Martin D-28 Review: The Perfect Pro Acoustic Guitar?

Martin acoustic guitars are known for their uncompromising, top-tier, hand-made quality. The Martin D-28 is an iconic guitar that lives up to its reputation and is known to be a popular ‘workhorse’ guitar by professional guitarists.

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Martin D28 guitar

This acoustic guitar has a classic sound, is gorgeous to play, and looks fantastic, taking advantage of all the guitar-making expertise the Martin factory has to offer. If you’re looking for a professional-grade acoustic, I think the Martin D-28 could be a prime choice – but with its high price tag, you’re going to want to make sure it’s 100% the right choice, which I’ll help you work out in this article.

At this price range, you’re not buying on a whim, and you need to make sure that you’re buying a guitar that you’ll love for years to come (Which, let’s be honest, you probably will with the D-28).

I’ll be giving my in-depth analysis and review of the Martin D-28. I have a lot of experience with this guitar, and I’m a big fan, although it might not be for everyone!

This guitar was the #1 choice in our best high-end acoustic guitar comparison, so you won’t be surprised to hear we are big fans!

To summarize, I think this guitar is truly beautiful in feel, sound, and looks – but let’s get stuck in with the details.

Best Martin D-28 Variations

There are several versions of the Martin D-28, each coming with variations and different price tags.

Martin D-28 – Overview

Close up of the Martin D28 guitar

The Martin D-28 is a high-end, full-sized acoustic guitar with a dreadnought body shape. It uses a selection of high-quality woods, including East Indian rosewood back and sides and a Sitka Spruce top. The Ebony fretboard comes with 20 frets and has a wide, comfortable profile.

With an extensive heritage dating back to its release in 1931, this guitar design has endured nearly a century of technological evolution, which just proves how perfect it really is.

The Martin D-28 stands out thanks to its superior craftsmanship and attention to detail, hand-made construction, and sweet, balanced tone. It’s also been used by many famous musicians, including John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Johnny Cash, and countless other household names – surely an honest testament to its quality.

You can find this guitar with a range of optional electronic pickups installed (if you’re looking for an electro-acoustic guitar), such as the Fishman Gold Era, Fishman Infinity, or a range of other pickups. You can find it with gloss, natural matte, or a satin finish.

Why I Like It

  • Loud, articulate, and clean tone projection thanks to bracing and shape.
  • Comfortable and easy to play.
  • Warm, rich harmonics, with wide dynamics.
  • Iconic – Played by countless guitar heroes for nearly a century.

What I Think Could Be Improved

  • The price – it’s out of reach for many players, but still worth the money.
  • Dreadnought body shape is not for everyone – some prefer a cutaway.
  • Slightly plain-looking.

Average Rating: 4.7/5

Features & Benefits

This guitar is very highly rated across all factors. It’s clearly stood the test of time, and has built a large, loyal following over the decades. Let’s break it down into more detail.

Construction & Materials – 5/5

Back side of the Martin D28 guitar

I would say that Martins are like the Rolex watch of the guitar world. These are luxury, premium guitars that are highly sought after, iconic, and made with the finest craftsmanship.

The material and construction quality of the D-28 lives up to this reputation. As soon as I picked up our test model, I could tell that it’s not your standard acoustic.

In terms of materials, this guitar uses a range of different woods for each part – each of which is specifically selected for the optimal physical and acoustic properties needed for the specific components.

The soundboard (top wood) is made from Sitka Spruce, which is chosen for its high resonance and dynamic range. This creates clear high-frequency tones, and rich, deep lows, giving a perfect balance across the frequency spectrum. The resonance also helps with volume and projection, and I could instantly hear that this guitar is a fair bit louder than other acoustics of a similar style.

East Indian Rosewood back and sides enhance the stability and durability of the body, but also contribute a rich, warm tone and resonance which adds some complexity and depth to the guitar’s harmonic character. The use of high-quality Rosewood enhances the guitar’s projection and sustain, maximizing the volume.

Sound aside, the gorgeous grain patterns add to the overall beauty and luster of the D-28’s visual aesthetic.

Neck of the Martin D28 guitar

The D-28 typically features a Mahogany neck. This hardwood boosts the sustain and feels incredibly smooth and playable in the hands. I find Martin’s current low-profile neck design very comfortable, it’s wide and easy to navigate and seems to fit just perfectly in the hand.

Usually, these guitars come with an Ebony fingerboard, which has a dark luster but also enhances the clarity, definition, and articulation of the guitar’s tone refining the overall sonic superiority. With Scalloped bracing under the soundboard, the D-28 can vibrate more freely and optimize responsiveness and articulation control.

The overall aesthetic is quietly refined and stylishly understated. This isn’t a showy guitar, but it’s very sleek still and is packed with authentic vintage appointments like the open gear tuners, an aging toner top, and a faux tortoise pickguard. I really like the understated design personally.

All of these elements are combined with precise and masterful craftsmanship, and no corners have been cut. I can really feel and hear the attention to detail that’s been put into the manufacturing of this guitar, and I couldn’t find anything to fault in this area.

Sound and Tone – 5/5

Martin D28 guitar

The Martin D-28 is celebrated for its rich, balanced sound and versatile tone, which is why it’s been such a popular guitar for so many decades.

Listening and playing this guitar revealed to me the true glory of this guitar’s sonic characteristics.

The D-28 is renowned for its warm, full-bodied tone, attributed in part to its East Indian rosewood back and sides. This tonewood imparts a deep, resonant quality to the guitar’s sound, providing a solid foundation with ample low-end presence.

Whether I played gently or aggressively, it consistently delivered a rich, immersive sound that filled my room.

Despite its warmth, the D-28 maintained excellent clarity and articulation across the frequency spectrum. The Sitka spruce top contributes bright, sparkling highs that cut through the mix, while the scalloped X-bracing allows for optimal vibration and projection.

During my test run, I found that each note rang out with clarity and definition. From intricate fingerstyle passages and complex chord voicings to simple cowboy chords and flatpicking, each note was rendered with the precision and nuance one would expect from the gold standard of acoustic guitars.

One of this guitar’s hallmarks is its balanced frequencies and harmonics, characterized by a well-defined midrange and a smooth transition between lows and highs, which I could immediately hear when playing it.

This tonal balance makes the D-28 suitable for a wide range of playing styles and musical genres. Whether playing blues, folk, country, or bluegrass, this Martin adapts effortlessly, offering a versatile sonic palette that responds to the nuances of the player’s technique.

Martin guitars are known for their exceptional sustain and resonance, and definitely this rings true for today’s D-28. Single notes ring out with clarity and sustain, while sustained chords resonate vibrantly.

Boasting impressive projection and volume, the D-28 is well-suited for both solo performance and ensemble playing. Its powerful voice ensures that it can hold its own in any musical setting, from intimate acoustic gatherings to larger venues.

Comfort and Playability – 4/5

Martin D28 guitar

This is both a great sounding and playing guitar.

The D-28 features a comfortable body shape and size. I found it comfortable to hold, and I think that should be a nice fit for most players. Its smooth contours and ergonomic design made an extended playing session enjoyable without causing me fatigue or discomfort.

However, I think some players may find the larger dreadnought body size slightly less comfortable than smaller-bodied guitars, particularly during prolonged periods of playing while seated. Also, some players prefer cutaways, which allow you to reach higher frets more easily, but I’m personally a big fan of dreadnoughts.

The playability is excellent all around, thanks to its well-crafted modern neck profile, fretboard radius, and action setup.

I found the neck to be very comfortable and fast, facilitating easy fretting and chord transitions. The fretwork was precise, ensuring smooth movement along the fingerboard without any sharp edges or buzzing against my fingers.

Additionally, the action (the distance between the strings and the fretboard) was set up to a comfortable level, striking a balance between ease of play and optimal tone production. However, some players may prefer even lower action, which could be adjusted according to personal preference – and I would recommend getting it set up to your taste when you buy it just for the smoothest experience.

Overall, I found the D-28 to be a super comfortable guitar that was effortless to play and nice to hold. Sure, the dreadnought style and size might not be for everyone, but as far as dreadnoughts go, this is one of the most comfortable and playable variations I’ve ever tried.

Things to Consider Before Buying Acoustic Guitars

There are a lot of things to think about when buying acoustic guitars. Given that there is such a huge range of variations and styles, you want to think things through to make sure you get the perfect design for your needs.

It’s definitely not a one-size-fits-all situation, so spend some time thinking about the following factors before making a purchase. I’ve made this decision many times, and here are some of the things I think are super important to think about.

Shape, Size, and Style

For starters, there are a lot of shapes, sizes, dimensions, and styles to choose from.

The dreadnought shape used by the D-28 is one of the larger styles. It maximizes volume, projection, and low-end resonance by opting for a bulkier body. These are great if you want to play unplugged and want a thicker tone, but some players might find them too large and uncomfortable.

Concerts and Grand Concerts are another popular shape which are slightly smaller than dreadnoughts, and have a narrower waist, with a more figure-8 shape. These are more focused in the mid-range and have a clearer, brighter articulation preferred by fingerstyle players.

Cutaway models include a gap around the bottom of the fretboard. This makes it easier for players to reach the highest frets and is handy for players who like to play solo or utilize higher notes in their playing. These have slightly reduced volume and low frequencies, but are more playable and comfortable.

Ultimately the shape you choose depends on the sound and feel you are looking for.

You should also consider the size you want, as you can find most guitars in full size, or 3/4 size variations. Smaller guitars are easier to play for smaller hands, and more portable, but compromise on volume and tone.


There is a huge amount of variation in terms of the sound and sonic characteristics of top-rated acoustic guitars on the market. From quieter to loud, bright to dark, dynamic to compressed. You can really find anything that you’re looking for.

There are a lot of different construction and design factors that affect how acoustic guitars sound, including the woods and materials used, the construction process, the shape and size, strings, and many other design facets.

An important element of the sound style to consider is the attack and articulation offered by the guitar. Some have a more percussive, plucky sound, whereas others are softer are less pronounced.

You can also find that some guitars are more versatile in terms of expression and articulation, while others are more limited. This is one of the more nuanced elements of tonal characteristics to consider and requires a bit of ear training and knowledge to understand. Some are more responsive than others. Acoustic electric guitars like the Takamine P4DC have built-in preamps and EQ to enhance the sound output.

Arguably the most important element of sonic differentiation between guitars is the frequency balance and harmonic characteristics. Do you want a guitar that is bright, and crystalline? Or do you want one that is deep and warm?

The choice doesn’t have to be or the other either, as you can find some instruments that excel at any end of the frequency spectrum, and offer the player the ability to articulate and control the tone based on their playing style. A lot of this choice depends on the style of music you play the most, and exactly what your playing styles are.

The final sound element to consider is the volume and dynamic range of the guitar. Some acoustic guitars (particularly classical models) are relatively quiet and subdued like Martin 000-15SM. This means that you need to put a lot of energy into the guitar to get a loud tone, which might suit some performance styles. On the other hand, you get some acoustic guitars that are mega loud, and even when strummed gently, produce a large tone.

Think about the dynamic range too. Some guitars are super responsive and have a huge dynamic range, meaning they can play super quietly, or mega loud. Others have a more compressed dynamic range, meaning that they’re generally tuned to play in one particular area of the volume spectrum. I prefer guitars with a wide dynamic range as they give me a bit more depth to my performance.

The D-28 is in the sweet spot for all of these factors. It has a well-balanced and broad frequency response, meaning you can play it bright, dark, and anywhere in between depending on how you strum it.

It’s also got the perfect amount of dynamic range and articulation, so it sounds great loud or quiet, and responds well to most playing styles and expressions.

Electronic Pickups

Pickups of the Martin D28 guitar

While acoustic guitars are primarily focused on creating their sound by vibrating the airwaves directly around them, you’ll often find that they can come fitted with an optional electronic circuit.

Acoustic guitar pickups give you the ability to use your acoustic guitar like an electric by plugging it into amps, mixing desks, PAs, effects pedals, and recording gear. This adds an extra layer of convenience in many situations, meaning you don’t need to use an external microphone to capture and boost the sound of your guitar.

Another huge advantage of using electronic pickups in an acoustic guitar is the volume increase. Because you can plug them into amplifiers, it means that you can use your acoustic guitar on a large, stadium-sized stage, and have the volume to compete with the rest of the band, and other electronic instruments. Often using a mic in these situations is impossible too.

The downside of using electronic pickups in your acoustic is the added financial cost, as well as the potential need to modify the woodwork. You can often find variations of acoustic guitars that come fitted with electronic pickups from the factory, saving you from having to do the modification yourself.

For maximum futureproofing and versatility, I would recommend buying an acoustic guitar model that includes an electronic pickup – it’s worth the price. You can find many electro-acoustic variations of the Martin D-28 for sale too! I usually use pickups in my electric guitar – I tend to buy them factory-fitted, rather than modifying them aftermarket.

Martin D-28E Modern Deluxe Acoustic-electric

Best Alternatives To Martin D-28

While the Martin D-28 is a widely loved, versatile, and historically celebrated guitar, it’s not going to be the perfect choice for every situation and player.

If Martin dreadnoughts aren’t your cup of tea, here are some excellent alternatives with comparable quality and pricing I highly recommend.

Gibson Acoustic SJ-200 vs Martin D-28

Gibson Acoustic SJ-200

The Gibson SJ-200 range is nearly as iconic as the Martin D-28, with roughly an extra 20% stuck on the price tag.

It features a flashier aesthetic appeal, including the ornately decorated fretboard, pickguard, bridge, and headstock.

It uses a super-jumbo body shape, which is a bit curvier and more seductive, increasing the comfort and changing the tone. This particular model is fitted with the LR Baggs VTC electronics, which offers a studio-grade signal.

The tone and style of the Gibson SJ-200 make it a bit of a stronger choice for guitarists on the rockier end of the spectrum, compared to the humbler style of the D-28.

Takamine P4DC vs Martin D-28

takamine p4dc

If you’re on a bit of a tighter budget, but still want to unlock the rich and complex tones of a masterfully made guitar, the Takamine P4DC might be worth looking into. With a roughly 30% reduction in price compared to the D-28, the Takamine P4DC is a more affordable choice, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less valuable or attractive.

This cutaway electro-acoustic dreadnought offers comparable volume to the D-28 and a decent amount of articulation and dynamic range. Sure, the tone isn’t quite as rich and expressive as the D-28, but you also don’t need to be as rich to add this to your collection. It comes fitted with solid electronics too, which is a nice touch.

Martin D-18 vs Martin D-28

Coming with the exact same price tag, the Martin D-18 is the D-28’s nearly identical twin. To the uninitiated, these guitars appear to be the same from visual inspection. However, there is a lot more differences than what meets the eye.

For starters, the D18 features a range of different wood choices compared to the D-28 – most notably using harder Mahogany wood (rather than Rosewood) for the back and sides. This is one of the many subtle design points that change the characteristics of this guitar.

Sonically, the D-18 is brighter and more sensitive compared to the D-28. This makes it a better choice if you want something that is more cutting and articulate – although it doesn’t have the same low-end warmth as the D-28.

I would say the D-18 is ideal for leads, and the D-28 is for rhythm playing, but ultimately it’s a matter of personal preference. The craftsmanship and quality are equal between the two; these are both beautiful guitars.

Breedlove Oregon Concert vs Martin D-28

Breedlove Oregon Concert

Taking a bit more of a modern approach, the Breedlove Oregon Concert is a pretty unique-looking, sounding, and feeling acoustic guitar. With a very rich, resonant tone, this is on the more bright and articulate ends of the spectrum, making it a great choice for solo players, and those looking for more of a distinct sonic identity.

It’s just as visually gorgeous as it is sonically, featuring a totally natural finish showing off the grain and pattern of the carefully selected wood. Compared to the D-28, this has a more modern and unusual style but is equally as well-made and attractive. While it is the same price, I think you’re getting a bit better value for money hear, as you’re not paying for the reputable Martin name.

Final Verdict

Martin D28

The Martin D-28 is undeniably a great guitar all around. Just look at the heritage – you really can’t argue with that.

History aside, taking an unbiased look and playing session on this guitar reveals several clear truths: it’s incredibly well made, it sounds delightful, it offers a deep range of tones and articulation, and it’s very hard to fault.

If you’re looking for a truly luxurious High-End Acoustic Guitar, the Martin D-28 is going to make you very happy. I’m really in love with these guitars, and I think they’re honestly one of the greatest acoustics I’ve ever played.

This is one of those holy grail guitars – anybody who knows their acoustics will be aware of how classic this acoustic guitar is. The fact that it’s survived nearly 100 years of competition just goes to show how perfect this guitar is.

I would also recommend looking at the Martin D-18 for a different approach to tone and playing style, or the Gibson SJ-200 for something a bit rockier – but the D-28 is a tough one to beat.

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