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Martin Grand J-16 12-String
 
A mid-price 12-string with a jumbo body and a big sound.
July 12, 2021
 

For guitarists who enjoy having different sounds at their disposal, a 12-string is often the first step in diversifying their tonal palette. Whether you’re a strummer looking for the distinctive jangle these guitars offer, or a fingerstylist inspired by Leo Kottke or Ralph Towner, a 12-string can be a lot of fun. Martin has based most of its 12-string guitars on dreadnought bodies, but earlier this year, the company introduced the Grand J-16 12-String, which has a Grand J body. In this video, I demonstrate the guitar in the Peghead Nation studio.

The Grand J body is a relatively new addition to Martin’s body sizes, and it has only been used for a handful of models. Measuring 17 inches at the lower bout, it’s a full-size jumbo, compared to Martin’s standard J size, which is a deeper version of the 0000/M size. Speaking of depth, for the Grand J-16 12-String, Martin decided to reduce the standard Grand J body thickness to that of a 000, creating an instrument that has a large top surface and better ergonomics than that of many jumbos. Like most 16-series Martins, the Grand J-16 12-String is all business. Its solid Sitka spruce top and solid Indian rosewood provide proven performance, and its streamlined appointments, which include simple fingerboard dots, a herringbone rosette, white body binding, and basic black-and-white purfling, help keep the cost down. And it includes Fishman’s Matrix VT Enhance NT2 electronics package, which adds a soundboard transducer to the company’s top-of-the-line Acoustic Matrix undersaddle pickup and is controlled with a set of unobtrusive dials mounted inside the soundhole. 

I expected the Grand J-16 12-String to have a big sound, and I wasn’t disappointed. I’ve always found that jumbo-style 12-strings are the best choice for drop tunings and dynamic fingerstyle material, and tuned to DADGAD, the guitar delivered in spades. But while some jumbos get muddy in the low-end (especially with rosewood back and sides), the Grand J-16 12-String stayed focused, perhaps due to its shallower body. This focus also helped in standard tuning when I strummed the guitar with a pick. Played in more of an accompanying style, the guitar has great balance and volume, and regardless of how I played it, its playability was excellent—no high action or difficult fretting on this one! Plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp, the guitar continued to excel. The basic undersaddle pickup sound had a natural tonality, which I was able to enhance by dialing in the soundboard transducer. 

All in all, the Grand J-16 12-String strikes a great balance of value, versatility, and pro sound and features. Anyone looking for a “forever” 12-string that doesn’t require a second mortgage would do well to check out this Martin. 

SPECS:14-fret Grand J body with 000 depth. Sitka spruce top with scalloped X-bracing. Indian rosewood back and sides. Select hardwood neck. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¹³/₁₆-inch nut width. Enclosed chrome tuning machines. Fishman Matrix VT Enhance NT2 electronics. Made in USA. $2,099 (street). Martinguitar.com

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© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com
 
 
    ● 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
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com