Martin D-28

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Martin D-28
Manufacturer C. F. Martin & Company
Period 1930–present
Body type Square-shoulder dreadnought
Neck joint Dovetail
Body Sitka Spruce or Adirondack top
Rosewood back and sides
Neck Mahogany
Fretboard Ebony
Bridge Ebony
Colors available
Natural, Sunburst, Amber

The Martin D-28 is a six-string acoustic guitar made by C. F. Martin & Company of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, which was established in 1833. It is widely regarded amongst luthiers and guitarists alike as being the classic and even iconic American made acoustic guitar.


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."[1]

First pioneered by Martin in 1931, the D-28 is prized for its booming projection and high quality tone. The first batch of this guitar went exclusively to the Chicago Musical Instrument Company, although this "exclusive" deal didn't last for long.[1] 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 later treaty controls. Original D28 guitars also used standard materials no longer found in current production models. For example, these guitars included a distinct "herringbone" pattern that lined the top of the guitar. However, this styling of the guitar was only made until 1946 as the materials were made in pre-WWII Germany and couldn't be reproduced elsewhere during and post-war.[2] For various reasons, this "herringbone" version of the guitar (while incredibly similar to the non-herringbone version produced later) will typically be worth more than its non-herringbone variant. Another example of the small differences in the guitar over the years is the replacement from the "diamonds and squares" fretboard inlays to plain dot styling also around this time.[3]

D28s were so popular at one point during the 1950s, that "customers were waiting two years or more for a D-28."[4]

Current models[edit]

The modern D-28 is made of several high quality tone woods, featuring a solid Sitka spruce top, Indian Rosewood back and sides and mahogany neck. It uses the classic non scalloped X bracing pattern 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 modern computer controlled CNC machines to fashion the guitar's neck as well as automated buffing and polishing machines that maintain the overall quality of the finished product.[5] As of 2013, a base model sells for around $2,400 U.S., however many of the older models that were made in the 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s command far greater prices.[6]


The D-28 has been made in several variations over the years, including:

  • HD-28: The HD-28 is similar in many ways to the D-28, with several key differences. The biggest difference is the scalloped braces used in the HD-28.[7] This was said to give the guitar a more "open" sound than its partner the D-28. Cosmetically the guitar also features the herringbone (or "pre-war") top border and a zigzag, or "zipper" backstrip.[8]
  • D28E: A very limited run version of the D-28 with special pickups placed at the end of the fretboard and near the bridge. This guitar is largely viewed as a "mistake" and is considered to be a collectors item although it was notably used by Kurt Cobain in Nirvana's famous 1993 MTV Unplugged performance.[9]
  • D12-28: A 12-string version, otherwise the same as its brother the D-28.[10]

Notable users have included Slim Dusty, John Frusciante, John Lennon, Eric Clapton, Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Clarence White, Tony Rice, Hank Williams, Neil Young, Chris Cornell, Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, Chris Martin, Noel Gallagher, Jimmy Page, Nick Drake, The Supernaturals, Brad Paisley, Ben Howard, Marcus Mumford, Stephen Stills, John Martyn, Michael Hedges, Judee Sill, Steve Winwood, Harry Nilsson, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell and Sturgill Simpson.[11][12]

Guitar specs[edit]

Model: D-28

Construction: Mahogany Blocks/Dovetail Neck Joint

Body Size: D-14 Fret

Top: Solid Sitka 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

Pickguard: Black[5]


  1. ^ a b Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 84. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6. 
  2. ^
  3. ^ Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 91. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6. 
  4. ^ Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 107. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6. 
  5. ^ a b
  6. ^ "Martin D-28 acoustic guitar market price". Guitar Store. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 129. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6. 
  9. ^ Johnston, Richard. Martin Guitars: A History (First ed.). New York: Hal Leonard Books. p. 100. ISBN 978-0-634-03785-6. 
  10. ^
  11. ^
  12. ^