Review: Martin DX1AE Macassar Burst Acoustic-Electric Guitar

(Image credit: Martin Guitar)

A sad fact of the modern acoustic guitarist’s life is that the supply of traditional tone woods is vanishing at a more rapid rate than sources can be replenished. While many impressive guitars made of alternative materials have appeared on the market over the years, the truly great ones often cost more than a comparable guitar made from traditional tone woods, so most players never really give them the chance they deserve. Martin was one of the first major manufacturers to offer low-cost instruments made from high-pressure laminates (HPL), and in their ongoing quest for excellence they have refined their designs to the point where they now deliver the signature Martin tones that so many players covet. The DX1AE Macassar Burst is a stellar example of just how far Martin’s efforts with guitars built from alternative materials have come, both sonically and aesthetically.

FEATURES The DX1AE is a traditional dreadnought in the iconic acoustic guitar shape that Martin invented and perfected; and it is also equipped with built-in Fishman Sonitone electronics, so it sounds as good amplified as it does when played acoustically. Whereas most of the guitar is made of alternative materials — including its high-pressure laminate back and sides, birch laminate neck, and Richlite fingerboard and bridge — the top and braces are Sitka spruce. Fortunately, spruce isn’t a threatened tone wood species so, from an economic and environmental perspective, spruce still remains hard to beat when it comes to delivering classic, crisp dreadnought tone.

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Chris Gill

Chris is the co-author of Eruption - Conversations with Eddie Van Halen. He is a 40-year music industry veteran who started at Boardwalk Entertainment (Joan Jett, Night Ranger) and Roland US before becoming a guitar journalist in 1991. He has interviewed more than 600 artists, written more than 1,400 product reviews and contributed to Jeff Beck’s Beck 01: Hot Rods and Rock & Roll and Eric Clapton’s Six String Stories.