DX1AE review by Martin

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  • Sound: 9
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reliability & Durability: 5
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 10
  • Features: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 7.8 Good
  • Users' score: 8.5 (13 votes)
Martin: DX1AE

Price paid: C$ 520

Purchased from: Long N McQuade

Sound — 9
This guitar had an excellent tone. It was very bright and loud and held out through a variety of genres. I primarily played blues/classic rock with it and the occasional classical guitar piece. This little guitar had a very surprising and pleasing sound to it. The pickup also sounded surprisingly good for what I expected of it. Very rich and clean tone.

Overall Impression — 7
If you have the patience and time for the humidity this guitar requires then its tone cannot be beat for such a low price. That being said this model was very lacking for what I've come to expect from Martin and I was almost afraid to ever let it out of its case.

Reliability & Durability — 5
The reliability on this guitar is dreadful. It is one of the most delicate guitars I have ever owned. It needs constant attention and humidity... Lots of humidity. I had it in its case with a humidifier that I changed every so often but it wasn't enough and the body caved in a little which created fret buzz. I am not sure if it is just a fluke model but the bracing Martin uses in the 'x' models seems to be very delicate and this might be why it was so delicate. It was not worth the trouble to keep it under such an intense humidity level when there are many other guitars, both by Martin and by other manufacturers, which have a similar tone (if not better) for a similar price point.

Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The action and finish on this guitar were, too my standards, excellent. I prefer little to no finish on my guitar and that is what I got. It hardly had any finish across the guitar and the action sat well in my hands. The finish also faded over the course I had the guitar and I began to notice it in only a few months. It gave the guitar that nice warn look. I used a medium string gauge and found no fret buzz throughout the time I had this guitar.

Features — 8
Heres just a cut and paste of the features listed by Martin: - Construction: Mortise/Tenon Neck Joint - Body Size: D-14 Fret - Top: Solid Sitka Spruce - Rosette: Multiple Black/White Boltaron with Red Fiber - Top Bracing Pattern: A-Frame "X-1" - Top Braces: Solid Sitka Spruce 5/16" - Back Material: Mahogany Pattern HPL Textured Finish - Back Purfling: none - Side Material: Mahogany Pattern HPL Textured Finish - Endpiece: none - Endpiece Inlay: none - Binding: none - Top Inlay Style: none - Side Inlay: none - Back Inlay: none - Neck Material: Rust Stratabond - Neck Shape: Modified Low Oval - Nut Material: White Corian - Headstock: Solid/Standard Taper - Headplate: Mahogany Pattern HPL - Heelcap: none - Fingerboard Material: Black Richlite - Scale Length: 25.4" - # Of Frets Clear: 14 - # Of Frets Total: 20 - Fingerboard Width At Nut: 1-11/16" - Fingerboard Width At 12th Fret: 2-1/8" - Fingerboard Position Inlays: none - Fingerboard Binding: none - Finish Back & Sides: none - Finish Top: Hand Rubbed Finish - Finish Neck: none - Bridge Material: Black Richlite - Bridge Style: Belly - Bridge String Spacing: 2-1/8" - Saddle: 16" Radius/Compensated/White Tusq - Tuning Machines: Chrome Enclosed w/ Small Buttons - Recommended Strings: Martin Studio Performance Light Phosphor Bronze (MSP4100) - Bridge & End Pins: White w/ Black Dots - Pickguard: Tortoise Color - Case: Available as an option - Interior Label: Foil Label - Electronics: Fishman Sonitone Overall its a very plain guitar to Martin's standards and come with some excellent under the bridge electronics.

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    ^ The reliability issues stem from the fact that the top is made of solid spruce while the back and sides are made from Martin's high-pressure laminate, HPL (which reacts to humidity changes a bit more drastically from other popular laminates). The top expands and contracts far more and more quickly than the back and sides, which has resulted in more than a few top cracks I've seen in our store, almost always in the center behind the bridge. And yes, we humidify, but do not case our models since they are on display. You have either taken care of your guitar pretty well, live in a pretty stable climate, or have been lucky so far. Not to say they are bound to crack, just more likely than Martin's other models which are all-solid or all-HPL.