Pros: Resonates like a beast, natural looks, Martin quality, affordable
Cons: Only available at Musiciansfriend.com - can you say monopoly?
This is a review of the spruce top with mahogony back and sides version of the D-15 sold only on musiciansfriend.com.
The guitar is awesome, and the claims that the sound only gets better with age is true. In fact even the times when it's been sitting in the case for a while, when I bring it back out, it sounds better for some reason. Don't know why but I guess it's the quality of the woods that age really well.
Anyways, out of the box this guitar sound great and the strings it comes with are Martin SP mediums, I believe. At least they felt like mediums but they're definitely Martin SP's.
I've played with the higher up dreadnoughts that sound incredible, but this guitar, at around $700 new, is special in its own respects.
First thing you'll notice about the guitar is its appearance. It's got a satin finish in contrast to the gloss coat that most other expensive martins have. While the D-15 is more susceptible to denting versus a gloss coated guitar, the satin finish is a really nice touch for those who like a more natural look and not something that looks like a show car.
It's got all the basic features such as circular pearl inlays on the fretboard, tortoise binding around the front of the body, and simple inlay work around the soundhole. No fancy bells and whistles here but then again it's not just a piece of wood - there are minor details in it that you can appreciate.
And then there's the Martin name. We should seriously update our dictionaries to use the word Martin to mean quality because that's what the D-15 is - the manifestation of pure quality. You will not find a single discrepancy with a microscope on this guitar straight from the source.
The stock saddle is a faux-ivory TUSQ saddle. Don't know what the nut is made out though but it does its job. The hardware feels sturdy and has a chrome finish.
Comes with a tortoise pickguard and the typical rosewood fretboard and headstock. That's pretty much it in the physical department. Now onto the sound.
This thing resonates like crazy. Depending on how well you can tune this thing, it can hold a note for a very long time. The TUSQ saddle handles most of what you can dish out on the strings and very little sound is lost if any. I changed my saddle to a bone saddle and the sound did improve , but the TUSQ did have a good sound as well.
I've had my guitar for about three quarters of a year now and I've been playing everyday. Coming from someone who usually doesn't like his own playing style, this means a lot. This guitar can make a beginner sound like a pro. Whether you're into strumming or fingerstyle, consider this guitar.
Oh yea, this thing is light as a feather too when compared to other guitars. Compared to an Ovation this thing is like a quarter lighter, resonates 10x better, and is a Martin.
This guitar also comes in a spruce top, rosewood back and sides version that is the same in all other aspects. I've never played it but for those who know about tonewoods, rosewood usually gives the guitar a deeper more knock-you-out sound and also resonates a lot more. The mahogony sides and back version is more bright sounding and it's really hard to explain in the english language but play the most expensive martin guitars and they have rosewood back and sides. This version is about $100 more on musiciansfriend.com.
A few tips, changing the strings out of the box may be good or bad but will usually be good as a new pair of strings sound better than old ones. Also when changing out the saddle, make sure the saddle is making contact with the slot at all points without any gaps. I had to sand down my own saddle to fit in the slot and ended up with very miniscule gaps and although it still sounds fabulous, it does sound a little constipated - like its full potential is being held back. Then again it all depends on the strings and how you tune them also.