Martin’s 15 Series is a collection of quality mid-range guitars loosely inspired by the Style 15 instruments of the 1940s – each with their own specific design and body shapes.
The dreadnought of the 15 Series is this soft and subtle D-15M, which is highly rated by casual players and professionals alike – in fact, it has been used by an array of top talent including Coldplay’s Chris Martin, reggae musician Aaron Nigel Smith, and English singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich. Plenty of endorsement, so let’s look at what’s on offer with the D-15M.
The D-15M sports a familiar, no-nonsense design – a no-cutaway flattop dreadnought with a finger-friendly scale length of 25.4”. It’s an all-mahogany guitar, so the top, back and sides are crafted from solid mahogany, with a soft satin finish, leading to a very natural and relaxed look. The top is bookmatched and the wood is flawless, and features A-frame X bracing for added strength.
It’s no surprise to discover that the neck is also made from mahogany, and joined to the guitar at the 14th fret with an incredibly strong mortise and tenon neck joint. The neck features a solid East Indian rosewood fretboard, with 20 frets and simple dot inlays. With superb craftsmanship – as you’d expect from a Martin in this mid-range price – the D-15M is extremely slick and comfortable to play.
Aside from some great looks, what else does it offer? It’s worth pointing out that this is a solely acoustic affair so, if you prefer to plug in, the slightly pricier Martin D-15ME will be worth checking out.
Back to the D-15M, and we find some quality hardware, that matches the body and neck well. There are six open-geared nickel tuners with butterbean tuning keys, as well as a Delmar faux tortoiseshell pickguard, a standard bone nut and saddle – which helps with projection and tuning stability – while the bridge is also made from solid East Indian rosewood. Finally, the guitar is shipped with a decent Martin 345 hardshell case, which fits this dreadnought snugly.
The sound of the D-15M can be summed up in one word – warm! The all-mahogany construction leads to a very warm, rich and mellow tone, but it’s a dreadnought, so is also very resonant with great projection. It still proves well-balanced, and certainly offers some subtle brightness in the treble, but warmth is this guitar’s prime characteristic. The guitar has a lot to offer guitarists, whether fingerstylist, flat-picker or strummer, and is perfect for blues players – the tone just lends itself to that style very well.
Is it me or is it warm in here? We’ve established that Martin’s D-15M is a warm guitar in both tone and style, and is a joy to play. Of course, if you want something with lots of punch and brightness you will be smart to look elsewhere, but for beginners, experienced and professional guitarists looking for something rich and mellow – but still showing off good projection – this affordable Martin is a serious contender.