Sound — 9
Sound is very good. It has a really nice tone for a guitar in this price range. Sounded better than some much higher priced guitars that I've played. Even though this guitar is on the lower end of the Martin range the first time you strum it there's no doubt that it's a Martin. Rich bass tones, clear and crisp highs yet not too bright, and well balanced if not somewhat subdued mids. The perfect tonal balance to my ear, although everyone has their own tonal preferences and yours may differ from mine. Very good projection as well. I've had the guitar for about 9 months now and have noticed that the tone seems to be continually improving as time goes by. It began to notice the tonal change about 4 to 6 months after I bought it and it just keeps getting better. I assume that the top is starting to "open up" a bit as most quality solid wood top guitars do. I have some other higher end Martin guitars (2 D-28's, D-18, D-35) which the DRS2 does not compare to. However, one could buy 2 or 3 DRS2's for the price of a D-28. You get what you pay for. The Fishman Sonitone pick-up system is ok but nothing to brag about. If you plan to gig with this guitar you'll probably want to upgrade the pick up system. But for those who just want to jam with friends or plug in on the rare occasion then the Sonitone system is more than adequate. I upgraded to a Fishman Acoustic Matrix Blend system which I'm very pleased with. It really helps brings out tones that were missing with the Sonitone system. In summary, you'll be hard pressed to find another guitar with better unplugged sound than this one unless you're willing to fork out an additional $1,000 or so more.
Overall Impression — 10
I play just about every style of music except for hip hop and rap (rock & roll, blues, funk, alternative, R&B, reggae, and some jazz). From hard strumming rhythm to string bending lead licks this guitar does it all and does it very well. This guitar does everything a dreadnaught body guitar is designed to do. You may want a different guitar if finger style playing is your thing. My overall impression after 9 months of ownership: Awesome guitar. Would I recommend this guitar to others? Yes indeed. I have nothing but good things to say about this guitar. Unmatched quality and sound for the price. If you are in the market for a high quality, great sounding dreadnought, but your budget is limited to the $700 to $1, 000 price range then I highly suggest that you check out the Martin DRS2 (or the DRS1 if you prefer the brighter sound of mahogany). Playing experience: 30 years. Other guitars: 2 Martin D-28's (1971 & 1982), Martin D-35 (1984), Martin D-18 (1976), Fender American Standard Strat (1984), PRS Custom 24 (1988), Gibson Les Paul Standard (2004), G&L Legacy (2011).
Reliability & Durability — 10
I bought this guitar to use as my beat around and travel guitar. The DRS2 seems to be very durable. In fact Martin designed this guitar with durability (and budget) in mind as part of their Road Series line. It's designed to be carried around and gigged with. But I'm sure it's not as durable as a guitar that is constructed with laminate sides and/or top. This is an acceptable trade off for me since I value the improved tone that you get from solid wood construction over the durability you get from laminate. The neck seems to be bullet proof so I don't cringe or get too freaked out if the the headstock gets bumped like I do with my wooden neck guitars. The stock Martin tuners are working out very well. I was considering upgrading to Grovers but the stock tuners are tight and maintain tuning very well. I'm going to hold off on upgrading the tuners because I don't think it's needed. I take good care of all of my guitars, including this one. I don't abuse my equipment so I don't expect to have any reliability issues with this guitar. I've played it hard for 9 months now and I've had no reliability issues at all.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The action was perfect out of the box. No adjustment was needed. The quality of the build is superb. Kudos to the hombres in the Mexico factory. They are doing some really fine work. I'd say on par with what you'd expect from a made in the USA Martin. I really like to minimalist look of this guitar. No unnecessary bells and whistles or bling. Just a plain jane dreadnought with a really cool looking neck. I must say that the stratabond neck was almost a show stopper for me. I liked the look and feel but was a bit leery about this aspect of the guitar even though it looked really nice. But in the end I'm very pleased with it. In fact I've since grown to love it. It's super strong and contributes to the guitar staying in tune very well since the neck is not as susceptible to bending due to temperature or humidity changes like a wooden neck. It's also very smooth and playable.
Features — 9
I purchased this guitar new for @ $1,000 USD equivalent (30,000 THB) in Thailand. Guitar prices in Thailand are a bit higher than in the US due to import duties and whatnot. Spec's: - Dreadnought style body - Made in Mexico - Solid sitka spruce top - Back and sides are solid sepal - Neck is made of Stratabond material - Bridge and fretboard are made of black Richlite material - 20 frets - Martin die-cast chrome tuners - Fishman Sonitone pickup system - Hardshell case was included I upgraded the pick-up system to a Fishman Acoustic Matrix Blend pick up system. Everything else is stock.