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Martin Vs. Taylor

Updated on August 2, 2016

War of the woods.....

In the world of Acoustics, which of these titans is king?
In the world of Acoustics, which of these titans is king?

The Woods of War.....

It's no secret.....in the land of acoustic guitars, Martin is clearly the best. It's been around the longest, and it has practically shaped the acoustic guitar as we know it today. A list of artists who have used (and presently use) Martins reads like a who's who on the list of all-out rock, folk, and blues stars.

Or wait.....is Taylor the best? Though the new kid on the block in this competition, Taylor has clearly established itself as a major contender, proving itself through perfectionist manufacturing as well as packing a highly desired sound. Taylor's quality is King. Like Martin, Taylor has also engendered a "list" of rock-star musicians, loyal to the brand as they are to their favorite pick or pedal setup.

Taylor and Martin guys are like Chevy and Ford guys.....no matter how much evidence each one shows that the other one is junk, loyalty reigns supreme. About the only thing upon which both sides will agree is pride that guitar players are all part of a huge family, united in our love for Music and creativity.

But make no mistake - beyond that little commonality lies a fierce battle, a brawl of words, a strung-out pick fight played out, as Bryan Adams would put it, till the fingers bleed.


Most Famous Martin of All Time?

Willie Nelson's "Trigger," a Marin N-20, may be the most famous acoustic guitar of all time.
Willie Nelson's "Trigger," a Marin N-20, may be the most famous acoustic guitar of all time.

Martin

The Martin Guitar Co., started in 1833, is currently based out of Nazareth Pennsylvania. Though founded by a German immigrant, Christian Frederick Martin, it has always operated in the United States.

From the start, Martin was an innovator and a perfectionist.

Perhaps the most unique feature of early Martin Guitars is that until the mid 1800's, the head stock featured tuning keys that were on one side, exactly like modern-day Telecasters and Stratocasters. Another unique feature was an adjustable neck, a virtual godsend to any half-dedicated acoustic guitarist.

As Martin's website puts it, "A screw mounted in the back of the heel of the neck was extended into the neck block. At the top of the dovetail (where the neck joins the body) there was a wooden fulcrum about which the neck could pivot up and down. With the strings attached, the neck could be adjusted via a clock key inserted into the heel. While the adjustable neck allowed the player to adjust the playing actions of the guitar, the device was complicated and prone to slipping under full string tension."

Perhaps the largest innovation of the time came with Martin's famous x-bracing system. Loved and Lauded by Martin fans, this system is famous for helping to deliver what has come to be known as the distinctive "Martin" tone - most notably, a powerful bass, making Martin a very desirable guitar of choice for blues players.

Other Martin innovations included scalloped bracing and the Dreadnought guitar style.



Deep, Bluesy, Soulful.....

Clapton's acoustic style has personified the Martin sound
Clapton's acoustic style has personified the Martin sound

The Martin "Sound".....and its players

It's no strange fact that the Martin name has become synonymous with a certain sound - and been identified with certain players.

For example; would Willie Nelson be Willie Nelson without his signature martin? How about Eric Clapton and his uber-famous unplugged album - would it be the same without the warm, bluesy tones of his Martin acoustic?

Here is a list of some well-known Martin Guitarists:

1) Eric Clapton

2) Brandy Clark

3) Father John Misty

4) Adam Gardner

5) Colbie Caillat

6) Lindsay Ell

7) Blind Blake

8) Pink Anderson

9) Kokomo Arnold

10) Ted Bogan

11) Big Bill Broonzy

.....this is a list of past and present Martin Players.

Taylor

Founded by Boib Taylor in 1974, Taylor guitars is Headquartered in El Cajon, CA, and is highly regarded as one of the premier manufacturers of Acoustic guitars in the United States as well as in Mexaco. Taylor guitars have gained a reputation for quality and easy playability (a point of contention among some Martin owners) as well as producing a clear, bright "modern" sound.

Though both Martin and Taylor are acoustic brands, the similarity basically ends there.

Let's start with manufacturing (zzzzz zzzzz zzzzz I know, boooooorrrrriiiiinnnnggggg.....)

Contrary to Martin's more traditional hand-built manufacturing style, Taylor prefers to widely use computerized manufacturing techniques while maintaining a human's touch during key points of the process. Basically speaking, Taylor is much more "modern" and Martin is much more "traditional" when it comes to manufacturing.

Taylor has also been a game-changer. Taylor has become known for innovations such as the Taylor Neck and the Expression System 2 pickup.

According to Taylor's website, the NT Neck is "built from a continuous piece of wood that supports the ebony fretboard all the way up to the 19th fret. Traditional necks lose that support at the 14th fret, relying instead on a “floating,” unsupported fingerboard extension that’s glued directly to the constantly-moving top."

In contrast, a Martin is made with a much more traditional neck, something that Taylor identifies as a major design flaw. "The fretboard lacked sufficient support to remain truly straight because of top movement caused by changes in humidity. All guitars experience this phenomenon, often resulting in a slight bump at the 14th fret, but not all guitars respond to it in the same way."



Does the man really need an intro.?
Does the man really need an intro.?

The Taylor Guitar "Sound".....and its players.....

As said earlier, Taylors are well-regarded for their more modern-esque "bright" sound, known to express the guitars more treble side and being regarded for excellent string separation. This is clearly a more modern sound as compared, in general, to Martin, and is a sound that is loved by Taylor owners.

Here is a list of Taylor players:

1) Alex Woodard

2) Paul Cannon

3) David Mayfield

4) Jason Mraz

5) Javier Colon

6) Phillip Phillips

7) Rascal Flatts

8) Rob Cavallo

9) Shinedown

10) Silent Comedy

11) Cheap Trick

12) Paul McCartney

13) Daryl Hall/John Oates


.....Just to name a few

Martin D15M VS Taylor 320

My Confession.....

I honestly just wrote this article for fun but there are a few points I'd like to make.

First, I am a Martin guy. Plain and simple, and here's why;

For me, a guitar has to be a "whole" experience and not just the sum of its parts.

Make no mistake; Taylors are excellent guitars. In fact, I've played Taylors that I thought sounded better than a comparable Martin. I've even played Taylors that were easier to play than a comparable Martin. Taylors are top-notch, high quality guitars.

But compared to the Martins, the Taylors I've played "felt" cheap and "light".....and they also sounded to bright with too much treble.

I prefer a heavy feeling guitar with a slight bias towards bass; perfect for folk and blues. I prefer a guitar that feels "heavy" and "solid" - and Martins just hit the mark for me (Guilds do too, by the way).....

Now - of course just because something "feels" good or not doesn't mean that it "is" good or not - it's merely up to personal preference.

For me, If a guitar has a great sound and playability but "feels" light and cheap, then it stays at the store. Conversely if a guitar "feels" solid and heavy but sounds cheap, it also stays at the store.

For me it's all about balance. I don't want a guitar for one or two "great" features but instead want one that is all-encompassing and well-balanced.



And In The End

Both Martins and Taylors are great guitars, period. You can find highly accomplished artists showcasing both brands - even in the same show!

Should you ever want to venture out and buy a Martin or a Taylor, I will first and foremost advise you of this; go out and get the one that fits your hands like a glove, makes you feel great, and makes you feel as if the instrument is a natural extension of yourself.

You see; no matter what we play, when we play we all feel as if what we are playing is a natural extension of our bodies. In a way, we "connect" with our instruments.

Guitars fill a unique place in my heart - and always have. No matter what mood I'm in or the kind of day I've had, I can pick up my beauty and just belt out whatever I'm feeling - good or bad!

Happy hunting!

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