Martin Classics: HD-28 and D-35
Published on 25 February 2021
Martin & Co are the heritage acoustic brand.
No other acoustic guitar maker on the planet has such a rich heritage and such a devoted fanbase. Their designs are arguably the most influential (and copied) in the world, and they remain at the top of their game well over a century into business.
That’s not bad going, by anybody’s standards!
Today, we’d like to look at little bit closer at a few of our favourite Martin Dreadnoughts. These are well-loved premium models, and they are some of the very best guitars available anywhere.
Every acoustic guitarist knows how powerful and potent the mix of Spruce and Rosewood can be when made into a masterful dreadnought shape. The strong cut and bright tonality of Spruce meshes with the robust warmth and slightly ‘scooped’ properties of good Rosewood to make a sound that practically defines the dreadnought sound.
When Martin first released the HD-28 in 1976, the idea was to make not only a D-28 with a little extra beauty, but to actually expand on that fundamental, glorious sound. To do this, they incorporated what’s known as scalloped bracings into the inner architecture of the guitar. Within the body, the bracing (strips of timber glued in strategic positions to the underside of the guitar’s top and sometimes the inside of the back, too) works hard to focus and move all of the sound and energy produced by plucking a string, and push it out of the soundhole in the most beautiful way possible. Bracing takes the resonance created by the guitar’s top vibrating with sound, and pushes it out, basically. Bracing supports the top, which needs to be firm and yet resonant. Bracing, put simply, can really change the sonic character of a guitar.
So, what is scalloped bracing? Well, it generally refers to the shape of the timber bracings themselves, more than the positioning, which varies from maker to maker. Scalloped braces are, in the case of Martin guitars, hand-shaped into a series of ‘dips’ or ‘valleys’ along the length of each piece. Scalloping the bracing tends to warm up the bottom end of the guitar, smooth out the mids and put the whole sound into a very balanced focus. That famously ‘boomy’ bottom end of the D-28 is brought into focus slightly more and tightened up, which makes everything just ‘sit’ really well sonically. We don’t want to say ‘improves’ because sound and tone are subjective things, but to our ears, it’s a sonic step up from regular bracing.
The Martin HD-28 adds an extra touch of visual elegance, in the subtle manner that Martin have become known. The ‘H’ in HD-28 stands for ‘Herringbone’ and refers to the beautiful herringbone purfling added to the edge of the body. It’s a trademark of Martin’s and adds to the natural beauty of the timbers and craftsmanship.
The Martin HD-28 is a fantastic ‘songwriting’ guitar, due to its’ wide-open sound, greater volume and dynamic range. Just ask Father John Misty and Sturgill Simpson, two of today’s most significant performing songwriters, who swear by their Martin HD-28!
It’s worth noting, if any prospective Martin enthusiasts plan to go out on the road with their chosen guitar, then the Martin HD-28E also exists! It’s entirely the same guitar, but with the addition of a superlative LR Baggs Anthem pickup system for achieving top tone in live performance situations. The Anthem is no run of the mill pickup: LR Baggs have created the TRU MIC system, which incorporates a specially designed condenser mic and a traditional undersaddle piezo, to give you the most of that wonderful HD-28 tone and dynamic!
The Martin D-35 is a handsome upgrade to the recipe. Pink Floyd fans will lovingly salute this model as David Gilmour’s favourite, heard on the likes of Wish You Were Here and Poles Apart.
The most distinguishing feature of the Martin D-35 is the three-piece Rosewood back. Fashioned into a distinctive and quite beautiful triangular design, this feature gives the instrument a real personality, not to mention plenty of that famous Spruce/Rosewood tone!
The Martin D-35 adds tasteful aged binding to neck as well as the body. Again, it’s in typical Martin taste to be subtle about these details, but the binding really sets off the dark Ebony fingerboard! Not only that, the dot markers are made from Mother of Pearl, for an extra touch of class.
Class is what this instrument is all about. It’s that familiar and wonderful Martin sound and feel, with just little additions to set it apart from other models. Whilst the style is quietly understated, the sound of the D-35 is loud, confident and very balanced. We’d use conflicting descriptors ‘bright’ and ‘warm’ at the same time, and we think you’d understand what we mean: this guitar performs across the whole spectrum!
Much like the HD-28 to its sister the D-28, the Martin D-35 has an equivalent model in the HD-35. As with the HD-28, this model adds scalloped bracing and herringbone purfling to everything that was included on the sister model. So, you still have the binding on the fingerboard, the fantastic 3-piece Rosewood back and the Mother of Pearl inlays. If you want something that’s a bit special, but is not ostentatious, then the Martin HD-35 may well be the perfect life-long acoustic choice for you. It sounds immense and will only ripen with age.
This short blog lets us share just a few of our favourite Martin acoustic guitars. Such a company has a wealth of iconic models, so we’ll be looking at more in the future. In the meantime, we hope you’ve enjoyed checking out these models with us! Please click below to browse our current Martin stock, and thanks for reading.