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Martin D-28 Review

By Edited Sep 24, 2015 1 0

Ever since its introduction in the early 1930's, the Martin D-28 dreadnought has been a stellar performer in the Martin Guitar line. With a back and sides constructed of Indian Rosewood and a top of fine Sitka Spruce, this classic giant has been a favorite guitar for nearly every flatpick and fingerstyle guitarist since the introduction of it in the 1930's. The Martin D-28 is also known as the 'D-28 bone', after the classic herringbone purfling that graces the guitar back, top, and center detail of the back.

Guitar Features: 9.0 Stars

The D-28's have very simple, clean detailing and are nicely appointed. Because of this simplicity the saying 'Less is More' certain does apply to this guitar.

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Martin D-28
n keeping with the simply stated features, the position marker inlays in the fretboard are very conservative as well. The solid ebony fretboard is nicely trimmed with a white colored Boltaron binding. The D-28 , which is known for its herringbone trim around the back and top edges, is also trimmed out with white Boltaron binding.

It is also known for its very well-balanced volume and tone that is attributable to the use of the Sitka Spruce top and East Indian Rosewood back and sides.

You will note that the Sitka Spruce top has a finely spaced grain pattern and does not possess any runout, which weakens the wood. Look for a grain spacing of at least 16/grains per inch. All of the D-28's that I have seen, meet that criteria.

The guitar will give you silky smooth tuning with the high quality, Gotoh Chrome tuners as well. The combination of the black pick guard, rich black ebony fretboard and herringbone trim make for an awesome looking guitar.

Sound Production: 8.0

As compared to the Mahogany guitars, the Martin D-28 has brighter highs, and louder lows, and in general has a very well-balanced tone. You can tell the new guitars are offsprings of the old pre-war herringbones, but they still can't compare to them as those guitars are in a league of their own. Given that this is an outstanding flatpicking guitar (and it is), it also has a great, really 'fat' tone as a fingerstyle guitar too.

As far as flatpicking... The D-28 is pretty much the standard to which other guitars are measured. Even these brand new models.

Martin D-28 (38343)
Action: 8.0 Stars

The experts at Martin Guitars really know their stuff and the guitar plays fantastic as delivered. Personally, I prefer the use of light gauge strings on a guitar though.

I prefer to lower the action on just about any guitar, including thing one as I like very low action and don't play too loudly.

The workmanship detail genuinely shows on how this guitar is setup. This is one of the things the people at Martin genuinely understand about their target consumers, and they do it very well throughout their guitar line.

Durability: 9.0 Stars

I would expect that this guitar will be a very long-lasting product based on my past experience with other Martin guitars. It is complicated to say, because this guitar is new, but construction methods have remained very consistent with all of their guitars.

Exercise fundamental care for this guitar by keeping it clean and wiped down consistency with a cotton or micro-fiber cloth, and Martin Guitar Polish. Do not use lemon oil on this guitar though.

When you purchase a quality, solid wood instrument, even with the best of care and environmental controls, you may still need to eventually deal with some repair issues. With a neck that has fixed reinforcement, the neck may need a reset, and the bridge may additionally require a reset as well, but this issues are often way down the road.

Do not expose this guitar to environmental extremes. Never permit your guitar to be messed with, and use the best guitar stand you can afford.

Being a solid wood instrument, be aware that you need to maintain humidity levels consistent with the shop circumstances in which it was produced. Solve the low humidity problem by investing in a good in-case humidifier, and supplement that with either a good in-room, or whole house humidifier.

Overall Score: 8.8 Stars

The C.F. Martin D-28 has its roots securely planted in bluegrass guitar playing. Although it is hard to dispute its reputation as a bluegrass guitar, it also is widely accepted as a outstanding country, folk and soft rock guitar. This guitar truly has a huge presence with it's stunning Rosewood back and sides, and trimmed with the amazing herringbone purfling, which is the namesake for it being referred to as a 'D-28 Bone' or just a 'Bone'.

There are some major differences from today's guitars as compared to those produced some 75 years ago. A significant change was the vintage D-28's used scalloped bracing for the top bracing while the new models use more traditional top bracing methods.

Another significant change Martin made from the pre-war models is a shift in tonewood. The vintage models were constructed with Brazilian Rosewood backs and sides and Adirondack Red Spruce tops, while the current models utilize Sitka Spruce tops and East Indian Rosewood backs and sides.

This guitar was genuinely popularized by the outstanding bluegrass guitarist Clarence White. He modified his Martin D-28 to have a larger soundhole, and additionally placed a new fretboard on the guitar which overshot the soundhole by about 1 fret.

Tony Rice now owns this guitar, and has carried on the Martin D-28 tradition. C.F. Martin has created that style guitar as one of their standard models by the introduction of the D-28 Clarence White.

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