Published On: Fri, May 21st, 2010

Mariner E-6DR ESO Dreadnought

Nothing wrong with plain, understated guitars, but these two swashbuckling Mariners bring a welcome taste of Nashville back into the acoustic market. Review by Jerry Uwins

Mariner E-6DR ESO DreadnoughtIndustry veteran and former Peavey Europe boss Ken Achard’s Mariner project was launched a year ago. Originally, all the guitars – the arched-back Archives, all-solid-wood Mastheads and more upmarket Esos – were made in a small Korean factory.

 

Due largely to limited capacity in the face of growing demand, production of the Masthead and Eso Series has been moved to China resulting in significant three-figure price reductions while, says Achard, ‘maintaining quality excellence’. Along the way, new models have come on stream, one of which is our Masthead JX-6SB slope dread.

 

E-6DR

 

And so to the flagship Eso Series, and a luxury Martin-style dreadnought. The body – of good-looking all-solid spruce and rosewood – has a three-piece back with three-ply dividing strips of maple/rosewood. Not only does the top carry abalone purfling but the back does too, all bordered by wood purflings and maple binding.

 

This theme is repeated around the headstock – this time carrying gold Sta-Tites – while the maple-bound ebony fingerboard receives large pearl parallel/oval position markers, the octave one adding an abalone dot in the middle. A couple of the markers are sitting slightly askew, a glitch that the fretting tends to visually accentuate.

 

Reflecting the instrument’s plush spec, the neck is a five-way sandwich of two outer lengths of mahogany with narrow inner strips of maple and a central fillet of rosewood. Unlike on the slope dread, there’s a volute under the nut.

 

Mariner E-6DR ESO DreadnoughtWith a scale length just a couple of millimetres longer than the Mariner JX-6, the E-6’s neck is a smidge wider, though this is so marginal as to make the profile essentially the same, the only detectable difference being slightly less wood along the shoulders of the similar-depth ‘C’ profile.

 

The medium fretting is again carefully dressed and polished, helping make this an equally enjoyable, very slick player.

SOUNDS

Tonally, this guitar is nicely sorted. The highs have a pleasant, fluid sparkle and the articulate voicing is easy-sustaining. Again, though, there’s a sense that it’s not yet delivering to its maximum potential.

 

More rosewood-like low-end richness and depth wouldn’t go amiss, and though it’s not tight as such, there’s a slightly compressed quality to the sound. Maybe just more running in is required, or perhaps the weight of nearly 2.5kg on the scales suggests a build that’s overly sturdy and possibly resonance-inhibiting.

Verdict

When we reviewed a couple of early Korean Mariners last year, the sound - or the slight shyness thereof - was a point we made, and this remains an area to bear in mind. However, these Chinese-made examples come across as far more accomplished instruments in all other respects - the necks especially are excellent - and weighed along with their attractive new lower prices they are both, of their respective styles, instruments to be seriously considered.

Build Quality Playability Sound Value Vibe Score
18 19 15 18 14 84

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