Martin D-28 has wowed legendary artists since its release in 1931. And, though it has gone through several modifications and upgrades, it still has that booming sound loved by Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash and a lot more. Playing a D-28 isn’t just playing an outstanding guitar, but also playing a piece of America’s musical history.
For anyone who has a D-28, you’re fortunate to be part of that history. For you to get a glimpse one of the most hailed acoustic guitar, I’m going to share with you my thoughts on its design and construction, performance and playability, and sound.
Image credits: Soundpad UK, Reverb
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- With wider string spacing to accommodate strumming, picking and plucking
- Excellent craftsmanship on every part – a work of art
- Fretboard is made to provide the comfort you need
- Classic tones help you reminisce the good ol’ days
- Doesn’t have pickups onboard, yet, upgradable
- Volume isn’t that loud and impressive
- Aesthetic-wise, it’s not that appealing
Design & Construction
With the classic American design, D-28 has a Sitka Spruce top with a glossy finish. The polished back and sides are made of special solid East Indian rosewood. The back has the Style 28 purfling with multi-strip inlay. This full-sized dreadnought has a Natural finish just like most of the acoustic guitars.
The modified low oval neck with the high-performance taper is made of “select hardwood,” which Martin isn’t clear about. Yet, some sources have specified that the neck of the 2017 version is made of Rosewood. Still, if you research on what hardwood means, it depends on the availability of the material, like mahogany or Spanish Cedar, and even Rosewood, as claimed by one source.
D-28 features an ebony fretboard. What separates this acoustic guitar from the rest in terms of the fretboard is the way it’s being furnished. It uses the Plek processing, in which, as per my research, use a computer fret leveling tool for unparalleled fret job for maximum playability.
Perhaps, you might say that this seems to be mass-produced, given the fact that it uses a machine instead of a skilled luthier. However, you know Martin as a trusted brand ever since its existence in 1833. So, even though the D-28 is made with the aid of a tool, you’re assured of its quality and performance, like the original D-28 hand-made by the best luthier of that time.
The fretboard has undoubtedly excellent playability with its 25.4-inch scale length, 20 frets and Mother-of-Pearl fret inlays. The solid headstock has square taper and diamond which is made of East Indian Rosewood. Still, it has the old-style logo overlay.
Tuning pegs are Nickel open gear with butterbean knobs, which are solid brass, has retro touch and more precise 18:1 ratio. It has the bone nut and compensated bone saddle with faux tortoise pickguard and bridge pin dots. Earlier version of D-28 has 1 11/16-inch nut width, while this one has 1 ¾-inch, in which the 1/16-inch difference can be felt.
Not much bells and whistles, in fact, there are no pickups onboard. However, you can choose to add some electronics like Fishman Gold Plus Natural I or LR Baggs Anthem, since the guitar is designed to accommodate upgrades.
Playability & Performance
A Martin acoustic guitar priced this much guarantees great playability. I may be too bold to say this, but, Martin fans would agree with me. At the first string, the guitar is awesome and well-tuned.
Let me start with the fretboard. Although there’s no sense of expounding the experience because of the Plek system that Martin employs, I’ll just give it a personal touch than just mere theory. Holding the guitar seems to be very comfortable and indeed the fretboard is well-crafted.
The neck, though not specified what material it’s made of, is very comfortable to play. The action is spot-on, which is perfect with the ebony fretboard. It gives lesser room for mistakes and more enjoyable time to play the guitar. If you want to use lighter strings, you can lower the action, which can be easily done.
Going up and down the pleked fretboard gives you no troubles at all. No sharp edges, nor inconsistency of the finish – everything is well-made – thanks to the Plek system. The neck’s matte finish also gives a good compromise between grip and flexibility.
Bridge string spacing is around 2 5/32-inch – just perfect for fingerstyle playing. With just the right string-to-string separation, whether strumming or plucking the guitar, you can achieve a great sound quality, just like the way it feels.
Honestly, the guitar isn’t lightweight and has noticeable weight. But, because the fretboard and neck profile are just among the most comfortable profiles of a guitar, D-28 becomes a very playable piece of art.
Now, the real deal for me is the sound it produces. While the playability is a major surprise to D-28, you can say that the sound is outstanding.
If you are interested in how the Martin D-28 really sounds, think about the great acoustic guitars in the history. Roll them into one and you can describe how the guitar sounds. It’s a guitar that gives you a balanced sound, which will also give you a quintessential sound – not too bassy or trebly.
The new bracing and the overall top construction allows strong projection of the guitar. If you play rhythm, you can hear the harmony across the tonal spectrum with clarity. There’s better sustain and notes ringing with a piano-like definition.
Value for Money
If you’ll only judge the looks of the guitar, nothing is special. This is an acoustic guitar, but you have the option to upgrade to include pickups. However, Martin, as a reputable company with a track record of excellence, won’t offer this guitar with a premium price tag for no reason.
Have a closer look at a D-28 and you’ll know what I mean. Compare this guitar to a cheaper acoustic or even acoustic-electric guitar and you’ll know the big difference. From the tip of the headstock down to the edges, you’ll see excellent craftsmanship using high-quality materials.
I would like to highlight the ebony fretboard and the neck profile. Not only do they provide comfort, but they also aid in better performance. You’ll not only have a great guitar, but you are owning a piece of history and an epitome of America’s musical expertise.
So, even if I have to pay twice as much as its current price tag, Martin D-28 is still a worthy investment. Just experience it yourself so you’ll appreciate everything that I’ve said in this review.
Martin D-28 is the only guitar that gives you utmost comfort and tonality, like premium acoustic guitars. The top wood, bracing pattern, sides, and back are well-made to help you achieve an excellent performance. As for the sound quality, it’s unbeatable.
The fretboard is designed with flawless edges to accommodate fast play, while the neck profile is excellent, allowing you to access the upper frets.
For its price, the one thing you can ask for is the pickups. But, don’t worry, it’s upgradable and ready to accommodate some electronics you need. As an acoustic guitar, this is a perfect instrument.
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