Price paid: $ 460
Purchased from: Guitar Center
Sound — 9
In the same way that Ovation guitars have a unique sound due to their composite back, the DX1 has a unique voicing that is hard to beat. The sitka spruce top creates a wide range from warm, thick lows with crisp, bell-like highs that sound wonderful for any musical style. The HPL back and sides create such unique acoustics, making every note beautiful and loud as hell, fulfilling all of my needs acoustically. I have played every musical style with this guitar, from country to rock, blues to classical, and it sounds like it is meant specifically for each style. Don't get me wrong, this is not the top of the line instrument, it will not match up to the highest end Gibbys, or higher level Martins, but sound-wise, this does a good job of kicking the shit, sound-wise, out of most guitars.
Overall Impression — 10
Aside from a lack of cosmetics, there is nothing I can complain about. It plays great, it sounds like a champ, it's pretty damn durable, and in it's simplicity, it's beautiful. There is nothing better, and I mean nothing in the under $600 range. Hell, there aren't that many guitars that are better in higher price ranges. When I was buying it, I compared it to Fender acoustics, Ovations, Lagunas, Seagulls, and Taylors. I know I made the right choice. Play one, and you will know what I'm talking about.
Reliability & Durability — 10
The HPL and Stratabond combo create a very durable guitar. I'm kinda careless, so this is a great thing. The HPL and Stratabond are pretty much ding-proof, and probably could withstand dropping, but I wouldn't know. There is little more that you can do to produce a more solid guitar. In the realm of guitars, it's pretty much bulletproof. The Martin quality comes through in full-force in this respect.
Action, Fit & Finish — 9
For all I know, the techs at guitar center could have tweaked it, but I wouldn't know the difference. The action on this baby is better than many electrics surprisingly (no joke). The fretboard is smooth, fast, comfortable, and beautiful. The Stratabond neck, which is comprised of layers of compressed birch, laminated in between layers to create a strong neck that refuses to warp, even if you treat it like crap. Even though this is a new material for guitars, it should have been implemented much earlier on. The grain of the layers goes in the same direction, allowing quick hand movement without any snags or slowdown, like on a finished maple neck. Knowing that these layers make it easy to slide, it also makes it easy to grip, the layers produce miniscule ridges that keep your hand from slipping don't impede movement, but assist in gripping of irregular cords. A new material that you need to play to understand. The finish is great, even though it was made in Mexico, there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. The beautiful wood grains of the spruce are completely visible, much like the high-end models. The wood has slight bear-claw patterns, which are groups of diagonal lines resembling scratches from bears clawing trees. This gives a unique look.
Features — 10
As the times change, the way guitars can be made also change. Some people may think this might be a bad thing, but these people obviously haven't played a Martin DX1. Oddly enough, this is on the low-end for Martin and still retains the excellent properties of the best manufacturer in the business. A lack of inlays on the fretboard, no binding, HPL (high pressure laminate, or fancy, durable plastic coating compressed excess wood fiber from the high end Martins), and a Stratabond neck keep the cost within the affordable range, but doesn't affect the performance negatively at all. A satin finish of nitro-lacquer covers the solid sitka spruce top and rosewood fretboard, letting it age gracefully as the years go by.