Instruments & Gear: New Gear

Martin HD-28E (2018)

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The latest version of Martin’s Standard series herringbone dreadnought includes custom Fishman electronics.

by Teja Gerken
May 14, 2018

When Martin first introduced the HD-28 in 1976, it was the first time that the company offered a new dreadnought based on pre-war specs since it stopped using scalloped braces in 1944 and herringbone purfling in 1946. The guitar was an instant success and has been in Martin’s catalog ever since. It was also the first in what became a steady stream of vintage reissues. Like other models in Martin’s Standard series, the HD-28 was updated (or “reimagined”) this year. The result is a very cool guitar that combines vintage and contemporary features and is available in a purely acoustic version or with a custom Fishman electronics package. We had a chance to check out the acoustic-electric HD-28E (2018) in the Peghead Nation video studio.

The HD-28E (2018) has Indian rosewood back and sides and a Sitka spruce top, and all the materials on the guitar we checked out were of very high quality. As an HD-28, it of course includes herringbone purfling; scalloped, forward-shifted bracing; and vintage-style, open-back tuners. It also now has Martin’s High Performance Neck taper, which, combined with the modified low oval neck shape creates a more contemporary feel. Aging toner gives the top a lovely amber color, similar to the naturally darkened tops of older guitars.

Martin and Fishman have collaborated on many custom pickup systems over the years, and the Aura VT Enhance system included in the HD-28E (2018) is the latest. It combines Fishman’s Acoustic Matrix undersaddle pickup; an internal, endpin-mounted preamp with a custom Aura image (a type of signal processing that involves recording a similar guitar, creating a digital “image,” and applying the resulting algorithm to the raw pickup sound), and a second Enhance transducer pickup mounted to the guitar’s bridge plate. Controls inside the soundhole allow for volume and EQ adjustments as well as the addition of the Enhance transducer to the Acoustic Matrix sound.

The HD-28E (2018) delivers what it promises. Acoustically, it’s a wonderful rosewood dreadnought that works well for just about any style and really shines when driven with a pick. Plugged in (we demoed it with a Fishman SA330x), the guitar offers a natural representation of its fundamental tonal qualities, and the addition of the Enhance transducer gives the system a high degree of sonic flexibility. For a player looking for a vintage-style, stage-ready dreadnought, the HD-28E (2018) would be hard to beat.

SPECS: 14-fret dreadnought body. Solid Sitka spruce top with forward-shifted, scalloped X-bracing. Solid Indian rosewood back and sides. Hardwood neck with dovetail joint. Ebony fingerboard and bridge. 25.4-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. 2⁵/₃₂-inch string spacing at the saddle. Open-gear tuning machines. Made in the USA. $3,999 (list).


Category: Instruments & Gear

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Aug 14, 2020
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