Published On: Mon, Jun 8th, 2009

Martin HD-16RLSH Acoustic Review

Read the Martin HD-16RLSH Acoustic Review.Good for looking and sounding the part without costing as much as a D-28

This rosewood-backed guitar has an eyeful of a name. ‘LSH’ denotes a large soundhole, 112mm in diameter as opposed to the normal 100mm or so; ‘H’ refers to herringbone which is used for the rosette and top purfling. The vintage-evoking trim also includes a zipper-style back centre strip, while the sitka front is lightly amber-tinted to add an aged look to the body’s gloss coating.
The oversize soundhole is clearly inspired by the modified Martin D-28 of the late Clarence White, a feature that became all the rage among the bluegrass fraternity. It’s accompanied by a broad flatpicker’s neck, kicking off at 44.5mm across the nut, with string spacing widening from a spacious 39mm to an equally generous 57mm come the bridge. Such an arrangement could be daunting, but easy playability is maintained thanks to a quite shallow, ever-so-slightly-V’d profile and a low, easy-feeling action. Almost needless to say, the neck is a doozie for fingerstyle.

Opinions differ about the effect of an enlarged soundhole, but the scientific consensus – all other things being equal – suggests increased volume and subtly greater high-frequency emphasis. This HD-16 certainly has a robust delivery, but since we don’t have an otherwise identical but regular-soundhole version to compare it with, the question of high-end enhancement remains an imponderable. What can be said is that the guitar has a taut, beautifully balanced tone, with plenty of projecting snap when driven hard, yet plenty of low-end infusing warmth too. Excellent.


Description: Dreadnought acoustic. Made in the US
Price: £1799 inc. case
Build: Solid sitka spruce top, solid rosewood back and sides. Mahogany neck with 20-fret bound-look ebony fingerboard. Ebony bridge, chrome diecast tuners, bottom strap button
Options: HD-28 (£2079). Also try the D-28 Clarence White (£3799) with large soundhole. Both are spruce/rosewood
Left-handers: To order, at no extra cost
Finish: Gloss body, satin neck
Scale length: 645mm/25.4"
Neck width:
Nut 44.5mm
12th fret 57mm
Depth of neck:
First fret 20mm
9th fret 22mm
String spacing:
Nut 39mm
Bridge 57mm
Action as supplied:
12th fret treble 1.5mm
12th fret bass 2.4mm
Max rim depth: 123mm
Max body width: 397mm
Fingerboard radius: 15"
Weight: 2.16kg/4.75lb


Build Quality Playability Sound Value Vibe Score

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