When I checked out the Martin 000-15SM it turned out to be full of surprises. I figured it would be a decent enough guitar since I’ve never played a bad Martin, but after spending some time with it and seeing the very reasonable price tag I definitely became a believer.
For starters, the 000-15SM is a great looking axe. I’m a sucker for a deep chocolate mahogany, which is almost what the entire guitar is made of. The dark fingerboard of the modified low oval neck is made of South American morado, and is pretty wide (2 1/4″ at the 12th fret where the neck joins the body). The wider string spacing on this relatively flat neck makes for easy playing, and it’s also great for slide.
When it comes to volume, 000 guitars aren’t normally viewed as the most optimal for lead or rhythm in a jam situation, but the one I played was almost startlingly loud, though the 000 lower bout, at 15″, is pretty big, almost out of proportion, helping with that volume. The bone nut and saddle may also contribute slightly to the volume, though some people dispute their value. But overall, this guitar sounded great and played great, and is a good guitar for any application, whether it be writing, lead, slide or whatever.
No real frills here, just a good, solid guitar. Inlays at the 5th, 7th, and 9th frets, a pinstripe rosette, and a dark tortoise pickguard that works perfectly with the chocolate hog are as fancy as this one gets, with ebony pins on the morado bridge complementing the look. The slotted headstock is cool and brings in the flavor of guitars a hundred years older, if you don’t mind the hassle of changing the strings on these headstocks.
As I mentioned, though, the nicest thing about this guitar is the price tag. With a list of $1,849 and a street price of $1,399 (and that’s with a good case), it’s almost hard to believe that this guitar is a Martin, as so many of the company’s guitars, while admittedly excellent, are out of the reach of the casual player. It’s got the hard-to-beat Martin craftsmanship, a good sound, an attractive and classic look, and is good for certain types of music and even better for others. Highly recommended for a test drive.