Martin D-18 vs. D-28

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by daacrusher2001, May 25, 2008.

  1. daacrusher2001

    daacrusher2001 Silver Supporting Member

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    Hi,

    I recently went to the Martin Guitar Factory for a tour (you should do this if you haven't ever been there)...

    While there, I played a Martin D-18GE, which I thought had amazing sound qualities. I had never played or seen one before. Unfortunately, it's really expensive.

    I've been considering purchasing a D-28 for some time now, but I'm now wondering if a D-18 would be a better choice.

    I was just wondering what the difference is between the two models. Are the body styles somehow different? I can't really tell...

    I'm not trying to compare the GE with the base D-28, as I know some of the big differences there. Just wondering from a model perspective how different the 18 style is from the 28?

    Any thoughts/comments?
     
  2. K-man

    K-man Supporting Member

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    D-18 Mahogony back and sides
    D-28 Rosewood back and sides

    To my ears the rosewood has a more harmonically dense sound. The mahogony sounds clearer, more piano like.

    The D-28 also has fancier appointments (binding etc.).

    The golden era guitars are supposed to be fantastic, although I have never played one. If you are looking for a more affordable model I would look at the vintage series (D-18V or D-28V) over the standard models.
     
  3. cottoneyedjoe

    cottoneyedjoe Member

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    I have owned a D-18, and currently own an HD-28v. My Father owns a D-18GE.

    There are many differences between the standard, V, and GE series.

    However, the main differences between the D-18 and the D-28 are the difference between rosewood back and mahogany back (and sides).
    The standards have standard bracing, where the v series has scalloped, forward shifted bracing. The difference in sound is that there is a little more bass and openess to the v series.

    I used my D-18 mostly for flatpicking. It has a sharp attack with less harmonic overtones than a 28 would have. The HD-28v I use for bandwork for its harmonic overtones which fill out nicely. You can use a 18 for band work it cuts through the mix a little more.

    Don't be sold on the fact that some people will tell you a 28 is better than an 18. This is bullhockey. They are in the same league, just different appointments. I know many, many players that favor 18s over 28s any day of the week. My Father is one of them. Some people like the bite of mahogany. Some people like the flavor of rosewood.

    For instance, Tony Rice plays rosewood exclusively. Whereas Doc Watson favors mahogany most of the time.

    The one thing I like is that a Martin sounds like a Martin. For me it was the sound of the early Crosby, Stills, and Nash records that sold me on that sound. I can't play anything else now. Sorry. I just can't.
     
  4. slopeshoulder

    slopeshoulder Senior Member

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    what he said.
     
  5. Joe Boy

    Joe Boy Member

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    Well writen Joe. I've had both and wish I still had the 18.
    The 28 for me is pretty much perfect, but miss that old mahogany beauty.
    If I had the $$ I'd find a Collings and be one happy camper.
     
  6. usc96

    usc96 Member

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    Get the D18 now, and hold out for a D41 special when going for a rosewood guitar. That way you've got a nice mahogany covered, and won't be trading up, but rather supplementing, later. ;)
     
  7. sinner

    sinner Member

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    I also like the mahogany back and sides of the D18. I also like the nice old round style necks on a Martin. I had a newer D18-GE and didn't like the slight V neck. I believe the D18V also have the V necks. The GE did sound amazing but the feel was off for me.
     
  8. daacrusher2001

    daacrusher2001 Silver Supporting Member

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    To everyone...thanks for all of your insights and thoughts on these guitars.

    I played a D-28 recently and was very impressed with the sound. But when I played that D-18GE, I was equally impressed with the sound, and oddly enough, I liked the feel of the V shaped neck.

    I did notice on the Martin web site that the V neck is available on the vintage series. I think I need to try that V neck again, and compare it to the D-28.

    They are pricey, but I figure if I'm going to play I may as well play a quality instrument. I don't currently own an acoustic, but lately have been playing some songs that sound better on an acoustic. Plus I wanted to try to do some finger picked blues...

    Well...best case I get a Martin sometime soon, worst case I get to try them all out over time and then get one...;)
     
  9. IIIBOOMERIII

    IIIBOOMERIII Member

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    All HD-28s have scalloped bracing. And there is a drastic
    differance between a D-18 and an HD-28. Maybe not so
    much a differance between a D-18 and a D-28. The bottom
    end on an HD is HUGE and rich. The entire instrument vibrates,
    it is a beautiful thing. HDs feel absolutly alive in your hands and
    you can feel them vibrate against your body. They are in a
    class by themselves.

    If you can not hear and feel the differance between the D-18,
    the D-28, and the HD-28, I just dont know what to tell you.

    [​IMG]
     
  10. chaz

    chaz Supporting Member

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    Go out and play them all 'till you find what suits you best. Then look for a used one. You'll save significant $$'s over new, especially during these hard times.
     
  11. Rotten

    Rotten Silver Supporting Member

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    I play a D-18 Authentic in DADGAD. I play solo fingerstyle (with a thumbpick). Although Mahogany is not known for its harmonic complexity and low end oomph like rosewood, it has all that I could ask for. I also have a Collings with a rosewood back. Excellent sound. I think you just have to play a bunch and find one that you like.
     
  12. rhythmeister

    rhythmeister Member

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    There's something else that is very important that you need to be aware of. That D-18GE you played has an Adirondack spruce top. The regular D-18 and D-28 have Sitka tops. For me, this is absolutely critical. An Adirondack top on a good guitar to me sounds like heaven. I find Sitka, by comparison, to be dull tonally. The bad news is that guitars with Adirondack tops usually cost a fair bit more.

    I think in this case, the differences between the spruce tops are every bit as important as the different back/sides wood (in my own opinion the top wood is quite a bit more important when comparing the tone than back/sides).

    Cheers,
    Blair
     
  13. Bhodie

    Bhodie Member

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    Wow.. timing is everything. I just picked up a D18 at GC on their Memorial Day sale.. an 2001 in great shape for $950 w/case. I played it back to back with the rosewood, and decided I liked the even sound of the mahogany better than the "brighter" (at least to my ears) sound of the rosewood. Even though he would have made me a great deal on the rosewood.... (just for reference, I also liked the Eric Clapton model they had.. but he couldnt make THAT good a deal)

    But then, I cut my teeth on CSN, late 60's protest stuff, etc and that sound is kind of planted in my brain.. and the D18 came the closest to "that" sound.

    And to think I went in to get a 335... life is definitely funny!
     
  14. go7

    go7 Member

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    Well.. Congrats are in order.You have a great guitar! I played many Martins and ended up getting an 000-28EC. Played about 10 of this model in 2 cities.This one was noticeably better to me.Enjoy!
     
  15. daacrusher2001

    daacrusher2001 Silver Supporting Member

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    So, I found a store near me that had the D-18, D-28, and HD-28. All had good sound, but all different. The D-18 seemed brighter, more Taylor-like. I liked the D-28, but I have to admit, the HD was the best of the three.

    I agree with IIIBOOMERIII, it's an amazing instrument. I need to play them again and see what I want to do.

    It's only money, right? 8^)
     
  16. Bhodie

    Bhodie Member

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    I have to mention (and you probably all are aware of this, but compared to my electrics.. this is new to me) how much difference strings make on the acoustic.. I changed the strings from whatever the old ones on the D18 were to a new set of Pearse Phosphor bronze 12-54.. and yeoww.. what a difference. The tone is still "even" but somewhat brighter.. more "airy". I have not tried them yet, but people also tell me the 80/20 's are significantly different again.. maybe more "traditional"..

    So, before you plunk down the dough.. I would sure have them string the intended victim up with whatever strings you want to use... and even on two finalists at least with the same sets of strings..
     
  17. Steve Gambrell

    Steve Gambrell Member

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    It also takes an Adirondack top YEARS to play in. Sitka, not so much. The decision for the body wood is strictly. Tony Rice is playing Clarence White's old D-28 some these days---But Clarence played most of his lead work on an -18, and later, a Roy Noble mahogany. And it seems that ALL the young bluegrass hotshots nowadays are either playing old D-18's, or somebody's custom mahogany dreadnaught. The mahogany cuts better on the treble strings, which is where these "young guns" like to play. But a good 50 or 60 year old rosewood box will steam 'em, about every time.
     
  18. avincent52`

    avincent52` Member

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    It's like we're arguing that a sauvignon blanc is better than a pinot noir.

    A D-28 and D-18 have very different tonal palattes, and it depends on your ear and your playing style.

    FWIW, I think the D-18 GE (and OM-18 GE /000-18GE) is about the best thing that Martin's building at a reasonable price these days. FWIW, I think that drednoughts, especially scalloped braced dreds, tend to be kind of unbalanced tonally, and mahogany does a nice job of offsetting that.

    If I were you, I'd go over to the Martin forum (www.umgf.com) and wait for a nice D-18GE to come along in the classifieds. It's got a great neck, great top, great bracing pattern, which are just as important as at the back and sides wood.
     
  19. pitner

    pitner Member

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    My 68 D-18 is the best sounding guitar I ever played. I would put it against any rosewwod guitar, any year, any brand and still be better or at least in the ballpark. I 'm on my 6th Martin since 1967 and finally went with the 18. Voiced nicely for flat picking and lead work.
     
  20. KennyM

    KennyM Member

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    My opinions are mainly centered around recording.

    The 28's are great and are huge sounding which is why I love these for playing live because they're such canons. In the studio however, i always end up rolling out that great hugeness to make them work in the track.

    A D18 on the other hand and my actual favorite recording acoustic 00-18 doesn't have to have a lot rolled out of it to make it work in the track. In fact when you eq the D28 you end up with a lot of what the D18 and 00-18 sound like naturally. This makes those guitars more of value to me.

    Still, for sitting in a club playing acoustic guitar a D28 or other Rosewood Dreadnought can't be beat.
     

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