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The Martin HD-28 VR Acoustic Guitar

Wesman Todd Shaw started playing the guitar when he was 12 years old. He loves nothing more than to pick one up and pluck some strings.

The Martin HD 28 VR

Years ago I had a nice job that allowed me to have disposable income and plenty of it for a guy with no wife or children. Despite me being an amateur guitarist, and not a professional one—I found that along with my addictive personality, and all-out love of music, I was not satisfied to have just one world-class, amazing, beyond professional level instrument in my possession—I wanted another one.

I was subscribed to and read several different magazines that focused on acoustic guitars and acoustic guitar music. I was also expanding my appreciation of various styles of acoustic guitar music. I was expanding my mind.

The Martin HD 28 VR

The Martin HD 28 VR

Shopping for a New Martin Acoustic Guitar

As it happened, I had got it into my mind that I wanted something very different from my Santa Cruz Model D Flat top guitar, a guitar with Brazilian Rosewood backs and sides, and a Sitka Spruce soundboard. I'm not sure anymore exactly why, but I decided I wanted a smaller guitar. I think I had thought that I'd be able to play a smaller-bodied instrument with greater ease. I'd decided that I wanted to own Martin's Eric Clapton model, the 000 - 28EC.

Now, I could speak at great lengths here about how foolish it is to decide that you want a specific model of guitar - having not played one of them as of yet. It's foolish, trust me on that. I'm certain that the Martin 000 -28EC is an outstanding and world-class studio and professional instrument. My God! Eric Clapton owns one of those things! Of course, it is an outstanding guitar!

So why, you ask, is it foolish to go to a guitar store with a specific guitar in mind? Well, every guitar is unique—and no matter how much someone tries to make one specific guitar exactly like another specific guitar of the exact same make and model (think of two identical guitars made by the same luthier, or guitar maker out of the same materials from the exact same trees, even), it can't be done. Every single guitar ever made has its own unique characteristics. Musical instruments—and especially stringed instruments made of various and sundry tonewoods are all unique like people, or snowflakes.

My point here is that even though one could possibly enter a guitar store with their sights set on a Martin 000 - 28EC, one never knows which instrument that they pick up and pick a little will grab them by the soul, and force them to fork over well over a thousand dollars to buy.

Indian rosewood backside of the Martin HD-28vr

Indian rosewood backside of the Martin HD-28vr

Martin's HD 28 Vintage Reissue

So I went to the Guitar Centre by the Galleria Mall in the Dallas and Forth Worth Metroplex with the intentions to buy one thing, but I wound up buying another thing altogether. I bought a brand spanking new Martin HD 28 VR. I believe that I paid somewhere around $1,600.00 for it, and because it had been the display guitar, and had a belt buckle ding on it or two, I got it for several hundred dollars less than an untouched model would have sold for.

Let me give you some very good advice here from a very qualified individual—when you play a guitar shop display guitar, and you want to buy it, buy the guitar that you played. Do not buy a guitar just like the one that you played—it's a different guitar! There is no promise, guarantee, or reason to think that you will like a guitar that you have not seen and played as well as the one on display that you have seen and played. Just because the untouched guitar in the back somewhere is the exact same model - that doesn't mean that you'll like that guitar as much as the one on display that you have seen and played.

Certainly there are cases where the guitar in the back of the store, inaccessible to the public that is the same model as one on display - sometimes when a customer winds up with that one instead of the one he played that was on display, he likes it better. I'm only saying that there is no guarantee of that and that you should only buy guitars that you've had your hands on.

Dude—shut the hell up about buying a guitar already! What the hell is an HD 28 VR? What do all those letters and numbers mean, and why do I care?

AH! Thank you, inner voice, for keeping me on track. The HD 28 VR basically means Herringbone Dreadnought 28 Vintage Reissue! What that is is a guitar by the C.F. Martin & Co that is supposed to be built to the exact specifications as their legendary pre world war two model D 28. It IS a guitar built to those specifications - but it's not built using the exact same woods, that would be the Martin HD 28 GE, or "Golden Era." The HD 28 VR is possibly just as good a guitar as the HD 28 GE, but it's not going to cost so much, or re sale for so much as the HD 28 GE. The Golden Era model D 28 is a Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack Spruce guitar while the Vintage Reissue is an East Indian Rosewood and Sitka Spruce guitar.

Why the HD 28 VR Is an Amazing Value

What you have with the HD 28 VR is a guitar that is fairly affordable, but yet is built to the exact specifications as guitars that are only affordable to persons with large amounts of disposable cash. For less than a quarter the amount of money that you would have to spend to buy the Golden Era Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack Spruce guitar, you can purchase the East Indian Rosewood and Sika Spruce guitar that might very well be a better guitar - but is simply made from less rare woods. A tonewood being more available than another in no way means that it is a less desirable tonewood - it's just a matter of supply and demand. Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack Spruce are in short supply, and huge demand—East Indian Rosewood and Sitka Spruce are in much greater supply nowadays, but whether or not they are inferior tonewoods is most often a matter of opinion.

Martin HD 28 VR Other Specifications and Particulars

Basically, the HD 28 VR is a professional's instrument, despite the fact that someone let me buy one too one time. It's more acoustic guitar than you could ever need, and it can never be outgrown. It is essentially the most copied guitar in the world, and by and large, the exact same guitar as the most copied SPECIFIC acoustic guitar in the world, the 1935 D 28 that used to belong to Clarence White, and now belongs to Tony Rice. I promise you all that East Indian Rosewood and Sitka Spruce can be and most often is every bit the tonewood that Brazilian Rosewood and Adirondack Spruce are - and that furthermore, the High X bracing of this guitar makes it every bit the cannon of the Martin D 28's of years gone by.

The Herringbone trim, zig zag binding, ebony fretboard and snowflake abalone inlay make this guitar as beautiful to the eye as to the ears. It's perhaps the best deal in high-end solid wood acoustic guitars in the entire world.

Tony Rice, His D 28, and "Blackberry Blossom."


In conclusion, I hope that I managed to explain what a Martin HD 28 VR acoustic guitar is, why it's such a sought after and tremendous guitar, and I also hope that I provided some good advice for anyone shopping for any acoustic guitar.

Also, what I failed to mention above, as my inner voice told me to get on with the show, was that I was ripped off at the Galleria Guitar Centre - they gave me a solid case for my Martin HD 28 VR, but not the case that it should have come with. I got gypped by about a hundred bucks on the level and quality of Martin guitar case. Be certain that you know which guitar case you should get with any guitar that you purchase - and you should DEFINITELY be getting a great guitar case with every great guitar - it's part of the package, and isn't supposed to ever be sold separately.

Thanks for reading. All feedback accepted, and all questions will be answered as well as I can answer them.

© 2011 Wesman Todd Shaw


Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on January 18, 2013:

Dusty, I really miss you, Good Sir.

50 Caliber from Arizona on June 26, 2011:

Pretty close, mines a bit lighter in color but the mid size and all are pretty similar, dust

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on June 26, 2011:

Hey Dusty - here's a Crown, but I'm not sure that it's blonde enough to be like the one you describe

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on June 26, 2011:

Hey Dusty! I don't think I've ever heard of Crown Guitars! I might have to bust a Google on that one!

Hey, the all blonde wood sounds like Maple to me! Maple is an outstanding tonewood, and sometimes Maple guitars are VERY EXPENSIVE.

Man, I wonder how many people are unhappy with "guitars from the back!"

I think of guitars as . . . .the way I do Women, I don't want one that LOOKS like the one I played with, I want the one that I want!

50 Caliber from Arizona on June 26, 2011:

Wesman, great article with sound [pun] advice. I picked up a French made "Crown" guitar, before they went and sold the name to the Asian copy guitars, it was hanging on the wall and looked good all blonde wood save the Rose wood fret board and bridge, still don't know or remember what the rest was. It was a place called "Music City" in Tucson, 40 years back and I was there for my favorite strings "LaBella" flat wound studio grade, the string that is on every one of my 9 be they steel or classical. I sat down and played it just 'cuz and it had a distinct sound all it's own, it was 7 bills and I like it just as well as my Martin D2 at less than half the price, they got a brand new one from the back and I refused it, they said they didn't sell the demos, so I told them to stick it for the reasons you just stated "they may be look alikes but not sound alikes" they sold me the demo. Don't over look a well made guitar due to name or manufacture, play it. Over the years it has developed the "Willie sound" and mellowed, another you can't buy from me at any price.

Good advise, dust

Wesman Todd Shaw (author) from Kaufman, Texas on June 25, 2011:

Thank you very much, mattdigiulio!!!!!!!!! I never get tired of talking about music!

mattdigiulio from Los Angeles on June 25, 2011:


I like these Hubs very much. Thanks, and voting up.

Best, Matt