School me on the D-18

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by QuickDraw, Jan 29, 2015.

  1. QuickDraw

    QuickDraw Member

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    So I'm changing up my acoustic guitar, for years i've played a martin 000-15ce that I've loved, but it's time to move on. After playing a lot of different guitars from different builders, I seem to like the sound and playability of the Martin D-18 the best. The thing is, there seems to be a wide variation into what D-18 means. Generally it's a martin dreadnaught with a mahogany neck and body with a spruce top. there seem to be subtle differences depending on the year and there are also several models: retro, golden era, authentic, etc... and a wide variation on cost/value.

    It seems a lot like buying a strat, there are many different flavors of strat out there. What are the differences in the various models? anything i should be on the lookout for? Hopefully this will be the last acoustic i purchase, I'm selling several guitars and saving up to make the right purchase. I would like to buy something that holds it's value or increases in value over time, but i have no plans to sell it ever. Probably looking for something used in good condition with no structural cracks. If you have any advice or knowledge I'd be happy to hear it.
     
  2. 56Tweed

    56Tweed Sub-Octave Member Silver Supporting Member

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    Simply said, Martin's model numbers relate to the materials and appointments put into the guitar. As you said, the 18s have mahogany back and sides. The 21s and above will have Rosewood. As you move up you will start to see nicer inlays and additional bling.

    Over time Martin has tweaked their designs and materials. One of the most significant things behind those golden era martins was the old school lighter bracing patterns which can make the top more responsive, but also make it a bit more delicate. With that in mind, Martin offers a number of different variations of the models, like the strat you referenced.

    You can get it done as a modern standard (regular D-18), or in one of the many vintage/heritage/retro configurations. Each one has a different price based on the features, and the list price between the base D-18 and something like the D-18 Authentic 1939 is more than 2x.

    With regards to the "Authentic" instruments, there are some good YouTube videos that cover that line, their features, and approach to them. I think these are the only ones they build that feature the new torrified tops which are intended to provide an aged sound right out of the box.
     
  3. G Man

    G Man Member

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    Martin's website is an excellent resource for the differences in the various versions of any given model. If it were me, and the price didn't matter, D-18 GE all day long. That said, there is nothing wrong with the standard D-18.
     
  4. dnauhei

    dnauhei Member

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    Get a used D-18 Golden Era. Adirondack spruce top, nice neck profile. Every one I have played has been killer. You can probably get one used for around $2k. Well worth it.
     
  5. EricPeterson

    EricPeterson Member

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    These are very, very nice guitars, I have been a long proponent of Rosewood back and sides until I tried a D-18 GE. New they are spendy, but on the used market there are some great deals.


    The recent standard D-18s are nice as well and have scalloped and forward shifted bracing.
     
  6. walterw

    walterw Gold Supporting Member

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    this; it makes them sonically more in line with the spendier GE and other more "vintage" variations; the scalloped and forward-shifted bracing both serve to loosen up the top for a louder, bigger-sounding guitar. you can pick them out by their more amber-shaded top.

    to me, it's now one of the nicest mid-priced guitars martin makes.
     
  7. schwa

    schwa Member

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    Some thoughts:

    The standard D18 is every bit a D18, a very nice guitar.

    I agree that the GE may be an outstanding value, with current GE owners upgrading to the Authentics. I think the GE bracing, Adi top, v neck, 1 3/4" nut, and Waverly tuners are all worthwhile upgrades.
     
  8. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe Member

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    The new D-18 is a great new iteration of one of Martin's iconic models. They scalloped the braces, widened the nut by 1/16 (yes, it makes a difference) but the neck is not as wide at the 12th fret as is the D-18GE (I own one). The neck profile is the newer modified low oval with Performing Artist taper ... while the D-18GE has the mod-V, which some players find to a handful, especially from the 10th fret and up. Other "upgrades" on the new D-18 include bone nut and saddle, and ebony fretboard and bridge (vs rosewood).

    If I didn't already own a GE, I think a modern standard D-18 would suit me just fine.
     
  9. QuickDraw

    QuickDraw Member

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    Thanks everybody! I will seek out some recent standards and GEs to play. When I started the most recent search I was looking at parlor guitars and then looked at a lot of gibsons then moved on to D28s, and the sound I fell in love with was the D18. It's probably the least flashy acoustic but there's something about the sound that makes me say "that's it". I think it's the midrange. Anyways thank you, I'll post back when I pull the trigger, it may be a while. Feel free to add to the discussion.


    Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
     
  10. Taller

    Taller Silver Supporting Member

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    Martin made the mentioned bracing changes to the D18 in 2012. I bought myself a Standard D18 in 2013 and it is an amazing sounding acoustic guitar: Rings like a piano!
    I, too, played several models, including the HD28, and my ear always seemed to prefer the mahogany of the D18.

    If you're wondering where you may find a great deal on a new Martin, may I suggest Maury's Music? I bought mine from them and they have great pricing and thoroughly go over every instrument before shipping.

    http://www.maurysmusic.com/

    Good luck - I hope you enjoy your Martin as much as I've enjoyed mine!
     
  11. xlr8r

    xlr8r Member

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    The current Martin D 18 Authentic's are just crazy good!!
    I have 7 pre-war D 18's and the Authentic's they make today are insane as per tone and build quality!! REALLY close and with some time/ToneRite application--magic!!
    Martin Custom Shop is where the Wizard lives:))
     
  12. koa

    koa Member

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    I highly recommend finding a used D18V. Huge step up from the standards. Every one that I've played including my #1 has been an absolute peach.
     
  13. Rockinrob86

    Rockinrob86 Supporting Member

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    This was the case, until the 2012 changes.

    The new 2012+ d-18s are KILLER guitars. I have a great HD-28, and am seriously thinking about trying to acquire a new 000-18 (they made the same adjustments to those as the d-18s).

    The V series guitars are all something special, as are the GEs. IMO, it really comes down to what size neck you like. I love the V taper, but am not sure it is worth the $500+ difference on a used model, and even more for new ones!
     
  14. Kitten Cannon

    Kitten Cannon Member

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    Threads like these sometimes make me wish I had done more research before buying my Martin. I have a D18E Retro, and while I love the guitar, I hate the pickup system. But I'll be damned if it isn't one of the finest sounding acoustic guitar I've ever played when I play it unplugged. Although to be honest, just using the pickup with none of the weird Fishman acoustic image crap isn't so bad either. I had to take some time setting up my DI and all, but while I've had the guitar since the summer, I only really got to doing that this weekend (most nights I've just continued using my J35). Now that I've taken the time, I have to admit it sounds pretty good plugged in, too, but that was one gig. We'll see if that was real or a fluke.

    It cost me a '62 J45-ADJ and a couple hundred bucks (don't worry, the J45 wasn't pristine or anything). It was a real load off my mind to get rid of a guitar that needed so much regular maintenance.
     
  15. Petimar

    Petimar Member

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    There is nothing like a WWII D18, especially the 1943's
     
  16. RustyAxe

    RustyAxe Member

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    My buddy has an OM-28e, and loves the new pickup system. I used his guitar at an open mic tonight, and liked it, too. I think you need to spend more time with it.
     
  17. Kitten Cannon

    Kitten Cannon Member

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    Not sure it's the same. Mine has the aura system built in, and if I need to spend more time to make it sound right, then that's reason enough not to like it. I hate tweaking stuff. I just want it to sound good, like my guitar when it's not plugged in. I don't have this issue with my J35, which is why I use hat guitar most nights.
     
  18. frquent flyer

    frquent flyer Member

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  19. GGinMP

    GGinMP Supporting Member

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    Which D-18's have non-V necks? I prefer medium-thick C necks, but slightly thinner is also OK. The V necks tend to aggravate arthritis in my hand/wrist area. Thanks!
     
  20. Truckstop

    Truckstop Member

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    Got some questions too about the D-18.

    I'm currently looking for a higher end mahogany dreadnought. Been looking for a Collings D1 (and dreaming of a D1A).

    Got an offer for a Martin D-18 1937 Authentic yesterday. The specs sheet looks excellent, all though I'm a little concerned about the T-bar truss rod. I live in Norway where the degree of humidity is, to say the least, everchanging. We got a lot of weather.The offer is close to the price of a new Collings D1, and both guitars (Collings and hi-end Custom Shop Martins) are not the easiest one to get around here (only one dealer of Collings guitars and most dealers of Martin acoustics don't stock anything over a HD-28).

    Anyone with a non-adjustable truss rod acoustic here that, like me, live in a 'non-friendly acoustic climate'?
     

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