I own a guitar and it’s a very nice guitar. But like most obsessions, I want more.
I want more guitars and I want nicer guitars!
If I had less self-control, or perhaps more discretionary income, this could easily become an addiction.
Fortunately for me and my family, I have a good deal of the former and not nearly enough of the latter.
For me, today was “Martin” window shopping day …
If you know guitars, you know what I mean, but if you don’t, just suffice it to say that Martin is the Rolls Royce of the acoustic guitar world.
The history of Martin Guitars … http://www.pabook.libraries.psu.edu/palitmap/MartinGuitar.html
Many, if not most guitarists either own a Martin, or they lust after one.
My guitar is not a Martin, thus I fall into the second category.
Today, I visited three local stores and I was lucky enough to be allowed to test play four different Martin guitars, ranging in price from about $900 dollars up to around $4,000!
Of course, I was in heaven and all of these instruments were absolutely wonderful.
What I found out however, is that while there is indeed, a lot of difference between a $900 guitar and a $4,000 guitar, it’s not as noticeable as you might expect. At least not in the way it plays and the way it sounds.
When you pay $900, you get a Martin D-1 … a model that plays beautifully, but is very basic in aesthetics and materials. Of course, it’s solid wood, but along with it’s spruce top, it uses a wood from the mahogany “family” called Sapele for the sides and back. Another concession is the guitar neck which uses a hardwood laminate construction, that is strong, but to me is not nearly as attractive as a solid wood neck. There is also minimal decoration on the guitar and the finish is a basic semi-gloss.
Up the ante a little … to maybe about $1,200 and you can get into the Martin D-16. Once again, a very basic looking guitar, but one with slightly more cosmetic decoration and material refinements such as real mahogany sides and back and a solid wood neck instead of the laminate. It has a richer sound to my ear and it looks nicer as well. $300 nicer? … Well, yes, probably.
Now for a fairly quantum leap to $2,300, you can move up into the nose-bleed environment of the Martin D-28. Famous musicians like Hank Williams, George Jones, Elvis, Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney all played the Martin D-28. It’s probably the model that is most often associated with the Martin brand. A D-28 will give you a much nicer looking guitar that is made of some pretty rare and sophisticated materials such as rosewood and ebony. It’s just more aesthetically pleasing all around. Is it worth twice as much as a D-16? You’d have to decide for yourself.
Finally, at a cost of just about $4,000 the Martin D-41 is pretty much the top of line. There are other even pricier Martins, but this model gives you all the highest quality and most exotic wood materials and embellishments as well as extravagant cosmetic touches such as lusterous high gloss finish and abalone pearl inlays on the neck and body. Buying this guitar is a major investment even for a wealthy individual. It is an heirloom quality instrument that if properly cared for will last several lifetimes and can be handed down proudly from generation to generation.
Okay, so playing these instruments today was sort of like getting to test drive a BMW, a Porsche, a Ferrari, and a Lamborghini. The were all a pleasure and none could be considered anything less than great. Afterwards, it was tough to come back home to my unpretentious little cedar and maple guitar.
Call it love or call it lust … but, I almost felt like I had been cheating on my plain little Seagull S-6 that cost me a “mere” $400.
I really, really like my Seagull. It’s well-made, plays beautifully and it sounds great. Seagull guitars are probably the most “bang-for-you-buck” available today.
It has no glamour, no glitz, no snob appeal, but, It’s a fine instrument and I’m proud of it.
It has only one shortcoming …
… It’s not a Martin.