Any experience with different models out of Martin Road Series?

I recently visited a guitar center to try out some acoustic guitars to figure out, if they are better in terms of playability and sound than my current guitar.
I had the chance, amongst other brands, to try out a model of the Martin X Series (body partially made from HPL, an artificial high pressure laminate, not what I wanted, but sounded surprisingly good) and a Martin D10e, the very basic model of the Road Series, visually not very appealing, but well crafted and soundwise a entirely other league, to every other guitar I tried out. The sound was so full and well balanced and covered the whole range of tones with so many nuances, it was a pleasure. Unfortunately I couldn’t try other models from the series, as they didn’t have them on stock.
The Martin Road Series offers a whole range of guitars numbered from 10 to 13. Some web research revealed, that differences are mainly in different body shapes, used tone woods and finishings. I’ve watched a few YT videos, also from Martin, and got a little confused about the “real” value added within the increasing numbers and prices in the series. The D10e is a dreadnought model, as is the D12e and D13e, made with a top from solid spruce and solid sapele back and sides and a satin finish. The D12e model is also from solid wood with a glossy finish and some other inlays around the soundhole. The D13e (the most expensive) has a spruce top, back and sides from Ziricote fine veneer.
The D12e and 13e are optically a lot more attractive, but do they offer a real added value related to the additional cost? I wasn’t sure, so I called another shop (I wasn’t very satisfied with the advice/ consulting of the first shop), far away from my hometown, the owners are not just dealers but trained luthiers and very informative and friendly.
I mainly was interested in the D12e and D13e models (around € 500-600 more than the D10) as they look better and don’t represent the bottom of the range.
They told me, that the D10e would probably be the best price/performance ratio apart from the optical aspects and is currently the most sold model of the Road Series at their store, as customers mainly prefer the sound of the D10e over the sound of the other models, especially over the D13e with Ziricote, the sound doesn’t get necessarily better within the range. The quality of the guitars, apart from optical aspects, like visuable binding and glossy finishings, wouldn’t be necessarily higher on the higher numbered models than on the D10e (e.g. the D13e has veneer back and sides).
So they highly recommend the D10e as really good value, maybe best value, not only at this price point.
As tone is a very peronal experience and I don’t have a chance to try out the other models, I had a look at a few YT videos that compared different models, I actually tend to prefer the sound of the D10e compared to the D13e (hard to evaluate on videos, but hearable differences).
Did maybe anyone some research on Martin guitars or try out different models of the Road Series?
Does someone own or try out a D10e or another model of the Road Series (I seem to remember, that @tRONd owned one (other thread) but sold it, why? Only because of the Dreadnought size?

Are you satisfied? Would you buy again? I know, the saying is: You can’t go wrong with a Martin. But what are your experiences/thoughts?

I’ve got an SC-13e Special Burst, and I’m very very happy with it, I love it. I love the look, the feel, and the sound. I did a bit of research after I found it, to satisfy myself that at that price it was solid wood (ziricote veneer is for looks, and it looks great), and just to read a bit about the body shape since it’s different. Anyway, again I’m very happy with it.


Hi Andrea. You are correct. I have owned the D-10e. The best guitar i ever had. In my opinion it sounded better than Gibson J-15, Martin D-15 and even better than the 000-15sm.
Guitars that i owned and can compare with. And with a much higher price point.
As you said, sound is a personal taste. So others might not agree with me.
I sold it due to my shoulder, but i can work around it and i really regret that i sold it. I even contacted the new owner and tried to buy it back :grin:
But i missed the Martin Dread so much, so i found a D-13 and got it for a really good price. It looks stunning… its the best looking guitar i have owned… but it does not sound better than the D-10 as good as the D-10 maybe. But not better :grin:
My opinion is that D-10 is the best buy you can do on «lower end» Martins.
It looks a bit boring maybe. But i find that to be charming with this guitar.
If you really want one that looks much «better» but dont sound better… then D-12 and 13 is your pick.
Hope that helps :grin: cool that you want to go for an Martin Dread by the way!! :+1:

Edit: the road series has something they call performing artist neck. Not sure what they mean with that. But that type of neck is the one i really prefer to play on. Its 1 3/4» nut on those. And it fits me great. I have quite short fingers but 1 3/4» is what i perfer.


Hi @Mari63 Mari! Thanks a lot for your reply! Yes, the 13 is a very beautiful guitar and sounds good (I’ve heard you playing in one of your AVOYPs, but didn’t realise, that’s a Martin out of the Road Series). The 12 and 13 models really appeal to me very much, but I’m not sure at the moment what to do, as the shop owner told me, that most of his customers tend to chose the 10. But good to know, that you own one and are totally happy with it! I wish you lots of satisfying hours with this jewel!

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Trond, very happy you answered, as you owned the D10. I think it was the guitar you used in the REM AVOYP? I remember, that I thought, as I saw you posting the video, man! This guitar sounds amazing!

Good to hear!

This is exactely, what the guy told me on the phone. I called him, because I wanted some more information about the D12 and 13 models, he could have sold me a guitar, that’s much more expensive…
I don’t have a well sorted store to go near to where I live and the one I visited, didn’t have those 12 and 13 models, but I had the chance to play the D10 and she felt very comfortable and sounded amazingly. I currently have a neck width of 43mm, the D10 has 1 3/4 which is around 44,5mm and I think I prefer that over the narrower neck. (I’m tall and have relatively big hands). I also don’t know what the performing artist neck you mentioned should be (currently play a “Fender easy to play neck” whatever that should be :joy:)

That was my first thought, as he gave me the guitar :joy:. I’m not sure about the satin finish and about how to maintain or clean this surface, I would prefer a glossed surface as on the 12 or 13 models.
My dilemma is, that I would get a really good price at the D13 Ziricote, but I’m not sure about the sound compared to the D10. He told me, that it should give a bit more emphasis on the highs…

So, thanks again Trond, your reply helped me a lot, hope you have a good time with the 13!

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Glad i could help you out.
I Do really like the 13. it is a little bit, not much. But a little brighter than the 10. the 10 had a real boomie sound too it. Maybe a little less boomier on the 13.

So i dont miss my D-10 now, when i have this one.
But i will say that they are very close to each other.
So. If just for sound, i would go for the D-10 every time, the extra money they charge you for the 13 is just not worth it.
But… if you are thinking about looks aswell. Well then the D13 is way beyond D10. it looks stunning with the gloss,zircote and white binding.
Mine also have the Red toirtoise pickguard, witch i really like compared to the black. Just so you are aware that it comes with toirtoise or black :grin:


Thanks, Trond! Doesn’t get easier :joy:.

That’s what I tell myself, when I’m thinking rationally!

Is there anybody, who doesn’t take this into account? Be honest :rofl:

That’s the next point. Currently they have it on stock with the tortoise pickguard, which I would prefer.
First world “problems”. I already have a guilty concience to even think about a new guitar in this crazy world, but when I think about everything I’ve gone through within the last years and still do, I probably might deserve it :wink:.

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I really didn’t choose my Ibanez Q54 for the beautiful shapes… I really had to get used to that thing… :upside_down_face:

have fun with your search…and never feel guilty about this :blush:…make it count :sunglasses:


But it didn’t hurt either :joy:!

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:joy: :rofl: :joy:
And in my hands I don’t see much of the head and bud anyway…and to my left are the whole complete guitars I look at :joy:

Ps:I drove ‘aroun’ almost all week last week with a broken front wheel, I think I deserve a new guitar now too… :innocent:


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That’s what I tell myself too…Wasn’t it that thing about “playing without looking”? Mostly, I don’t look at the guitar anymore…what I hear is more important…so sound first, look second… :notes:


Uh …kuch…yes …no looking :roll_eyes: …but I like the looks of my hand while playing so the fretboard I see a lot …and love to see fingers flying all over :roll_eyes:

Okay, I do my best and songs that I play more often over time and don’t have too many individual notes I play without looking, but my head hangs tilted down most of the time because I actually learn new things every day. …so, now you look for a guitar and then I’ll take a look at my fretboard again :smile:

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Oh, what a coincidence - I did exactly the same last Friday :smiley:.
Well, actually I just needed some strings, pics, a cable, and a footswitch, but as I went to the largest music store of my country, it would have been a shame not to try out some of the guitars, that were just waiting for me to grab them :sweat_smile:.

Unfortunately, I can’t help with regards to your question. My favourite ones were a Takamine, a Sigma, and a Tyma (never heard of this brand before :thinking:). And I really tried hard to ignore the way they looked like. But well, that’s no easy thing to do :innocent:.

I’m really curious, which one you’ll finally take :smiley:.

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Ha, Nicole, I hope you had a better experience than me. I had a wired time in the shop, but learned something for the next time (could start another thread about this).
I was out to see, if a slightly wider nut width would suit better (yes!), wanted to see a certain model of a guitar (had it on stock, but not in the shop), tried some others and came across the Martins. Shouldn’t have touched one :joy:. I like my current guitar soundwise and I love her, because she’s a beauty, but it’s a lot harder to play than the Martin (setup already checked). Not to talk about the sound which is much more differentiated on the Martin. I was really proud of myself to leave the store with only a set of new strings… :partying_face:

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I cannot complain. I had a good time there :slightly_smiling_face:.

I resisted, too. But I made a deal with myself to buy a quality guitar after finishing grade 2 :innocent:.

Cant comment on the D-10e but I have the D-13e Zircote and my brother the D-12e Koa. Both are amazing guitars, the 13 seems a little brighter to me but both are gorgeous to play. Also a good setup (Martin defaults always seems too high action to me) and new strings made the world of difference compared to what it sounded and played like in the shop which was a bonus as I already liked it.

Thanks for the information! Good tip on the setup! I already heard, that action out of the box is sometimes a little high. I really like the looks of the D12e and D13e. The D12e isn’t on stock at the moment and I’m still not sure, what to do. Thanks god, I’m not in a hurry :joy:.
What strings do you use instead of the original strings? As far as I know, they come with coated Martin Lifespan 2.0, I use them on my current guitar and I like them very much. Would be interesting to know which strings sound ever better?

I went with Elixirs and have found them great.

You could always buy both guitars so you could do a decent string comparison…its as good a justification as any :slight_smile:

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Thanks :joy:! One additional acoustic is enough for the moment. Will save the rest maybe for another electric in the future :wink:.

That was my experience with my GPC-X2, which is pretty much the cheapest Martin you can buy.

But it came with one free setup in the first year. So, after many weeks of struggling with Justin’s A chord, I went back to the dealer, and played a bunch of different guitars.

Picked the one with the setup I liked best (a $5000 Taylor, IIRC), handed it to the luthier and said “set mine up like this one”.

He did, and the guitar has played like a dream ever since. (Though I usually adjust the truss rod at the beginning and end of the heating season…which is pretty normal for acoustics).

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