The Martin D-18 is a masterpiece of steel-string acoustic guitar design, a modern classic descended from the earliest dreadnought models which Martin first developed almost a century ago. Martin’s guitar-making history dates back even further, to 1833, when young German immigrant C.F. Martin founded the company in New York City. Five years later, he moved operations to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where the family-owned business is still located today, run by the founder’s great-great-great-grandson, C.F. “Chris” Martin IV. The earliest Martin guitars were mostly smaller-bodied, parlor-style gut-string instruments common to the period, intended to be played solo or in small ensembles. By the late 1800s, with the advent of recorded music and the increasing popularity of larger bands, several manufacturers began offering steel-string acoustic guitars, which provided more volume and projection than gut-string instruments, but required more substantial internal bracing. In 1916, the Oliver Ditson music publishing company partnered with Martin to develop a large-bodied steel-string guitar, which, because it was deemed to be as loud as a cannon, they called the Dreadnought, named for the WW-I-era class of battleships, at the time considered to be the most formidable weapons on earth. These early dreadnoughts featured an elongated body with a spruce top and mahogany back and sides that met the neck at the 12th fret, and sported a slotted headstock. The Ditson-branded dreadnoughts were not big sellers, however, and after that company went out of business, Martin began selling their own D-series dreadnoughts. The first few years of production maintained the initial 12-fret-clear-of-the-body design, but by 1934, the familiar 14-fret-clear dreadnought design was released, and it is now the most popular steel-string acoustic guitar design in the world, providing excellent tonal balance, projection and playability.
Today, the Martin D-18 is a mainstay of the company’s product line, along with dreadnought siblings like the D-28, D-35 and top-of-the-line D-45. While the D-18 sports less ornamentation than the others, (the higher the model number, the more ornate the inlays, binding and other appointments), it is by no means a lesser guitar. It features a back and sides of mahogany, as opposed to the rosewood found on most versions of the other models, which imparts its own, unique tonal characteristics, resulting in a somewhat brighter sound, well-suited for fingerpicking and playing leads. Martin offers several variations, including the standard D-18 with a solid Sitka spruce top; the Retro D-18, based on the iconic pre-war models and loaded with Fishman electronics for amplified picking; the D-18 1937, which features period-correct materials and construction methods, right down to the hide glue; and the D-18GE Golden Era 1934, based on another pre-war classic and featuring a slightly stiffer Adirondack solid spruce top. Whatever your playing style, it can only be enhanced when you play the best guitars available. Martin originated the dreadnought design and perfected it, and the D-18 is a prime example of their years of fine craftsmanship and commitment to quality. Order your Martin D-18 today and own a masterpiece.