Martin is one of those brands that espouses quality. The company has had a long history of crafting fine acoustic guitars that are often imitated but never really duplicated.
Martin guitars also come in a wide array of price ranges, from affordable to “doctor/lawyer-only” pricing. With the 000-15M, they have created something of great quality that is not out of reach for us mere mortals. Though the price tag may induce a bit of sticker shock, you do get a great Martin guitar for the money. Read on to see Kevin Daoust’s Martin 000-15M review and see if it’s the acoustic guitar for you.
|🛠️ Build quality||4.5|
|💰 Value for Money||4|
Martin 000-15M Review: The specs
Coming in at $2,029 CDN at Steve’s Music ($1,499 USD at Guitar Center), the Martin 000-15M features an all-mahogany body with a satin finish. The dark aesthetics of the wood shine here, offering something visually different from your standard spruce-top acoustic guitars.
The neck is also made from solid mahogany with an East Indian rosewood fretboard. The rosewood figures in the bridge and head plate, offering a nice visual contrast to the mahogany top. The guitar also features a bone nut and a compensated bone saddle, offering great tuning stability and intonation.
This acoustic guitar is available both with and without electronics. For those who want a pickup, Martin has a variety of offerings from Fishman, including the Gold Plus Natural I, the Infinity Matrix, the Presys Plus, and the Ellipse Matrix Blend.
Those who prefer different pickups from other companies can order the guitar without electronics (like the model I tried) and have a system installed by a professional luthier.
- Designed for performing musicians
- Strikes a balance between smaller body size and rich tone
- All mahogany guitar
Body and Bridge:
- X brace non-scalloped mahogany construction
- Genuine mahogany solid wood back and sides
- Distressed Satin finish
- 000-sized 14 Fret body
Neck and Fretboard:
- Mahogany neck with satin finish
- Standard taper and modified low oval shape
- Katalox fretboard with abalone inlays
- Bone nut
- 25.4” scale length
- None as standard. Available fitted with Gold Plus Natural I, the Infinity Matrix, the Presys Plus, and the Ellipse Matrix Blend.
Seeing the guitar in person, you appreciate how it stands out among rows of cedar-topped acoustics. The darker wood makes this one beautiful guitar. The color is nice and rich, and the rosewood appointments (head plate and bridge) contrast nicely with the mahogany body.
Though advertised as having either a tortoise pattern or a black pickguard, this particular guitar had none. This is better for showing off that beautiful wood, but strums and picking may wear out that part of the top.
The Martin 000-15M also has a satin finish that felt nice on my hands. I didn’t get that “sticky” feeling you sometimes find with glossy finishes. The wood looked more “natural” and less like furniture.
There are only a few inlays in the neck, which were decoratively cut, though a little hard to see due to the contrast between the abalone and rosewood.
Other touches, such as the aged knobs on the tuning pegs and the ebony bridge pins, were also lovely. This guitar looks like an old Martin, though it’s pretty new.
Build Quality: 4.5/5
First off, let me say that this Martin guitar is light! I was amazed about the weight the moment I grabbed it – think grabbing a suitcase you thought was full but wasn’t! This could be because it is a bit smaller than a full-sized dreadnought. For anyone who needs to stand and play for any extended period, This small guitar won’t weigh you down.
Beyond the weight, the guitar was impeccably well put together. I didn’t notice any flaws in the fit and finish. The nut and saddle were well cut, and the fretwork was impeccable with nary a sprout to be found. For the price, this is what you would expect.
I noticed a hole where the strap pin would normally be. From what the salesperson told me, this accommodates the pin/jack combo of a pickup system that would be installed later. This was a bit odd, though someone could just get a regular pin installed.
Coming from Martin, especially at this price, you expect high quality in the build, and they did not disappoint.
This is where this guitar shines. It was probably one of the easiest-playing acoustic guitars I’ve had my hands on. The action was lower than the typical acoustic guitar, allowing me to fret notes and chords easily.
Even something like barred chords (which I feel can sometimes be difficult on acoustic over extended playing sessions) were easy; I had no problems getting any notes to sound.
Playing single notes was also easy on this instrument – whether picking or using legato techniques like hammer-ons and pull-offs. The lower action allowed me to fly all over the neck with little effort.
Like with the chords, getting notes to sound was no problem. The same goes for fingerpicked lines. The guitar didn’t fight me at all and getting notes to sound out, both fingered and open-stringed, was effortless.
The body shape and finish were also comfortable for me and didn’t get in the way. As mentioned earlier, some glossy finishes can feel sticky; the satin finish on this one certainly didn’t hinder my playing.
The neck had a nice shape to it that I felt was a little thinner than other acoustic necks, though still respectfully meaty. This added to the comfort and playability of the instrument.
For fun, I grabbed a similarly-priced Taylor off the rack to compare, and it was night and day. The Taylor felt a bit stiffer and the action was more typical of your average acoustic guitar. I almost felt like it was fighting me after playing the Martin.
This guitar sounds great. While strumming, the guitar had a nice full sound with a more pronounced midrange than I expected. This may be to your liking or not; I find that a guitar with more mids can cut a bit more in a band situation. Open chords sounded lush and full because of it, with a nice shimmer of high-end and balanced lows.
For single-note playing, notes were nice and articulate. I was also impressed by the volume this guitar can put out for picked lines. Legato lines are also articulate, though the volume was not as loud as picked notes (but that’s to be expected – legato on an electric guitar vs an acoustic guitar are two different things). Fingerpicked passages were also nice and clear with good volume.
For comparison, the same Taylor mentioned above had nice highs and lows, but lacked that pronounced mid-range that I was digging. At the same time, I usually find Taylors to be brighter acoustic guitars than Martins, so I was not surprised by this. I also tried another Martin (a 000-16 that was on the rack, which was also pricier than the 000-15m); the sound was comparable to the 000-15m, but the midrange (to my ears) was in between the Taylor and the 000-15m.
Value for Money: 4/5
Value for money is always very subjective. It’s based on what the guitar is worth to you. Some people might consider it a bargain, while others may scoff at the price.
For me, the Martin 000-15M is a great guitar for the money. The build quality is exceptional, the sound is fantastic (I was digging that little extra midrange it had) and it played like butter right off the rack. Can you get a less expensive guitar to play this well? Yes – but it means spending time and money with a good luthier to get everything to this level.
The one reason why I’m docking a point off the value is that the Martin 000-15M did not immediately come with a pickup system installed. I would have hoped that it would have come with one of the options listed above for something at this price. Many other guitars that are similarly-priced (and even those above and below) came with something by either Fishman or LR Baggs installed – so I feel like this expectation is justified. Had one been included, the guitar would have been 100% gig ready right out of the store.
Considering the brand, I thought this little guitar did present great value for the money. Martin Guitars are not the most budget-friendly instruments out there (like Taylor, their instruments can set you back a pretty penny) but there is a lot of quality being offered for the price, from the build quality to the playability. If it had a pickup in it, it would be a fantastic guitar for the gigging musician who wants their first high-end acoustic. This would also be an excellent choice for those who just want a great Martin guitar.
Obviously the Martin 000 15M doesn’t come at an affordable price and won’t make a good first acoustic guitar. Instead it’s more suited to guitar players or singer songwriters looking to invest in a dream guitar that sounds amazing.
A special thank you once again to Dan and Pat at Steve’s Music in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, for letting me try out this fine instrument (and the ones I compared it to)!