I stumbled onto the Martin 000-MMV on a recent trip to Guitar Center here in the Bay Area. What I saw on the wall was an attractive 000-style guitar with minimal ornamentation. What I experienced when I took it down was an easy-playing, nice sounding guitar. When I checked the price ($1500 when on sale) I was pleasantly surprsied.
Recommend this product?
The Martin 000-MMV is an 000-style (smaller than a dreadnought and not particularly deep) guitar with solid rosewood back and sides and a Sitka spruce top. The fingerboard is a nice dark ebony. The scale length is 25.4" with 14 frets clear of the body. The finish is gloss (except for the neck). In overall appearance and feel, it reminded me of my 000-18V Custom Adirondack, though a look inside the soundhole revealed that this guitar was made of rosewood, not mahogany.
There are visual hints that this is designed to be a cost-effective guitar: There is no stripe down the center of the two-piece back, and there is no pearl inlay or unnecessary purfling anywhere on the guitar. The neck is unbound, and the headstock is the basic Martin Headstock with decal. The white body binding is pretty straightforward looking. A little reading reveals that Martin opted for the less expensive bolted mortise/tenon neck-to-body joint for this guitar, rather than the dovetail joint of most of their most expensive guitars. Some guitar snobs prefer the dovetail joint, as it is more "traditional" and more labor- and cost-intensive, but there is controversy out there about whether it actually sounds any better. The 000-MMV has non-scalloped bracing, which usually (in my experience) leads to a slighty thick sound, relative to scalloped bracing.
Playability and sound.
As soon as I started playing, I started smiling. I really liked this guitar! The sound was not thick at all--in fact, it reminded me a lot of my 000-18V. The bass was tight and not overly warm, and the trebles had nice overtones without being "zingy" like a Taylor. Intonation was spot on, and chords up the neck sounded really nice. When I slapped on a capo, the guitar stayed in tune better than most guitars I've played. This was one of those guitars that made me want to just keep on playing,
When I took down a Martin 000-28EC (Eric Clapton, a much more expensive guitar) and compared the sound of the two, the EC had more volume, more lower midrange, and deeper (but not tighter) bass. But I actually preferred the sound of the 000-MMV overall. Most ECs I've played sound a little too thick for my tastes, though they're great for playing blues.
The 000-MMV sounded good flatpicked, and especially good fingerpicked. When I dropped the bottom E-string a whole step, capoed up 4 frets, and played Alex DeGrassi's Children's Dance, I found myself thinking that I could easily live with this guitar as my main fingerpicking guitar. The bass notes had nice throng but weren't overwhelming, and the mids and trebles were nicely balanced.
The only shortcoming might be that this guitar is not particularly loud. The 000-28EC dusted it in terms of overall volume level, but not in terms of delicacy and liveliness.
In terms of feel, this guitar was a pleasure. I like the feel of Martin's 000 guitars in general--they are small and feel comfortable in my lap. And the playability of this particular instrument was great, with moderately low action, good string spacing, and nice, low profile neck. This guitar would be perfect for someone whose left hand gets tired with more triangular vintage necks or 1 3/4" (at the nut) wide fingerboards.
It turns out that this guitar is a Special Edition of sorts, and I think it's made expecially for Guitar Center. MMV is 2005 in Roman numerals, But I don't Know when this guitar was actually introduced. The retail price is said to be $2799, but this instrument was on sale at Guitar Center for $1499. Given that a regular mahogany 000-18 costs close to $2000 out the door, and that my 000-18V Custom with scalloped bracing and an Adirondack spruce top would cost several hunderd dollars more than that, the rosewood 000-MMV must be considered a really good deal.
Will the 000-MMV increase in value over the years any less than a guitar not made especially made for Guitar Center? I have no idea. Maybe they'll make only a limited number, which could increase the value. But as far as looks, playability and sound go, I really like this guitar. In fact, I'm tempted to bring my little Martin 000 to Guitar Center to compare the two. In theory, mine should sound a bit livelier, due to the lighter bracing and Adirondack spruce top, while the 000-MMV should sound a bit warmer, due to the rosewood back and sides. But I was more struck by the similarities than the differences.
I recommend you play one of these if you're looking for a cost-effective high-end fingerstyle guitar.
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