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The Martin Dreadnaught Guitar started in 1934 with the D-28 and the D-18 Model. The D-28 Model was made with rosewood back and sides, adirondack spruce top, herringbone trim with forward bracing. The D-18 Model was mahogany back and sides with adirondack spruce top with forward bracing.
These guitars have become the so called holy grail with a tone that is very difficult to find in other guitar. They are very rare in any condition, but especially in original condition. The other pre war model was the D-45 with only 91 produced.
There were changes made in the Martin dreadnaught guitars throughout the years between 1934 and 1946. In addition to bracing changes from forward to back bracing, the years until 1944 were scalloped braced guitars. The guitars in 1945 and 46 were not scalloped, or at least most of them were not. There have been surprises with certain years having scalloped bracing.
The herringbone trim were on all D-28 Guitars from 1934-1946, but most of the tops on the 1945 & 1946 were sitka spruce instead of Adirondack. There have also been a few surprises with tops as well.
The other rare feature on some of these great guitars is that some of them had a shade top (a sunburst), but Martin called them Shade top guitars. There is a limited number of these guitars for sure, and when you find one, it has a premium price tag.
The Martin Dreadnaught Guitar has been favored especially by players in the Bluegrass Community. The sound and tone of these guitars is sharp and cutting to be heard with no amplification.
Many Bluegrass Icons are known for there Pre War Martin Guitars. Tony Rice, Del McCoury,
Dan Tyminski, Lester Flatt, Clarence White (Same Guitar that is owned by Tony Rice), and many others.
In 1947 the guitars changed a lot more. The binding changed on the D-28 from the Herringbone trim to a layered black white black style which still remains on D-28 model. In the late 1970’s Martin introduced the HD-28 which had the Herringbone trim and kept the D-28 model as well.
Martin also changed from the T-bar truss rod to an adjustable truss rod in the early 1980’s. This feature allowed someone to adjust the neck of the guitar without doing what is referred to as a neck re-set. This is a feature is welcomed by some, but the more traditional Bluegrass Players prefer the T-bar.
The T-bar was made of steel except for the 1944 and 1945 year models. This was then changed to ebony because of the shortage of metal during World War II.
There are other Martin dreadnaught models that have been added throughout the years, The D-35 with a 3 piece back, the D-41, D-42 and many other custom models. But the D-18 and D-28 have remained at the top in demand.
Many other guitar manufactures have replicated the pre war Martin. Some have done an amazing job at producing great sounding instruments, but it all started with Martin.Vintage Guitars