Martin GPCRSGT review

This Mexican-made acoustic offers the illustrious Martin name for less than a grand, but is it ready for the road? Rick Batey finds out.

Maintaining a busy gigging schedule can be hellish on both body and soul, and having a guitar that functions really well but which isn’t a family heirloom can take a big weight off the mind. Martin’s GPCRSGT is designed to fill exactly that slot in your life.

Breaking down the tongue-twister of a model name, `GP’ indicates a Grand Performance body – much like an OM in style, but .75 of an inch wider and just shy of half an inch deeper. `C’ means cutaway, which improves the accessibility of the 14-fret neck; `R’ is Road Series and `GT’ means gloss top (the back, sides and neck are satin).

In terms of woods, we have a solid sitka top – cosmetically not the highest grade, although it looks rather attractive. Under the hood, we get scalloped sitka spruce bracing in a `hybrid X’ pattern.

The back and sides are solid sapele, and the one-piece neck is made from what Martin describes carefully as `select hardwood’ to keep the door open for whatever it has on hand that’s best for the job (the chances are it’s either sipo or Spanish cedar).

The fingerboard and bridge are both ebony-like Richlite and the trim is dead simple, with front binding only, small ABS position markers and a faux-rosewood headstock facing, which is a bit of a shame. With the action at a very acceptable medium, the saddle is showing a bare 3mm above the bridge… some buyers might be happier with just a shade more on display.

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In terms of specification, it’s all very practical, then, although the Fishman Sonitone’s USB function for DI-ing to a PC/Mac wouldn’t get too much use, we suspect, in a pro studio. Nor would it be for our own rare moments of travelling inspiration, where we’d be more likely to just reach for a mobile phone and use a recording app with the built-in mic.

In use

This Martin is made in the Mexican factory 2,700 miles away from Nazareth, PA, but as always the company has managed to incorporate enough of that signature sound into its affordable line to live up to the name on the headstock.

The GPC is loud enough and well balanced between warm and chimey, with an agreeably burnished, blurry quality on the strum, clear, full trebles and a healthy soupçon of nutty bottom end.

The Fishman Sonitone does that undersaddle thing acceptably well, with reasonable string balance, and there are volume and tone wheels inside the soundhole. The GPC plays really well, too, as the slim Performing Artist profile with its 1.75-inch nut vanishes nicely under the hand. Tuning stability and intonation are both tip-top.

Realistically, this guitar has got tough competition. Less money, in another brand, can buy a solid rosewood back and sides, a real ebony fingerboard and an all-gloss finish, so the GPC has to rely on its tone and name for its appeal.

It isn’t your desert-island fantasy Martin, but it’s sturdily built, sounds bright and even, plays easily and in tune all the way up the neck, and – with the caveat that the Sonitone system may satisfy some players but not others – it’s the kind of guitar the majority of us would be happy to take out on a 30-date tour. Just no shared rooms, please.

Key Features
Martin GPCRSGT
• Price:£959, inc. hardcase
• Description Electro-acoustic guitar. Madein Mexico
Build: Solid sitka spruce top, solid sapele back and sides, black Boltaron front binding only, single ring rosette, one-piece select hardwood neck, Richlite fingerboard and bridge, Style 28 white ABS fingerboard inlay
• Hardware Ebony bridge, Corian nut, Tusq saddle, enclosed tuners
• Electrics Fishman Sonitone USB with soundhole vol/tone
• Scale length 645mm/25.4”
Neck width 44mm at nut, 54mm at 12th fret
• Neck depth 22mm at first fret, 23mm at 10th fret
String spacing 39mm at nut, 55mm at bridge
• Weight 2.12kg/4.6lbs
Left-handers Yes, at no extra charge
• Finish Satin with gloss top
• Contact:Westside Distribution
www.westsidedistribution.com

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