So, I just got a new Martin GPCPA4 Performing Artist Series Grand Auditorium acoustic/electric guitar. For $1199, it is a steal - some really great features for this price point.
To start, I like the 1 3/4" nut width - I play a lot of fingerstlye (plus I have sausage fingers), so I love this. The grand auditorium body is constructed of solid Sapele, and the top is solid Sitka Spruce. It has the Black Richlite fretboard, with really cool offset dot fret markers. It also has the analog version of the Fishman F1 Electronic system, and come with a nice TKL hardshell case.
The guitar sounds great, really full and lots of punch. There is more midrange here than I am used to with Mahogany/Sapele bodied guitars. It's not just lows and highs - which I love. It is very full sounding, not boomy, but has a great "attack" and warmth to the sound. The action is just right for me, although perhaps a smidge high for Taylor lovers. But speaking of the action and playability, this is where my first gripe comes in. I do not care much for the Black Richlite fretboard. I find it to be very dry, and when my fingers get a little sweaty - it feels a bit sticky... It's not slick, like Ebony would be. Since I am on gripes - my only other gripe is with the electronics. The Fishman F1 Analog works just fine... the two controls (volume and tone) are straightforward... the battery is on the bottom of the guitar, where the input jack is... so easy access for battery changes - BUT, I do not care for the "tuner" function of the Fishman FI Analog. I think it is unnecessary and unintuitive to use. I have really hard time remembering how to engage it and disengage it (maybe I am a tad slow - I'm not saying I'm not). What the sole mention of my gripe is about - is that I hate to think that I paid for this useless and unintuitive function, when I have plenty of other, more standard ways to tune up.
All of that being said, I don't mean to sound like I am complaining, because for $1199, I don't think that someone looking for a great sounding live (or not live) Mahogany/Sapele solid-bodied guitar, that is comfortable to play, and has a nice TKL hardcase, could do much better. It is great Bang for the Buck, and I will be using this new Martin on a very regular basis!