The latest D-28 fuses classic design with innovative features
by Teja Gerken
September 16, 2019
The Martin D-28 is among the most iconic and influential steel-string flattops of all time. Not only has the rosewood dreadnought been in Martin’s lineup since its introduction in 1931 (first as a 12-fret guitar, then as the more common 14-fret version starting in 1934), it is also the most copied steel-string guitar design ever. Martin has offered countless versions of the D-28, from models that try to recapture the magic of the best prewar “herringbone” D-28s to contemporary varieties with pickups and cutaways. Coming up with a new variation on the venerable design isn’t easy, but Martin has managed to do that with its new D-28 Modern Deluxe, which we recently had a chance to check out in the Peghead Nation video studio.
Martin knows better than to change the D-28’s fundamental design, and the D-28 Modern Deluxe has the model’s standard dimensions and is built with Indian rosewood back and sides and a Sitka spruce top (treated with Martin’s Vintage Tone System to simulate the tone of aged wood), so its appearance isn’t radically new. However, the guitar includes several significant new elements, including a titanium truss rod, carbon-fiber bridge plate (both of which reduce weight while increasing strength), gold frets, and Martin’s new Liquidmetal bridge pins. The guitar also includes some deluxe appointments, including maple body binding, abalone side dots, and a pearl Martin logo in the peghead. On the traditional side of things, the D-28 Modern Deluxe is built using protein glues, and, as expected, its craftsmanship and quality of materials is top-notch. The guitar’s Vintage Deluxe neck shape leans more toward a contemporary profile than necks on older D-28s, and we found it to be very playable.
The D-28 Modern Deluxe delivered the powerful rosewood dreadnought sound we expect from a Martin D-28, and it did it with fabulous clarity and punch. D-28s have been used in all kinds of music, and I enjoyed using it to play fingerstyle in dropped-D tuning. D-28s are often associated with bluegrass, and Peghead Nation’s Scott Nygaard demonstrates that here by flatpicking a fiddle tune and backing up Peghead Nation banjo instructor Bill Evans.
The D-28 Modern Deluxe is one of the best D-28s yet. Martin has managed to introduce significant new features on its most iconic instrument without affecting its basic DNA, and anyone in the market for a great rosewood dreadnought should check out the D-28 Modern Deluxe!
SPECS: 14-fret dreadnought body. Sitka spruce top with Vintage Tone System treatment. Forward-shifted, scalloped X-bracing. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Genuine mahogany neck. Ebony fretboard and bridge. Titanium truss rod. Carbon-fiber bridge plate. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Gold Waverly tuning machines. Made in USA. $5,199. Martinguitar.com
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