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New 16-series dreadnought features sycamore back and sides, a shallow body, and Fishman electronics.

by Teja Gerken
March 27, 2017

Martin Guitars is reviving its mid-level 16 series with a new look, North American woods, and the latest Fishman electronics. Announced at the 2017 Winter NAMM show, the new 16 series includes two dreadnoughts and an OM, and we had a chance to check out the DC-16E cutaway dreadnought.

The DC-16E’s body is shallower than the usual Martin dreadnought, with the depth of a typical 000. This not only makes the guitar more comfortable to hold, it also changes the body resonance to avoid an overly boomy bass response. Another departure from Martin tradition is the guitar’s sycamore back and sides. Previously used only on a few limited-edition instruments, sycamore grows in North America, so, combined with the guitar’s Sitka spruce top, the entire body is made from non-endangered woods that can be responsibly harvested.

The DC-16E also includes a bold set of new appointments. The guitar’s silver plastic binding on the body and fingerboard is the most striking. And on the top, red purfling is combined with a multi-stripe black, red, and white rosette. The instrument includes a Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics package, which is exclusively offered on Martin guitars. This system combines a bridge-plate-mounted soundboard transducer with Fishman’s legendary Acoustic Matrix undersaddle pickup and includes controls for volume and tone in the bass side of the soundhole as well as a separate Enhance control for blending the soundboard transducer pickup with the Acoustic Matrix signal.

The DC-16E’s Modified Low Oval neck shape and excellent setup made it a really fun guitar to play. Not surprisingly, given the unorthodox wood choice and reduced body depth, it didn’t have the rumbling boominess of a classic dreadnought, but instead, offered a smooth and balanced voice that sounded great for playing rhythm while delivering definition on single notes and fingerstyle playing. Plugging the guitar into a Fishman Loudbox Mini amp, the Acoustic Matrix pickup delivered the clean and direct sound it is known for, and blending in the soundboard transducer added dimension and more of a “wooden” sound. Overall, the DC-16E is a cool new guitar, with features that re-establish the 16-series as a forward-thinking line of guitars.

SPECS: Shallow-depth dreadnought body with cutaway. Solid Sitka spruce top. Solid sycamore back and sides. Forward-shifted X-bracing. Hardwood neck. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Schaller open-gear tuning machines. Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics. Made in the USA. $2,899. Martinguitar.com


Category: Instruments & Gear

Comments and Discussion

Posted by Mark Eaton on
Teja and Scott - thank you for the review and demos - but I think with this instrument it would have been helpful for Scott in particular to do a lot more rhythm guitar chord strumming, as in accompanying oneself when singing or backing another vocalist - that is likely what the average owner will be doing with this guitar at minimum half if not 2/3 of the time.
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