Martin has been in the business of making acoustic guitars since 1833. They are known for their dedication to sustainability and their artisanal, handmade guitars.
Two of their most popular models are the 00 and 000, but what do these names mean, and what are the differences between them?
The 00, or Grand Concert guitar, is the smaller of the two, with a scale length of 24.9 inches (632.4mm) and is known for its lively high end, and ability to cut through the mix. The 000, or Auditorium guitar, is a little larger, with a scale length of 25.4 inches (645.1mm). The 000 is a louder guitar, with a subtle, rounded boost on low end frequencies.
Table of Contents
- Martin 00 – Grand Concert Guitar Overview
- Martin 000 – Auditorium Guitar Overview
- The 00 vs The 000 – Which Should You Buy?
Martin 00 – Grand Concert Guitar Overview
The 00’s Specs
- 9 inches / 479.4mm body length
- 3 inches / 363.5mm body width
- 1 inches / 104.8mm body depth
- Scale length of 24.9 inches / 632.4mm
The 00’s size and resonance are perfect for projecting sound out to a small audience. The 00 is perfect for beginners and smaller players due to its small size and easy handling.
Soft in the Spectrum
The 00 is described by Martin as being ‘soft in the spectrum.’ What this means is that when strummed, all strings will resonate with an equal vibrancy, which means the 00 is a great choice for rhythm guitarists, as the balanced tone won’t muddy the recording sound, or dominate the band sound when playing live.
Favorable Treble Tones
The 00 boasts bright trebles. The smaller body allows higher frequencies more resonance, and boosts their overall volume and clarity. This makes the 00 great for lead guitarists as well, as its sharp high end will cut through the mix of the group.
A Great All-Rounder
This makes the Martin 00 Grand Concert guitar a great all-round acoustic for beginners and seasoned professionals alike, and suitable for solo or ensemble playing.
The downside of the 00 is that the small size and lean toward treble frequencies can sometimes leave the guitar sounding a bit ‘thin,’ especially on the low end.
Famous players of the Martin 00 include Bob Dylan, who played an 00-17, a rare model made entirely of mahogany. This is the closest you can get these days – all mahogany apart from a rosewood fretboard and bridge.
Martin 000 – Auditorium Guitar Overview
The 000’s Specs
- 3 inches / 492.1mm body length
- 15 inches / 381mm body width
- 1 inches / 104.8mm body depth
- Scale length of 25.4 inches/645.16mm
As we know, the 000 is bigger than the 00, and is renowned for its louder volume and full, lush sounds.
Perfectly Balanced Frequencies
The Martin 000 Auditorium strives for a perfectly balanced sound across all six strings, without sacrificing any tonal equality for a boost to the bass, mid, or treble frequencies, though it does have some slight emphasis on the low end, mainly due to the enhanced reverberations due to its size and depth of body.
However, the relatively short scale length in relation to the total length equals a softer string tension. This means the 000 is not only great for loud, balanced chords that sound full and intense, but also for lead guitar players looking to bend strings and add flourishes here and there.
Bigger = Better, but not for Everyone
The other major factor that influences the sound of the 000 is its size. Being a larger guitar, it naturally reverberates more than the 00, which improves low-end frequency resonance.
Its size also affects its natural volume output, and so it won’t surprise you to learn that the 000 is the louder of the two models.
But these benefits of its size also overlook the major con of a larger guitar: it can be harder to handle. Young beginners and players of a smaller stature may struggle to quite literally get to grips with it.
Famous players of the Martin 000 include Eric Clapton, who played an 000-42 for his performance for MTV’s Unplugged in 1992.
The 00 vs The 000 – Which Should You Buy?
As the 00 and the 000 could be said to be quite similar to each other, we have to look deeper into the technicalities of actually playing them both to really compare them.
When it comes to technique, finger pickers and strummers often look for different qualities in a guitar, such as the bracing style and resonance.
While both the 00 and the 000 are great for fingerpicking, there are some variants on the regular models that may affect how they sound when played this way.
Some 00s are often braced too heavily, which can lead to a stifling effect on the tone, especially on the mid and low end frequencies.
With the 00 being a treble focused guitar, this can sometimes lead to a thin tone, especially on the 14 fret models. A 14 fret 00, however, would naturally have more projection than a 12 fret.
As for the 000, it is suitable for both picking and strumming, and is known for its massive projection qualities and resonance. This is also valuable when playing fingerpicking style as the low end will come through just as strong as the trebles, leading to a balanced sound overall which is valuable for any playing style.
The 00 being smaller tends to be somewhat restricted in its tonal output. As mentioned, the treble is boosted, especially on a 14 fret model, where the bridge is located in a favorable position on the bout to allow more resonance to project.
Occasionally, 00s can sound somewhat ‘boxy,’ particularly 12 fret versions, where the bridge position can compromise the overall tone of the guitar. This is especially apparent when playing with a capo, which obviously reduces the scale length temporarily.
However, the 00’s ability to cut through a mix with its sharp treble tones may outweigh these disadvantages, depending on your playing style and the makeup of your band.
The 00 is known for its volume capabilities, and the 14 fret models are definitely favorable for strumming chords. However, both the 12 fret and 14 fret versions are great for fingerpicking, without any loss of tonal quality, due to the larger body of the 000, which boosts resonance on all frequencies.
Differences in Build
The main difference in build between the 00 and the 000 is obviously the size, but the comparison doesn’t end there. Both sizes are available in either 12 or 14 fret versions, and with a variety of different bracing patterns, locations, and the use of both scalloped and unscalloped braces.
Many modern Martin guitars, both the 00 and the 000 included, feature back shifted braces. This design choice was made to offset the pull of heavier strings, which could ‘belly’ the soundboard.
Many 00s, such as the 00-18, have back shifted scalloped braces. The 00-18 is known for being super responsive, with a loud voice and hard hitting trebles. The back shift helps the 00-18 maintain a loud, clear resonance, and the scalloping helps to dampen the mid tones and boost the high and low end.
000s are being sold again with scalloped braces, both forward and back shifted, such as in the 000-18GE and 000-28EC. This pattern of bracing is light, allowing much more natural resonance, and these models are significantly louder than a similarly braced 00 might be.
The other major factor that will influence the sound of both the 00 and 000 guitar is whether you select a 12 or 14 fret version.
Generally speaking, 12 fret models will have a warmer, fuller sound, due to the location of the bridge lower on the bout. These 12 fret models can sound somewhat muddy and indistinct when strummed, and are suited more to fingerpickers.
12 fret guitars are also more suited to beginners and smaller musicians, simply due to the fact that a smaller guitar is easier to navigate.
14-fret models tend to have an overall ‘brighter’ sound, and more attack than their 12 fret counterparts.
The Martin 00 and 000 are both great guitars, a testament to the workmanship Martin puts into all its products.
As you can see, there are many different factors that may influence which model you ultimately choose, and now you know what to look out for and what to consider in your decision-making.
The deciding factor in any guitar purchase decision should be based on what you want your guitar and your music to sound like. Try out as many different models and variations as you can.