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March 10, 2020

Martin D-X2E 12 String guitar review

I've always wanted a 12 string guitar, being that so many of my favourite songs feature them, like early Bowie songs. So a couple of months ago I rented a Taylor 150e. I loved the 12 string sound and soon knew I had to buy one, but there was something about the Taylor sound that just didn't click for me, a harshness in the high end that just seemed to bug me somehow. At any rate, I wanted to try out other 12 strings to compare.

I read about Martin's entry in the lower priced 12 string guitars, the Martin X Series D12X1AE, and it sounded interesting, so I headed to a music shop that had one in stock to compare the two. The Martin was strange, with its plywood neck, and mahogany pattern high-pressure laminate (HPL) back and sides. I didn"t really like the look, but reading more about the theory behind the laminate, I was OK with it. Playing it was a different story, this guitar just didn't play as well as the Taylor... the Taylor looked better, and played better, and also came with a gig bag, but something about the Martin sounded better. An indescribable, subtle, personal warmth that I preferred over the Taylor's.

I left the store a little befuddled. Later that night I discovered Martin has "reimagined" the X Series and new models of the guitar were just released!

We took the D12X1AE and reimagined it. The result is the D-X2E 12 String. This Dreadnought sized model has a Sitka spruce top and figured mahogany pattern high-pressure laminate (HPL) back and sides. New mother-of-pearl pattern inlay on the rosette and fingerboard lend a richness to the D-X2E 12 String, making it as impressive to look at as it is to play. A low profile neck, fingerboard and bridge of select hardwood improve upon the sound transfer of this model. It is equipped with Fishman® MX electronics. With a new, soft gig bag featuring headstock, bridge, and endpin protectors, a durable water-repellent exterior and foam padding, this model is ready to go anywhere.

OK, so the new model now comes with a solid wood neck and a gig bag? Nice! I took a chance and ordered one, and soon I had both guitars, the Taylor and the new Martin, side by side to compare...

Click to continue to full review

The new model, the Martin D-X2E 12-String, is beautiful. I much prefer the look of it to the old model, especially the solid wood neck, and mother of pearl pattern inlay. The spruce top is gorgeous, and bonus, the guitar is easier to play than the X Series D12X1AE 12-String I tested at the music store. Better action, better feel... even better than the Taylor 150e.

How does it sound? Fantastic. It's not as loud as the Taylor but I find it has that Martin warmer tone. It's hard to describe exactly, a richness that's really nice. The Taylor had a harshness to its high end, which is not present in the Martin.

Features an impressive rack of Martin tuners! When you're used to six strings, tuning this baby is a mini brain game. Luckily it stays in tune very nicely, I'm actually really impressed by its ability to stay in tune, but I recommend you keep a tuner handy, as you now have twice as many strings to keep in line.

The guitar's Fishman MX Electronics sound great and make it easy to record with. They are located just inside the sound hole, you reach in and turn the dials left or right with your finger.

Larry Fishman describes the system as so... Over the years we've seen people where they set their settable tone controls either on their amp or on their guitar in a good acoustic, and it's always a slightly accentuated bass and treble and it gives you that dip in the mid-range and it seems to warm things up for some people and it's a very usable sound, but then if you need to cut through a loud band situation you want a flatter sound. So we engineered a tone control so that when you rotate it from counterclockwise which is fully flat, to clockwise, there's a gradual lifting of the bass and treble and also a little gain boost in there at the same time, and it gives you a really useable tone control. It puts treble and bass where you would end up if you had a two or three band EQ on the guitar.

So, if you like simplicity, then you will like this tone control, but if you like a lot of tone control, the Fishman MX may not be your favourite. I'm not sure that I like the controls in the sound hole. It's a very cool location for them, you adjust the volume and tone by just reaching in a bit, but one can't visually see where the dials are set, and sometimes that's a drag. Then again, I am getting used to it, as I usually don't have to adjust levels much, and I rarely adjust them once they are set. For me, it's not that big enough an issue to disqualify this guitar in any way.

I notice the guitar didn't have its end pin installed when I opened it up, fresh from the factory. That's on purpose, as Martin ships its guitars without the end pin, in case the bottom is bumped during shipping. You'll find the pin inside an envelope inside the case's zippered pocket. Don't look on the Internet to find out how to install it, (you'll find a multitude of answers, some of which are dead wrong!), just read page 5 of your Martin's Care and Feeding Guide which provides correct instructions for the installation of the bridge and end pins.

Bridge and endpins are tapered and held into place by friction. They are not glued in and are not designed to seat up to the collar. For proper insertion, hold endpin between thumb and forefinger, twist slightly while carefully pushing the endpin into the bottom end of the instrument. Do not use force. Do not hammer or tap endpin with any object; doing so may cause the wood to crack. The endpin should be checked frequently to make sure it has not worked loose.

A soft gig bag is included now! This is a great move by Martin to now include a bag, and I really like it. I actually prefer it over Taylor's gig bag. It doesn't have the double straps like the Taylor, but I like the feel of the denim exterior better, and the interior is like a soft blue foamy dream, with added neck and bottom support for the guitar.

Sleep well my sweet!

I am really, really enjoying this guitar, and want to pick it up every time I see it. In fact, I bought a couple of extra guitar stands and keep them at various places, so I can carry this guitar with me wherever I go in the house. If you get a chance, check out this guitar at a music store and see what you think. I think you'll be in love soon. I highly recommend Martin"s new D-X2E 12 String.

D-X2E 12 String Summary:

A gorgeous Martin guitar, with great playablity and a warm, rich, sound, for $599 US, and includes a gig bag and electronics!

BODY SIZE: D-14 Fret 
FINISH TOP: Hand-Rubbed 
CONSTRUCTION: Mortise & Tenon Neck Joint 
BRACE SHAPE: non scalloped 
TOP MATERIAL: Sitka Spruce 
NECK SHAPE: Low Profile <
NECK TAPER: Standard Taper 

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Posted by Snaggy at March 10, 2020 04:49 PM