Purchased from: My Favourite Guitars
Sound — 9
For strumming and fingerstyle this guitar is comfortable and its reputation for versatility was one of the main reasons that I bought a marquis model. The versatility is in part because of the 1 3/4 inch neck which is easier for me although this is simply a personal preference. Chord melody is OK but perhaps a bit of a stretch compared to playing on more of a modern-style neck. The instrument responds to gentle fingerstyle with as much richness of tone as when played harder. Certainly the guitar resonates far more freely than my Maton with blackwood back and sides and Sitka spruce top. When strummed hard the Marquis simply gets louder, there is minimal compression and it doesn't seem to top out at all. There is potentially a lot of bass present but part of the pleasure of playing this guitar is learning to use restraint, knowing that there is a wide dynamic range available. A really important part of the tone character of this guitar is strong treble that nicely complements the deep bass. I am captivated by the tone of this guitar, far more than that of any new Standard D28 that I've played. I ordered this guitar sight unseen and for me it was quite a big investment. However, Martin guitars have a great reputation for consistency in quality, woods and build which made the purchase seem less of a risk.
Overall Impression — 9
Given that I am selling guitars to finance this purchase versatility was essential. I have been playing for 15+ years and have taken weekly jazz lessons for 5 years. I'm absolutely happy with the tone and general finesse of the Marquis and it is enjoyable to play for strumming and fingerstyle. I am happy that I did some research and got some great advice from this and other forums to help me decide on features that were important for me particularly, the 1 3/4 inch nut and the adirondack spruce top which seems to complement the deep bass by accentuating the treble. I looked briefly at the Santa Cruz D/PW and also at the Martin HD28. The Santa Crus was way expensive and whilst I absolutely love the tone of the HD28 the narrower neck wasn't really suitable for me. For the price the Marquis is better than I ever thought I would own and likely all I'll ever need. If it were lost or stolen and I had the means I would by the same guitar again. I can't recommend Jon and Sharon Garon at My Favourite Guitars for helping me to safely and easily make what for me was a very big purchase. This is a lifelong keeper guitar.
Reliability & Durability — 8
The Marquis seems a solid guitar but not not as solid my Maton Guitar. However, the responsiveness and tonal subtleties of the Marquis are due, in part, to scalloped bracing and a thinner soundboard which I guess must make the guitar a little more vulnerable to damage. Possibly not a guitar for the stage unless you are outrageously flush. There was no strap button on the heel of the guitar so the choice is either to tie a strap to the headstock or a trip to a good luthier. Tuners seem solid enough and the finish seems suitably thin for a good guitar, fortunately I haven't found out how durable it is yet.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
Setup was by the dealer My Favourite Guitars and was pretty much right for me, fairly low but no rattles anywhere on the fretboard. The build quality and setup were good enough that I didn't notice that the guitar arrived strung with medium 13 gauge strings, although I'm used to playing with 12 gauge strings on my previous dreadnought... And yes I can see why people call the Martin dreadnoughts "cannons". I could see no imperfections on the guitar at all which is a new experience for me when buying a new guitar. I actually prefer to buy secondhand when I can but a reasonably priced secondhand D28 MQ is a are thing, made even rarer by the strong Aussie Dollar.
Features — 9
Made by Martin in the US this is a simple 14 fret dreadnought but beautifully made in the pre-war tradition. Frets are smaller than on many modern dreads but on the nicely made modified-V neck they are perfectly functional. The body is straight grained East Indian Rosewood and the sound board is Adirondack (red) spruce. The soundboard has nice straight grain and the grain width under the bridge is noticeably thinner than near the edges. The bracing is heavily scalloped and forward shifted to maximise responsiveness of the soundboard. Good TKL case (Geib style) with no metal edges to scratch the surface of the guitar. The Martin and Co open-geared tuners are functional but feel tight and have quite high gearing.