Martin D-28 vs HD-28: Comparison Between Two Martin Dreadnoughts

There have been a lot of questions and discussions on which is better between the two Martin 28 Series Dreadnought guitars. If you have a quick look at the two, they are almost identical, but they are designed to offer unique performance and sound. So, this article will detail the similarities and comparisons between these two popular Martin Dreadnoughts.

Martin D-28 Overview

It seems like the Martin D-28 has been a godsend for most guitarists. Released over 80 years ago, it’s becoming an iconic large-bodied, steel-stringed guitar. Though Martin has been carving different iterations of this amazing guitar, it still retains the classic looks and balanced tone of the Martin D-28.

Martin HD-28 Overview

The Martin HD-28 seems to be a younger brother of the D-28. It has a scalloped bracing which makes it much louder than the D-28. However, it has also some interesting features of its own. Its popularity in the market can be attributed to the quality of its construction and the materials used.

Specifications Comparison

The table below will show you the specifications of each Martin Dreadnought side-by-side. Check out each detail and pick the one with the specs that tickle your heart.

Specifications Martin D-28 Martin HD-28
Top Sitka Spruce Sitka Spruce
Back and Sides East Indian Rosewood East Indian Rosewood
Neck Select Hardwood Select Hardwood
Neck Shape Low Profile Low Profile
Bracing X Brace Non-Scalloped X Brace Scalloped
Fretboard  Ebony Ebony
Scale Length 25.4-inch 25.4-inch
Electronics Optional Optional

Martin D28 vs HD28: Looks and Design

If you’ll measure these two dreadnoughts, you’ll get an identical reading. Both of them are a 14-fret guitar with a 25.4-inch scale length. Both have X-bracing, although the Martin D-28 has non-scalloped, while the Martin HD-28 has scalloped bracing.

They are almost similar in the materials used, as seen from the table above. However, if you look closely, they differ in aesthetics. HD-28 has Herringbone inlays, while the D-28 has a simple black and white striped inlays. Additionally, HD-28 has a decorative Tortoise Shell patterned pickguard, while the D-28 has the standard plain black pickguard.

Martin D28 vs HD28: Playability and Performance

D-28 is lighter than the HD-28, but you can still feel you’re holding a guitar. It has a very spot-on action, which makes it easier to play. On the flip side, HD-28 has a stiffer action, which feels a bit harder to tame. But, here’s a trick.

Actually, both guitars have almost the same action. It’s such that, HD-28 is using heavier strings than the D-28. So, if you replace the strings of your HD-28 to lighter strings, it’ll also be easier to play. But, it might reduce the bass and the volume response of your guitar.

Apart from the action, the neck, the finish, the fit, and the shape are perfect. You can switch between guitars with closed eyes and you can’t easily distinguish them, especially through an amp.

Martin D28 vs HD28: Sound

Now, there’s a bit of discussion needed for this aspect. The sound quality of the guitar can be defined by the materials used, construction, the strings and the way the players pluck the strings. If all these aspects are the same for both, then, more or less they have similar sounds. Check out this YouTube video to hear how it really sounds:

However, as mentioned earlier, HD-28 has a fuller and louder sound. This is because of the scalloped bracing of the HD-28 – this is the most prominent difference between the two. For those who are not very familiar with guitar construction, don’t worry, the concept is very straightforward.

For the D-28, it only has straight or non-scalloped bracing. But, for the HD28 it has scalloped bracing. This means that the braces are made concave by the luthier, making the center thinner.

As you know, the vibration of the top material of the guitar contributes greatly to the sound quality of the instrument. The more vibrations made by the top material, the louder and the more bass response. Hence, HD-28 is loved because of its rich and booming sound. It offers more overtones, volume, and bass. It offers a more articulate sound that is sweet to the ear, making it a great choice for fingerpickers.

The D-28, on the other hand, isn’t called a legendary guitar for no reason. Of course, it also has an irresistible sound quality. It has a more rounded and more balanced tone, with more punch, but lesser overtone. At first, you may find the D-28 to have stiff and more focused sound, but after a while, it will have a more balanced sound across all frequencies.

Martin D28 vs HD28: Price

Ah. The real deal is here. They greatly differ in price. HD-28 is more expensive than the D-28. Of course, it is expected because of its construction and the Herringbone inlays. D-28 has the same inlays before, but it was taken out to save costs. That is why it is cheaper compared to HD-28.

However, comparing the performance, sound, and construction, to the price, both guitars offer great value for the money. Whether you are a solo artist or an aspiring singer-songwriter, one of the guitars is perfect for you. Either of these guitars will surely give you something to play with and something to enjoy.

Conclusion

While every musician has his or her preferences when it comes to guitars, it’s undeniable that it’s really difficult to pick just one. They have great construction and excellent playability. They deliver a sound that every musician loves.

However, these two are designed for a different purpose. The Martin HD-28 has a louder and fuller sound, which could be good for solo musicians and performers. The Martin D-28, on the other hand, a more balanced tone which could be great for singer-songwriters and those who want to play in the band.

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