The Martin D-28 is a dreadnought-style acoustic guitar made by C. F. Martin & Company of Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It is widely regarded amongst luthiers and guitarists alike as being the classic and even iconic American made acoustic guitar.
|Manufacturer||C. F. Martin & Company|
|Body type||Square-shoulder dreadnought|
|Body||Sitka Spruce or Adirondack red spruce top |
Rosewood back and sides
|Natural, Sunburst, Amber|
This guitar is a dreadnought design, a naval term adopted and used by many to describe its larger body dimensions, hence the "D" designation. When first created, the dreadnought guitar was seen as less favorable to the standard, smaller-sized guitars of its time. Sales finally started to take off in 1935, "when they were given a single illustration on page 12 in the company's catalog, opposite a Hawaiian model." The ad read:
- "This is the famous 'Dreadnaught' bass guitar, originated by Martin in 1917 and now modernized for the plectrum style of playing. The extra wide and very deep body produces a tone of great power and smoothness, especially fine for broadcasting or recording. Rosewood body, spruce top, ivoroid edges, re-enforced mahogany neck, ebony fingerboard and bridge, wide frets, polished lacquer finish. Dark top on special order at no extra charge."
Introduced by Martin in 1931, the D-28 is prized for its booming projection and high quality tone. The first batch went wholly to the Chicago Musical Instrument Company, although this "exclusive" deal didn't last for long. Originally built around the Martin D-14 Fret platform, early examples included exotic tone woods, such as Brazilian Rosewood, which is no longer available in large quantities due to deforestation and subsequent treaty controls. Original D28 guitars also used standard materials no longer found in current production models. For example, they had a distinct "herringbone" pattern that lined the top of the guitar. However, this touch was discontinued in 1946, as the German-made materials were no longer available post-World War II. Also the "diamonds and squares" fretboard inlays were reduced to plain dot styling around this time.
D28s were so popular at one point during the 1950s, that customers were waiting two years or more for one. 
Note - starting with the 2017 D-28's Martin has switched to forward shifted X-bracing. The modern D-28 is made of several high quality tone woods, including a solid Sitka spruce or Adirondack red spruce top, Indian rosewood back and sides, and mahogany neck. It uses the classic non scalloped X bracing pattern prior to 2017 pioneered by Martin, along with an ebony bridge and fret board. Much of the construction is still done by hand although in recent years Martin has adopted computer controlled CNC machines to fashion the guitar's neck, and employs automated buffing and polishing machines, while maintaining the overall quality of the finished product. As of 2013, a base model sells for around $2,400 U.S. Older models made in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s can command far greater prices.
The D-28 has been made in several variations over the years, including:
- HD-28: Has scalloped braces, said to give the guitar a more "open" sound than a D-28. Also features the herringbone (or "pre-war") top border and a zigzag, or "zipper" backstrip.
- HD-28V: This variation resembles the original pre-war model and features both chrome butter-bean tuners and herringbone bindings around the aged-toned top. The X of its scalloped bracing pattern is moved closer to the bridge, making the lower bout top vibrate more freely/responsive, and resulting in a very potent and bass-rich guitar.
- D28E: A very limited run version of the D-28 with special pickups placed at the end of the fretboard and near the bridge. While not generally well received, it is considered a collectors item and was notably used by Kurt Cobain in Nirvana's famous 1993 MTV Unplugged performance.
- D12-28: A 12-string version, otherwise the same as its brother the D-28.
Notable users have included Johnny Cash, Eric Clapton, Chris Cornell, Nick Drake, Slim Dusty, Bob Dylan, John Frusciante, Noel Gallagher, Michael Hedges, Ben Howard, Kansas, John Lennon, Chris Martin, John Martyn, Paul McCartney, Marcus Mumford, Harry Nilsson, Jimmy Page, Brad Paisley, Elvis Presley, Tony Rice, Judee Sill, The Supernaturals, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell, Sturgill Simpson, Stephen Stills, Clarence White, Hank Williams, Steve Winwood, Peter Yarrow and Neil Young.
Construction: Mahogany Blocks/Dovetail Neck Joint
Body Size: D-14 Fret
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce or Adirondack red spruce
Rosette: Style 28
Top Bracing Pattern: Standard X
Top Braces: Solid Sitka Spruce 5/16"
Back Material: Solid East Indian Rosewood
Back Purfling: Style 28
Side Material: Solid East Indian Rosewood
Endpiece: White Boltaron
Endpiece Inlay: Black/White Boltaron
Binding: White Boltaron
Top Inlay Style: Multiple Black/White Boltaron
Side Inlay: none
Back Inlay: Black/White Boltaron
Neck Material: Select Hardwood
Neck Shape: Low Profile
Nut Material: Bone
Headstock: Solid/Diamond/Square Taper
Headplate: Solid East Indian Rosewood /Raised Gold Foil
Heelcap: White Boltaron
Fingerboard Material: Solid Black Ebony
Scale Length: 25.4"
Number Of Frets Clear: 14
Number Of Frets Total: 20
Fingerboard Width At Nut: 1-11/16"
Fingerboard Width At 12th Fret: 2-1/8"
Fingerboard Position Inlays: Style 28
Fingerboard Binding: none
Finish Back & Sides: Polished Gloss
Finish Top: Polished Gloss
Finish Neck: Satin
Bridge Material: Solid Black Ebony
Bridge Style: Belly
Bridge String Spacing: 2-1/8"
Saddle: 16" Radius/Compensated/Bone
Tuning Machines: Chrome Enclosed w/ Large Buttons
Recommended Strings: Martin SP Lifespan Phosphor Bronze Medium Gauge (MSP7200)
Bridge & End Pins: White w/ Black Dots
- Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6.
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- Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6.
- Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6.
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- Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6.
- Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6.
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