Nothing ruins a holiday quicker than one of two things. The first, and most maligned, is dodgy street food, but we won’t go into that here, the other is homesickness. You could be anywhere in the world, surrounded by the most fascinating landscape on the face of the earth and something will remind you of any miniscule detail of where you came from and all of a sudden you’ll pine for home more than Dorothy clicking her heels together. For most intrepid travelers, a simple phone call or picture of a partner or pet is enough to keep them gazing back into the wild, blue yonder but what do you do if the thing you miss the most is your beloved six-string? Martinez Guitars think the answer lies in their extensive range of small-scale traveller guitars, particularly the MTT-15 Traveller.
In a lot of ways Martinez Guitars are the unsung heroes of the Australian guitar market. There’s very little information about the company itself on the Internet, but their builds are in just about every rock shop in the country. Having hit a stride in the late nineties on the more budget conscious rung of the ladder, their Heidelberg home base has kept a steady tide of quality instruments flowing into the market since and, as opposed to going up against juggernauts like Cole Clark and Maton, they have well and truly carved a comfortable niche for themselves as the first port of call for countless new and not-so-new Australian players.
No stranger to the parlor, ¾ scale and alternate sizing game, Martinez have yet again come up with a surefire backpacker’s delight in their new MTT-15 MOP model. On first glance you’d be forgiven for thinking it was some kind of optical illusion, as there is very little about the visage of this guitar to remind you of how small it is. The body is a classic flattop shape with the detailing and filigree dialed back to a sleek minimum. The MOP in the call sign stands for ‘Mahogany Open Pore’ which is what the back and sides are made of, the dark nature of the wood itself lending some much needed body to balance out the lack of room in the resonating cavity. Adding to this, the low density lends a touch of lightness to the tonality that reaches farther into your playing to bring out a lively and player friendly personality.
The thing that I liked the most about it aside from the details is the fact that it doesn’t feel like a throwaway hunk of wood or a placeholder to make you stop missing your main guitar. It plays like it’s ready to travel with you, as opposed to being carried around, and has just enough personality, both tonally and where playability is concerned, that you’d forget you’re away from home at all.
I have a lot of time for companies whose job it is to give people their first foray into the world of making music. Martinez in particular strike me as a company who take the ‘affordable guitar’ mantle very seriously and steer well clear of skimping on the experience of playing a great guitar for the sake of saving a few quick bucks. The MTT-15 MOP traveller is another fine example of a guitar that will go everywhere with you even if you’ve only just learned to play as a cure for loneliness.
Hits and Misses
A good thing that comes in a small package.
You might look funny holding it.