Martin & Co DC-16GTE
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Martin & Co DC-16GTE

DC-16GTE, Acoustic-electric Folk/Western guitar from Martin & Co in the 16 series.

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content in English
Audiofanzine FR 30/11/2008

Martin & Co DC-16GTE : Recensione di Audiofanzine FR (content in English)

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(Originally written by pmilani/translated from Audiofanzine FR)
Made in the USA.

Electro-acoustic dreadnought with mahogany body, massive spruce top and Fishman Prefix Premium Blend system.

Martin 16 Series: mine is a DC-16GTE Premium (# Dc-16GTE Aura)

Fingerboard: black micarta (which is not a wood but a composite material, see below).

Neck: massive Spanish cedar

Body: massive mahogany back and sides

Top: beautiful massive spruce

Bridge: black micarta

Rosette: herringbone inlay

Pickguard: tortoise

Machine heads: chrome finish

Electronics: stereo Fishman Prefix Premium Blender preamp (Fishman hybrid pickup system with condenser mic and piezo).

Convenient tuner.

More info: http://www.mguitar.com/guitars/choosing/guitars.php?m=DC-16GTE%20Premium&s=6&p=ge

Sold with a wonderful Martin hardcase.

UTILIZATION

Martin guitars have the reputation of having high action factory settings so adjust the action if you find that's the case. The store where I bought it has a guitar technician who adjusted the action within 10 minutes. I've never adjusted it again since. I find the action is perfect although I'm very picky about this.

The neck is extremely comfortable and feels very smooth. However, its fingerboard raised a discussion between ebony traditionalists and modernists looking for alternative solutions because precious woods like ebony are becoming pretty rare. Micarta is perhaps a good alternative.

It didn't exist three or four years ago so I can't compare its aging with ebony.

That's the reason I waited three years before writing this review.

Developed by George Westinghouse in the early 20th century, micarta is a composite material made out of natural materials like paper, flax, or cloth laminated with phenolic resin. Micarta is often used to make knife handles and provides serious advantages regarding stability and sturdiness. It's heat, cold, and water resistant.

Martin says micarta provides the same characteristics as ebony.

And it's true that it's pretty similar. It's very dense and feels very sleek. I also own a D28 with ebony fingerboard so I can compare both materials: the playing feel with micarta is different but not worse. The micarta fingerboard feels smoother and the DC16 seems to be softer (perhaps because of the excellent neck varnish and the very slim frets), the fingers slips very easily.

One thing's for sure: the guitar sounds very good with this micarta fingerboard!

Regarding aging, after three years of intensive use I can't notice any deterioration. That's something I'll have to confirm in 10 years but I think it will be the same.

SOUNDS

The guitar sounds great. Everyone that has tried it agree, even beginners.

The acoustic sound is smooth and very well balanced.

The sound is not very powerful but:

- it's a guitar with cutaway;

- I play it with Martin SP Custom light 011-052 strings and heavier strings (light or medium) would certainly produce a more powerful and better sound.

To make up for this I use a Boss EQ pedal to decrease the mid frequency range. The sound is wonderful with my Schertler Unico amp. The advantage of high-quality electro-acoustic guitars is that they allow you to compensate for such problems.

Generally speaking I don't like electro-acoustic guitars because I find they have too much mids and don't sound warm, but this Martin DC16 gives me exactly the sound I was looking for.

It's also perfect for recording sessions even connected directly to the mixer.

I use it mainly for vocals accompaniment and it matches very different music styles: blues, folk, pop, chanson (Brassens), finger picking and unplugged rock like Radiohead or Nirvana.

The sound is very well balanced and you can clearly distinguish the richness of the tone regardless of the attack strength. Arpeggios produce a velvet sound.

I bought a Fishman Aura Dreadnought pedal to increase the sound range but I sold it again because it was useless with this guitar (which already provides every possible sound).

You can see this guitar pretty often on big stages and on live music TV shows nowadays.

The preamp is a Fishman Prefix Premium

with dual pickup system. It provides a piezo in the bridge and a gooseneck mic to capture the sound of the whole body. When the guitar is plugged the system provides a fully comprehensive sound range. I once read in a forum about this guy who said that when you plug this guitar you have the impression you are playing several guitars thanks to all the sound possibilities it provides.

The only inconvenience is the placement of the gooseneck mic: it's so sensitive that it picks every single noise and thus it can easily generates feedbacks.

I personally use a light setting to add a bit more bass to the overall response.

OVERALL OPINION

I've had it for over three years and I'm very satisfied with it. Some Taylors made me hesitate before buying it (especially the 310) but in the end I preferred this Martin. Everything else is a matter of taste and depends on the sound you're looking for.

I didn't like Gibson models in the same price range, even though I have some Gibson electrics I like very much. But with acoustic guitars it's different because they need some time to reach their prime so it's difficult to give an opinion about them when they are new.

I personally think it's the best electro-acoustic guitar I've ever heard, especially in this price range.

You can find better instrument but they are much more expensive!

I'm always afraid that something will happen to my Martin DC16GTE (theft, accident, etc.). It has become so essential for me that I'm thinking about buying a second one. Guitarists should have an endless budget...