DX1 review by Martin

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reliability & Durability: 6
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 5
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7 Good
  • Users' score: 8.1 (80 votes)
Martin: DX1

Price paid: $ 499

Purchased from: 5Th Street Mucic, NYC

Sound — 10
The sound is amazing from this $500.00 guitar. It blows away my Taylor (costing three times what the DX-1 did). The guitar also seems to stay in tune going up and down the neck. Extremely well balanced sound, not favoring lows or highs, just a blend of pure tones that please the ear.

Overall Impression — 6
Again, I love the sound, but would not buy another DX-1. I'm curious if anyone else has experienced this issue. I own 2 Fender's, another Martin, a Landola, and an Gibson that don't have this issue. I'm wondering if it's just my particular guitar or a problem with this model. As an example, I measured exactly 1/2 inch at the lower neck after setting this up at 41% relative humidity. When left in a room at 50% (only 9% more humidity) I measure just over 1 inch at the lower neck! That is drastic and unacceptable.

Reliability & Durability — 6
Unless you can predict the humidity level where you're going to play, this is absolutely NOT the guitar to play live. Mine is in the home studio and works well for recording in a controlled environment. Even then, small seasonal changes make significant changes in the way this guitar plays and acts.

Action, Fit & Finish — 5
This is the guitar I love and hate. The sound is amazing! It's very well balanced with bright highs and deep lows. For the price, nothing I've played touches this guitar as far as sound. The factory set-up was nothing short of terrible. The action was so high, the guitar was barely playable and fatigue set in in minutes. Even a capo wouldn't hold the strings down. After a call to Martin, they sent me a special allen wrench to adjust this guitar (Yes, there is adjustment WAY up the neck). After some fine tuning, the guitar played very well. HOWEVER this guitar is DRASTICALLY affected by even small changes in humidity. I own 5 other acoustics that don't have this issue. After setting-up the guitar in 50% relative humidity, I brought it out to play at a place where the humidity was 41%. I had all kinds of buzzes and fret noise. I've tested this many times and find that a 10% change in humidity creates a TOTALLY different instrument. I've never experienced anything like this before. If you set this guitar up in 40% relative humidity, the action becomes extremely high if the humidity is 50%. Unfortunately, I can not bring this guitar to play out, because I can't predict the humidity and hence the playability of the DX-1.

Features — 8
Normal features. It stays in tune well and the tuners are tight and have a nice ratio so tuning, spot-on, is easy. There are no electronics to report on as this is just your standard acoustic. Since I can't submit this review unless I type 25 words under each heading, I added the last sentence.

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    I just bought a used DX1, U.S.A made. Of course it is used but in excellent shape. Humidity is critical on acoustic guitars, 40 to 50% is too low and some guitars are more prone to having problems that others. I keep mine at about 60% and have no issues at all. I did have to adjust the truss rod in order to lower the action, that is what the wrench he got was for. My Martin did not have one but I have tools to fix just about everything but replace frets. I love my DX1 and I will be installing a Prestige 330 pickup from JJB Electronics to give awesome electric magic sound. Sounds to the guy with the wrench he never heard of and keeping them dry can not turn on youtube and learn how to take care of his instruments properly. None the less the Martin DX1 is an excellent guitar for the money.
    I don't know what this dude is talking about. I've have my DX1 since it's release and TO THIS DAY, it's stayed in tune and no issues with humidity, and sounds AMAZING!! A buddy had a D-14 & D-28 & this baby can hang with them!
    Hey jddoctorwho....I'm with you on this. I purchased my DX1 maybe 10 years ago at a pawn shop. Was brand new. I've had ZERO issues with humidity or it staying out of tune. To be honest, I just played it for the first time in a couple years and it still plays perfect! The tuners are nice and tight and smoth. Also, what the hell allen screw is he talking about????
    I did some online homework, then went to four stores and tried out some really nice guitars in this price range. But the DX1 was an immediate standout. I also really liked the Seagull S6, but the Martin had a certain richness that's especially apparent in the lower strings - less brassy than the Seagull (not that I would knock that guitar). Very nice tone for the fingerpicking I like to do. The DX1 also shares the nice wide string spacing of that other axe. Looks-wise, this is an extreme minimalist design - but there's something appealing about the way the top smoothly blends into the sides with no trim whatsoever, and in the unfinished-looking top that lets the beauty of the spruce really come through. They might have overdone the modesty a bit when they decided not to include markers on the fretboard, but I've been doing fine just using the small dot markers in the neck. I've heard these things are humidity-sensitive and more vulnerable to top cracks than some other accoustics, but I plan on keeping it cased with a humidifier and not loosing any sleep over it. I picked it up at a Guitar Center in NJ on sale for $400 - which is a pretty cool price for a Martin equipped with electronics. And as for those who have a problem with the laminate back/sides and say it's not a "real" Martin? La dee freakin' dah, that's all!
    I made a few trips to Guitar Center and really couldn't a acoustic I liked enough to buy. So on my last trip I picked up my new DX1 and I could not believe my ears this guitar sounded so much better than any other acoustic sounded so I bought it and I have no complaints at all as a matter a fact I down right love it. I don't care what people say when they are talking about what it is made of. The point is it plays and sounds great and Im happy with it.