Friday, April 22, 2011

Martin DM Acoustic Guitar


Today we are looking at an entry-level Martin dreadnought: the DM acoustic guitar. And I will not keep you in suspense on this one -- it looks and sounds like an entry-level Martin.

First off, let’s look at how this thing is put together.

The back and sides are made of laminated sapele (an African wood that is similar to mahogany), and the top is a clean piece of sitka spruce. There is stout spruce A-frame X bracing, and I think this guitar is not going to fall apart any time soon.

The binding is black, so from any distance it looks unbound. This is a Spartan guitar.

The DM has a mahogany neck (or maybe sapele again?) with an East Indian rosewood fretboard. There are 20 frets, with 14 to the body. The neck is comfortable and has a flattened C shape to it.

And the whole thing is sprayed with an uber cheap-looking matte finish (my porn star name, BTW: “Hey ladies, I’m Matt Finish!”)

But don’t get me wrong. The guys at Martin did a nice job of putting this guitar together. The frets are well done, and their craftsmanship is fine. This is just a cheap-looking guitar when you get down to it.

It weighs in at around 4 pounds, 4 ounces which is pretty nice (especially since I usually play 10 pound basses).

Playing the DM, it not a chore; the neck and frets are good, and it came with a nice low action from the factory. But, I do not care for the tone I get from it. I would expect more even tone across all the strings from a Martin dreadnought, and this guitar is really lacking in the bass department. It sounds too tinny and bright.

If you want to pick one of these up new, you can find them online for $899.00, which includes a sturdy case covered in tolex and lined with luxurious green fur. The case might be the nicest thing in the deal, actually. The DM is available in lefty for no extra charge, and there is also an optional electronics package that I have not seen or heard yet.

Though $899 seems like a reasonable price for a made in the USA Martin acoustic guitar, it is too much for what you end up with in this case. The DM does not sound terribly special or have any standout aesthetic qualities, and there are a lot better guitars for less money out there. I would take a look at the offerings from Godin’s family of guitars if you are looking for a quality low-budget dreadnought. If you want to stick with a Martin, pay a grand more and step up to the D-18.



  1. Sadly, this has been my experience with nearly all the lower-cost Martins.
    If you want a pleasant surprise in a lower cost Martin, try the 00-15 (all sapele or mahogany, no binding, 14 fret neck, decal for a rosette, great midrange and good bass, typical thick trebles from the mahogany top)

    or the SWOM-GT
    ("Smartwood" sustainable harvest series, cherry back & sides, katalox bridge and fretboard, surprisingly good even and loud sound quality with very adequate bass response)
    - but both of these are at least a couple hundred $ more than the DM.

  2. Hey Corey! I will have to check those out, though I have a deal working on a "new" Martin. Details to come...