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Martin Guitars: The 000-16GT Model
'I Don't Know Anything About Guitars; I'm Really A Lumberjack'
Some things in life always come back to haunt us; be it an embarrassing moment or maybe it was that other 3 numbers you were going to pick for the lottery last week but you changed you mind... With me it's something far worse; I used to work in a guitar shop -lol!
So what? I hear you cry (or perhaps hear you type??? :-) well the problem is I'm still many of my friends/family's first port of call when the word 'guitar' gets mentioned... Now don't get me wrong; I love guitars, but I don't like having to have someone I know pop a guitar in my hands and say something like 'I've just bought this guitar; isn't it great?' - which is a loaded question, especially if the instrument is definitely not 'great' -lol!
... And so it was (I'll start a sentence with 'and' if I want to -lol!) that recently one of the people I see regularly around the local acoustic clubs asked me to have a look at his latest guitar; bought second hand, privately; a Martin 000-16GT. (I've had a quick search on the net and a new one is around £930 from Thomann.com)
Martin Make Exceedingly Good Cakes, I mean Guitars!
Martin Guitars are some of the most respected instruments in the world so generally you can expect very hi quality, though the older ones tend to sound the best (for reasons that guitarists still can't agree on to this day :-). The Martin guitar company has been going since 1833 so you're getting a lot of expertise, tradition and of course guitar for your money when you buy a Martin.
Even so the cost is relatively high to the average musician though, and that's why many guitar players opt for cheaper instruments (for example my main acoustic is a 20 year old Japanese Takamine that cost £250 and holds it's own pretty well with most prestigious guitar brands). But over the years, having seen, played, restrung, setup and occasionally owned various martin guitars (oh no we're back to my guitar shop days again!!) I do have a place in my heart just for them -lol!
000-16GT ... What A Catchy Easy To Remember Name :-)
But back to the 000-16GT it was pretty much what you'd expect from a Martin; nothing too fancy to look at, but very well made... A workhorse rather than a 'hang on the wall/look pretty' guitar. This model had had a neck that joined the body at the 14th fret (some model join at the 12th making higher fret access more inconvenient).
The top (the piece of wood with the sound hole in, just under the strings) which more than any other part of the instrument defines tonal quality of the guitar is made from solid sitka spruce - which is an excellent choice for a 'top' and a pretty standard one (you'll find much cheaper guitars with solid sitka spruce tops too).
The back and sides are apparently solid mahogany which (like the use of sitka spruce on the 'top') an excellent and very normal choice for a guitar. Scale length was 25.4 inches so there's plenty of tension on the strings to give a punchy sound.
Martin Takes Centre Stage
But what about the sound; well it projected well. I was in a fairly busy acoustic/folk club at the time - choc full full musicians all sat round in a large circle in a quite a large room (to perform in without a PA system and microphones etc). I had only popped in that night with my girlfriend to say hi to a few folks I knew on my way back from giving a guitar lesson - but got asked to perform a few songs... So I got to put the Martin through it's paces.
Projection was excellent, the guitar really threw the sound out well, as for tonal quality it was still a tiny bit dull for my tastes (the strings were fine it just didn't sound 'lively'); but I don't think the guitar was very old -so I'm sure it will sound better as time goes on. The action (height of the strings above the fretboard) was fine; not so low it buzzed, but not so high as to make fretting difficult or cause intonation problems.
Even with me singing and my girlfriend on harmony vocals the Martin still cut through well and wasn't drowned out; though granted I chose to use a plectrum rather rather than finger pick it; - but even so I was impressed by the guitars volume.
One Final ...Ahem... Note
Would I part with £930 for a new one - probably not (unless I suddenly found myself with oodles of spare cash from winning the lottery or something -lol!) because I think there are cheaper guitars that sound as good. But having said that the Martin is only going to improve with age, it is built to last and you are getting a slice of all that wonderful Martin guitar tradition and magic thrown in...
So going back to what I was saying at the start of this review; I am pleased to say that on this occasion I was able to hand the guitar back to the person who bought it and say 'that's a really nice instrument' ...and genuinely mean it :-)
Thanks so much for reading my review, hope you found it useful and interesting.
Caveat Emptor x