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Buying a new Martin guitar

30 Aug 11 - 10:50 AM (#3215151)
Subject: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Mick Woods

I am going to treat myself to a decent acoustic guitar, so straight away I thought "Martin" they are supposed to be the best. But I am confused by the range of prices. What is the difference between a 600 and a 2000 model? Different woods, such as spruce and mahogany are mentioned but it's all wood to me!. Am I going to be paying for just the name (as in the case of new electric fenders)or would I be better off with another make? I can go up to maybe 1500 if I am guaranteed quality. Any advice would be appreciated.


30 Aug 11 - 10:57 AM (#3215156)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Silas

Mick, are you sure that you really want to spend this sort of money on something you clearly don't know a lot about.


30 Aug 11 - 10:59 AM (#3215160)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,999

There have been many threads addressing this issue. Hopefully, someone will link to them and provide you with lots of reading, Mike. As to your question, the difference is 1400. For that amount, I could buy two or three excellent guitars.

If you are serious, go to large guitar stores and TRY the instruments. When you find one that does it for you, then ask about price, etc. I've come across some guitars that are excellent, and they weren't big names. A good guitar is a good guitar regardless who made it.


30 Aug 11 - 11:00 AM (#3215163)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,999

Sorry: MICK


30 Aug 11 - 11:04 AM (#3215169)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: PHJim

Martin uses letters (O, OO, OOO, OM, D) to indicate the size of the guitar and a number (18, 21, 28...) to indicate the materials used to make them.

Martin still makes their traditional quality guitars, the 18s, 21s, 28s, 35s, 42s and 45s, but they have started making more affordable guitars as well. Some of these are very nice guitars, but don`t expect the quality of the traditional models.


30 Aug 11 - 11:17 AM (#3215178)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Midchuck

It breaks my heart to say it, but some of the Heathen Chin..I mean, the Asian manufacturers are probably better buys, especially for someone who hasn't played enough US guitars to have a good idea of exactly what he wants.

Anyone in your area sell Recording King? Eastman?

Peter


30 Aug 11 - 11:28 AM (#3215190)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Amos

OUt here in San Diego, we make Taylors which please a lot of folks for less than a Martin. I still love myold D35 more'n anything though.


A


30 Aug 11 - 11:34 AM (#3215196)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Wesley S

The important thing is to try as many models as you can to discover the differences for yourself and find out what pleases your ears and pocketbook. My 1967 D-18 Martin is one of the best guitars I've ever played. But I also love my Collings guitars. Taylors do nothing for me. But lots of musicians that I respect love them. So it really is a matter of taste. Good luck. And take a friend with you so you have someone to bounce ideas off of.


30 Aug 11 - 11:54 AM (#3215211)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Will Fly

Yes - don't just go for Martin because you know the name.

Decide on your price limit. Try as many guitars within that limit as possible. Ignore the name on the headstock. Take no sales crap. If you haven't the skills take a skilled friend with you. Buy what suits you - what sounds right to you, what feels right to you.


30 Aug 11 - 12:00 PM (#3215216)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: PHJim

I agree with Will Fly. We are living in a golden age of luthiery. There are loads of fantastic builders making beautiful guitars.


30 Aug 11 - 12:08 PM (#3215220)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: alex s

I am very impressed by some of the Faith models - excellent value for money.
Many Martins around the 1000 mark have laminate back and sides - Faiths are solid wood at about 300 - 400 cheaper. Give them a try. (and I speak as one who has a Martin, a Taylor and an old Guild)


30 Aug 11 - 12:12 PM (#3215221)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Stringsinger

Early Martins sound better to me than the new ones. I don't like the dreadnaught shape, uncomfortable and awkward, unlike a guitar shape.

Taylors sound OK but are too weak for me.

Guild's (the better ones) have a clarity of sound and are good for recording because of
their overtone control. Martins tend to spread.

Some guitars that don't necessarily sound good, they might be cheap, may record really well.

I am happy with my early Martin 0021. It has to be carefully miced to record well, though.


30 Aug 11 - 12:13 PM (#3215223)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

All of the above +1.



But to answer your question, the low-end Martins are frequently made of HPL (High-Pressure Laminate, or 'Plywood' as we old codgers used to know it!) and not from 'solid wood'. Plywood is a much cheaper material than, say, solid rosewood or mahogany. That's not to say they aren't perfectly good guitars, they very much are - but they won't 'open up' as they age, and they don't ncessarily have the same quality of finish as the Standard series and above (18 upwards).

There's more to a guitar, however, than appearance, and how much you want to pay is up to you, no-one else. So get round as many dealers as you can, and play as many different guitars as you can, and buy the one that feels, sounds and looks 'Right' for you at the price, irrespective of the name on the headstock.


30 Aug 11 - 12:49 PM (#3215244)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Charmion

Oh, yes.

I, too, have a Martin -- but urge you to play around before committing yourself and your money. I finally bought the guitar I play now after literally years of trying guitars of all price ranges and not liking something about them -- shape, sound, feel. For that much money, you seriously need to know what you want, and be sure you get it.


30 Aug 11 - 12:49 PM (#3215245)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

Woodsie - izzat you?

Some Martins are lovely. Some ain't. Can you hear the differences? Always compare rather than listening in isolation.

Buy a decent second hand Martin and you won't make a loss. You won't have the Martin lifetime guarantee - but then we in the UK don't get it anyway.

There are some cracking handmade or low volume UK guitars. Fylde, Book, Kinkade - or Atkin (from Canterbury) is picking up followers.

Assuming that IS you, compare a lot of guitars first.

Try Fisheye's X series OM size Martin - it sounds nice, doesn't it? Now play it in direct comparison with my OM1. Hear the difference? Compare them directly with John Barden's Fylde (not that you'll get one of those for 2,000 today) with new strings on - John has acid finger and kills strings very fast. The Fylde walks on both. Rounder, sweeter, stronger. For an oddball, try Paul Hurst's Martin that a previous owner refinished in yacht varnish. Action to make strong men's fingers cry, but a striking, unusual, commanding voice.

I feel you are more of a dreadnought man - you like the big thud (like me). Well -

Try Fisheye's FG360 and mine. Compare the sound of my Mugen - a bit more shimmer on the treble, an extra deepness in the bass, but not as smooth and sweet. Compare Mr Ingham's best Yamaha - or indeed Derek Moore's. What was the name of the chap who lived by Knockholt? - he had a Martin D-45 with a very big sweet singing voice. Compare that to Les Elvin's 12-fret Martin dreadnought (might be a D12H if I have the numbering system right) - that guitar of Les Elvin's is a cracker but on all 12-frets you put up with the disadvantage of the short neck to get the advantage of the positioning of the bridge nearer the middle of the lower bout. If you like that shortneck sound - compare Mike Nicholson's Collings - out of your price bracket, but a standard-setting sound.

You'll probably have to go to Bristol to try a Kinkade. They are another guitar that no-one ever sells. Not far out of your price bracket.

Try some full-sized jumbos. The best sounding J200 I know is Keith - der what's his surname? - founder member of 5-legged Horse. Derek Moore has one too and I think a mate of mine who is leaving rock and roll may be getting one.

All of the above are largely spruce.

Now try some guitars with some more mahogany. A darker sound. Try my two good Hagstrom J45s, compare Jeff Cole's Gibson J45 - and that mahogany cannon that PJ plays (I forget whether it's a Gibson or a Martin). I think you're going to be a spruce man.

Then there are the dreadnought-profile but shallower bodies. Brian Rodgers has a lovely Martin - but I think you'd like Andy Cavan's Armstrong. You might nearly be able to afford an Armstrong but I've never seen one for sale second-hand. That's how much people keep them.

Just to set the levels, try one you will NEVER be able to get the equivalent of - Paul Steele's Zemaitus. To be awkward he keeps it tuned somewhere very odd, I think it's open C. Or if Pint and Dale are about - William Pint's koa Goodall is the best sounding guitar I have ever played but it was a HUGE amount of money.

Finally, consider the oddballs - the ones with holes in funny places or odd constructions. If you can try a Rainsong, do. You might think it sounds "wrong" but people speak very well of them. Suzuki did some deep bodied washing-up bowls that were amazing. Try Trevor Stevenson's Tacoma.

It's all about what you like - unless your policy is investment. I've heard a Northworty or two that I like, but they are rare down south. Personally, I've hated every Blueridge I've ever played - but some people love them and say they are not only wonderful but also bargains.

Also, take a friend so you can listen while friend plays, guitars sound different from out front.

I strongly recommend not rushing, but now you know that you want to get a good guitar start intently listening to all the guitars you see - with the ultimate idea of a purchase LATER.

Go to some expensive guitar shops and be a nuisance. Make it plain that you are not buying that day but you are forming ideas for the future. Try Andy's in Denmark Street, Hank's in Denmark Street, and try the Breedloves in Mairants - I don't like them, but try them. Make a point of trying one of the ones with no strutting in the top but only a Bridge Doctor. Try that expensive guitar shop in Blackheath, and there's another in Brighton.


30 Aug 11 - 12:53 PM (#3215249)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

PS - yes, I have heard good Faiths.


30 Aug 11 - 01:08 PM (#3215257)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Silas

It took me thirty years to be able to get my dream guitar (Martin HD28V) and I am almost scared of it. My other main guitar is a Martin DX1 which is one of those HPL bodied things - its more like formica than plywood, but do you know what? It sounds fantastic! Its much more forgiving than the HD and has a wonderful bass resonance, but could be thought of as a bit thin on the treble. Love 'em both.


30 Aug 11 - 01:42 PM (#3215288)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Dipsodeb

Hi Mick, Bigpat here. I have just done the same thing, went out with some idea of buying a Martin, but as a few people have said go to a good shop, and have a look and listen to as many guitars as possible. I listened to a few martins and some Taylors, and a few more. I ended coming home with a taylor, which sounds quite good. and all I did was listen to the guitars, and picked the one with the best sound, I could afford. I went to Coda's in Stevenage. have a look at there website, they do a good range of top end guitars. might even run you out there if you want. or get kay to take you. Hopefully see you at knoockers.


30 Aug 11 - 01:43 PM (#3215291)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Bee-dubya-ell

I own three Martins. While I like them all well enough, I mainly own them because I got good deals on all of them. I wouldn't pay today's asking price for any of them brand new. If you're going to shell out the money for a new guitar, Martin is far from the best option available. If your budget is tight, there are better sounding and better made guitars than Martin's entry level instruments (ie Blueridge) for around the same price. If money's not an issue, there are better sounding guitars than Martin's standard models (ie Collings, Santa Cruz) for around the same price.

But, and this is a very important "but", if owning a Martin holds a personal mystique for you, if you think owning one would cause you to play more and thus become a better musician, then ignore any suggestions to the contrary and buy nothing else! It doesn't do any good for me to tell you that a Collings D2H is a better guitar than a Martin HD-28 if "Martin" means something to you and "Collings" doesn't. The entire purpose of buying a new instrument is so that you will play better. If the instrument you buy fails to inspire you, you'll have wasted your money.


30 Aug 11 - 01:49 PM (#3215299)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Lox

Hey Mick,

Brilliant! Buying a new excellent guitar is a great event in ones lifetime and therefore a process to be savoured and enjoyed.

Go round every guitar shop and try out every guitar without looking at the price tag.

A couple of them will stick in your imagination.

Take a month or so to decide which guitar was really made for you (like harry potter and his wand but slower).

Then decide your second choice.

Then find out the prices.

If the first one is out of your price range, look at the second.

I suspect though that what you wil find is that quality and price are not always proportionate


30 Aug 11 - 02:14 PM (#3215317)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,John

I come from a part of the country where there is a constant market in old Martin and Gibson guitars. In general, these instruments are my first choice and where I would start looking if I were shopping.

The used instrument market requires that a buyer shop by the particular condition, and playing characteristics and sound of each instrument. That makes me want to say that to anybody who asks my advice on guitars. Even for new instruments, I really think you have to shop by the instrument, not by the brand.

Salesmen at music instrument shops aren't your friends in this process. Difference between instruments are sometimes subtle. It's pretty easy to influence a buyer unless they are really experienced.

If your money situation is comfortable, a new guitar from the high end Martin lines will give you an excellent instrument. If there are things that don't quite suit, Martin repair guys can usually set up the instrument to your preferences.

Taylor, Larrivee, Collings etc. are great if you don't really need the "Rolls Royce" cachet that a Martin brings when other people are looking at your guitar neck.

For the real thing, buy a pre-1970 Martin in decent condition. There is no better instrument that can be had (or bragging point-- short of actually playing well, of course).


30 Aug 11 - 02:31 PM (#3215327)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: MikeL2

Hi

A lot of great advice above....do heed it....or most of it anyway.

One thing most people mentioned was to look for the best sounding guitar that appeals to you.

I find that not only sound is important but it must have an action that suits your playing style. I know that action is easier to improve than sound but if the instrument isn't right when you play it IMHO it doesn't really matter what the sound is like.

Cheers

MikeL2


30 Aug 11 - 02:31 PM (#3215329)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Will Fly

I have a Martin XC1T Limited Edition, a guitar with a spruce face, HPL (High Pressure Laminate) back and sides and Stratobond (birch veneers) neck. Cost me around 800 about 4 years ago.

You might think it sounds like crap - 'taint - it's a superb sounding guitar. Acoustically, it's very sweet and clean, with lots of projection and - because of it's construction - is easy to record. Electrically (I've installed a Baggs iBeam pickup in it), and it's powerful and very acoustic-sounding when amplified. Sounded better (to me) than a Martin Carthy Signature model at 3 times the price...

So - I repeat - go for sound and playability, and stick with those criteria for a start.

I also have several other instruments which were made for me as custom instruments by a local luthier. Handmade and fantastic value for money.

Think laterally.


30 Aug 11 - 02:39 PM (#3215337)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: John MacKenzie

Buy a guitar from Nick Apollonio. Cheaper than the Martin, and IMNSHO, a better guitar.


30 Aug 11 - 02:48 PM (#3215346)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Will Fly

At the risk of being a little repetitive and boring, here are two examples of guitars. The first is the Martin composite guitar I described in my last post. The second is my custom made Chisholm guitar (from the UK):

"Piedmont Perpetual Motion" - played on a Martin XC1T

"Simple Solitude" - played on a handmade Chisholm guitar

Two guitars not straight out of the usual box - shown here just to illustrate my point. :-)


30 Aug 11 - 03:09 PM (#3215364)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,Songbob

A word about tone woods. I can't speak to how the new materials work, but among standard woods, there is a large difference, no matter the shape or size of the guitar.

Mahogany (Martin's "18" designation -- spruce top, solid mahogany sides and back). Dry, punchy tone, with a chime on top. The best of them is a great instrument for "cutting through" a group of instruments. Typically, the least expensive solid wood.

Rosewood (Martin's "28" -- spruce top, rosewood sides and two-piece back) gives a deeper, rounder, but sometimes mushier sound. The bluegrass player's favorite rhythm instrument is the D-28, and it does a fine job of filling out the sound. Among folksingers, Tom Paxton's early recordings shows how the rosewood sound provides a bakdrop for vocals.

Maple (Not a a "traditional" Martin material) gives you the sharpest, zingiest, sometimes too-bright sound. I've heard some maple guitars that nearly make the ears bleed with their sharp, treble-enhanced sound. That said, my regular playing guitar (a Running Dog Jumbo from Rick Davis -- recommended!) is spruce on sycamore, and that wood is a maple of sorts, but the sound is much fuller and complex than maple, with the dryness of mahogany and the 'bloom' of rosewood. I love it.

Other woods and configurations of woods are used (the Martin '35' has a three-piece back of rosewood, and is enough different from the two-piece back of a 28, even if no other changes are made.

Rick Davis, among other makers, uses cherry, walnut, and (my favorite, as I said above) sycamore.

Each wood has its own sound, and, coupled with body size and shape, neck material, and bracing patterns, provides just about any sound you want to hear.

And no one has even mentioned the Ovation!

Bob


30 Aug 11 - 03:23 PM (#3215370)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Stanron

It might be just me but the cheaper Martins look cheaper. The details like binding and the finish on the headstocks look plainer and, well cheaper. That bit about pre 1970s is good. I'd say for Gibsons it would better be pre 1960s. Any Fylde would be well worth looking at but in the long run the right guitar should introduce itself to you and tell you it's the one.


30 Aug 11 - 03:47 PM (#3215396)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Midchuck

Taylor, Larrivee, Collings etc. are great if you don't really need the "Rolls Royce" cachet that a Martin brings when other people are looking at your guitar neck.

I'm sorry, but as to Collings, that statement is Just Plain Wrong.

An average, run-of-production Collings will be equivalent in quality to an exceptional specimen of one of the top-of-the-line Martin models (and cost appropriately, of course).

That's comparing new to new, I should add. With the effects of aging on the wood, a 50-year old Martin that was a good specimen originally, will be the best of the lot. Unfortunately, there aren't any 50 year old Collings yet.

All in my not so humble opinion, obviously.

Peter.


30 Aug 11 - 04:51 PM (#3215431)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

I really really really disagree about the action. Scale length cannot be changed. Neck profile is hard to change. Neck width is hard to change. The difference between string spacing at the nut end and at the saddle end is pretty hard to change. But the action height at the nut and at the octave, the forward progression of the neck, the difference between the treble side and the bass side, they are all adjustable exactly as you like (so long as a neck set is not needed) by a competent guitar tech at relatively modest cost. And we have a really really good one in Kent just down the road from you Woodsie - Brian Rodgers. Go for the sound. Ignore the appearance. Play blindfold if it's the only way. The sound.

I'd also say that generally a Collings is a better sounding guitar than a Martin all other things being equal - and here in the UK probably carries a greater cachet amongst the cognoscenti.

Taylor - I don't know. Some people love them but to me they somehow sound wrong. For a while I had the use of a CE315 and it plugged wonderfully but was less than commanding acoustically, and also a 512 which sounded big but unsubtle and did not plug so well. I was sure that the intonation was off on Brian Bruce's most expensive one, the bird's eye maple one.   


Oh, and I gave you a bum steer on a name Woodsie. Dave Leigh has the nice J200 and several other nice guitars too.   Keith Alexander who used to compere the Oast has a lovely L'Arrivee but it was a huge amount of money. Well, less than the Goodall...


30 Aug 11 - 05:43 PM (#3215474)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,Ray

Bought my first Martin - a D18 - back in '74. Cost me a wallet breaking 190. I still have it along with 3 Santa Cruz guitars and a host of others + several mandolins. Good guitars/mandolins cost but you have to know what you're buying. Don't assume that because it has a particular name on the headstock its any better or worse than anything else. If you're spending a fair sum you really need to know what you're buying so take it slowly, try as many as you can and buy what you like and feel comfortable playing. If the shop won't leave you alone to try a guitar out, or they insist on chaining them to the wall, go somewhere else!


30 Aug 11 - 07:04 PM (#3215520)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: tonyteach1

I have a D15 bought secondhand last year from Coda - very happy with it and the pupils all like it All advice above is sound but add Yamaha L range to mix as top end are good
I would also be clear what you are going to use it for solo fingerpicking - strumming - in a band Makes a difference

I have large spready hands and play flamenco so neck size is not a problem to me but it is what suits you


30 Aug 11 - 08:53 PM (#3215589)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,Big Ballad Singer

Mick, as someone who has owned many fine/expensive and cheap/cheap guitars over the years, as well as many that fall somewhere in the middle, let me offer you one well-learned piece of advice:

I am a gear JUNKIE. I will even pick up and play instruments I have NO idea how to play at all. When, in times past, I have had a goodly amount of money to spend, I did what you just described being ready to do... I RAN and tried the "name brand", expensive guitars, because they're supposed to be the "good ones".

Baloney. Stuff and nonsense. Bosh, balderdash and hooey.

Go, take your time (as some have suggested), play LOTS of different guitars (as others have suggested), and LISTEN with your ears and heart and NOT with your wallet. DON'T listen to the whispers of the price tags, either... price tags on guitars can lie like cheap rugs.

I know you must have a favorite song or piece of some music that you LOVE to play... what I do is try out a guitar with THAT favorite piece of music... if the guitar plays "with me", indeed, even seems to play itself FOR me, then I know I am on the right track, Martin be hanged.

I've busked for years; in fact, I made my bones as a performer by earning a reputation on the streets BEFORE hitting the coffeehouse and bar circuit for gigs. I say that to say this: there have been many, many times that I have been so broke as to need to sell all my gear (like recently, almost). The times in the past few years that I HAVE had enough money to buy a guitar have still been times of VERY little money, so I walked into a store that I know has decent used guitars, played some till one of them "played with me", and then bought the one that was the best combination of playability and price.

Do that. Keep looking until you either find the ONE that blows you away, that you MUST have at your last dollar's expense, or till you find the one that plays the way you want it to and makes sense financially as well.

Best of luck in your search. My long-time writing, performing and busking guitar was a 1970s Japanese dreadnought under the Lyle brand. Sounded great, played well, took a beating and lasted for years till the neck finally gave out. Just goes to show you might find YOUR guitar who-knows-where.


30 Aug 11 - 11:02 PM (#3215652)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

We've all missed the Lowden/Avalon family of guitars. Should be investigated. And the lawsuit Takamines - Jon Loomes used to have a lovely small-bodied one.


31 Aug 11 - 03:34 AM (#3215708)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Silas

And, if Mick is not looking for a Dred or Jumbo, I was playing an absoloutly stunning Larrivee Parlour guitar last week.


31 Aug 11 - 05:02 AM (#3215742)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Zen

Lakewood has some excellent models that might fall in that price range... Santa Cruz too.

I've owned Guild (D25), Martin (00018), Gibson (J-45), Manson (Kingfisher), Lowden/Flambeau and Lakewood (M-14) guitars amongst others... all excellent in their own ways but, strangely, one of my very favourite guitars has been my rather less expensive Washburn 125th anniversary parlour. My partner now has that and I have two other guitars, a Taylor T5 and a Godin archtop, both chosen for their suitability for the kind of music I play these days.

The point really is that don't just look at the label. You may find a sublime Martin at a very good price or may end up with a duff one of exactly the same model. Or you may find a belter of another make, perhaps even a less "known" label... as people have said, you really need to find the instrument that speaks to you.

And don't get me started on mandolins...!


31 Aug 11 - 05:41 AM (#3215751)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Mick Woods

Thanks for all the advice. Not sure if I'm more confused now than ever! Richard - there is no guitar shop in, or near Blackheath! it must have been in the distant past. I am glad to have found out that "plywood" is used in the cheaper Martins, I'll steer clear of those. I saw a Martin once in the window of Ivor Maraints a couple of years ago for 22,000.00 it wasn't an antique or anything - must of had diamonds embedded in the headstock or something. I have heard some fantastic Martins in particular that played by Peter Jagger, but I do believe that I would be paying well over the odds for just a fancy name. As so many people have said I will shop around over the next few weeks. The shame is that I have just retired from a job in Rathbone Place - a stone's throw from some of the best music shops in the UK! Now I'm gonna have to travel! Thanks again to y'all I will use the info on this thread as a reference point.


31 Aug 11 - 05:48 AM (#3215752)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Silas

Mick, always remember that price does not always mean a good sounding guitar. about 40 years ago I bought the cheapest Yamaha I could get (I think it was a FG340) I still have it, though it is rather battered and bruised now, I paid less than 100.00 and the guitar sounds much, much better than it should. Sometimes, even with a cheap guitar, they 'accidently' use a great piece of woood and it can transform an 'ordinary' guitar into something special. Conversly, you could pay the earth and end up with something pretty mediocre, a friend of mine recently paid a small fortune for a Gibson he always wanted, and I have to say that it has a really dire sound.


31 Aug 11 - 07:35 AM (#3215801)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

Mick, if you are really determined on a Martin, and you don't mind buying sight-unseen, you'd do well to talk to one or two of the major US dealers, such as My Favorite Guitar, or Elderly. They can sell at prices that UK dealers can't (or more likely won't) even get close to - so much so that even with shipping charges, duty and VAT added, there are big savings to be made. Don't be put off by the MAP prices they show on their web-sites, they frequently will offer a considerably lower price if you call and talk to them.

And, of course, by buying from a US dealer, you get the Lifetime Warranty.

I've bought two superb Martins this way and saved a shedload.


31 Aug 11 - 07:42 AM (#3215805)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: kendall

I like to hand my Taylor 810 to bluegrass pickers and watch the look on their faces when it takes no back seat to any Martin in the group.
Maybe I got a good one, I don't know, but I'll put this one up against any guitar you wish to drag out. I had a really nice HD 28 Martin and a 1956 Gibson J 45 when I bought the Taylor.
I sold the Martin and I gave the Gibson to my friend, Dave Mallett.

I've either owned or played just about every guitar make in existence, and I will not trash Martin (except for some of them made in the 70s) but, there are many guitars on the market that are just as good.
Taylor, Santa Cruz, Collings,Larrivee( some, not all) to name a few.

If your heart is set on a Martin, grab one. You will not be pleased with anything else.
And, one final point, the Martin will always be worth more than any of the others because of brand name and loyalty.


31 Aug 11 - 07:50 AM (#3215814)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

That may be so in the USA kendall, but have you looked at the prices of second hand genuine George Lowden Lowdens anywhere near the UK lately?

I'm pretty sure, Backwoodsman, that even if you buy a Martin from a US Martin dealer, if you the buyer are outside the USA you don't get that warranty. I know that to be true of Eminence speakers and the US instrument distributors Saga, because I tried to claim off both on their warranties and was given the bum's rush simply because I was in the UK.   

Blackheath - yes, it has gone. It was the expensive place under the railway arches near the Greek and Indian restaurants and the Old Mill.


31 Aug 11 - 08:27 AM (#3215828)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Midchuck

I've played Kendall's Taylor, and it DOES have the "guts" of a good Martin or of any Collings. But based on other Taylors I've played (and owned, for limited periods), I think it's a fluke.

Peter


31 Aug 11 - 08:37 AM (#3215836)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

"I'm pretty sure, Backwoodsman, that even if you buy a Martin from a US Martin dealer, if you the buyer are outside the USA you don't get that warranty"

And I'm pretty sure you're Wrong Again, Moriarty! I asked the question when I was looking to buy from the US for the first time. Their warranty only requires that the instrument is purchased in the USA, and that you are the first owner. No restrictions on residence. And of course if you buy from a UK dealer you don't get any warranty from CFM & Co. at all, just the standard 1-year dealer's guarantee which is required of the dealer under UK law. The main drawback with the CFM warranty is the cost of shipping a guitar back to them if you need to get some warranty work done (although Dave King's an official Martin Service guy now, so no doubt such work could be undertaken here by him? But it's a long drive down to Sussex, Hampshire or wherever).

But even if the Warranty issue didn't arise, the savings in cost alone make a deal with a reputable US dealer very attractive.


31 Aug 11 - 09:46 AM (#3215883)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,Woodsie

Richard - "under the railway arches near the Greek and Indian restaurants and the Old Mill" there are no railway arches at Blackheath in fact the railway runs below street level and then enters a tunnel! nor is there an old Mill - are you thinking of Bexleyheath?


31 Aug 11 - 11:21 AM (#3215928)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

Yes I was.


31 Aug 11 - 11:44 AM (#3215944)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Will Fly

When I bought my Martin - from an authorised Martin dealer in the UK - I was told that I had a lifetime warranty on it, as long as it was taken for repair to an authorised Martin dealer in the UK, with proof of purchase.

I don't suppose I'll ever use that (hopefully), but that's certainly what I was told by the dealer - Guitar Junction in Worthing.


31 Aug 11 - 01:27 PM (#3216000)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

That's a new one on me, Will. I'm looking at the Warranty Registration card for my most recent Martin (August 2010) and it clearly states:-

"Only "C.F. Martin" instruments purchased in the United States or Canada from an Authorised Martin Dealer are covered by the "Limited Warranty" provided by C.F. Martin & Co. Inc., with main offices at 510 Sycamore Street., Nazareth, PA 18064"

And in the Warranty T&Cs in the 'Care & Feeding' book, it states:-

"This warranty is valid only if the instrument is purchased from an authorised C.F. Martin dealer located in the United States and Canada"

Seems pretty unequivocal to me. I reckon your guy was either fibbing, or didn't know the T&Cs of the Martin warranty?


31 Aug 11 - 02:07 PM (#3216025)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Will Fly

I reckon your guy was either fibbing...

I wouldn't be surprised...


31 Aug 11 - 03:07 PM (#3216066)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

LOL! :-)


31 Aug 11 - 05:00 PM (#3216134)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Lonesome EJ

I have a Martin D-16R rosewood body with spruce top that I bought for about 1,000 dollars in 2002, and I have been very happy with it. At the time, I was also looking at Taylor 310 and 410 models in similar price range, and actually liked their action better, probably because of the neck girth and shape. I was told that I would likely have less problems long term with the Martin, from a structural standpoint, but I can't vouch for that.
If I were to pick up a second 6 string acoustic guitar, I would think seriously about the Seagulls, which are great-sounding guitars, and I would get a cutaway model with a built-in pickup.


31 Aug 11 - 06:02 PM (#3216167)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

I was wondering when they would get a mention. The top notch ones are rare in the UK AFAIK.


01 Sep 11 - 04:47 AM (#3216378)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Continuity Jones

When I bought my first decent guitar, I was trying all the 2k Martins, but they all sounded remarkably similar to my 350 Takemine. Then I tried a brand I had never heard of - Lowden - and was blown away, so got that. The only new Martin I've been jealous of was a 5k one a civil servant friend of mine had. But that's a hell of a lot to pay for a name, seeing as it only just edged the Lowden...


01 Sep 11 - 05:10 AM (#3216384)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

CJ - I've got a Lowden and two Martins, (had more of each but some had to go to make way for the current herd).

I love them equally, for different reasons. They are very different in appearance and sound, but I don't consider one brand as being 'better' or 'worse' than the other - they're just 'different' (and, of course, that's precisely why I have the two brands, for their very different properties).

I think what you're really saying is that the Lowden sound (and perhaps appearance?) appeals to you more than the Martin sound. Others might disagree. But either way, that doesn't mean that 'Lowdens are better than Martins', or vice-versa, it just means that what suits one person may not suit another.

You can't really say that Brand A "blew away" Brand B, because you're comparing apples and oranges - if you say that you prefer the sound of Brand A over Brand B, that makes sense because sound is subjective, what my ears hear is different to what someone else may hear. If you compare individual guitars of the same model/brand, then I'd agree that one may 'blow away' the other, but to say that, for example, "Martins blow away Taylors" is arrant nonsense - it's a case of one man's meat etc., and whilst some love the Martin sound, there are just as many others who love the Taylor sound, and they are all right!

So the answer is to play lots of guitars and buy the one which sounds, looks and feels good to you, irrespective of the name on the headstock, and bollocks to what everyone else says.


01 Sep 11 - 10:11 AM (#3216496)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Continuity Jones

I didn't say any of those things, Backwoodsman.

My guitar, which happens to be a Lowden, "blew away" all the Martins I tried (and the Taylors and whatever else was there) and I've only played one modern Martin which I liked as much as my Lowden.

But that's that. If I were choosing a guitar without hearing it (which I wouldn't do) of co course I'd choose Lowden over Martin, as all my experience tells me they are more for me. But, in actuality I'd listen in fairly beforehand of course.

I've probably only played 7 or 8 Martins, I guess I've just been unlucky in getting the unwieldly clunkers.


01 Sep 11 - 11:54 AM (#3216539)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

CJ, as I said, I own both Lowden (this is my second)and Martin (these are my 4th and 5th), have done for 12 years or more, all fine instruments, but none 'blows the others away' because they're all good in their own way. They're not in competition, they complement each other and live happily side-by-side.

But each to his own.


01 Sep 11 - 12:37 PM (#3216554)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: mayomick

If you go for an expensive guitar , don't scrimp on buying new strings for it. I recently played a friend's Martin that he had been praising ever since he'd bought it about a year ago . He hadn't changed the strings in that time .In my opinion it sounded worse than the guitar I have which cost less than two hundred euro .


01 Sep 11 - 01:28 PM (#3216577)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

Ain't that the truth, MayoMick.


01 Sep 11 - 01:39 PM (#3216582)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: saulgoldie

While back, I went in search of a Martin. The guy at HOMT sold me on an Alvarez Yari, which I have been very happy with. But I have always wondered...

If YOU are set on a Martin, then I suggest you get one. Or YOU may always be wondering.

Saul


02 Sep 11 - 01:34 PM (#3217167)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,Woodsie

I am now seriously considering a Faith FMEHG


02 Sep 11 - 02:08 PM (#3217185)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

If it TALKS to you, it may well be right for you. That's how Travelling Charles got his Tak - which I hated. I thought it sounded like a banjo - but it recorded well.


02 Sep 11 - 03:13 PM (#3217221)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Rob Naylor

Woodsie, Hi there man...don't spend all that pay-off at once: it's amazing how quickly it evaporates :-)

Great advice from many...in paerticvular from Will Fly and Richard Bridge.

The Martin I used to bring to Seven Stars is very similar to Will fly's and although the back and sides are HLP, the soundboard is spruce. It's correct that it won't "open up" with age, but it's a perfectly decent guitar.

The Ian Chisholm I bring to Seven Stars on the few occasions I can now get there is superb. I believe it was under your originally stated max price when new ( I bought it second-hand) and for a custom-made hand-built jobbie with cocobolo back and sides and a spruce top I'd say it was a value that couldn't be beat...you might want to consider asking Ianto quote for making you one. His lead-time is a few months but it's much shorter than some of the more "known" names. I've played 4 of the guitars he's made now and they're ALL, without exception, superb:
Ian Chisholm

And here's Ian and Will taking my guitar for a "run" before it became mine:

My Chisholm Guitar No 30

It's truly worth having a word with Ian if you have 1500 to spend on a guitar!


03 Sep 11 - 02:54 AM (#3217452)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

Nice guitar, and very nice playing, Will!


03 Sep 11 - 04:26 AM (#3217464)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Brian May

+1 on that. I just love good quality 'plain Jane' guitars. That's a cracker. Beautifully played.


03 Sep 11 - 05:34 AM (#3217486)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,Woodsie

Hopefully I will be going to Guitar Village & Andertons in Surrey tomorrow to spend some time trying out their wares - also interested in the Marshall 50 watt acoustic amp.


03 Sep 11 - 06:22 AM (#3217499)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: morning wood

Out of interest a while ago I purchased a fake Marti(a)n from tradetang.com in China. I got a fake D45 for approx 220 landed in the UK. Apart from a few finishing flaws, and the headstock wasn't square, it actually wasn't bad and certainly played ok out the box, but it was no Martin. The only thing missing at a glance to tell it wasn't a Martin is the internal labels or laser etching on the heal block. It had fake grover tuners etc. I think they're certainly good enough to catch the uninitiatted buying on Ebay or from a non-authorised source etc. And as more leak through (I think I contributed to that!) It'll get worse.

Fake Marti(a)n 1
Fake Marti(a)n 2


03 Sep 11 - 08:42 AM (#3217538)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Blues=Life

Personally, I love the Tacoma guitars as the best bang for the buck. Pity they stopped making them.

Best advice I can give you came from Frank Zappa:

"Guitar Player magazine, 1983: What do you look for in a guitar?

Frank Zappa: If you pick up a guitar and it says, "Take me, I'm yours," then that's the one for you. You don't go into a guitar store and say, "Hey, what a great paint job." You have to put it in your hand, because a real guitar that's going to be something you make music on as opposed to a piece of machinery that makes you look good onstage is going to have some relationship to your hand and body. It feels right when you pick it up. And that's the way I felt when I got the first SG that I had. It felt right in my hand, so I got it. Same thing with the Gibson Les Paul.

Guitar Player: Will you overlook such things as lousy pickups?

Zappa: Well, you can always change the pickups."


03 Sep 11 - 09:03 AM (#3217544)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Will Fly

Here's the Ian Chisholm guitar I play in sessions - No. 18 from his hands. The piece is called, appropriately enough... "No. 18"!

"No. 18"

Indian rosewood back & sides, Lutz spruce face.


03 Sep 11 - 10:20 AM (#3217571)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

Kewl!
Will, what are you listening to in the vid.? Click track?


03 Sep 11 - 10:58 PM (#3217837)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Brian May

I think he's probably a bit like The Stig . . .


04 Sep 11 - 10:06 PM (#3218284)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: ollaimh

i have played some new martine high end models recently and i was disapointed. rumour has it they ship the duds to canada--and maybe the uk. maybe you're better off with ebay from the usa.

on the other haqnd back in the ninties i played a few that were sizzling guitars.

howver in the uk there are a lot of very good guitar makers that aren't as expensive. i saw mathew ord playing a moon guitar at the sharp house and it was a great finger pickers instrument.

again the d 28s and d 18s are mostly flaypicker instruments. most don't have the balance between the trebble and bass that finger style guitarists want. the triple 0 models and the oms are more for finger style playing.

i have played a couple of newer laminate martins that i thought were great for the price but also a few that were dead as a doornail.

over there i would look closely at the uk makers. many have really developed there own great sound and construction techniques. however the high end martins do retain their resale value--people really collect them.


05 Sep 11 - 02:07 PM (#3218586)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

I finger-pick both my OM and HD. Both work fine.


05 Sep 11 - 02:23 PM (#3218594)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

I don't believe that any reputable builder sets out to produce 'duds'. I believe they intend every single instrument to be top quality, however they are built by human beings and they use organic materials, and the performance of both these elements may vary slightly. I may be lucky, but I don't recall ever hearing a Martin that I'd describe as a 'dud' - the worst I've heard I'd describe as 'good', some as 'excellent', and a few as 'stellar'. And I reckon I'd do the same if I was rating a selection of any builders' instruments. Anything built by humans, and especially built from organic materials, will be subject to some variation between individual examples - anything.

And I don't believe that any reputable builder, let alone one of the biggest internationally-known builders, would deliberately offload sub-standard product to Canada, the UK or anywhere else. It doesn't make good business sense. I think that rumour is another example of the horseshit-bullshit about quality-builders (not just Martin, I've heard unbelievable tales about Gibson, et al) put around by people who either can't afford or are too tight-arsed to pay for whatever brand they're slagging off.

People talk the same shite about brands of cars which are different to theirs.


05 Sep 11 - 02:38 PM (#3218603)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Brian May

Must agree with that. Some of the worst criticism I've heard of Martins, Gibsons, Taylors et al are from people who've not owned one.

The other 'school' are people who've chosen and then need to convince everyone else that only THEIR choice is valid.

What a load of bollocks. Buy what you can afford, enjoy what you've bought and don't slag anyone else's choice, it was a free one and every bit as valid as yours.

Rant over.

Have fun


05 Sep 11 - 07:47 PM (#3218749)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

Actually, to get a guitar that will ruv you rongtime you probably need to spend more than you can afford. Don't look at the labels, don't look at the pricetags, don't look at the decoration or inlays, do it blindfold if you must - just play and listen, and remember that a good guitar tech can fix most playability problems.


06 Sep 11 - 02:25 AM (#3218847)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,Woodsie

I went to Andertons in Guildford and spent a few hours trying various guitars and came away with this one Faith although I didn't pay the price stated.


06 Sep 11 - 03:34 AM (#3218862)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

"Don't look at the labels, don't look at the pricetags, don't look at the decoration or inlays, do it blindfold if you must - just play and listen, and remember that a good guitar tech can fix most playability problems."

Amen to that.

And another good principle is "Don't be put off by other peoples' criticism of a brand of instrument to which you're attracted, and of which you enjoy the sound and playability". Their criticism can frequently be shown to be based on nothing other than rumours and/or The Green-Eyed Monster.


06 Sep 11 - 04:31 AM (#3218869)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

I have heard some good ones. Will you take it to Knockers so I can hear it or is it going to be coddled and kept for best? Do get it Rodgered. If nothing needs doing he will tell you so (it's what he did on Monsieur le Chapeau's Tanglewood 12 if my memory serves me).

You should play it every day if possible. At the very least pick it up, tune it up, and belt power chords up to the octave and back. The wood needs to be wiggled to make it ring like a bell. Rodgers also has a wiggling machine - put the guitar on it and it vibrates it (oooh matron) to speed the opening up of the sound. Or put it by your hifi speakers so long as you listen to the hifi loud, so that they can musically wiggle the wood for you.


06 Sep 11 - 05:17 AM (#3218890)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: banksie

I will pass on some advice I was given by a salesman at Ivor Mairants' shop in Rathbone Place, London, many years ago now. I was helping a friend buy a new guitar and we tried several, including a Martin D28. Someone earlier used the word `mushy' as a description of how that can sometimes sound and it was certainly true of this one. In fact is sounded quite `dead', and I observed this to the salesman.

"Well, it's a new one," he said. "Never buy a new Martin if you mean to perform with it straight away. Buy it before you need it, keep it at home and thrash the hell out of it for a year. Then it will start to sound good."


06 Sep 11 - 05:42 AM (#3218895)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: GUEST,999

Banksie: I'd put my D 28 away for I am ashamed to say 25 years. When I started playing it again it was dull, 'mushy', dead. About a year later it sounded as good as it ever did. And I've since heard it in the hands of a really good guitarist and it is beautiful.

Good advice.


06 Sep 11 - 06:25 AM (#3218909)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

I'm a firm believer that any guitar will "go to sleep" if it's not played for some time. Even my Lowden, normally Like-a Ringin'-a Bell (as Chuck once wrote), does it. Dull as ditchwater if left in its case for a week or two or three, but Like-a Ringin'-a Bell again after an hour or two of playing.

My problem isn't the lack of will to play them all, it's lack of time. Grrrr!


06 Sep 11 - 06:26 AM (#3218911)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Backwoodsman

OK Richard, I have to ask - where does one go to have one's guitar Rodgered (in the nicest possible way, of course!). :-)


06 Sep 11 - 06:37 AM (#3218913)
Subject: RE: Buying a new Martin guitar
From: Richard Bridge

Brian Rodgers, Walderslade. Some very good guitarists bring theirs the entire length of the country to have him do them. PM me if you want his number but he is out of the country at the moment.