it’ll at least be a half-decent read!
A lil’ bit of history of Martin Guitars…
Perhaps one of the most iconic and long-lasting acoustic guitar brands, C.F. Martin & Co have been punting out acoustic guitars for 189 years! Credited with inventing the Dreadnought acoustic guitar body shape and the X-bracing build method, Martin guitars have helped shape modern music as we know it.
Originally founded by a German, Christian Frederick Martin, the company found its forever home after moving to Nazareth, Pennsylvania in 1839. The company has been run by the Martin family since its inception and the current owner is the great-great-great-grandson of the founder!
History lesson over, let’s get into the different series that Martin offers today.
The X-Series is the most affordable range in Martin’s catalogue. If, like me, you don’t have the ability to save a lot of money, the X-Series is a great option. Ranging from £500-£725, affordability isn’t the only benefit of this series.
Whilst most models feature a solid wood top, the back and sides are made from a High-Pressure Laminate. HPL is incredibly durable and reacts less to temperature changes, which is extremely useful if you are planning on playing live. I can vouch for this as the singer of my band uses an X-series live and it is solid! Its durability also means it’s less likely to take devastating knocks in the back of the tour van (or being knocked off the side of the sofa by your dug).
Made in the Navojoa, Sonora factory in Mexico, the X-Series still deliver the Martin ‘Sound’. You’ll also get a lovely padded branded gig bag. Equipped with Fishman electronics, the X-Series is a good guitar for both sitting on the sofa and playing a gig.
Next step up is the Road Series. Replacing the HPL back and sides with a fine quality veneer, the Road series uses more expensive materials than those found in the X-Series. There are more elegant appointments and eye pleasing features such as Nickel Open Gear tuning pegs, white bindings, and multi-striped rosette borders.
The departure from simplicity to a more fancy aesthetic is also reflected in the price tag. Most Road Series guitars range from £1,300 to £1,800. Martin markets the Road Series as being equally effective live as well as in the Studio. I agree with that, both the Fishman MX-t and LR Baggs Element electronics that can be found in this series carry the resonant acoustic sound through an amp very effectively.
I feel the need to mention a rather interesting anomaly for Martin, an eyebrow raiser and traditionalist teaser: the offset SC-13E! For a brand that is known for tradition, the SC-13E was an innovative step, a step I personally really dig! As well as the asymmetrical body, this guitar is equipped with the Patented Sure Align neck system® which makes hight up the fretboard really easy. The SC-13E is a great guitar for those looking for something a little different.
Now there are some iconic guitars in the Standard Series, that’s for sure. Completely handmade from premium solid wood using traditional construction like dovetail neck joints and X-bracing. You don’t get much more established than the Standard.
The D-28, 000-18 and the OM-28 have been used by icons like Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton and Rivers Cuomo. This Series ranges from £2800-£9500, so it’s fair to say that these are guitars for life. If you want the pinnacle of traditional Martin guitar making, then the Standard Series is the one for you.
High-performance necks, ageing toner, antique white binding and a Martin hard case are some of the features you’ll get with the Standard Series. Perfect for your Grandad’s retirement present or if you’ve struck a big one on your weekend accumulator.
And there you have it! Hopefully that has helped on you on your quest to find a suitable Martin. If there are any questions we can help you out with, don’t hesitate to get in touch!