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August/September 2014

by Chet O'Connell

Review: Martin 000RSGT Small Body Acoustic Guitar

by Chet O'Connell

Review: Martin 000RSGT Small Body Acoustic Guitar

The Martin Guitar Company has managed to survive with family management for six generations. From the early beginnings of C.F. Martin Sr’’s creations of the 1830s to the recent developments introduced by C.F. Martin IV, this continuous operation under family management helps the company remain at the top of the game.
I recently had the privilege of playing a beautiful Martin guitar which dates all the way back to 1892. Just to hold the instrument was something special, but the sound was amazing. The overtones were beautiful and I was amazed that a guitar of this age sounded so in-tune. Unfortunately I couldn’’t sneak it out of the house with me, but I’’ll certainly be back for another chance to play.

Martin 000RSGT nzm156Today I’’m lucky enough to have a brand new Martin in my hands, just waiting to be played. The OOORSGT is part or the ‘OOO’ Road Series which are made in Mexico. It comes with a polished gloss sitka spruce top, sapele back and sides and a solid sipo neck. The RSGT is a small body guitar, similar to the Martin style 18 Auditorium, and has the warmth and tone you would expect from a Martin.

This is a great looking guitar which features a black Richlite neck, white dot inlays, chrome tuners, a single ring rosette and black Boltaron binding. Appearance, tone and integrity are part of the Martin legacy and this guitar ticks all the boxes.

I haven’’t played a lot of Martin guitars and wasn’’t sure what to expect. I’’ve heard people say that you can’’t buy a bad Martin, so I figured it would be a decent guitar and was keen to give her a play. It didn’’t take me long to become a true believer and this model really took me by surprise.

For a small body guitar I was surprised at the depth and volume it had, and the tone warm while still managing to keep a bit of top end sparkle. I’’m a fan of small bodied acoustics, so this was comfortable for me to play right from the start and the set up was also spot on.

The guitar has as 25.4” scale length, with a modified low oval neck shape and quite a flat fingerboard which makes for easy playing. The sound was well balanced across the strings and up and down the neck, and while it was brand new out of the box, I could tell that this guitar would really open up with some more playing.

When it comes to plugging in, the RSGT comes with a Fishman Sonitone pickup system that includes an under-saddle transducer with sound hole-mounted volume and tone controls. The pre-amp uses a 9V battery, with the battery compartment located next to the input jack, making for an easy battery change.

Keeping up with technology and the current trends the guitar even includes a USB port which allows for easy plug and play with today’s computer-based recording packages.

The pickup sounded nice when plugged into a PA system and gave an honest reproduction of the acoustic sound of the guitar. With just one tone control you don’’t have a great deal of tonal options on board the guitar, but any adjustments can be made on your mixer or amp and once again, this is a great instrument considering it is a lower end performance model.

With the expected Martin craftsmanship, a great sound and an attractive classic look, this is the sort of small body guitar that could easily hold its own on a gig or in a jamming situation, and at the very reasonable price of $1895 rrp (with case) it’s a very affordable option. Like most guitars it will fit certain genres of music more than others, but as an all round acoustic this is a winner.

Chet O’’Connell is a professional guitarist and vocalist based in Auckland, working with variety of New Zealand’s finest performers.