Pros: small, comfortable, good playability
Cons: sound not distinctive enough for a $2000+ guitar
Can I do it? Can I review a guitar in under 666 words? Heck, yes. Does Epinions allow the word "b i t c h i n'"? Heck no. So I had to revise my title.
The Martin 000-28EC should be a kick azz guitar. But it isn't. At least not the ones I've played. It's a good little guitar, but not special enough to justify the $2550 (discounted) price. At least that's been my experience. The 000 designation means it's a small bodied guitar, like the Martin OM, and like my Santa Cruz OM. The number 28 means it's made of Indian rosewood, like the famous Martin D-28 and HD-28.
The 000 designation usually means means a skinnier (1 11/16" at the nut) neck, but Martin's website says the EC has a 1 3/4" neck. Still, I found the EC to be easier to play than some 1 3/4" necks. The neck has a retro "modified v" shape, which may be responsible for the good playability, as well as the 24.9" scale length, which is slightly shorter than the 25.4" scale length of your standard Martin dreadnought or OM.
The EC designation means that this a copy of one of the guitars that blues phenom Eric Clapton uses for some of his acoustic work (probably a pre-war 000 rosewood guitar). His signature is on the label inside the guitar, and it is also appears on the fingerboard between the 19th and 20th frets.
If EC uses it, I should want it.
The small body of the 000-28EC means should sit really comfortably in your lap. It does. It's light and small and fun to hold. And, as mentioned, the playability of the ECs I've played has been good. The fingerboard is high quality ebony, and the action is generally set medium-low.
But the intonation and sound of the samples I've played has been only good, not great. And the sound is just...there. Not as ballsy as a rosewood dreadnought. Not as delicate and liquid as a Larrivee LS-05 or Taylor 614CE. And projection and sustain not as good as my comparably priced Santa Cruz OM or Martin's own OM-28V. Maybe the 000-28EC would work as a contemporary acoustic blues guitar, but it doesn't have the cajones to be a bluegrass flatpicking guitar, and it doesn't quite have the delicacy or liquidity to be an Alex De Grassi style fingerpicking guitar.
Still, it's not bad. It never offended. Certainly, I didn't wrinkle my nose and want to flee from it, as I did with the Gibson Workingman 45. In fact, I enjoyed playing the Martin 000-28EC. It's small and comfortable and sounds balanced. And it's pleasant looking, with a high quality gloss finish, conservative binding and purfling, and cute (but not particularly smooth) butterbean tuners. I just found myself thinking that for around $2500 I could have a Santa Cruz OM, Martin OM-28V, or Taylor 614CE.
Retail price: $3719
Realistic price: $2550
At $1000 (discounted), this would would be a 4 or 5 star guitar. Even at $1700, it might earn a 4 star rating from me. But at around $2500, I don't feel it's competitive with the best out there. It ain't bad. But it ain't quite special. If you're looking for a Martin 000 style rosewood guitar, maybe check out the 000-28. It has a skinnier neck, and the more modern (not v-shaped) neck profile, and it retails for only $2599, meaning you can probably get one for about $1750.
This is my entry into Sleeper54's second annual Lean-N-Mean write-off, in which we are challenged to write a review using less than 666 words.
See all the entries here: