The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #107821   Message #2239341
Posted By: PoppaGator
18-Jan-08 - 12:59 PM
Thread Name: Martin OM28-V Fingerstyle guitar
Subject: RE: Martin OM28-V Fingerstyle guitar........
I think that my Martin is absolutely great, but then it's a 49-year-old D-18, not one of these new editions on sale today. I'm sure that there is at least some validity to the opinion that they don't make Martins like they used to.

One thing that has not changed: Martins seem to have always come from the factory in need of a setup.

When my guitar was at the luthier's for a neck reset and a new set of frets a couple of years ago, I spent a lot of time "shopping" in guitar stores. I did the same thing a year or so later, while in Katrina-exile in New Jersey, when my guitar had been left at home, locked in our flooded house. (We eventually learned that it was high-and-dry all along, a couple of feet above the waterline.) I was not really buying on either occasion, just finding a way to keep in practice while temporarily without a guitar of my own to play. Very few of the instruments I played impressed me very much, inlcuding plenty of new Martins.

Only two of the many new instruments I sampled seemed to sound as good or better than my own:

I played a Lowden that was just wonderful. It was the only Lowden I encountered in at least a dozen music stores, both in the New Orleans area and in New Jersey.

The other new guitar that I really liked was an "O"-model Martin. Much nicer than any of the other new Martins at that particular store , or any that I remembered playing elsewhere. I think it was simply an especially good individual guitar; I don't think its quality was because of being an "O." It might have been a "D" or whatever that happened to be a happy accident of the right woods, right craftsmanship, and whatever else went into it.

It really comes down to the individual instrument, not the brand name. The brand name will give you some idea of what general level of quality to expect, but each instrument is different. There are great ones with unimpressive names, and mediocre ones from the most reputable companies.

Trust your ears. And, in the case of Martins at least, allow that a good setup will probably make it easier to play. The setup shouldn't change the sound, though, and the sound is what you should be judging. Bring another person along so you can judge how instruments sound from in-front, not just how they sound to the player, from behind.