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Martin D-X2E
 
An affordable dreadnought with an exotic wood finish and built-in electronics.
April 3, 2024
 

As one of the world’s premier guitar makers, Martin’s name is recognized even by people who are not acoustic guitar aficionados. But an acknowledgement of Martin’s fame is often followed by, “Aren’t those really expensive?” And yes, there are many Martin models that qualify as high-ticket purchases, but the company has also increased the range of its guitar line to include many affordable instruments, including its X-series guitars. With prices starting at $599, these instruments offer a lot of what has made the Martin brand famous without breaking the bank. I was impressed with the latest batch of X-series models when I saw them at the NAMM show earlier this year, and I recently had a chance to check out the latest version of the D-X2E in the Peghead Nation studio.

The X-series guitars are available in several of Martin’s classic body styles, and the D-X2E is constructed with the company’s classic dreadnought dimensions. The most unusual thing about X-series models is that their backs and sides (and on some models the tops) are built using a material called High Pressure Laminate (HPL). A composite material that fuses a special paper with resin using extremely high pressure, HPL is incredibly durable, highly impervious to changes in temperature and humidity, and can be made with a “photo finish.” In Martin’s case, this allows the company to offer guitars that appear to be made with traditional tonewoods. The D-X2E is available with three finish options: mahogany, Brazilian rosewood, and ziricote (these options are, of course, purely cosmetic and don’t impart the tonal qualities associated with those woods). Our demo guitar has the ziricote finish, which is matched with a sunburst finish on the guitar’s solid spruce top. True to Martin tradition, the guitar’s top has scalloped X-bracing; its fingerboard has Style-28 dot position markers; and its overall appearance makes it clear that, while the D-X2E was built in Martin’s facility in Navojoa, Mexico, its fundamental character comes from Nazareth, Pennsylvania. 

The D-X2E was a joy to play. It was set up with lower action than I’m used to seeing on a Martin dreadnought and, combined with the guitar’s High Performance Tape neck, the result was a very easy-to-play instrument. Of course, the guitar doesn’t sound as complex and rich as more expensive dreadnoughts, but it’s remarkable how much of the tonal quality we’ve come to expect from a guitar with “Martin” on the peghead it is able to deliver The D-X2E has a lovely, balanced, and loud voice; it delivers focussed tone when strummed; and it has a reasonable response when fingerpicked. Better yet, its built-in electronics not only include an active undersaddle pickup with onboard controls for volume and tone, it also has a tuner built into the soundhole.

The D-X2E delivers a lot of Martin tone and vibe for little money. There has never been a better time for high-quality, inexpensive guitars, and while there are other options at a similar price, the X-series’ looks and vibe are hard to beat!SPECS:14-fret dreadnought body. Solid spruce top with scalloped X-bracing. High Pressure Laminate back and sides. Select hardwood neck, fretboard, and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Satin-chrome enclosed tuning machines. Martin E-1 electronics. Made in Mexico. $699. Martinguitar.com

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Julian Lage, “Nothing Happens Here” | Collings Guitars
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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
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