Looking to buy a D28

haggardfan1

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I have never played a D-28. But I did own a 70's D-18 for a year or so.
It was a guitar my dad owned at the time he died, and at the time all I got was his guitar, his firearms, and his Bible. His wife at that time was a saint, but she didn't realize her brother-in-law was going to pretty much pilfer everything else my father owned. Anyway.

The D-18 was a fine guitar. He'd had a Martin Thinline installed, and it played and sounded great plugged in or not. I actually played the instrument at his memorial service.

Unfortunately, I sold it in a divorce panic, and have regretted it ever since.
 

rand z

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I wasn't trying to diss Martin's guarantee policy. I altered my post above to clarify somewhat. What some upset people were complaining about with this particular problem was that Martin actually replaced, or offered to replace the bridge with a shallower unit allowing for proper play. These customers didn't feel it was a proper fix and that a neck reset was in order. I suspect the bridge solution was usually sufficient. Perhaps these neck-joint designs should be fitted with shallower bridges from the factory.

I concur - any warranty work I have needed done through a Martin repair shop has been paid for through the warranty. But I have never been able to claim a neck reset, as those were on used/vintage instruments out of warranty.

I went through this process a few years ago.
I love the “reimagined” D-18 and gave serious consideration to purchasing that model, but I am fortunate to own a nice Gibson J-45 and didn’t want to duplicate a mahogany dread.
My search ended in February of 2020 when I found a NOS 2018 Martin HD-28V for sale at a small brick and mortar shop in Murfreesboro, Tn.
I have never regretted that decision, it’s truly an amazing guitar.
The current HD-28 differs from my “V” only in the neck profile and nut width.
I suggest you start your 28 series search with the HD-28.
Then I’d look close at the OM-28. Not a dread, but really cool.

I have a reim
I was sniffing around the Martin dreads recently and made a trip to a local dealer who had a D-18, a D-28, a D-35, and an HD-28 in stock, all from the Standard Reimagined series. The salesman sat me down in the acoustic room and brought me the guitars, one-by-one. It was great to be able to compare them, right on the spot, and revisit models as needed. Shrewdly, he held back the HD-28 as the last one for me to play. As he pulled it out, he put on a sly grin and said, "Mmmm... Now, play this one... I guarantee you won't go back to the others." Holy mackerel!!! Was he ever right. The HD-28 easily jumped out from the bunch, paradoxically as both the bull cannon and the most responsive to light playing.

overallangsm.jpg


Long story short, it went home with me. I am writing up my review of the beast but, darn, you seem like you need help, so HERE it is, a little early but nearly finished.

Bob

My brother had a new HD 28, 18 years ago.

Around the same time, he bought a 1952 D 28, as an investment.

I had a chance to A-B them.

It was close.

The '52 was a bit mellower (no surprise); and the HD was brighter and slightly, bigger sounding.

It played well, and I was greatly impressed with the HD 28.

He eventually sold both, opting for, and buying, the 000 Eric Clapton model.

It was a "comfort" move.

However, I really missed his HD 28.

Martin & Co has had some issues in recent years with binding and necks.

But, I still believe that their quality, guitars and name, will live on.

They truly are "works of art."

You just can't go wrong with a Standard Series Martin Guitar!

Good luck!!!

imo.
 
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Wildeman

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I have a '71 D28, it's an ongoing project. I need to put the new pickguard on it now. It's got all kinds of bumps and bruises but it's a cannon, I love it. It's got bluegrass action (high) and the saddle is as low as it can be, I won't shave the bridge so a reset will be in order, it plays okay for now though, intonation is fine.
IMG_20221116_102340044.jpg
its beat but sweet😉
A straight braced, rosewood bridge plate D28 was good enough for Jimmy Page, so.....
Screenshot_20221205-084407~2.png
 
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EpicureanWriter

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I was sniffing around the Martin dreads recently and made a trip to a local dealer who had a D-18, a D-28, a D-35, and an HD-28 in stock, all from the Standard Reimagined series. The salesman sat me down in the acoustic room and brought me the guitars, one-by-one. It was great to be able to compare them, right on the spot, and revisit models as needed. Shrewdly, he held back the HD-28 as the last one for me to play. As he pulled it out, he put on a sly grin and said, "Mmmm... Now, play this one... I guarantee you won't go back to the others." Holy mackerel!!! Was he ever right. The HD-28 easily jumped out from the bunch, paradoxically as both the bull cannon and the most responsive to light playing.

overallangsm.jpg


Long story short, it went home with me. I am writing up my review of the beast but, darn, you seem like you need help, so HERE it is, a little early but nearly finished.

Bob
I was looking for a Martin and went to a local shop just wanting to try a few. They had 1 HD-28 (2022) and I sat for an hour and played it, bought it the next day. It is the best guitar I've ever played/owned.
 

bluecrab4x4

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I'm finding myself in a position to buy a Martin D-28. I have a’76 D-18 that I gave to my son. I have felt the need for a D size Martin ever since. I’m looking for opinions. My D-18 was a wonderful guitar despite the bad rap seventies Martins have. The question is do I buy new or look for a good used one. And what era is the best value?

Hi Bob- if you are thinking about going the new route, you might want to take a drive up to Manchester NH and check out the Music Mill. I believe they have a pretty big stock of new instruments and will let you a/b away to your heart's content. It is pretty low-pressure sales environment.
Music Emporium of course is also a great shop. Not sure what is closer down your way.

When I bought my 00-15M at the Music Mill earlier this year I spent a couple of hours comparing OO vs OOO models. Once I decided on the 00-15M model I played 3 different ones before I chose the one that sounded best and the sales guy let me just keep picking away until I was done.

In terms of warranty, I can vouch that Martin really stands by their instruments. I had a beautiful '69 D-28 that I bought new and when the neck needed a reset and a new pickguard, they covered everything under warranty once I tracked down my original bill of sale.
 

Chuck Stoat

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I don't know the answer but this seems like a good question to need to answer for yourself!

One thing I was thinking was that if you can afford to take a trip to Nashville you might get the chance to play as many examples as possible both new and used in one place. Fun!
 

telemaster03

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In 2019 I was on the lookout for an HD-28 Herringbone, and Musician's Friend had a Martin "Special 28 Style Adirondack Herringbone VTS" marked down to $2,599 so I picked one up. A couple months later they had them again, this time marked down to $2,199. Dangit. I really like mine but I've had a couple cork sniffers tell me it's not a real HD. I couldn't care less, it sounds great and plays well.

I just looked on MF and that same guitar is now "on sale - $300 off", for $3,599. Yikes!

Good luck with your search.

 

CoolBlueGlow

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I have one of those much disparaged late 70's early 80's Martin dreadnaughts... An HD-28 which I bought brand new for my late father. I believe it was in about 1980. I even bought it MAIL ORDER, from a catalogue from Music Emporium, and that was back in the day when you had to send a MONEY ORDER to them by MAIL. :) How's that for blind faith?

It was a pretty nice looking classic Martin guitar when it arrived, but it always had some intonation and action issues which caused me to be just a little disappointed.

Bottom line, it needed a bridge reset which I finally did and which solved both intonation and action issues. Now, 40 years on, it now sounds absolutely wonderful. I've used it for years and years in studio and live. It truly sounds amazingly good, like a lot of "good" Martins that have gracefully aged into beautiful tone.

Since it came into its own, I have done direct A/B comparisons against a substantial number of very expensive Martins, old and new. I've also been lucky enough to be able to compare it to quite a few "pick your favorite brand" boutique guitars too.

Inevitably, my despised old junker 1980 Martin HD-28 compares well, generally equals or sometimes outshines what are supposed to be "better" guitars in those direct in person one-player comparisons. Much to their embarassment, this observation comes from the (sometimes begrudging) admission of the expensive boutique guitar owners. Generally, I've "innocently" asked them to perform an A/B comparison for me, it was not a pissing contest.

So in my experience, a guitar either sounds good, or it doesn't. It also plays well, or it doesn't. If it doesn't sound good figure out why. The answer may be it is just never going to sound good, and there isn't much you can do about that but maybe wait - if you have the years left to do that.

If it plays poorly, that may or may not be able to be fixed.

But in both cases, my advice is simple. Tell yourself the truth. My 1980 HD-28 sounded only fair because of intonation errors, and played somewhat poorly because the action was high. But it was quality wood in a traditional design that has shown itself to have few faults. I deemed the intonation/action issues as fixable. I fixed them. Now it intones well, plays well, and the wood has aged into something really special.

IMO, don't buy a brand, buy what you play and hear. When testing, tell yourself the truth. Of course, this technique is predicated on knowing what "good" actually is.

Then decide, can the errors be fixed? You can't fix crummy wood, or idiot stylistic design trends. You maybe can fix bad setup.

Whatever you do, don't let the boutique price tag, or the brand, or the hype or the noise of the Guitar Center (or wherever) determine or distract you from judging the instrument's actual qualities.
 

Richdonn

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Used and new Martin's will eventually need a neck reset. If you are going to keep it, say, 25 years, it will need it. My 73 D41 did and was fixed under warranty by the factory.
 

Boreas

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I don't know the answer but this seems like a good question to need to answer for yourself!

One thing I was thinking was that if you can afford to take a trip to Nashville you might get the chance to play as many examples as possible both new and used in one place. Fun!
Another thought - and a shorter trip - would be to head to Nazareth and try them at the factory. IIRC, they have a couple playing rooms in their showroom where you can just sit down and play about anything they have available to play. Now, these will be fairly new instruments and not vintage, which could be found in Nashville. But it would be a good first stop on the trip! And you can take the tour to boot.

CAVEAT: Since "that which cannot be mentioned" started a couple years ago, this policy may have changed. I would call the Martin Store/Showroom first and verify that customers can still do this.
 

zombywoof

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Buy used.

Seventies Martins get a bad rap for a reason: Sudden post-Woodstock demand led to some gruesome shortcuts. But that doesn't mean don't get one. It means get one at a low price. Problems to look for:

- Cheesy, deteriorating bridge plate (replace: not so expensive)
Everybody should read John Greven's article "Martins, Myths and Other Nonsense" in which he points out that no builder made changes purely for tone. They made them to solve an engineering problem which more often as not revolved around avoiding having guitars sent back for warranty work which was a major drag on the bottom line of any company.

The problem with Martin bridge plates was they went with oversized rosewood plates to replace the traditional maple plates. When it comes to bridge plates size matters. And these appeared before Woodstock.

You also did not mention the tube truss rods which many were not crazy about and which also came about before Woodstock. Dan Erlewine though has come up with a way to insert a carbon rod in them.

But the 1970s were not exactly what most would call a "golden age" for Martins. And that would go double for Gibsons. If there was a shining star out there it was Guild.
 
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Whitebeard

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I'm finding myself in a position to buy a Martin D-28. I have a’76 D-18 that I gave to my son. I have felt the need for a D size Martin ever since. I’m looking for opinions. My D-18 was a wonderful guitar despite the bad rap seventies Martins have. The question is do I buy new or look for a good used one. And what era is the best value?
I've owned two Martins, a 1969 0018 Mahogany and a 2002 00028 Indian Rosewood. The tonal characteristics between the two is significant and I don't think the 33-year difference between manufacturing dates is as much the cause as the difference between the mahogany and the rosewood and maybe a little due to the different body depths. I sold the 0018 many years prior to buying the 00028 so I never did a one compared to the other tone test, but I do have a professionally recorded sample of the 0018 that I used on a song recorded in 1971 and I still have the 00028. The 0018 had a beautiful, clear tone where the 00028 is deeper but IMO not as pretty. I took a quick look on-line and found a 2015 D18 Golden Era originally purchased from Gruhn Guitar in Nashville by a pro-bassist on tour. It's in immaculate condition with no scratches anywhere. It comes with hard shell case and free shipping for $2,550.00. https://www.ebay.com/itm/2755587803...2ygSAr0jl75eVRI6BpPW1sZjD+|tkp:Bk9SR7qc876cYQ
 

telebanjo

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Well, I’ve got a 68’ D28 and while it has got a great tone, it’s not real loud or “boomy” so I was in Music Outlet in Sevierville TN while the wife was at the mall. They have custom Martins as well as the standards of all models hanging in their large ”Martin nook area” . I was going from an HD to a D and so on when I was handed an aged authentic.
What a game changer. It had the older tone but with the tone came a huge volume. You could play it softly and the tone was still there or you could push it and it responded in a massive way.
Now I would go back and forth with an HD or a std or custom D they were all good, all with a little different voice of course (different trees) but as soon as I picked the Authentic up, I was sold. While it is expensive, if I were looking for a lifetime guitar especially for bluegrass where you are competing with a banjo, then this is the guitar. If it was more of a balance between flatpicking and fingerpicking I’ll use my ‘68 because the authentic is a really thick neck especially from the 5th fret up. Smaller hands here.
Take it from an old guy here with way too many guitars I’ve collected down through the years, and being as I’m in the 4th quarter, when you pick one up and your not impressed within 20 seconds, hang her back up. Don’t sit and try to like it, your ear and playability will tell you if it’s the right one.
 

Bob M

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Hi Bob- if you are thinking about going the new route, you might want to take a drive up to Manchester NH and check out the Music Mill. I believe they have a pretty big stock of new instruments and will let you a/b away to your heart's content. It is pretty low-pressure sales environment.
Music Emporium of course is also a great shop. Not sure what is closer down your way.

When I bought my 00-15M at the Music Mill earlier this year I spent a couple of hours comparing OO vs OOO models. Once I decided on the 00-15M model I played 3 different ones before I chose the one that sounded best and the sales guy let me just keep picking away until I was done.

In terms of warranty, I can vouch that Martin really stands by their instruments. I had a beautiful '69 D-28 that I bought new and when the neck needed a reset and a new pickguard, they covered everything under warranty once I tracked down my original bill of sale.
I’ve bought guitars and amps there before. They are on my list!
 

Boreas

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It should be noted that all D-28s are not the same. I believe scalloped bracing went away around WW2, and didn't come back until the HD-28 in the mid 70s. So many D-28s were not the same cannons as the HD-28 and newer versions with scalloped bracing. This is really something to pay attention to with all Martins. Both top thickness and bracing patterns have changed over the years. Some models, like the D-35 had a thinner top. I don't know if they still do. And as others have mentioned, bridge plates are different. IIRC, the HD-28 returned to a maple bridge plate in the 70s as well. So know what you are playing when making comparisons.
 

knavel

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In 2019 I was on the lookout for an HD-28 Herringbone, and Musician's Friend had a Martin "Special 28 Style Adirondack Herringbone VTS" marked down to $2,599 so I picked one up. A couple months later they had them again, this time marked down to $2,199. Dangit. I really like mine but I've had a couple cork sniffers tell me it's not a real HD. I couldn't care less, it sounds great and plays well.

I just looked on MF and that same guitar is now "on sale - $300 off", for $3,599. Yikes!

Good luck with your search.

I bought one of those Special HD28s as well, mine was marked down to $2150-ish because it was open box. I saw the non HD Special 28s on sale new for around $2500 but I don't recall seeing the herringbone ever after. I also bought the Special 18 for like $1900 on a stupid deal.

I know that they will need an explanation to sell one day, but the Adirondack and VTS features on them are very high end. The only two things I don't like about them are the 1'' 11/16th nut and the Grover Rotomatic tuners.

For the OP, a Special 28 is something to keep an eye on in the second hand market as the Guitar Center/Martin deal obviously had a term that MF and GC couldn't advertise the instruments as "D" anything, such as "D-28", etc. They are even stamped "Special" on the neck block under the serial number. Could get a decent deal.
 

Charlie Bernstein

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Everybody should read John Greven's article "Martins, Myths and Other Nonsense" in which he points out that no builder made changes purely for tone. They made them to solve an engineering problem which more often as not revolved around avoiding having guitars sent back for warranty work which was a major drag on the bottom line of any company.

The problem with Martin bridge plates was they went with oversized rosewood plates to replace the traditional maple plates. When it comes to bridge plates size matters. And these appeared before Woodstock.

You also did not mention the tube truss rods which many were not crazy about and which also came about before Woodstock. Dan Erlewine though has come up with a way to insert a carbon rod in them.

But the 1970s were not exactly what most would call a "golden age" for Martins. And that would go double for Gibsons. If there was a shining star out there it was Guild.
That's why (if I remember right) I said Woodstock era rather than after Woodstock.

Anyhow, yup, Guild has never had a bad decade.
 

RLee77

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I was sniffing around the Martin dreads recently and made a trip to a local dealer who had a D-18, a D-28, a D-35, and an HD-28 in stock, all from the Standard Reimagined series. The salesman sat me down in the acoustic room and brought me the guitars, one-by-one. It was great to be able to compare them, right on the spot, and revisit models as needed. Shrewdly, he held back the HD-28 as the last one for me to play. As he pulled it out, he put on a sly grin and said, "Mmmm... Now, play this one... I guarantee you won't go back to the others." Holy mackerel!!! Was he ever right. The HD-28 easily jumped out from the bunch, paradoxically as both the bull cannon and the most responsive to light playing.

overallangsm.jpg


Long story short, it went home with me. I am writing up my review of the beast but, darn, you seem like you need help, so HERE it is, a little early but nearly finished.

Bob
Excellent review! Thanks for sharing.
 




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