Well, it happened!!!!! I bought it and am (now) super happy with it. For the details/pics, skip below the starred line. For real-life crap and transparency, read on lol
Got to CME around 11:30 Saturday. It ended up being a super stressful experience.. Not a fun day, despite buying a new guitar. Long story short, it occurred to me that my (new) bank may have a daily limit for our debit cards. I was right and the limit was $300...... so i had to hand the guitars back over and spend a WHILE on the phone with our bank (who can't do limit increases on the weekend), Visa, and local Credit Unions trying to figure out a solution. In the end, CME just sent a PayPal invoice to me and i was able to pay it all that way. Man, i could've done without that.
Secondly, the strings on the guitar were SUPER corroded and worn out, which i anticipated. The guitar sounded dull/lifeless as opposed to the last time where it was loud/lively. CME was super nice and put a new set of their shop-strings on (i think some kind of D'Addario PB). After the new strings were on, the guitar was so bright/brash, i almost didn't buy it. I knew they would dull-down, but didn't want to make the purchase hoping the guitar would get better. After talking with Carl Kammin, he recommended that i try the Martin Retros and assured me that the guitar would be a good one. Between Carl and Alex Latus (the main rep i worked with the last couple of months) I ended up buying the guitar and the Lyric pickup (not installed yet) knowing i would have a 30-day trial period.
When i got home, i played for just a few minutes (see somewhat muffled video below), then put on the Retros on. Boy......I hated them. They sounded ok, but the rough feel and excessive string squeak were pretty off-putting. I was pretty discouraged, and decided to call it a day. Before putting the guitar up, i decided to use "Fast-Fret" on the strings, hoping that it would make a difference the next day. Not sure if it was that or if i just needed to let me ears rest some, but when i started playing Sunday afternoon, i really started liking the guitar more and more. The fast-fret helped the string squeak and playability, and everything just sounded a little better......until......
I noticed that something sounded off. I checked and the low E string was showing almost 20cents sharp at the 3rd fret, so my G chord was out of tune. I checked and sure enough every fret on the low E string was super sharp despite the tuner saying the open E was spot on. What.The.Crap.........turns out, my tuner is junk lol also, when playing the strings at a normal intensity, the initial attack is sharper than if you just pick it softly for tuning. Once i started tuning by playing the note hard, everything was fine and in tune.
At that point i was satisfied and finally decided i was going to for sure keep the guitar. Then i decided to play and sing and REALLY try it out. I can be somewhat.....intense with my strumming when singing and sure enough i put a pretty nice scratch i the finish on the first song. LOL I guess it's mine for sure now 🙂 I emailed Alex to let him know i'd be keeping the guitar and that i would schedule a day to come get the pickup installed.
Took it to work today to show my co-workers and it sounded glorious from the moment i took it out of the case. Honestly best sound thus far. So, without further adieu....
The aforementioned scratch.....
Can't really see it from this angle
I like this tiger stripe better than the old ones. Less contrast-y
Video with the D'Addarios
For those who asked, here's what the inside looks like:
And the scratch....