Martin D-28

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Martin D-28
Martin D-28 body left (2011-01-02 by irish10567).jpg
ManufacturerC. F. Martin & Company
Body typeSquare-shoulder dreadnought
Neck jointDovetail
BodySitka Spruce or Adirondack red spruce top
Rosewood back and sides
Colors available
Natural, Sunburst, Amber

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.


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]

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.[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 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.[2] Also the "diamonds and squares" fretboard inlays were reduced to plain dot styling around this time.[3]

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

Current models[edit]

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.[5] 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.[6]


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

  • HD-28: Has scalloped braces,[7] 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.[8]
  • 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 shifted forward (toward the sound hole) by approximately one inch, 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[9]
  • D12-28: A 12-string version, otherwise the same as its brother the D-28.[10]

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, John Prine[11], 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.[12][13]

Guitar specs[edit]

Model: D-28

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

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. ^
  13. ^