Martin Guitars 000C-16RGTE AURA review

  • $2299

Martin confirms its allegiance to Fishman's Onboard Aura with this more affordable 16 Series electro

Image 1 of 2 Martin 000C 16RGTE Aura
The 000C-16RGTE Aura
Image 2 of 2 Martin 000C 16RGTE Aura
The Fishman Onboard Aura system

Our Verdict

This model may not be a real classic as an acoustic, but plugged-in it is truly a revelation.


  • Clean build. Uncannily realistic virtual acoustic tones.


  • Real acoustic tone are a bit flat. Fret surfaces feel rough.
Buying options

Martin's first electro equipped with Fishman's Onboard Aura system was the high-end Special Edition OMC-Aura. With The 000C-16RGTE is offers a less expensive Aura-equipped electro.


Construction and features


The 000C-16RGTE's intrinsic construction is exactly the same as models higher in the 16 series. Inside the finishing is a bit rough, but the woodwork itself is, as ever, precisely executed. Being a 16 Series model, we find Martin's cunningly economical scalloped 'hybrid A-frame' soundboard bracing.


The top is a bit streaky, but its bold herringbone rosette and perimeter purfiing are typically clean cut. Back and sides are plain, and there's white binding all round.


All Martin 16s have a mortise and tenon jointed neck, with an L-shape neck block and upper-bout A-frame for support. All 'GT' 16s have Black micarta (resin composite) rather than wood fingerboards. It is clean as a whistle, topped by an equally shipshape nut. Tuners are not the smoothest around, but they're functional enough.


The bridge may be a plastic ebony substitute, but it's as tidy as it is convincingly wood-like.


Sustaining a facade of pristine, traditional nitro-cellulose lacquer (enough to benefit the tone too), this otherwise matt-satin finish allows Martin to deliver a lower price point. It's all very neatly applied, anyhow.


The 000C-16RGTE Aura's neck has a depth that tapers from 21mm (first fret) to 23mm (10th fret). Optimal string spacing keeps everything feeling free and easy. As we expect from Martin, it's hard to fault this guitar on playability. The fret crowns need an extra once-over, but that really is it.


Aura system


The Onboard Aura control panel is familiar, intelligible and feels positive, and the system essentially operates much like the Fishman's Prefix Premium Blend pickup system. However, instead of the under-saddle pickup blended with a real microphone, the Aura blends digital Acoustic Sound Images with pickup tones to create realistic studio mic'd sounds. It also offers more sophisticated digital EQ and phase options (including memory function) with 'seek and destroy' anti-feedback.


In use


Like the similarly constructed OMC-Aura, the 000C-16RGTE Aura has its tonal quirks. While there's healthily resonant bass, with a reverberant clunk to every pluck of the bottom strings, and a soft well-balanced wash of mid-range colour, there's not much sparkling attack or sustaining chime when you hit the top strings. While there's no unpleasant scratchy presence, the treble sounds a bit damped, lacking the crisp sensitive touch when you're fingerpicking. As a result, it actually sounds better driven harder with a plectrum.

Monitoring through the new Fishman Loudbox Performer amp, the onboard Aura's Sound Images deliver astoundingly realistic mic'd-up sounds. However, it's generally a more scooped version of the acoustic tone, with more bass and all that missing sparkle restored. The digital processing produces a slightly brittle acoustic image, but with the right blend and EQ settings, the plugged-in tone is - arguably - far more satisfying than the natural sound.

Tech Specs

Back and Sides FinishSatin Natural
Back InlayNone
Back MaterialSolid East Indian Rosewood
Body BindingWhite Boltaron
BracingHybrid X Scalloped
Bridge MaterialBlack Micarta
Bridge PinsWhite w/black Dots
Case IncludedYes
Country of OriginUSA
Fingerboard MaterialBlack Micarta
InlaysAbalone Dots
Neck FinishSatin
Neck MaterialSelect Hardwood
No of Frets Clear14
No of Strings6
No. of Frets20
Nut MaterialCorian
OptionsAvailable left-handed at no additional charge
Pickguard ColourTortoise
Pickup TypeFishman Onboard Aura
Rosette DetailsBold Herringbone
Scale Length (Inches)25.4
Sides MaterialSolid East Indian Rosewood
String Spacing (In)2.125
Top FinishPolished Gloss
Top MaterialSolid Sitka Spruce
Width at 12th fret2.125
Width at Nut (Inches)1.6875