- Martin Guitars Buyers Guide
Who Are Martin Guitars?
C.F. Martin & Co (or Martin for short) have been building guitars for close to an incredible two centuries. Founded by Christian Frederick Martin in New York, the company remains a family run business. They design a wide range of acoustics with both the player and environmental sustainability in mind.
Martin are responsible for a handful of massive milestones in the evolution of the acoustic guitar. They are first and foremost renowned for inventing the ever-popular dreadnought body size. This is a thick set shape with large shoulders and soft contoured sides.
The dreadnought is the go-to choice for guitarists from a multitude of backgrounds because of its deep, well-pronounced tones. It’s been adapted by nigh on every mainstream acoustic brand - but if you want the best, you have to buy Martin. You would have heard it used in pop, rock and country music, as well as in film and seen on the big screen.
Martin’s second major achievement is X bracing. This is a type of structural reinforcement within the guitar. Not only does bracing strengthen the instrument in order to handle the string tension across the body, but it also focuses the vibrations travelling through the wood to aid in shaping the sound produced. Most recently, Martin have expanded on their bracing variations to include the X-Series and A-Frame used on HPL wood tops and mortise and tenon neck joints, respectively.
What are the Best Martin Guitars?
Put simply, Martin acoustics are some of the very best in the world across a multitude of price points. Whether you’re buying a stripped back Road Series model you can take travelling, or a high-end Standard model, Martin are the company that set the trends. Here’s the Andertons range of Martin guitars.
Martin 'Little Martin' Series Guitars
As suggested by the name, the Little Martin is the smallest of the guitars in the range. These are the most affordable Martins you can get your hands on, but they’re certainly not lacking in big tone.
Martin set extremely high standard for all their series, and the Little Martin certainly meets them thanks to a combination of sitka spruce tops and mahogany high pressure laminate back and sides. The perfect guitar to pick up and play on the go, for those travelling light or student guitarists.
Martin Junior Series Guitars
At a 24” scale length, the Martin Junior series is bigger than the Little Martins, but definitely small enough to be considered compact. You’ll be getting a stronger, more direct sound from the Junior as the soundhole is larger and the sapele and spruce wood combination works against the size limitations.
Junior series guitars are flexible in application. You could keep one lying round the house to pick up and play as you feel, or take one away with you in your travels thanks to the smaller size. At the affordable price and with Martin build quality, you can’t go wrong.
Martin X Series Guitars
Martin X Series guitars are a staple of the line-up and one of their modern designs. Like Fender electric guitars, Martin build a lot of their production line instruments in their Mexico factory, where they’re able to keep costs down and quality on the up.
These are similar in specs to the Little Martins, but with the bigger bodies and a mix of solid tops to increase sustain. They also use Fishman Sonitone electronics, so you can plug in for easy recording solutions or live play. The X Series is also home to A-Frame X bracing, which makes it a real workhorse of a guitar and will truly last you a lifetime. A great all-round acoustic for a number of playing styles and musical genres.
Martin Road Series Guitars
The Road Series is the next step up in quality. All of these guitars are made with solid back and sides, allowing for super long sustain and a sweet-as tone – as well as a fresh mixture of tonewoods including Muteneye, which produces articulate mid and high frequencies. The Richlite fretboard can withstand some serious playing time.
Many of the Road Series guitars are also fitted with classy Fishman MX-T electronics, including a built-in tuner just inside the soundhole. Take your pick of 14 fret models and generous cutaway designs in dreadnought, grand auditorium or grand performance sizes. Those of you after a guitar you're not too precious about when playing live will love this.
Martin 15 Series Guitars
The 15 Series is a loose take on Martin’s guitar produced in the 1940s. They’re rocking plenty of vintage vibes thanks to the mahogany bodies at an easy to play 25.4” scale length. The 15 Series also utilises A-frame bracing to support the ultra sturdy mortise and tenon neck joint.
These guitars sound warm, dark and mellow to match their relaxed retro theme. All electro acoustic models come equipped with premium Fishman Matrix VT electronics to reproduce that glorious tone through speakers. The 'spin-off' Streetmaster acoustic is even more rustic in appearance and offers that played in feeling out the case.
Martin 17 Series Guitars
Vintage is back in the 17 Series too, with retro matte sunburst finishes. The 17 Series is very similar in spec to the 15 but rocks a slightly different Nashville style aesthetic and switches up the tonewoods for rosewood fretboards and spruce tops.
A beautiful piece of craftsmanship, the 17 serves up classic Martin tone. It feels great to play on the relatively slim neck and sounds balanced across the frequency spectrum. A great choice for fingerpicking and strummers alike. The dovetail neck joint is absolutely flawless and easy to reach up to at the higher frets.
Martin Standard Series Guitars
The cream of the crop at Martin. The Standard is the complete flagship Martin experience. This iconic collection lives up to Martin's impossibly high standards of build quality and sustainability without abandoning their core heritage features. Put simply, Standard guitars are better and more appealing than ever.
Martin have been unwavering in design for more than 185 years. However, what they have done with the Standard series is incorporated modern PLEK machinery into the build process to cut materials perfectly every time. And its definitely worth it, considering the exquisite woods involved: Indian rosewood, sitka spruce, ebony and more.
On the electronics front, all Standard acoustics incorporate LR Baggs Anthem pickups for the best acoustic-to-electronics tone reproduction. All in all, a Standard Martin is a truly elegant instrument able to produce colourful sounds and playing feel you could only imagine before.