So you’re in the market for a new acoustic guitar and you’re looking at two of the greatest brands: CF Martin and Taylor Guitars. Choosing between two great models like Martin D-15M vs Taylor 214ce can be tricky. Of course, they are both great guitars, but let’s see which one will be the best for you. Here we will look under the hood at the specs and the unique sounds of the Martin D-15M and the Taylor 214ce to help you choose the best acoustic guitar for you.
Martin D-15M vs Taylor 214ce | Overview
The Martin D-15M: The Streetmaster and Beyond
The Martin D-15M is a dreadnought-bodied, full mahogany acoustic guitar (hence the D and M in D-15M). The mahogany front, back, side, and neck with the dark mahogany colored finish are the trademarks of the Martin 15 series. Though the Martin 15 series covers a variety of body shapes, I will be focusing on the three dreadnought models: the D-15M, D-15M Streetmaster, and the DSS-15M Streetmaster.
The Martin D-15M is a dreadnought-bodied acoustic guitar with a mahogany body. The sound is rich and deep with excellent bass representation. As per tradition with dreadnought guitars, the Martin D-15 M is a great choice for country or bluegrass genres.
The Martin D-15M has a rich, resonant sound that is made possible by the wood and bracing pattern. Mahogany has a very warm, natural sound to it. Acoustic guitars with a mahogany front benefit from this warm sound, but the Martin 15 series pushes this boundary by making the front, back, neck, and sides of these guitars 100% mahogany.
The D-15M has a non-scalloped X-brace bracing pattern. Although most guitarists nowadays prefer scalloped bracing for its responsiveness. Non-scalloped bracing, or straight bracing, still has its benefits. Scalloped bracing creates a natural condenser. This means quiet notes can be heard just as clearly as loud ones. However, this also tends to put a cap on how loud you can play before it starts to sound muddy. Straight bracing lifts this cap; you can play loudly without compromising the sound quality.
That being said, the new Martin D-15M guitar provides the best of both worlds: It just has a generally loud sound. Both the louds and the softs come out super clear.
Martin D-15M Streetmaster
The Martin D-15M Streetmaster has all of the benefits and build as the D-15M with an upgraded, vintage aesthetic.
The Streetmaster is built to have a very worn, well-used look. It’s meant to look like it’s been on the street for years (you might even say, the master of the street). There’s no pickguard on the Streetmaster, just the exposed wood. It has a satin finish just like the D-15M, but with a more weathered look. The pegs are a yellow, off-white with vintage peg turners. If you’re one who likes the rustic look, then the Streetmaster’s upgraded looks are definitely worth the consideration.
Martin DSS-15M Streetmaster
The DSS-15M Streetmaster is another dreadnought-bodied guitar from the Martin 15 series with the addition of the sloped-shoulder to the body. With the Streetmaster vintage finish and rich sound, this guitar is really a winner.
Taylor 214ce: Standard, Deluxe and Plus
Now that we’ve taken a brief look at the Martin D-15M, it’s time to look at the Taylor side of our Martin D-15M vs Taylor 214ce comparison.
Taylor 214ce Standard
The Taylor 214ce is a member of the Taylor 200 line. The Taylor 214ce is a Grand Auditorium-bodied acoustic guitar with a Sitka Spruce Top and a layered Rosewood sides and back. The ‘c’ in 214ce stands for the Venetian Cutaway, a curve in the body that allows for easier access to the higher notes. The ‘e’ in 214ce stands for electronic plugin, specifically the exclusive Expression System 2. The Expression System 2 system includes three small knobs near the neck that allow you to control the bass, mids, and highs. The forward-shifted X-brace pattern allows for very responsive playing. This responsiveness and big, boomy sound make the Taylor 214ce a great “workhorse” guitar.
Taylor 214ce Deluxe
The Taylor 214ce Deluxe (Taylor 214ce DLX) is the highest quality of the 214ce guitars and hits a higher price point. It has many of the same features as the standard 214ce along with bronze tuners, a hard-shell case, white binding, a stunning mother-of-pearl rosette, small diamond fretboard inlays, a Sapele neck with an ebony fretboard. It has a much brighter sound than the 214ce standard and really makes finger-picking shine.
Taylor 214ce Plus
The idea behind the 214ce Plus was to provide a 214ce guitar that hits a price point between the standard and the deluxe. The biggest selling point for this guitar is actually the case: Taylor’s new Aerocase. This thing is pretty cool. It as the same inner lining that Taylor puts in their hard-shell cases, but with a soft outer shell. Thus, it provides the durability of a hard-shell case while being light-weight and very portable like a gig bag.
Other features that set apart the 214ce Plus from the standard include the nickel tuners and buttons, black body, and heel cap binding, and full-body gloss (not just on the front). These differences are mostly cosmetic, but they do contribute subtle differences to the sound; the Taylor 214ce Plus just seems to sparkle a little bit more than the standard model.
Martin D-15M vs Taylor 214ce – Side by Side Comparison
The Martin D 15-M’s have a very warm, booming tone. The lows are loud and clear without sounding muddy, and the highs are crystal clear.
The Taylor 214ce has a brighter, more responsive sound than the Martin, so this really comes down to preference. If you are a heavy-handed player and you really care about that warm tone, then Martin is the way to go. If you play a lot of fingerpicking and you really want that clear mid-tone, then Taylor will be better suited for you.
In my opinion, the Martin D15-M’s take the cake on this one. With the vintage, satin look this guitar is sure to stand out. However, it all depends on what you like. If you like the more modern-classic gloss, then the Taylor 214ce, especially the 214ce Deluxe is for you.
The Taylor 214ce also comes in more colors than the Martins do, so Taylor wins some points here for variety. You can get the 214ce deluxe in black along with the standard colors. Koa wood fans will be happy to know that Taylor carries a limited-edition Koa with a sunburst.
The Taylor 214ce’s pricing really varies from model to model, ranging from $999 for the 241ce standard to $1499 for the deluxe models. The Martins tend to stay between $1299 for the D-15M standard and $1399 for the Streetmasters.
So why the big price difference between the Taylor 214ce models if they are mostly built the same? This mainly has to do with which case comes with the guitar, along with a few cosmetic appointments. When it comes to deciding which of the three Taylor 214ce guitars to buy, it really comes down to how you like the sound of each one and which case you would like to have.
Both the Martin D-15M and Taylor 214ce come with the option to add a pickup or with a pickup already installed. The Taylor guitars come with Taylor’s exclusive Expression System 2. As mentioned before, this pickup system include a way to adjust the EQ in real time.
The Martin guitars don’t originally come with a pickup, but they all include the option to add one. All three models allow for the addition of a Fishman Gold Plus Natural I, Fishman Infinity Matrix, Fishman Presys Plus, or the Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend. The DSS-15M allows for an additional option: the LR Baggs Anthem.
So, if you really like the Expression System 2, then choosing a Taylor would work great. If you would rather choose your pickup or not have one at all, then going with a Marting D-15M will be the better choice for you.
Other things to consider
Another thing to think about when considering a Martin D-15M versus the Taylor 214ce is how they are manufactured. While Taylor guitars are manufactured to be identical to other guitars of their same model, Martins have a tendency to vary from guitar to guitar. This isn’t a bad thing, in fact, a lot of people really enjoy this about Martins. What this does mean is it’s best to check out Martin guitars in person so you can listen to possible differences between each of the guitars. This way you can pick out the guitar that is really best suited for you.
Martin D-15M vs Taylor 214ce: The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for a dreadnought guitar for bluegrass or other folk styles, with a deep resonance and warm sound and a vintage style, then the Martin D-15M is the right one for you.
If you’re looking for a “workhorse” guitar with a strong mid-range and great responsiveness, then the Taylor 214ce is a great option. The Aerocase that is offered with the Taylor 214ce is an especially great accessory for working musicians on the road — light weight for easy transportation and sturdy enough to withstand any journey.
Our pick: Martin