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Martin Guitars Makes Impressive Comeback


I’ll be honest, this article is a shock to me. Two months ago, I would have laughed at you if you would have told me that I would be writing an article singing the praises of a Martin – but (take a breath) that is precisely what I must do.

I have not been a fan of Martin for quite some time. I can think of one model that I would have previously liked to get my hands on – but, aside from it, you could scratch Martin out of the running for any guitar to appear on stage with me. When the nice folks at Martin discussed their new Performing Artist series with me…it appeared to be an attempt to look more stylish like a Taylor, but I was openly skeptical to its playability.

I was dangerously wrong.

Allow me to introduce you to the Martin Performing Artist Series. This guitar looks like a dream…and plays and sounds equally as well. It has a neck that is like no other Martin that I have ever played. Its tapered qualities make it a very fast neck with relatively low action. In fact, the neck width is 1 3/4 at the nut.

The wood usage is phenomenal in this series as well. Each performing artist series has a Sitka spruce top, mahogany neck, Indian rosewood back and sides, and an ebony bridge and fingerboard. The cutaway is deep and flush with the neck – so playing in the upper fret region is easy. The PA Series also has a smaller bridge than I have seen on any other Martin. The smaller bridge is a great add because it allows the top to vibrate more giving more detail to the beautiful sound.

Speaking of the sound…enter the world of a Fishman Aura F1 preamp in this bad boy. Someone took painstaking efforts to record this guitar over a multitude of microphone and amp combinations and then took the nine best sounds and placed them as images in the onboard electronics. This is an awesome feature – giving me the ability to literally have my Martin sound as if it was mic-ed by a Neumann U-87 with nothing more than my guitar and a simple patch cable recording direct to my computer or other gear. I can change easily between the 9 available images and also blend the sound between the available images and the already beautiful sound of the on-body pickup.


The controls are very ergonomical and simple to use. There are a whopping total of two low-profile knobs. One knob mainly controls the volume – but with one quick press of the knob and you can easily check your phase. Press and hold it – and you now have a fully functional built in tuner that mutes the output. Need a compressor to cut through the mix? This guitar has a built in compressor as well as built-in anti-feedback tools. Not too shabby for a single guitar!

Pros: This is the first acoustic that I have had in years that I have literally felt 100% comfortable using only the guitar with a line out to a direct box…no effects, no compressor, no tuner…nothing to potentially degrade my sound. It has a beautiful look and feel. I’ve also abused this thing to death and still can’t manage to knock it out of tune. Kudos to Martin for knocking one out of the park!

Cons: You really have to take the time to learn the functions of the preamp before you start seriously using it. I had assumed that the “anti-feedback” was fairly automatic, yet had a FOH guy having a nightmare for 5 minutes trying to get the feedback on the Martin taken care of on the first night of use. To Martin’s credit…it was operator error. Once I actually READ the instructions, I learned that I needed to press and hold both buttons together and then it would be placed in the anti-feedback mode. Worked like a champ then. Make sure you read the instructions completely to get best use out of this guy!

More Info: Martin Guitars

(For reference, the model I am reviewing is a Martin GPCPA-1. This article is not a paid review and is freely given as an honest review to the readers of so that they may be able to use my experiences when purchasing or considering purchase of products. got worship? Media does offer a service for paid reviews – and will notate in the reviews those which we have received financial compensation for to remain ethically moral with ourselves and our readers.)