If you are searching for the best acoustic guitar under $1000, then you’ll probably seen in a lot of articles the Martin DRS2 guitar. This is included in the Road Series of Martin and was discontinued already. But do not be sad because its name was only changed while almost every specification was retained.
Martin DRS2 is now known as the Martin D-10e Natural Sitka Spruce. I did my researched since I was sad at first when I saw that most guitar retailers have no stock of Martin DRS2. And the reason is that Martin has changed its name. You can see it in the website of Martin that they indeed changed its name.
Martin D-10e is a magnificent guitar. We know that Martin & Co. has done a lot of excellent guitars but most of it comes with a price but not this guitar. It can be considered pricey but they cut some corners to bring down the price without compromising the “Martin” guitar sound we all love.
Features of Martin D-10e:
My Rating: 4.6 out of 5
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- Well balanced tone thanks to the combination of Solid Sitka Spruce Top and Solid Sapele back and sides
- Pretty Good set up right out of factory
- White Corian Nut and Tusq Saddle
- Electronics are soundhole mounted and no holes were made in the wood
- Neck is very comfortable to play with
- It has no decoration and some may not like it
Sound Quality is KING
We all love the Martin tone and it is the reason why it is one of the companies that dominate the acoustic guitar industry. The Martin D-10e has this kind of tone that we all love. It is slightly bright but it lacks some punch in the mid range. However, low end tones is deep enough and the treble is distinctive and clear which is the effect of the Sapele.
Its sound is not as beautiful as the Martin D-18 but it does express the character of a Martin guitar. It is loud, rich, and well-balanced. Very responsive to a lot of playstyle but tends to work better when strummed aggressively. Not a guitar for fingerstyle players so you might look for a different guitar.
Let’s take a look at its Body
Martin did not changed the tonewood in the Martin D-10e and used the same as the Martin DRS2. It uses the Solid Sitka Spruce top and Solid Sapele back and sides. The Spruce top is the reason for having a well balanced tone and the Sapele which is almost the same as Mahogany, produces the clear high end tones. However, it lacks the beefy Mid range of a Mahogany.
The neck is a select hardwood while the fingerboard is not a traditional wood. They used an eco-friendly material which is the Richlite. If you are worried about the Richlite, then I have good news for you. Because of the performance of Richlite, many guitars of Martin and even Gibson are using it now.
The nut width is now 1.75 inches which is formerly 1.69 inches. This is favorable for me since the former is not that wide but the width right now is perfect for my hands. Nut width may not affect the tone that much but the feel, even if it is a subtle increase, can be different depending on the user.
Pickup is in a good place
The pickup is found in the soundhole. While the common place of the controls is on the side of the guitar, Martin did not cut any part of it and place the controls inside the soundhole. It is just some rotary knobs for volume and tone control, and a built-in tuner.
I like where it is placed since making a hole in the wood just to place a bulky on-board preamp can affect the tone and resonance. It is a Fishman MX-T, by the way, but sadly, it doesn’t sound well in my opinion. It works and do its job but not the best if you’ll ask me.
Martin has to cut some corners
Since Martin is commonly making guitars at the higher price range, finding Martin at less than $1000 is rare. In order to bring down the price, Martin surely cut some corners and/or used some ‘not so expensive’ materials.
The nut and saddle are definitely not the best material. They used white Corian Nut and Tusq Saddle which may not be the worst, but using a bone material or fossilised ivory can result in better tone and sustain. But don’t change it right away and let it sit for at least a few months so that you’ll notice the difference. So I suggest that you upgrade those two parts after a couple months.
There are no eye-catching decorations in this guitar. Just a simple and classic Dreadnought guitar with Satin Finish. I like the satin finish since it doesn’t grip on the skin too much and it feels nice when touched.
This guitar is also made in the Mexican factory but you can still notice the excellent craftsmanship of Martin so you have nothing to worry about. It is all for lowering the cost.
Playability is Perfect!
Pretty good set up right out of the box. It feels nice and the neck is not too thick but not too shallow that feels like you’re not holding anything. It has a very low action right out of the box so changing chords can be much easier and you can run your fingers on the fretboard faster.
This guitar might not be for players with small hands. Since this is a standard Dreadnought, even having a good feel in the neck, it might overwhelm you since it is not small compared to some smaller body guitars. It is something worth noting for before buying.
Other Variation of Martin D-10e
The Road Series has both DRS1 and DRS2 guitar. Both of those guitars are now named D-10e. If you want the DRS1 which has solid sapele top, then just look for Martin D-10e – Natural Sapele. It can be a little confusing in names so if you want the Spruce or Sapele, make sure you have the right guitar.
The only difference these two variations have is the top wood used. One is Sapele and this guitar we are reviewing is using Sitka Spruce. Soundwise, the Sitka Spruce is well balanced and slightly bright while the Sapele is mellower and warmer in tone. Whatever tonal preference you want, make sure you buy the right variation.
Nothing is better than the two. Only you can say what works for you since we all have different preferences in tone. I like the Spruce Top more if you’ll ask me but the Sapele top is not subpar and I also like using it at some situations.
Should you buy it?
If you are an aggressive strummer and do flatpicking often, then this guitar is for you. I highly recommend it since you can get a taste of the Martin guitar tone at a low price. Quality is not subpar but not as great as the high end guitars of Martin.
It is a Solid wood guitar so if you are upgrading from your beginner guitar, then this can be a good choice. It is worth trying and including in your list of choices. However, if you are a little bit lacking in cash right now but want to upgrade, then you can look at my list of Acoustic guitar under 500$.
Martin is one of the best guitar makers in the world today. Every guitars they make have great qualities and crafted excellently. Martin D-10e is no exception to this. If you are looking for a decent upgrade, then this guitar can satisfy your needs.
If you have any question about this guitar, feel free to leave one on the comment box.
The Martin D-10e Natural Sitka Spruce Review - Formerly the Martin DRS2
If you are looking for an affordable guitar of Martin without compromising its tone, then the Martin D-10E is what you are looking for.