11 BEST Martin Guitars You Can Still Get Today • Acoustic Tuesday 269

In true countdown fashion, I’ll be ranking 11 of my favorite Martin Guitars. There are hundreds of guitars, lines, and years to choose from. Which one will take my number one spot?

Martin Guitars has been in the business longer than most American companies. With immigrant roots, Martin Guitars revolutionized the guitar multiple times in the 1900s. From dreadnought builds to X bracing, they’ve made some incredible strides.

Today, they’re one of the most recognizable acoustic guitar brands. They’re prized for their value, playability, and collectability. So, given all this, how could I possibly pick my favorite martin — let alone, narrow it down to just 11?

Obvious price is a huge concern. I could sit here and pick out museum quality, six-figure guitars. But I won’t. Instead, I’m picking guitars that might be attainable for you. That’s right. We’re not just daydreaming here. This could be how you find your favorite Martin!

Overall, I wanted these 11 guitars to represent the wealth of offerings that Martin Guitar has. If there was a guitar that struck a chord with you, let me know in the comments! I’d love to see what you liked about it and whether you went through with seeking it out!

Also featured on this episode…

  • Maurys Music
  • Acoustic Letter
  • The Guitar Spa Singapore
  • Sweetwater
  • Seymour Duncan
  • Andrea Stolpe
  • Blueguitone

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Responses

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  1. My first guitar was a Dx1AE which has HPL sides and back and cost about $500. I later purchased a few others including HD-35 which is my go-to, but i still feel that the Dx1AE is the most comfortable/.easiest to play and it has resided next to my bed (my wife on the other side) for over 10 years. I have thought about asking Martin if they can replicate the DX1AE (for me)with solid wood sides. Thoughts?

  2. Martin’s best kept secret is their jumbo series guitars, which to my ear are even better than their dreadnoughts. The J-40 is probably Martin’s best standard, mass produced guitar. My three favorite Martins are the HJ-38 (Stefan Grossman model), HJ-28 and a custom J-bodied sinker mahogany/Adirondack top (J-18?).

  3. Surely there must be a Tony Polecastro top ten of acoustic Christmas songs!! And I bet Greg Lake’s I Believe in Father Christmas would be on that list. Greg used two six string acoustics to get the sound he wanted, which you can easily replicate using a standard tuned 12 string, I use my Martin 12 string plugged into my SubZero 30 amp with a little reverb and chorus. It sounds epic!!

  4. Best Martin guitar I failed to buy was an OM18V from about 12 years ago.
    I’d been struggling along with an old laminate top guitar for ages and decided to get something better.
    Tried many many guitars across a range of prices. Found that OM18V, went home ‘to think about it’ and someone else bought it that day! I still think about that guitar and missing the opportunity.
    Anyway, it led me back to Fylde Guitars who I already knew about and the guitars I play now are from Roger Bucknall’s small guitar workshop (in Penrith, England). I can’t really see past them. My Fylde Oberon is just amazing and sounding better by the day. My Fylde Ariel – parlour-size – is unbelievably nice to play and has tone and volume you wouldn’t believe too.

  5. I heard you put the Martin CEO7 as number 1 in your list of what you believe to be the current best sounding of Martin Guitars. I was thrilled to hear you say that this model was your pick but served as a jab at the Gibson L-00 by the Martin Guitar Company. Here’s something that might interest you,…some time in the late 70’s or early 80’s my twin brother found a (1938?) L-00 in someone’s trash. It needed some work which, in the passing years, I’ve had two luthier’s attend to but, even still, is sounds simply wonderful. Most every professional who’s ever played it cannot get thru a complete song before they stop, hold it out up high in the air, that is, in order for them to get a better look at it, then hear them exclaim that this was one h*ll of a very good sounding guitar, perhaps the best that they have ever played.

  6. This was a great Acoustic Tuesday you gave me the okay to buy a nice guitar. Thank You!

  7. I loved hearing what you had to say on the HD35 and the HD16R. I recently picked up a 00016 Streetmaster from Music Villa and it is a joy. Have you played one and what did you think of it?

  8. As someone who bought a CEO-7 based somewhat (largely) based on you Music Villa review of same, I LOVE that you selected it as your No. 1. As you said, it is my GO TO! Thanks!

  9. Hello Tony.. I have a few Martins but my favorite is a 2017 Martin 00-17/1931 Authentic. All mahogany, short scale, slot head, parlor that is a phenomenal sound. Resonant, Sustain, Clarity, Loudness. Great for finger style or strumming. My number one pick for sure. .

  10. Hi Tony. Loved the Martin countdown. Several I never heard of and many I am very familiar with. Cool that the 0-17 got a nod near the top of list. I own a 000-15SM. Let’s call it a budget cousin of the 17 series. It has all the attributes you described in a more affordable package. And the 12 fret setup on the SM provides a volume and boom that is hard to get out of a small body. I love mine. My other Martin is a 1974 D-28. Not what most geeks would consider a “must have” due to the vintage. But I have spent the last 47 years with “Marty” and she is one fine sounding and playing gal. For a bluegrass player who is primarily rhythm I would take the D-28 over the HD-28 and definitely over the D-18. The D-28 is most iconic guitar Martin has ever made IMHO. They are all fine guitars but I would have put the D-28 as #1 on the list. Not sure about the CEO-7 for number one but hard for me to judge having never played one. It is super cool and on my list to pick up. Who knows? It might become my #1 someday. So many guitars, so little time (and $$).

    1. I also agree that the D-28 should’ve been listed, and very closely to the top. I can only assume Tony substituted the HD-28 since the herringbone binding is the OG for 28-style Martins(?). However, this was supposed to be a countdown of 11 Martins that are still available-ish, and without the D-28, it’s certainly up for debate if Martin would have been the company they are famous for being…and the most copied. With good reasons. Nothing else sounds like a D-28, and that’s a good thing! I would wager that the D-28 will always be more prevalent in the forefront of player’s minds for not only it’s ubiquity, but its aural appeal, long-running history of versatility, and the players who both used and currently play them. At the time, folks like Stephen Stills never thought they’d become “legends” in music, but he played one along with several other Martins he is likely more popular for being associated with. But I’ve been wrong many times .
      Lastly, all other Martins listed have scalloped bracing…I think. It’s one of very many reasons I bought a Reimagined Series which has been breaking in wonderfully over the last ~couple years. Again, I’ve been wrong before, and am, like anyone else, biased.
      Something that I was so glad to hear Tony mention was the comment about the older 16-series. I also agree 100% with his assessment, and I’ve been telling people the very same thing for years. Aside from the D-28’s, my first “real” (all solid wood) guitar was a brand new, never played, late 90’s D-16GT that IMO is eerily similar to a D-18. A local Martin collector who was in his 80’s at the time was selling most of his collection in 2013 due to severe arthritis. He and his family brought it along with more than a dozen other Martins into my local music shop on the same day I happened to walk in. Among them was a 1999 D-16GT that had never been played or setup. The original tags were still attached to the headstock. I left the store with it within minutes of playing it and have received only “Wow, that thing sounds awesome!” comments ever since. Besides, I realized later on that I had purchased a brand new guitar that had been curing for 14-years before it was ever played! That’s my one and only “cool guitar story”, lol. To really appreciate the now defunct 16-Series Tony referenced, one has to go back to before the tech bubble crisis in 2000. Martin was still using ebony on their fingerboards & bridge plates along with overall better wood qualities. It’s similar to the over-usage of Brazilian Rosewood. It’s now a “custom shop special”, not even being used on their 40-series instruments. It’s crazy to think about that now especially since prices are going up for lower quality woods! Prince had it right when he said to party like it’s 1999 since that’s what most companies – even guitar companies – were doing. Tony is absolutely spot-on regarding the reasoning for discontinuing the older 16-series, and it’s a shame.
      No worries, though, Tony. I’m still a huge fan of your show (since The Acoustic Letter) and especially your positivity. I truly hope this comment isn’t disrespectful to anyone – it’s my very subjective opinion only.
      Best,
      Jason

  11. Oh Tony! How can the D-28 NOT be in your top three Martin guitars? For shame! How many others agree?

    1. Very interesting list, Tony. I have 10 Martins in my 27-acoustic guitarsenal, but the only ones on your list are the HD-28 and the LX1 Little Martin. I love my HD-28, but I think my OMC-18 Laurence Juber Custom (Adirondack spruce & mahogany) and my OMC-16 (spruce & ovongkol) sound almost as good, and my SC-13 (spruce & ziricote-mahogany laminate) and Cherry OM are close behind them. The forward bracing of the SC-13 seems to give it a bigger presence than expected from a Mexican-made Martin with laminate back and sides, and it’s actually the easiest to play.