XC1T Ellipse review by Martin

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  • Sound: 10
  • Overall Impression: 10
  • Reliability & Durability: 10
  • Action, Fit & Finish: 9
  • Features: 10
  • Reviewer's score: 9.8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (15 votes)
Martin: XC1T Ellipse

Price paid: $ 831

Purchased from: ZZounds

Sound — 10
I fell in love with this guitar browsing the photos and reviews online, not sure how I stumbled across this particular model but I'm glad I did. I play folk/folk rock and this guitar is perfect. I use it with a Kustom Sienna 30 Watt Acoustic Amp. Once you play with the blend and mic position and find your "sweet spot" this guitar sounds amazing plugged in. Unplugged it's much more balanced than a full sized Dred. (This one is the 000 Auditorium sized body) This guitar is also astonishingly light (weight wise, especially after playing a DXK2 for a year)

Overall Impression — 10
This guitar is perfect for any fingerstyle, folk, Folk rock, blues etc... The same 000 body style Clapton & John Mayer play (with a cutaway). I've only been playing 18 months, and my previous guitar was a Martin DXK2 (all laminate Dreadnaught, I put in bone saddle & pins and a Fishman Humbucking Rare Earth pickup. The XC1T was advertised to ship with a semi soft/hard gig bag, but shipped with a 330 style Martin branded hardshell case. I'm in love with this guitar, if it were lost or stolen I'd get the same model. I've had it for a week and I can't put it down! I love everything about it, it is a Special Edition after all. I especially love the black tuning gear, black nut/saddle/pins & strap button. The only thing I don't like is that it's slightly topheavy, though this is really a non- issue, it's barely noticeable while playing.

Reliability & Durability — 10
The XC1T Ellipse seems to be very robust despite it's light weight. Everything is very solid, although it does seem slightly topheavy with the stratabond neck outweighing the light spruce & laminate body. The strap buttons and all hardware is top notch. The finish on the spruce is "hand rubbed" its perfectly smooth, but seems like a near natural finish that will age nicely and darken slightly with time. Some reviews complain about it appearing "unfinished" and as that seems to be a perception issue, it does have a very earthy appearance with the rosette design and the lightly finished spruce. It's simple, yet strikingly gorgeous. I will definitely be gigging with this guitar for many many years.

Action, Fit & Finish — 9
The setup on this was near perfect right out of the box, but that's what we've come to expect from C.F. Martin. The mic was pointed straight down in the body (it's got an adjustable gooseneck for finding the "sweet spot" in the guitar. The only flaw were a few drops of glue in the curve of the cutaway, which easily came up with the finesse of a sharp pointed blade, with no residue or marks left to blemish the HPL. There did seem to be some sort of a packing grease residue on the tuning gear, very heavy, dry grease, easily wiped away with a soft rag.

Features — 10
Made in 2010 in Mexico (I do believe there are US made of the same model) 20 frets (also a cutaway) Solid Sitka Spruce Top Body is "Tawny Satinwood" High Pressure Laminate (HPL) Neck is "Stratabond" (a very durable laminate plywood used for gunstocks and bows, it's bulletproof tough) Finish is Satin on the Top and a low gloss on the laminate Paper Label with design matching the rosette Belly Style Bridge Black Nut, Saddle & Black with Abalone dot bridge pins, abalone dot fret markers on the side of the neck as well) Rosette is Maple, Koa & Rosewood Active Electronics Volume Slider and a Blend Slider to adjust source blend for the dual source pickup, mic trim & 2 voicing settings (one for cutting through a band and one for solo gigs) Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend (undersaddle pickup and a condenser mic) Black Gotoh Tuners (Martin branded) Came with a Hardshell Martin 330 000 sized hard case (TKL make, Martin branded)

9 comments sorted by best / new / date

    what everyone fails to note about X series martins (and yes, I have played pretty much every model, so it wasn't just a bad one) is that the stratabond necks are REALLY sticky, and have a not quite thick, not quite thin profile that really is awkward to the hand. and that ever odd sound that comes from high grade paper guitars.
    I've had no issue with the stratabond neck on either the DXK2 or the XC1T, in fact I really like the feel of the neck..it's SOLID and I do realize that you're paying a substantial price for the Martin name, however with the electronics weighing in at around $250 alone, the case another $100, you're getting a pretty good price at $831 (buy online, no sales tax) The fingerboard is striped ebony, the top is solid sitka spruce...the rosette is a three wood inlay, not quite all plywood. If you picked one up and played it, you might understand. Every guitar feels different...I was aiming for a Martin DC15E when I stumbled across this model, i'm quite pleased with it.
    Also, the electronics mount inside the soundhole via a strong magnet. You can easily remove to access the voicing switch (the condenser mic on mine came loose well, it's mounted to the board on the electronics via two zip ties, and I was able to easily remove the strings, pull the Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend, and secure the mic) Also, it should be noted that that spruce tops on these are very very soft, they call it a "hand rubbed finish" it's extremely smooth and perfectly beveled, The spruce is just really really soft, so be gentle!
    i bought a few STRATABOND OM STYLE GUITAR NECK that i found real cheep, still waiting on them. just wanted to know what kind of neck block fits the neck>?
    I bought an Ellipse 3 years ago. I went into a shop that carried Martin, Taylor, and high end Yamahas and played every guitar under $2400 and this us what I walked out with. My only complaint is the gooseneck won't stay in place if I'm really moving around, but i typically play it unamplified so its not a huge issue. It's great in the studio. Bottom line is I love this guitar.
    Got one-love it... Played lots of others but kept coming back to this one.. Great tone and versatility.. It's my go-to guitar..
    I've had one of these for about 5 years, with no complaints; it does the job. However, it does sound like what it is, namely mostly not wood. As a workhorse gigging guitar, it's great, but for sieben at home where you can really great the thing, it doesn't do as much for me. For the price, though, it's a solid, reliable instrument, one that reflects that bottom line when it comes to acoustic guitars: you get exactly what you pay for.