2-16-2017 Guitar Comparison

Guitar comparison of two similar instruments

Close in construction and materials, with a notable difference or two.

Recorded in the same place on the same day with the same mics, same type of strings, etc.

What are your impressions of the tone, and how they differ or equate?

View in 1080p hi-def for best audio

Please use the comment form below to leave your feedback.

The identity of the two guitars will be revealed here after allowing time for various people to respond here, on Youtube, and guitar forums where this is referenced.

Thank you.

Other comparison videos and audio of similar and divergent guitars will appear in the coming weeks.

Here is the page that will list all the comparisons


Thanks to everyone who has commented thus far. It has been highly educational.

Perhaps I should have stressed not trying to guess what they are so much as requesting comments about personal preference and if you actually like the sound of either guitar, as well as how do they compare or equate. And maybe stressed not trying to guess what they are.

Having been through similar comparisons myself, I have learned how easy it is for one’s imagination to lead them astray, when it comes to things like specific models or sizes. Or even specific tonewoods when there is no reference provided to ground one’s perspective, like “this is what rosewood sounds like with these mics in this room…” etc.

And in this case things were a little more off the beaten track than usual.

Guitar #1 is a prototype of the new Martin DC-16E.

It is a dreadnought shape with a 000 depth, made with Sitka spruce and sycamore back and sides, forward-shifted scalloped 5/16” braces, a neck of some sort of mahogany with their simple dovetail neck joint, ebony bridge and fingerboard, Tusq saddle and bone nut, and Fishman Matrix VT Enhance onboard pickup system.

Guitar #2 is a prototype of the new Martin D-16.

It is essentially the exact same guitar with the same specs mentioned above, only without a cutaway or the slightly extra weight and possible damping of the electronics and undersaddle pickup.

It does raise the question, what if any of the tonal differences perceived are due to the cutaway body or lack thereof?

And, what differences are due to the specific organic materials used to make each very similar guitar?

I shall point out that I did not record them with the intention of comparing them in this manner.

They were recorded about two hours apart, during my annual trip to the Martin factory to collect audio and video of the Winter NAMM 2017 Martin models for eventual on-line reviews.

While the mics stands and recording gear were all set the same way, it is possible the mics would have moves slightly one way or another or the guitar wasn’t pointing in exactly the same orientation to the mics, etc.

7 thoughts on “2-16-2017 Guitar Comparison

  1. Todd, to me guitar one sounds a bit drier and bit more airy compared to guitar 2. The notes heard in guitar two sound a bit more articulate to my hears.

    Both sound like smaller guitars to me.

    I think that both are mahagony guitars, because I’m used to hearing a bit more darker timbre from rosewood and less quick decay and more blooming harmonics from rosewood.

    Possibly the first one has a rosewood fingerboard and bridge, while the other has ebony.

    A very wild guess. The first might be a 000 from the 17 series, while the second might be a 000-18 or similar.

  2. I preferred #1. It sounded rich and balanced across the frequency range to my ears. I thought #2 sounded “better” when finger picked, but I still preferred #1 in all three comparisons.

    1. @Cliff Swanson- You may want to listen again. #1 was far from “balanced”. Listen for the B and high E strings which are louder than everything else. #2 were far more balanced. FWIW I firsted listened with Altec Lansing speakers and confirmed my opinion listening through my Audio-Technica M50 headset

    2. #1 was ok, but contrary to some others’ opinion I found #1 highly imbalanced with the higher strings and overtones significantly louder than the other tones. #2 was rounder, warmer and significantly more balanced.

  3. #1 seemed better balanced and more mellow; #2 was definitely punchier but more jangly in the trebles. I suppose it makes a difference what tone you’re going for in a song, but overall I like #1 the best.

  4. 1, Strumming – too close to call, 2, Fingerpicking – Number 2 has the edge, better balance, 3, Power chords – too close to call but 2 would have my vote

We and our readers would very much like to hear what YOU think.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.