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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
murray@mpce.mq.edu.au The Martin 000-15S (20) The Martin 000-15S 06 Mar 01


I mentioned buying a new Martin 000-15S in another thread and there was some interest, so I thought I would start a separate thread about it.

For those who don't know Martin-speak, the "000" describes the size. It is a little larger than a classical guitar. I haven't measured, but I think the upper bout is about the same size as a classical and the lower bout is what is bigger.

The "15" is the "grade" of the guitar--usually the higher the number the fancier the instrument "15" means a pretty basic model. The "S" stands for "slotted". On this guitar the headstock is slotted like on a classical one. Unlike many classicals, the tuner gears are enclosed.

The neck joins the body at the 12th fret instead of at the more usual 14th fret. The body is all mahogony, including the soundboard. Mahogony is considered an inferior sound wood to spruce or cedar. The nut width is 3/4 in instead of the more usual 11/16 that Martin uses

I play the classical guitar and I hold my acoustic guitar like a classical one. For this the shorter neck is more comfortable. I also find the slightly wider fingerboard more comfortable for fingerstyle guitar.

I think one reason it produces a full sound with its small body and less desired tone wood is because the upper bout is larger than the usual 000 models owing to the shorter neck.

What can I say except that I am very happy with it. If I had the time I might have considered getting a glossy finish. This is a customization but there was a shop in Phila called "Vintage Instruments" that sells them that way. They said they wouldn't have them in before June and by then I would be back home. I think the finish affects the sound, so I wouldn't order a glossy without trying one first. The matte finish goes very well with the mahogony grain.

My other guitar is a Maton BG808. I don't know if there is a Maton nomenclature system, let alone what the "BG808" stands for. This guitar is more like a "00" in body length and bout widths; but it has a deeper body--about the depth of a dreadnaught. It joins at the 14th fret and has a 3/4 in nut width. Despite its small size, it fills a large room, partly, I think because of its body depth and partly because of good design.

One interesting feature of my Maton is that the back and sides are made from an Australian wood called "blackwood". The soundboard is made of Sitka spruce. Both guitars are close to a classical in size. I think the extra dimensions make them about equivalent to a classical for bass response, because the steel string has more overtones and sounds less bass-y for a given body size.

If anyone has questions about the 15-S or has one and has comments, I would like to hear them. There must be a lot of interest because they sell out almost as fast as they come into a shop.

Murray


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