Review: Martin D-Mahogany Guitar

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Videos by American Songwriter

Martin FSC®-certified D Mahogany

(MSRP $3,599)

In just a few words, Martin’s D Mahogany, built entirely of woods certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), is an absolutely outstanding instrument. If anyone has put out a better acoustic guitar lately in any price range, this writer hasn’t played it.

Most new guitars feel and play a little stiff and are not quite broken in, like pretty much anything new. But with recording-quality sound; perfect action and intonation at every fret; great volume, tone and projection; and wonderful sustain, the D Mahogany is in a class by itself when it comes to guitars that can just be pulled off the wall mount and played in a professional application with no extra work.

This guitar feels and plays like it’s been played for a year but with no wear. The frets don’t have sharp edges, and the guitar frets beautifully and uniformly on a fingerboard made of katalox, also called Mexican royal ebony, an excellent wood found from central Mexico to northern South America. The guitar has a European spruce top; mahogany sides, back and neck; nickel open-geared tuning machines with butterbean knobs; and bone saddle, nut and end pins. A pickup can certainly be installed, but it should definitely only be professionally done. This guitar sounds so good that miking it might be a better alternative unless one is sure that the pickup quality and installation match the quality of the guitar. You don’t want to screw up a good thing.

Cosmetically uncomplicated with a tortoise pickguard, and without much decorative fanfare beyond its old-style 18 rosette, this axe isn’t out to win a beauty contest, and is a player’s guitar all the way. It comes with the lightweight Martin 640 molded five-latch case, and also comes in a left-handed model at no extra charge. Considering how well Martins typically age, it’s hard to imagine how good this guitar will sound in 20 or 30 years. Barring something unforeseen, anyone who gets one now will have a great lifetime instrument. List price is $3,599 but it can be found for as low as $2,699. This guitar is excellent all the way around, and unless the one we checked out was a fluke, it could well be one of the best guitars of 2012.


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