Hello and welcome to my Martin GPCPA5K Review. This review is part of my acoustic guitars that cost less than 1,000 series.
In this review the Martin GPCPA5K will be assessed on:
- Playability; and
- Value for Money
As is custom on sixstringacoustic.com I will also show videos of the guitar being played so that you can hear the guitar for yourself and some user reviews so that you can get a variety of opinions.
And finally I will conclude with my opinion on who this guitar is best suited to and how it compared to others in the same price range.
O.K. let’s get going.
I found the GPCPA5K had a nice warm balanced sound and it was easy to control the sound even when strumming more aggressively – and still had a bit of punch when palm muting.
It is a grand auditorium shaped guitar which helps to give it its nice balanced tone. Not as boomy or loud as the dreadnought so for those who prefer a less boomy bass-heavy sound then this might be for you. If you are looking for that dreadnought sound then you might want to go for the DCP (dreadnought) model.
Top (soundboard): The GPC has a solid Sitka Spruce top. This is the standard in the industry and offers a great all round tone and expressive dynamics.
Back and Sides: As is expected in this price range the back and sides are laminate (Martin’s High Pressure Laminate [HPL]). The laminate is Koa patterned which gives it a really nice look. Some people of course prefer solid back and sides but at this price range laminate is expected – and the bonus is that it helps to keep the guitar nice and light.
Neck: The neck is not actually made from wood – it’s made from something called Stratabond. Martin uses this on a lot of their lower priced instruments – but that doesn’t mean you should be put off by this.
The neck felt light but strong to hold and actually looks quite nice in my opinion. For some purists this would be a deal breaker but I actually quite liked it. The neck is a different color/pattern from the back and sides which can also put some people off aesthetically but it didn’t bother me.
Stratabond is actually said to be less prone to warping too.
Bridge: The bridge is made from something called Black Richlite. Again this is something that is used a lot on lower priced Martin guitars. Judging by the sound of this guitar it does a good job in my view.
Saddle & Nut: Also standard on lower priced Martin’s is the Corian nut and Tusq compensated saddle. Again the tone is fantastic so I don’t think these artificial materials affect the tone – and they are dense and durable so no issues with that.
Maybe if you were looking to brighten the sound up a bit then you could change them out for bone but personally I’d leave them as is.
Check out these Videos to hear the Sound for yourself
Of course it will always sound a bit different in real life but this should give you some idea to see if the sound is for you.
Here’s the first one.
And the second. Make sure you watch this one until the end as he demonstrates some finger style in the second minute of the video.
I thought the GPCPA5K was really nice to play, feels light, is easy to bend & virbrato (but that could have been something to do with the strings). It’s easy to play and easy to control the sound and to get the sound out of it you want.
Great sound when palm muting and equally good with finger picking, strumming and flat picking. Neck really nice to play on – really shallow curve in the neck – should be super easy for most to play and a pleasure to play.
Action: The action felt nice to me. I like it quite low and this was already set quite low. I’d be more than happy to leave the action as is on this guitar.
Fretboard (fingerboard): The fretboard is made from Black Richlite – the same as what they use on the bridge. It feels nice to play on – smooth and fast. I had no complaints about this.
In the first video above the guy says it’s an ebony fretboard – an easy mistake to make as it can look like ebony at first glance, but it’s not.
Neck: The GCPA5K has a really flat profile (shallow curve in the neck). This might feel a bit odd to some players but I like the feel of it. And it just feels light and I felt really in control of the fretboard – if that makes sense.
The width at the nut is 1 3/4 inches (1.75inches, 44mm) which is pretty standard on acoustics. Perhaps the standard for dreadnoughts these days is more like 1 11/16 inch (1.69inches, 43mm) but that very slight extra width helps a bit with finger picking for the Grand Auditorium model. Though the DCP5AK (dreadnought version) does have the same width at nut.
If you are used to a 1 11/16 inch width at nut I wouldn’t worry about it on this guitar – I certainly couldn’t tell the difference and didn’t notice it until I saw the specs. Maybe it’s the flat neck curve makes it feel smaller but it certainly didn’t feel any wider than the 1 11/16 inch necks I played in the same session.
See what some others thought of the GPCPA5K at the links below
Scroll down, or click on the links next to the stars at the top of the pages, to see the reviews.
The consensus is certainly that it’s a great guitar.
Other Features and Info
The GPCPA5AK is part of the performing artist series of acoustic guitars by Martin.
In case you were wondering (I am also curious) what all those letters and numbers stand for, here it is:
- GP = Grand Performance Shape (Grand Auditorium)
- C = Cutaway
- PA = Performing Artist series
- 5 = The 5th tier (1 being the highest, most expensive tier in Martin’s range)
- K = Koa Laminate Back & Sides
I would have just called it GCP5K to make it easier to remember but hey it probably sounds flasher as it is!
There are several other models in the performing artist series, the most similar being:
- DCPA5K – the dreadnought version
- GPCPA5 – the only difference as far as I can tell being Mahogany patterned HPL on the back and sides
- DCPA5 – dreadnought version of the GPCPA5
Or if you were looking to spend more then there’s the GPCPA4 versions – the main difference with these being that they have solid back and sides and a hardwood neck.
Who this Guitar is Suitable for
Due to its grand auditorium shape (a.k.a. folk shape) you would usually say that this is best for folk players. And whilst it is a great sound for folk, it also worked really well for other styles and I particularly enjoyed playing blues on it.
Anyone with smaller hands will also be fine with this guitar, due to the flat curve on the back of the neck – and anyone who is physically smaller in general, due to the slightly smaller size of the shape when compared to a dreadnought.
I’d say it’s a great all round guitar suitable for a wide range of styles and people – assuming you like the tone, which is of course highly subjective.
Value for money
In my opinion, absolutely yes. Sure you get a lot of man-made materials in there but if those materials help the guitar to play and sound the way it does for the price then I have no problem with them.
So in terms of materials maybe you don’t get the same value for money as with some others in this price range but, and it’s a big but, you are getting your money’s worth when the guitar plays and sounds fantastic – regardless of the materials used.
Compared to other Guitars in the price range
Out of the 3 I preferred the Martin hands down. In some ways that was personal preference because I prefer a warmer tone. But mostly it was due to playability. I just found the Martin was a real pleasure to play – and it’s not like the Yamahas were at all bad, but the Martin just felt that much nicer.
In fact I liked this guitar so much that it’s my #3 guitar in my top 5 acoustic guitars under 1,000 list.
More Info and Where to Buy
If you want to check out some other options under 1,000 or want to compare the GPCPA5K to others, check out my top 5 acoustics under 1,000 at the link below.