Dave Matthews Switches From Martin Guitars to Taylor Guitars


dave-matthews-taylor-guitarSome guitarists pick a brand of guitar and stick to it.  Think of Johnny Cash and Neil Young and their Martin Guitars or Bruce Springsteen and his Fenders and Takamines.  But there has always been something different about Dave Matthews and it extends to the way he moves between manufacturers of guitars.

In a 1999 interview with Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Matthews said his main axe while on tour with Tim Reynolds was a Martin HD-28.  In fact, at one point Martin even released a Dave Matthews signature guitar.  But now it appears something has happened.

Here we are ten years later and Matthews is all Taylor all the time (when playing acoustic).  According to AGM’s 2009 interview with Matthews, his primary acoustic guitar is now a Taylor 914ce (and he has a few).  According to the article, Matthews also uses Taylor 714′s and Taylor W65 12-strings.

What made Matthews switch from Martins to Taylors?  Do guitarists like Taylors more as they get older?  If anybody can help solve this mystery we’d sure love to hear from you in our comments.

Image courtesy of Moses Namkung via Creative Commons License.

Dave Matthews

Taylor 914ce

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  1. Jon

    I don’t reckon it has anything to do with age, Clapton still plays Martin’s. I think personally Martin guitars sound quite different to Taylor, at least the ones I have played. The Taylor guitars are more like my Takamine, deep and bassy whereas the Martin’s I’ve played have a much more pronounced midrange and clarity.

    I personally think both are overrated and overpriced too. For the money you can get plenty of boutique acoustic guitars that haven’t just come off a production line. Just my 2c.

  2. Mitch

    Matthews seems to favor guitars with the band that have an ability to punch through the rest of the instruments when needed. Originally that was the Chet Atkins SST. When Martin first made the DM3MD he used it for a bit (look at the Listener Supported DVD) before discovering the Taylors in a Seattle guitar shop and using those on stage.

    With the band I believe he uses the Taylor 914s for standard tuning and drop-D, and the 714s for his raised-B tuning.

    For solo or acoustic duet work he often goes back to the Martin for standard tuning and uses the Taylors mostly for the other tunings. If you watch his Radio City DVD you will see what is either the DM3MD or HD-28 getting used quite a bit.

  3. ryan

    Dave switched to taylor for two reasons, the first being that the bright sound helps cut through the dense band mix, the second reason is simple, taylor guitars are better all around. taylor does not pay artists to play their guitars so its obvious that dave thinks better of them than martin. the reason he switches to his martin for the acoustic shows with tim reynolds is because tim sticks with his martin d-35′s. thus matching sound better, using the same make of guitar as his stage partner. although tim has a few taylor guitars as well, he mainly plays his d-35′s. for the song some devil on the live at radio city album, dave switches to an electric, but if u notice he plays solo on this song. im not sure if this electric is the chet atkins or a taylor model though. he tours with 17 guitars as well as back ups. his electric guitars are,fender american deluxe strat.,jerry jones barritone,national reso-phonic resoelectric. for stings he uses, d’addarrio exp 17 medium gauge .013-.056 phosphor bronze (six sting) but substituted the .056 for a .059 on the guitars he keeps in drop d. and d’addario ej39 medium gauge phosphore bronze for the 12 stings.

  4. Dustin

    Dave uses Martins in solo shows because they produce much better undertones that Taylors. He doesn’t need so much bass with the band and Taylors tend to be mid range oriented. Solo artists in solo settings know that Martins are the paint and the Canvas and Taylors are just the paint. Don’t get me wrong I like Taylors just as much
    as Martins. I think Taylors are easier to play, but what you put into a Martin , you get out of it. I would love dave if he played a Esteban guitar. 8)

  5. Mark

    Martins and Taylors are nice for what they do…no doubt. I’ve played both and own a few Taylors. But in my opinion…ppl are using both until they discover a McPherson. For my money the finest acoustic guitar with tones and overtones that make me what to put the other two makes back in the case.

  6. Mark

    ‘want’…not ‘what’….sorry for typo. My opinion: Taylors really shine with an Englemann Spruce top and rosewood back and sides…and McPhersons with a redwood top and macassar ebony back and sides. Check out a McPherson…it may not be the guitar for you and you’ll disagree with me…or it will blow your mind.

  7. Frank

    The reality is that we have no idea why Dave seems to have switched stage guitars. I do think the brightness (some would say thinness) of a Taylor cuts through the mix better than a Martin, which, to my ears, is more full and balanced. The two things I think are clear are: 1) Taylor and Martin make guitars that sound differently; 2) both are high quality. I own both — Martin 000-28ec and Taylor GC7.

  8. Dave

    Frank – Very interesting comments. I agree that a Taylor cuts through the mix better than a Martin and that a Martin is more balanced. I’d be curious how you like the Taylor GC7 and how you think it compares to your 000-28EC. I hear great things about the GC7 but my main small bodied guitar is a Martin OM-28V.

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  10. Watch American Football Live

    It is very difficult to assess in what way and context the music of Spain was influenced but it surely gave rise to a number of different styles and manners which was quite different from the rest of Europe.

  11. Guitar guy raven

    I am a huge dave matthews fan. Back when martin gave him his signature model, I didn’t know very much about guitars. Now I’ve been in the guitar business ever since and I just have one thing to say: WHY THE HELL DIDN’T HE STICK WITH THE LAKEWOOD!!!!!!!
    the german made lakewoods are far superior to martin and taylor. The truth is, there are Soooooooooo many great guitars made both in the US and around the world. Here is some trivia: Martins are popular because they have been around so long, and bob taylor has spent more money on advertising than any company i have seen. Both are nice, but are absurdly overpriced.

  12. Ron

    Why is it I never hear anybody sticking up for Gibson acoustics? Are they just crappy or what