Top Five Vintage Recreations of the Martin D 28 Acoustic Guitar
The Martin D 28
There's something very special about the Martin D 28, and it's pointless for me to here go off and try to tell you why it's special. I'll do just a little bit of that, though, as you might not realize that the "D" for dreadnought represents the size and shape of the instrument, and that the 28 represents and states that it is a solid rosewood body instrument with a solid spruce top. That combination of components, my friends and readers, is what is essential about the Martin D 28, There are lots of other specifications involved, of course, and most notable in the instruments I'll cover will be the herringbone trim, which universally specifies the instrument as a high X braced instrument.
I should qualify myself. I've owned Martin D 28s, I love them, and I've made a point of playing most every guitar that I've ever had within reach of me. Sometimes I even ask permission first. I don't build guitars, and I'm not a great player - but I might be one of the biggest fans of acoustic guitars that you'll ever encounter.
At this point in time most every major manufacturer of acoustic guitars makes a replica of the Martin D 28 as it was before world war two. After the second great war Martin had slipped up some, and started making guitars sturdier rather than the absolute players dream sound cannons that were their pre war models. Pre WWII Martin dreadnoughts now cost more than anyone can typically spend, but now a serious amateur or professional has their pick of many great instruments from different manufacturers that have sought to recreate those great old guitars. C.F. Martin & Co. also re creates their own instruments, but this article shall focus on D 28 recreations NOT made by Martin.
The Santa Cruz Model D/PW Rosewood Guitar
The Santa Cruz Model D/PW
Why do I list the Santa Cruz Guitar Company's D/PW first? Well, simply put, because I own one of them. Mine is so old that they didn't even call it that then, but that's what it is. Mine was made before the Santa Cruz Guitar Company even came up with that beautiful logo of theirs that they inlay with abalone on all of their instruments now.
The Santa Cruz D/PW is not one, but TWO outstanding instruments, and I do hope that you caught on to the PW, as clearly that stands for pre war - as in this is a recreation of a pre war Martin.
Now, the thing is about the two guitars is that I'm only talking about ONE of those two here - the rosewood D/PW - which equates exactly to a Martin HD 28 VR, the other Santa Cruz D/PW would equate exactly to a Martin D 18V.
Why does this guitar not equate exactly to a Martin D 28GE? Because Brazilian rosewood and Adirondack spruce are now rare and endangered woods that make for a very expensive guitar. Martin now uses Indian rosewood and Sitka spruce - these are not lesser or cheaper woods - just less expensive woods due to the nature of supply and demand economics.
Specifications of the Santa Cruz D/PW rosewood guitar are as follows:
- Top: Sitka Spruce
- Back and Sides: Indian Rosewood
- Bracing: Scalloped/Advanced X
- Headstock Overlay: Indian Rosewood
- Peghead: Solid
- Fingerboard Overlay: Ebony
- Binding: Black
- Tuners: Nickel Gotoh
- Pickguard: Tortoise Style
- Nut Width: 1 11/16"
- Scale: 25 3/8"
- Body Length: 20"
- Body Depth: 4.875"
- Lower Bout: 15.5"
- Waist: 10.5"
- Upper Bout: 11.125"
I'm pricing the Indian rosewood model of this instrument at $3,950.00 - you can expect the Brazilian rosewood model at one or two thousand dollars more, based on market fluctuations.
The Santa Cruz D/PW Guitar - Also available in Indian Rosewood models.
The Collings D2H Indian Rosewood Guitar
The Collings D2H
I got to shake one of Bill Collings extremely skilled hands once many years ago, and there's no possible way that he would remember it. I've got to put my hands on many instruments that Bill oversaw the building of, and that had his name in abalone inlay on, and I'm here to tell you that you can't do any better at it than he does. So far as the first three instruments that I'm going to cover here are concerned, it's a complete toss up - I can't and won't say that one is better than the other two. I can only tell you that I've played all three of my top three picks here, and that only an individual on his or her own subjective level could tell you which is "best" for them.
When someone goes shopping for instruments like these, it's common to see the Martin HD 28VR, and that instrument is going to be the same instrument as these, but some of these smaller builders may or may not have produced a "better" version. Most often a Guitar Center, or other large distributor will have at least one of the Martin Competitors available for the shopper to look over, but it's uncommon for all of the front line Martin competitors, or even the top three here, to be present in the same store. I want to assure my online reader here that the Martin, the Collings, the Santa Cruz, and the Bourgeois models are all going to be so fine that not having a chance to ever see or compare all of these should never be something that weighs on your mind. We're talking about the best of the entire world here.
The Specs on the Collings D2H are as follows:
- Select Sitka spruce
- East Indian rosewood back and sides
- Grained ivoroid binding
- Herringbone trim with matching backstrip
- Cross-cut grained ivoroid and wood nitrate strip rosette
- Pre-war scalloped bracing
- Tortoise-style pickguard
- High gloss nitrocellulose lacquer finish
- Mahogany Neck
- Rosewood peghead overlay
- Inlaid Collings Logo
- Ebony fingerboard and bridge
- Traditional diamond and square fingerboard inlays
- Fully adjustable truss rod
- Bone nut and drop-in saddle
- Ebony bridge pins and end pin
- Nickel Waverly tuners
I'm pricing these Collings models on the web from between $3,500.00 - $3,595.00
The Collings D2H!
Bourgeois Standard D with Sunburst Finish.
Bourgeois Standard D
- Body Style: Dreadnought
- Head Style: Square
- Nut Width: 1 23/32"
- Top: Premium Sitka Spruce
- Rosette: B/W Vintage
- Back and Sides: Indian Rosewood
- Backstrip: Zigzag
- Body Binding: Ivoroid/Herringbone
- Fretboard Binding: Black
- Fretboard Inlay: Squares & Diamonds
- Headstock Binding: None
- Headstock Veneer: Ziricote
- Bridge: Belly bridge
- Tuners: Nickel Waverly
- Finish: Natural
- Additional features: Premium Vintage Style Pickguard
- Options: 1 3/4" nut width.
The Bourgeois Standard D is only different from the Bourgeois Vintage D in the grade of Sitka Spruce top used, and this provides some difficulty, as it's hard to say whether or not the other makes listed here would be using a spruce top equal to the Vintage D or the Standard D. I'm going with the Standard D being the most equal instrument to the other models listed here due to it's comparable price, $3,850.00
I couldn't find a video for the Standard D, but the very similar in every last way Vintage D, I found a nice video for. I've played one of these guitars, I can't recall if it was labeled a Vintage D or a Standard D. I only know that it was as nice an instrument as I'd ever had my hands on.
Bourgeois Vintage D
The Blueridge BR-260
The Blueridge BR-260
- Select solid Sitka Spruce top with hand-carved parabolic top braces in authentic prewar forward X-pattern
- Premium, hand selected, solid Brazilian Rosewood back and sides, all of a matching set
- Ebony fingerboard with pearl dot position markers and ebony bridge
- Neck is a low profile, solid mahogany with a dovetail neck joint and adjustable truss rod with traditional carved diamond volute detail
- 1 11/16" nut width
- Scale length of 25.5"
- The headstock is beautifully adorned with an original, floral design, abalone and mother-of-pearl inlay
- Natural high-gloss finish with aging toner is applied to the top for that perfect vintage look
- Body is bound in grained ivoroid with traditional Herringbone purfling for that "Style 28" look
- Bone nut and saddle
- Saga's exclusive Dalmation, tortoise-style pickguard
- Accurate vintage-style 14:1 ratio nickel-plated open-back tuners with butterbean-style buttons
- Shop Adjusted
- Lifetime Warranty
Blueridge has a solid reputation, but I'm pretty uncertain how they can sell this guitar with solid Brazilian rosewood back and sides for the prices that I'm seeing on the internet. I've never seen one of these guitars in person, at least I haven't at this date. Solid Brazilian rosewood and solid spruce top high X herringbone guitars don't typically cost between $1,700.00 and $2,500.00. Maybe someone had a big supply of Brazilian? If they did, then wouldn't it still be foolish to sell them under market price for those kinds of guitars?
Huss And Dalton TD-R
Huss And Dalton TD-R
- Nut Width:1 23/32"
- Body Width:15 1/2"
- Body Depth:4 7/8"
- Body Length:20"
- Saddle Spacing:2 7/32"
- Sound hole:4"
- Build Style:Flat Top
- Body Binding:Ivoroid
- Neck Binding:Ebony
- Top Purfling:Herringbone
- Rosette:TR style
- Bridge Style:Belly
- Pick guard:Tortoise
- Tuners/Buttons:Nickel Waverly/Nickel
Huss and Dalton is another great manufacturer that has a very good reputation - that I personally don't have experience with. These guitars with Indian Rosewood and European Spruce tops sell for $3,500.00
All prices provided I got off the net, and all are prices for new instruments. I'd buy used given the occasion. The width of the guitar at the nut is one consideration that you need to examine, as the comfort of your hands on that neck is a big deal when forking over the kind of money that these things cost. I'd imagine that most with longer fingers would prefer the 1 3/4" nut width.
Like I say, I've never touched or seen the Blueridge or the Huss and Dalton models - I listed those here out of the confidence that comes with finding information on them, and having seen them advertised in guitar oriented magazines over a great number of years. The Collings, The Santa Cruz, and the Bourgeois - those three instruments I've seen time and time again as I've spent time in Texas or North Carolina music stores. Someone shopping for one of these guitars should always remember that C.F. Martin & Company created that design, and still make many versions of D 28, and always will. The guitars discussed above are all basically the same instrument as the Martin HD 28V or the HD 28VR, so it would seem ridiculous to me to not spend time looking at the Martin first, as it will also typically be the easier guitar to find.
© 2011 Wesman Todd Shaw