Price paid: $ 500
Purchased from: Guitar center
Sound — 9
Wonderful acoustic sound. Not the same immortal tone you would get from an expensive Martin, but close enought that most people couldn't tell the difference. Rich and crisp, with a great bass response and cutting treble, sounds like a professional's guitar when put up against other 'cheap' guitars. Good for all styles of music, when newly strung, has the same unreal 12-string like sound of high-end Martins. Will make you shun built-in preamps. Just mic the damn thing.
Overall Impression — 8
While meticulously shopping around for a perfect high-end Martin acoustic, I picked this one up to hold me over, because Martin Dreadnoughts are like drugs, once you've tried one, you need your fix regularly. So if lost or stolen, I would certainly replace it. The only things I'm looking for in a higher-end model is solid rosewood back and sides, bone nut and saddle and bound ebony fretboard. My favorite thing about any Martin is that when you strum any chord, it will remind you of some random classic song because it is the exact same tone.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Definitely a workhorse. Drop it, spill beer on it, let the kids play around with it, Pass it around the campfire, with cigarette ashes falling in the soundhole, just don't worry about it, enjoy playing it. Reliability: always there under any conditions. Durability: very durable, just don't smash or burn it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
Best possible action you can expect in an acoustic guitar. Incredibly comfortable to hold and play, even compared to other Martins. Simply, but masterfully constructed like all Martins. No flaws. Bottom of the line for Martin, Top of the line for any acoustic $500 and under.
Features — 6
Made in Nazareth, PA., like all Martins, this is their bottom of the line dreadnought. It is still, however, IMO, the best acoustic in it's price range. 20 frets, 14 clear, no cutaway, no electronics, Mahogany HPL back and sides, solid spruce top, no finish, rosewood fretboard, TUSQ synthetic nut and saddle, nothing fancy, simple, yet incredibly effective.