An affordable 000 with granadillo back and sides and Fishman electronics.
by Teja Gerken
December 02, 2019
Martin’s 16-series guitars have long had a reputation for excellent value. Built alongside the company’s higher-end models in its Nazareth, Pennsylvania, factory, the cost of the 16-series instruments is reduced because Martin uses a less-complex manufacturing process than it does for its Standard-series models, while the value is increased because Martin adds features such as built-in electronics. We recently had a chance to check out the latest 16-series version of the venerable 000: the 000-16E.
Having been around since the mid-1930s, the fundamental Martin 14-fret 000 template is well-known, and with its simple appointments and standard non-cutaway body, the 000-16E is reminiscent of legendary models such as the 000-18 and 000-28. While there are certain differences in construction, including a simplified dovetail neck joint and satin-finished back and sides, the guitar could be mistaken for a more expensive Standard-series instrument. 16-series Martins have often been built with nontraditional woods and the 000-16E is no exception, with back and sides of granadillo, a South American wood that is extremely hard and is known for its bell-like tap tone and a sonic quality similar to rosewood. On our demo guitar, the wood had a beautiful appearance, with rich, dark coloring, and even grain patterns.
The included Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics consist of an undersaddle pickup with a bridge plate–mounted soundboard transducer that can be blended into the overall sound with a control on the treble side of the soundhole. Two additional controls in the bass side of the soundhole adjust volume and tone. The system is powered by a nine-volt battery that is accessible through a compartment in the end block.
Playing the guitar, I was delighted to find that it captured the quintessential qualities of classic 14-fret 000’s. It has the quick response and balanced tone that make this model a favorite of fingerstyle players, but it also has the volume reserves and fat lower midrange that make the 000 a great accompaniment instrument. While some earlier 16-series 000’s had a long scale, Martin chose the traditional short scale for this 000-16E, which, combined with the contemporary-feeling high-performance neck, make the guitar very playable. Plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge, the positive impression continued: the undersaddle pickup sounded good on its own, but adding the soundboard transducer to the mix expanded the tonal dimension and allowed for the use of more percussive techniques.
Overall, the latest 000-16E is a wonderful guitar that exceeded my expectations for a basic 14-fret 000. Players looking for maximum bang for the buck on a design that has withstood the test of time would do well to check this guitar out
SPECS: 14-fret 000 body. Sitka spruce top. Granadillo back and sides. Select hardwood neck. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 24.9-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Nickel open-gear tuning machines. Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics. Made in USA. $2,199 (list). Martinguitar.com
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