Dreadnought (guitar type)
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The "Dreadnought" is a type of acoustic guitar body developed by guitar manufacturer C.F. Martin & Company. The Dreadnought style has since been copied by other guitar manufacturers and is now a common style of guitar body.
A body much larger than most other guitars at the time of its creation provided the Dreadnought with a bolder, perhaps richer, and often louder tone. In 1916 the word 'dreadnought' referred to a large, all big-gun modern battleship of the type inaugurated by HMS Dreadnought in 1906. The distinctive marks of a Dreadnought guitar are square shoulders and bottom. The neck is usually attached to the body at the fourteenth fret. This is called "having fourteen frets clear of the body" in luthier's terminology.
Martin Dreadnought guitars are also known as "D-size" guitars, or, colloquially among musicians, as "dreads." Martin Dreadnought guitars have model numbers consisting of "D-" followed by a number, such as "D-18" and "D-45."
The Dreadnought style was originally developed in 1916 and was manufactured by Martin specifically for retailer the Oliver Ditson Company. In 1931, Martin began producing Dreadnought guitars carrying the Martin name. The first two models were the D-1 and D-2, with bodies made of mahogany and rosewood respectively.
The popularity of and demand for Martin Dreadnought guitars was increased by their use, almost exclusively, by folk musicians of the mid-20th century, including most bluegrass guitarists. Today they are considered the standard guitar of bluegrass music, used by many bluegrass musicians to produce a signature sound of that genre.
Martin Dreadnoughts manufactured prior to 1946 are highly desired by musicians due to their loud volume and exceptional tone due to the use of scalloped bracing. It is not uncommon for these guitars to sell for in excess of $30,000.
The Gibson Guitar Company introduced its first square shouldered (similar to the Martin design) dreadnought guitar, the Hummingbird, in 1960, although Gibson's initial response to the Martin Dreadnought was the round shouldered J-35, which it introduced in 1934.
Since then, dreadnoughts have been made by nearly all of the major guitar manufacturers worldwide in both standard and more recently various single cutaway forms.