#1
I'm gonna be picking up a new acoustic/electric and to be honest, I absolutely love the sound and feel of these DX1 guitars (DX1CE, DX1E, etc). I'm looking for something in the well-under-$1,000 price range (preferably $500-700) for open mics and just messing around/writing, so of course these fall right into that category.

The problem is I have no long-term experience with them and I've heard there are issues with their durability (glue on the laminate coming apart and stuff like that). Just how bad is it? Anyone have long-term experience with them? It's just really hard to pass up a guitar at this price that feels and sounds exactly like what I'm looking for. I couldn't care less about what the guitar's made out of as long as I like the sound and feel, so I really don't care if it's high pressure laminate, solid wood, or cardboard. But if it's going to cause issues in a year, that could be a pain in the ass.

One other thing I should mention is that if anything, considering the purpose of this guitar, I'd almost rather have laminate over wood because I've noticed I don't really see tuning issues when going through drastic temp and humidity changes, which I do fairly often and this guitar will definitely see.

Any input?

Oh and one more thing, I try out a variety of acoustics on a regular basis and rarely find one that I like the sound and feel of, regardless of price (I've tried everything from $150 acoustics right up to $6,000-7,000 high end models). So it's not for a lack of searching that I like this inexpensive guitar more than others. If I really felt I found something that I loved for $2,000, I'd just buy it. I know how hard it is to find a guitar that's perfect for you, so I don't mind spending the money when I do. I guess I'm just extremely picky when it comes to acoustics.
#2
HPL's durability is actually a bit worse than solid wood. It is just as sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, so you have to treat it the same. The biggest downside is that if the HPL ever cracks and changes shape, it cannot be changed back, unlike solid wood. It will be harder to fix.

As for tuning stability... you're probably right. The reason laminate guitars may stay in tune a little better is because it's built like a rock, which isn't a good thing for sound because it doesn't transmit energy as well, but is in fact more stiff and durable.

If sound is more important, get solid wood. If not, get a solid top guitar only with laminate side and back. The top is still vulnerable to temp and humidity changes but at least it's less to worry about.
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#3
Martin HPL guitar sounds horrible. You would be much better with a Seagull.
#4
Quote by captivate
HPL's durability is actually a bit worse than solid wood. It is just as sensitive to changes in temperature and humidity, so you have to treat it the same. The biggest downside is that if the HPL ever cracks and changes shape, it cannot be changed back, unlike solid wood. It will be harder to fix.

As for tuning stability... you're probably right. The reason laminate guitars may stay in tune a little better is because it's built like a rock, which isn't a good thing for sound because it doesn't transmit energy as well, but is in fact more stiff and durable.

If sound is more important, get solid wood. If not, get a solid top guitar only with laminate side and back. The top is still vulnerable to temp and humidity changes but at least it's less to worry about.

Good info. The only thing I'd have to say is that I've played dozens of solid wood guitars recently that sounded terrible (not all of them, but quite a few) while I really liked the sound of the few DX series guitars I've played, so I don't see how you can say it's a "good" or "bad" thing for sound. Maybe you can be more specific and say it's a bad thing for "resonance" or "low frequency reproduction", for example, but you can't really just make a blanket statement about it being good or bad.

Thank you for the response, though. I already like the sound of the guitar and the feel of it, so I'm not concerned with that. I'm more concerned with the points you touched on about the durability of HPL. Have you had any long term experience with them?

Quote by Symtex
Martin HPL guitar sounds horrible. You would be much better with a Seagull.

I'll try out some Seagulls as I haven't played any too recently, but your statement is anything but fact. What sounds horrible to you may sound great to someone else, and vice versa. You don't know how many times I've walked into a store asking about acoustics and someone would say, "You HAVE to try this guitar out", and I would think it sounded terrible, or I would pick up a guitar that I loved the sound of and they would just stare at me with this "what the hell are you talking about" look on their face.

Whether or not something sounds "good" is 100% personal preference, not fact. And that's not what I'm asking about anyways in this thread. I want to know about the issues with how the HPL holds up over time.
Last edited by PSM at Dec 18, 2009,
#5
captivate, also, how does the sound of your D-16 compare to the DX1? Do you have any specifics you can give me? Even with five or six large music stores in my area, I'm still amazed at how hard it is to find certain models to compare. And let's face it, online clips give such a poor representation of the live sound of a guitar, so they don't really do much for me.
#6
i think the martin hpl sounds like a bad idea.

look for solid wood guitars, especially in the 1000 range. some brands include blueridge, taylor dn3 depending on where you live, takamine, alvarez, seagull, yamaha, and a bunch of others.

if you really are into the martin hpl, then don't question it and go for it. that's when you find out a guitar is meant for you.
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#7
Quote by PSM

I'll try out some Seagulls as I haven't played any too recently, but your statement is anything but fact. What sounds horrible to you may sound great to someone else, and vice versa. You don't know how many times I've walked into a store asking about acoustics and someone would say, "You HAVE to try this guitar out", and I would think it sounded terrible, or I would pick up a guitar that I loved the sound of and they would just stare at me with this "what the hell are you talking about" look on their face.

Whether or not something sounds "good" is 100% personal preference, not fact. And that's not what I'm asking about anyways in this thread. I want to know about the issues with how the HPL holds up over time.


the issue with Martin lower end model is that they sound like plywood. You are paying for the name Martin on the headstock. Yamaha, Patrick & Norman, Seagull are better overall instrument in that price range.

If you really want to get a great guitar and not pay too much, get a larrivee D-03R. You will get more bang for the buck and it will be all solid wood. I was like you before. I told myself I would buy a Martin guitar. I walk into the store. I tried every lower end martin and Takamine. They are lack that little something. The minute I picked up a larrivee, it was like I was stepping a whole new level of greatness. Comparable to higher end model Martin/Taylor without the price tag.

You can get a used larrivee for around 650$. It will be 10x better then any HPL guitar.
#8
Captivate has the goods on this one...what he said about HPL is spot on. One of the luthiers who used to roam these parts said it was the single worst thing Martin has ever used -- because they do sound great, but they are incredibly sensitive to climate change.

While I am not familiar with particular model numbers, Breedlove, Takamine, Seagull, and Alvarez produce some great guitars in the price range you are looking at, and they would have laminated backs and sides. However, they are very different from the Martin sound. If you really like the Martin better, you'll just have to chance it.

If I were in your situation, I would probably look for the Larrivee or another solid wood guitar used in your price range. It's all personal preference though.

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#9
Great points. I've only played Larrivees once in my life because for some reason I just don't see them at the stores around here. I was in New York City at the Sam Ash on 48th Street and they had a bunch of them. I really enjoyed playing one or two of them but at the time I wasn't looking to pick anything up and the price tags on them were up there anyways. Maybe I'll do a more in depth search to see if I can find some around here to try out.

It certainly is difficult to find that one acoustic that really does it for you. Even my 1947 J-45 doesn't really do it for me sound-wise, but it does play nice. It's got a totally unique sound, though, nothing like any modern guitar I've played. The only other time I can think of that I played one that I fell in love with was at the Daddy's in Boston on Mass Ave. It was a Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Standard like in the link below, but when I found another one at home a few weeks later, it played and sounded nothing like the one I played in Boston, so I was pretty depressed about it.

http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Gibson-Songwriter-Deluxe-Standard-EC-AcousticElectric-Guitar?sku=580336
Last edited by PSM at Dec 18, 2009,
#10
Quote by PSM
Good info. The only thing I'd have to say is that I've played dozens of solid wood guitars recently that sounded terrible (not all of them, but quite a few) while I really liked the sound of the few DX series guitars I've played, so I don't see how you can say it's a "good" or "bad" thing for sound. Maybe you can be more specific and say it's a bad thing for "resonance" or "low frequency reproduction", for example, but you can't really just make a blanket statement about it being good or bad.

...Have you had any long term experience with them?


When I was talking about "good" and "bad", I was referring more to laminate in general, and not HPL specifically. From a physics perspective, there is indeed a "good" and "bad" for the application of laminate body steel string guitars. Perhaps "less suitable for the application of acoustic guitars" would be a better phrasing.

In any case, the reason why laminate is less suitable is because of the way laminate is created. By gluing pieces of wood together with opposing grain patterns, a very strong material is created. However, the glue and this combined stiffness make for poor transfer of energy. That is, the kinetic energy of the strings translating into acoustic energy through the reverberating body. The glue and opposing grain patterns usually make the guitar sound muddier and unclear.

Solid wood is much more suitable to the applications of the acoustic guitar because it is one piece - so there's no glue in between to muddy up the sound - as well as being thinner than laminate. It is designed so that it will be just strong enough for everyday usage, but light enough to vibrate and transfer energy(kinetic to acoustic) as best as possible.

As for long term experience with the X series, I've played them for a bit in the shop, but I do not know anyone who owns them(and therefore don't play them that often). I usually try to play all the expensive guitars in the store, so I don't play the X series for too long. Probably a few hours of exposure at most. They always seem quite heavy though.

Quote by PSM
captivate, also, how does the sound of your D-16 compare to the DX1? Do you have any specifics you can give me? Even with five or six large music stores in my area, I'm still amazed at how hard it is to find certain models to compare. And let's face it, online clips give such a poor representation of the live sound of a guitar, so they don't really do much for me.


I've played both. My D-16RGT blows any X series out of the water for sure. All solid wood plus the fact that my guitar has been played a lot(it's starting to age really nicely) contributes a lot to that. Once you get into the 1, 15, and 16 series Martins, you won't go back.

In terms of specifics... I would describe my 16 series as having a much larger tonal pallet than the X series for sure. The harmonic overtones are very rich and smooth. Despite being a dreadnought, the bass is full, but not overbearing. If you want more bass, just dig your pick in a little deeper because it has a lot to give. I would call it a bass oriented, but more balanced dreadnought than most Martins... compared to say... the D-28, which can be an absolute bass cannon.


As for actually finding a guitar... could you ask the larger shops if they can order in a guitar for you to try? Most stores here where I live will order one for you without needing any sort of down payment or obligation for you to actually buy it.
Equipment:
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Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
#11
Just to leave stuff to look at:

Takamine, Seagull, Epiphone Masterbilt (they don't sound awesome new but with some proper aging I bet they'll sound great), Alvarez if you must have it new.

(possibly) non-X series Martin, 300 series+ Taylor, Breedlove, if you're willing to go used. You can get a legitimate (as in non-X series) Martin under a grand used if you play the patience cards right. Plus, buying used means it will have aged a bit already, which will give the guitar a more open sound than a brand new one.
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#12
I've had one for about 5 years now. Gets maybe 8hrs a week play still holding up well. DMX or DXM I think it's called. The only issue I had is when I bought it they had 5 of them and they all sounded dramatically different. I bought the one I thought sounded the best and to this day I still like the tone. Try several before you make a decision.
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Last edited by scott58 at Dec 19, 2009,
#13
TS, I was in the same situation as you, and instead of getting an X series martin, I decided to look at the $950 15-series martins, which are solid wood and are considered to be legit martin instruments. Sure, they are considered to be the entry-level professional acoustics from martin, but nevertheless, they're still considered to be real martins rather than the X series line.

You can find any of these 15-series martins easily for $600-700 used on craigslist: a martin 00-15, a martin 000-15, and a martin D-15. I'd recommend trying all 3 out in a store and seeing if you like any of them; they all have different body shapes and give off different tones. I'm sure you'll like them more than the X series stuff (well, at least I did )
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Last edited by ilikeguitar90 at Dec 19, 2009,
#14
Thanks for all of the advice, guys. Just an update, I went out today and played about 25 different acoustics, various makes and models. I tried mostly Martins and Taylors, a few Gibsons, Takamine, a Stonebridge or two, and pretty much every price range from $500 to $4,800. I shocked even myself when I walked out of the store with a Taylor 110. I was never a big fan of most of the Taylors I've played sound-wise but I tried to keep an open mind and just happened across this one a couple hours into the visit.

I know it's got the sabele laminate sides and back, but I just decided that I don't care any more. It sounds good, it plays good, and it was in the price range I was hoping for considering the purpose of the guitar, so why not take a chance? Worst case scenario, I'm out $600 and I continue the search.

It's actually got a similar sound to the DX1, only a bit more high end and slightly chimier. Strong mid-range projection, good low end on the bass-heavy chords, and plenty loud (I can't stand when I'm in an acoustic jam and I can't even hear my guitar). I still think that if I were to blindfold most people and play them various makes, models, and price ranges of guitars and ask their opinions, most of the preconceptions about prices, makes, types of wood, and all of that would go right out the window. It never ceases to amuse me at how easily you can shake someone's world at a guitar store by making them listen to side-by-sides of two different guitars in completely different categories and after pointing out the differences and playing to their strengths and weaknesses, make the person question prices and preconceived notions about different brands.

More details and pics here: https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?p=22649861#post22649861
Last edited by PSM at Dec 19, 2009,
#15
Congrats, it's always nice to walk out with a purchase your satisfied with.
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#16
Great to hear that you found a guitar right for you. Guitar are really about what floats your boat. All we can do here on the board is point people in a general direction and tell them to play hundreds of guitars and decide for themselves.

Congrats.
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#17
PSMBe careful of the newer Larrivée. In the beginning, there was Jean Larrivée, Starting in 1967 in Toronto, he was considered one of the finest luthiers in the world, His signature was a classical performance instrument with a cutaway, which had never been seen before. For true guitar artists, like Leona Boyd, a Larrivée was almost compulsory, Then popular North American artists like Gordon Lightfoot got him into steel-string folk-country models. In 1977, his son (I think he goes by John so people would confuse him with his dad) took over operations, moved the company to BC, the California of Canada, and made it a production manufacturing operation like Martin, Gibson, etc. For a while the cachet off the Larrivée name contributed to strong sales, but there was less and less of the luthier in the instrument. In 2001 they opened a California plant (9/11 - not an auspicious time) and in 2013 the Canadian plant was closed. All that is left of Jean Larrivée is the name.

A couple of years ago I was in a Long & McQuade, probably the largest Canadian music retailers, where they still stock a lot of Larrivées, and tried about a dozen of them. All I had to do to find fault was play any string at the 12th fret, and then the natural harmonic at the 12th fret. Every one of them was seriously off. Some by as much as a quarter tone. And they're still selling them for up to ten thousand dollars. If you can find a true Jean Larrivée from 1967-77, you've got a priceless gem. Otherwise I'd be very careful how much you pay.
#18
poickerdad1

Seven year-old thread.

Anyway, welcome to the forum.

He bought a Taylor 110,of which I heartily approve, but the info on Larrivee is interesting. I have also heard mixed reports about them, eg their neck joints. I've tried a few, and tonally there were no standouts
#19
PSM
Like PSM, I'm looking for a backup guitar for playing on the street, for open mics and just messing around/writing. A Martin fan I know recommended the X-series, and |I| like them because of the HPL sides and back. that will take a bit of abuse, rain, and whatnot without showing dings, spots, or scratches. I can only compromise so far, though, and I like that Martin is making them with a solid top, which gives 90% of the sound. I'm not a fan of the dreadnought shape, so like many others on this forum, I've selected the 000X1AE. The HPL back and sides plus the sound being similar to guitars worth thousands more, pretty much meets requirements. Only problem is it doesn't sound like my premium guitar, a vintage Laskin cedar top with rosewood back and sides, and now aged over 40 years. The Martin sounds like a Martin, with that clearly articulated sound and a Sitka Spruce top. Great for a ;lot of country and blues folks, but I'd rather not change the character of my music from the real instrument to the second/backup guitar.

I've searched in vain for another manufacturer with artificial sides, back, bridge and neck and a cedar top, but I can't find one anywhere near Martin's $6-700 price tag. So before I spend my $700, does anyone know of other guitars that would fit me?