In the realm of steel-string acoustic guitars, the Martin dreadnought body style reigns supreme. Martin originated the dreadnought design in the early part of the last century, and, with a few refinements, it has come to be the single most popular body style of steel-string acoustic guitar in the world, copied by just about every manufacturer that has produced a guitar since. Of course, there will always be devotees of the smaller parlor models, the larger jumbo and grand models, or the Little Martin and Backpacker travel styles, but today, the dreadnought design accounts for about 80 percent of Martin’s totals sales, with over 60 models and variations currently offered. It is also the body style of the vast majority of acoustic guitars sold today, from the cheapest import to any number of Martin’s most expensive competitors.
The dreadnought design originated in 1916, when the Oliver Ditson music publishing company partnered with Martin to produce a large-bodied steel-string acoustic guitar, as opposed to the smaller-bodied gut-string guitars common at the time. With the development of recorded music and the increasing popularity of the guitar as a band instrument, the need arose for a louder, more powerful design that could hold its own on a bandstand or cut through the mix on record. The original design featured an elongated body with a spruce top and mahogany back and sides that joined the neck at the 12th fret, and a slotted peghead. The model name was based on the Dreadnought-class of battleships that had recently been developed, massive all-big-gun powerhouses that were considered to be the most formidable weapons on earth, with nothing to fear; hence the name Dreadnought. As the new guitar design was described as being as loud as a canon, the name seemed a perfect fit. However, the Ditson-branded guitars were not a huge success, and after the company folded, Martin began selling its own line of dreadnoughts in 1931, the D-1 and D-2 models. By 1934, Martin began producing dreadnoughts with the body-neck joint at the 14th fret, and it soon became the standard guitar design we recognize today. Currently, Martin offers a number of dreadnought models, from period-correct recreations of the original Ditson design, to the iconic and best-selling D-28 model, variants like D-18s and D-35s, high-end D-45s, and any number of signature models from master pickers. You can find a Martin dreadnought with or without a cutaway for easier access to the upper frets, simple acoustics or acoustic-electrics for plugging in to an amp or PA, and lefty or righty or 12-string models - Martin has all the bases covered. They also offer, in addition to models crafted with conventional tonewoods like spruce tops and mahogany bodies, guitars built using more sustainable materials like cherry wood or high-pressure laminates (HPLs). With the right tools and some glue and wood finish, you can even build your own Martin with a do-it-yourself kit, which comes with all the wood and hardware needed to construct your very own dreadnought. Martin invented the dreadnought design and perfected it, and they have been used on countless classic recordings by everyone from Hank Williams to Neil Young and Jimmy Page. Order your Martin dreadnought today and put a masterpiece in your hands!