[SOLVED!] Martin D18 Vs. Gibson J45: The War For Supremacy


When asked about the icons of dreadnought guitars, today’s guitarists mainly think of two models: Martin D18 and Gibson J45. Adaptable and long-lasting, the Martin and Gibson guitars earn a lot of compliments from music enthusiasts around the globe. Additionally, in an effort to find the ultimate guitar, it’s not uncommon for people to pit D18 and J45 against each other. As a result, Martin D18 vs. Gibson J45 is a topic that troubles various guitarists, novices as well as veterans.

Looking for a down-to-earth comparison that tells you everything about traits and aspects of Martin D18 and Gibson J45? In that case, you won’t regret reading our article from top to bottom. 


Martin D18Gibson J45
Scale (Inch)25.4 24.75
Fingerboard Radius (Inch)1612
Nut width (Inch)1.751.72
Neck finish SatinGloss
Neck shapeModified Low OvalSlim Taper
Body shape Square-Shoulder DreadnoughtSloped-Shoulder Dreadnought

Martin D18 Vs. Gibson J45: Breakdown


A combination of vintage lacquer, Sitka spruce top, and Martin Headstock gives D18 a classic appearance. Furthermore, the Martin guitar features a natural finish which means it’s possible to see the color of the wood. Needless to say, Martin D-18 is held in high esteem by guitarists who desire instruments of timeless designs. If you seek a guitar that will never go out of style, you should take a look at D18.

About Gibson J45, it boasts everything that people expect from modern guitars: pronounced dots in the fretboard, stylish round shoulders,  catchy jet black headplate, … The cherry finish of the Gibson guitar also adds to the boldness of its profile in live performances. If you mostly play contemporary genres and want something that complements your style, J45 is going to be your best bet. Of course, when a need arises, you may customize aspects of Gibson J45 to your liking. 


Since both Martin D18 and Gibson J45 make use of mahogany in their construction, they share some similarities in terms of tones. That being said, differences still exist and you must take them into account before deciding on the one to get.

In play, D18 proves to be more articulate than J45 and even if you turn up the volume, the quality of the tone remains constant. Naturally, the Martin guitar is well-suited for those that enjoy playing bluegrass and favor flatpicking. Meanwhile, once it comes to vocal accompaniment, J45 is by all accounts the winner in Martin D18 vs. Gibson J45. As a whole, J45 usually produces a relaxed tone ideal for strumming and sits back in the mix. 

Ease Of Use

Considering the difference in preferences, it’s no surprise that the community is at odds about ease of use of Martin D18 and Gibson J45. Quite a few guitarists speak highly of the short scale and short neck of J45 as they keep the distance between frets low. In the case that you cannot make your hands pull off acrobatic moves, it’s wise to give the Gibson guitar a go. Regarding D18, the Martin guitar is not a tough customer but for good measure, get a feel of the strings, frets, ….prior to drawing conclusions. 


To put it plainly, retailers change the price of guitars from time to time but Gibson J45 tends to cost a bit more than Martin D18. Consequently, many budget-minded people opt for D18 to save money but if you have a fat wallet, feel free to pick up J45. Upon purchase, the Gibson guitar is accompanied by a warranty and the same applies to the Martin one. That means if something fails out of the blue due to manufacturing defects, you may claim a replacement. 

Note: It’s ok to research deals to get the best bargain but you should avoid “too good to be true” ones. Nowadays, there is no shortage of shady retailers that market fake guitars as authentic examples so be careful. 

Final Words 

All in all, Martin D18 and Gibson J45 have their own pluses and minuses so it’s up to you to decide. If you play solo for most of the time, adore everything classic and don’t have a lot of money, invest in D18. On the other hand, if you play in a band, want up-to-date instruments and can drop big bucks, don’t hesitate to grab J45. 

A List Of Reputable Retailers

Presently, it’s possible to buy guitars from a wide range of retailers but for good measure, you should stick to these names:

  • Sweetwater: Known as one of the largest retailers in the U.S, Sweetwater is able to provide all sorts of guitars to customers. The no-nonsense customer service of Sweetwater also makes it the go-to retailer for many guitarists. 
  • Guitar Center: By taking advantage of the network of physical stores across the country, Guitar Center manages to control a big share of the market. From entry-level lines to high-end models, guitars can buy everything they need from Guitar Center.
  • Zzounds: Despite its size, Zzounds still prove to be a solid retailer, especially once it comes to rare guitars. In the case that you struggle to get a certain guitar from other retailers, try out Zzounds.