An affordable mid-size acoustic-electric.
by Teja Gerken
July 13, 2020
Martin Guitars has one of the largest catalogs of instruments in the business. And while it’s easy to focus on the company’s legendary models or dream about owning one of its high-end instruments, it’s also good to remember that Martin offers several lines of affordable instruments. For many years, the X-series has served as the entry point for Martin ownership, and this year the company has updated several models with new specs and features. I recently had a chance to check out the GPC-X2E Macassar in the Peghead Nation video studio.
The GPC-X2E Macassar is based on Martin’s mid-size Grand Performance body. All X-series instruments use HPL (High Pressure Laminate) material for some of their body construction, and in the case of the GPC-X2E Macassar, it’s used for the back and sides, while the top is made from solid sapele wood. HPL is a composite material made from paper and special resin, pressed together under extremely high pressure. The material has an incredibly durable surface, and on Martin’s instruments, it is “photo finished” to look like various tonewoods. Our demo guitar featured the Macassar ebony finish, and similar guitars are available with mahogany and rosewood finishes. Besides its lower cost and durability, HPL has a much higher resilience to temperature and humidity extremes than a typical all-wood guitar. The GPC-X2E Macassar includes Martin’s Performing Artist neck, which features a contemporary, easy-to-play profile used on models throughout the company’s line. The guitar also includes Fishman MX electronics, which consist of an undersaddle Sonitone pickup and controls for volume and tone discreetly mounted in the bass side of the soundhole. It’s an active system and there is easy access to its nine-volt battery via a dedicated compartment in the guitar’s lower bout.
Playing the GPC-X2E Macassar, it immediately became apparent that its sapele top lends the instrument some of the acoustic qualities that guitars with hardwood tops (including mahogany or koa) are known for, including great sustain and a naturally compressed sound that produces a very controllable strumming voice. The guitar works great for strumming in acoustic rock styles, and the cutaway also helps you reach high notes. But while the GPC-X2E Macassar easily accommodates a heavy picking hand, its tonality also allows for effective fingerpicking, which benefits from a hardwood top’s smooth dynamic range. And even though the MX system is one of Fishman’s more basic setups, I was impressed with how warm and full it sounded when I plugged it into our Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge amp.
Overall, the GPC-X2E Macassar is definitely worth considering for players looking for a versatile acoustic-electric flattop that doesn’t break the bank. With its exotic wood looks, the guitar is sure to turn heads, and its tonal goods make it worthy of the Martin name on the peghead.
SPECS: 14-fret grand performance body. Solid sapele top with scalloped X-bracing. High Pressure Laminate back and sides with Macassar-style photo finish. Select hardwood neck. Select hardwood fretboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Enclosed chrome tuning machines. Fishman MX electronics. Made in Mexico. $899 (list). Martinguitar.com
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