Most of us associate the name Martin with luxurious, expensive guitars. Are their affordable X-series guitars worthy of the name? Keep reading this Martin GPCX2AE review to find out.
When you go to look at guitars in the store, somewhere among all those light spruce and maple tops you see a dark and stripy one. If you try playing it, you notice that it also sounds different because of the different tonewoods. And it shows on the price tag as well, especially if the guitar happens to have a big brand name like Martin on the headstock. That is unless it’s a Martin GPCX2AE.
You may find yourself thinking “What’s the catch? Is it the real deal?” Well, read on to find out.
The Martin GPCX2AE is, without a doubt, a high-quality guitar with great attention to detail. It’s a grand performance guitar with a cutaway. It has a solid sapele top, while the back and sides consist of Macassar-pattern high-pressure laminate. This makes it similar to a classic mahogany guitar, although it doesn’t cost as much. For the Performing Artist neck, they used a brown birch laminate. The different woods come together with a cohesive, natural look.
The strings rest on a compensated Tusq saddle and a Corian nut. Enclosed chrome tuners ensure stable tuning. The fretboard and saddle consist of Richlite, a synthetic ebony-like material. This is part of why the Martin GPCX2AE Macassar is SFC-certified. If you look inside, you’ll find scalloped sitka spruce X-bracing and a Fishman Sonitone preamp system. So you get a loud, rich sound both plugged and unplugged. You find the volume and tone control in the soundhole.
The Martin GPCX2AE Macassar has a hand-rubbed, carefully sanded oil finish. It makes the beautiful wood grain pop without excess gloss. And unlike a glossy finish, it doesn’t cause a notable drop in resonance or neck quickness.
How the Martin GPCX2AE Macassar Plays
A smooth, slim neck like the one on the Martin GPCX2AE makes all the difference. The Performance Artist design provides the comfort and ease you need for long playing sessions.
Richlite is not only an environment-friendly substitute for common fingerboard woods, it’s also very smooth and lets you play fast with ease. With a 1 3/4-inch nut width, the strings have a balanced spread that invites complex chords. And the deep cutaway grants access to all 20 frets without unnecessary strain.
Despite its more budget-friendly build, the Martin GPCX2AE Macassar sounds like a Martin, although the sustain isn’t as long. And, like any solid-top guitar, its timbre will improve over time. The Sapele top gives it a balanced tone that’s less bright and dynamic than that of a spruce-top guitar. Since it’s a grand performance with a cutaway, it has slightly less bass than a Martin dreadnought. It is pretty loud though.
The warm but mellow tone makes the Martin GPCX2AE Macassar an excellent guitar for singers. And with the Fishman Sonitone pickup system, you get the option to plug in and dial in your optimal sound.
What People Say
The Martin GPCX2AE Macassar gets 4.8 stars out of 5 on Amazon. Users say it sounds, feels, and looks great. “Smooth as butter,” one guitarist says about the playability.
While the list price is just over $900, you can get a Martin GPCX2AE Macassar for as little as $680. For a Martin guitar, that’s remarkably low. If you’re unsure, you can compare it to some other great guitars for under $1,000.
Martin GPCX2AE Macassar VS Taylor 114CE
The Taylor 114CE is a close rival and makes an excellent comparison for a Martin GPCX2AE review. It has different materials, namely a walnut body with a sitka top, a sapele neck, and a micarta saddle. It also has more elaborate electronics. Sound-wise, it’s brighter but thinner in the midrange. Regarding size and shape, they’re very similar.
These two guitars have similar price tags and ratings, and the brands have comparable reputations. If you want to know more about the Taylor 114CE, here’s my review.
Pros & Cons
After all that information, it’s time to round up the main insights of this Martin GPCX2AE. These are its best and worst qualities.
- Impressive value
- High-quality build
- Balanced tone
- Smooth playability
Guitars of this shape and size with this level of playability are rare, at least in this price range. A Martin GPCX2AE can be a great companion for almost any guitarist, and especially those who like to sing and play unplugged.
- No tuner
- No double-action truss rod
While a tuner is a convenient feature of many electro-acoustic guitars, it’s just as easy to use a separate tuner. The truss rod situation is more inconvenient, since you may have to see a luthier to ensure optimal string action.
Is a Martin GPCX2AE Macassar the Best Guitar for You?
If you want a Martin, but you don’t want to pay typical Martin prices, an X-series guitar like the Martin GPCX2AE is a wise choice. It’s cheaper but not that different. You still get a high-quality guitar with smooth playability and a rich sound. If this Martin GPCX2AE review has helped you decide, you can find good deals here.
Martin GPCX2AE Macassar John Holloway Rating: 4 out of 5