A dreadnought with a shallower-than-standard body and Fishman electronics.
by Teja Gerken
January 06, 2020
Martin’s dreadnought design is by far the most popular body shape for steel-string guitars. The company offers many models that have the original dimensions, but it has also experimented with variations. Martin’s D-16E Rosewood is the latest, combining the traditional, non-cutaway outline of a standard 14-fret dreadnought body with the shallower depth of a 000. We had a chance to check out the guitar in the Peghead Nation video studio.
Like other models in Martin’s 16 series, the D-16-E Rosewood is built with a streamlined manufacturing process that helps keep the cost down. Our demo guitar was built with beautiful Indian rosewood back and sides, and its Sitka spruce top has the wider grain often found on Adirondack tops. The guitar also has a herringbone rosette, white body binding, and style-28 dot position markers in the ebony fingerboard, giving the instrument a mostly traditional appearance.
Martin has been using Fishman’s Matrix VT Enhance electronics, which are included in the D-16E Rosewood, for a while now. This flexible system consists of an undersaddle Acoustic Matrix pickup, a soundboard transducer mounted to the bridge plate, and controls for volume, tone, and blend inside the soundhole.
Playing the D-16E Rosewood, it was undeniable that the shallower body leads to greater playing comfort, especially for the right arm and shoulder. Tonally, the guitar delivered a full dreadnought voice, good volume, and a dynamic character. Without having an otherwise identical guitar with a full-depth body for comparison, it’s hard to say what the shallower body’s impact is, but it’s likely that it’s a contributing factor in the D-16E Rosewood’s controlled bottom end. Plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge amp, the guitar sounded big and rich, and I got a very satisfying sound as soon as I hit the amp’s power switch.
Like nearly all 16-series models, the D-16E Rosewood is an incredible value. It’s no-frills approach to appointments means you’re paying for great materials rather than looks and it sounds great acoustically and plugged-in. If you’ve been looking for a dreadnought that’s more comfortable to play than the standard model, this is definitely one to check out.
SPECS: Dreadnought body with 000 depth (4⅛ inches). Sitka spruce top with forward-shifted X-bracing. Indian rosewood back and sides. Select hardwood neck. Ebony fretboard and bridge. 25.4-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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