Sunday, November 30, 2014

2008 Martin HD-28V Custom Acoustic Guitar Review


Today we are looking at a guitar that unfortunately never stood a chance in my collection, a 2008 Martin HD-28V Custom acoustic, that was part of a special run of 10 that were produced for Gruhn Guitars of Nashville, Tennessee. This is not fault of the guitar, but rather is the victim of my return to school and the complete lack of time to play very much anymore – my D18-GE is still the number one guitar in my life. However, this is still a beautiful dreadnought that anyone in his or her right mind would be proud to possess.

The HD-28V is the most popular model in the Martin vintage series, and it is a fairly faithful replica of the original rosewood dreadnought. As I said, this is one of ten custom guitars that were built for Gruhn six years ago. They incorporated popular pre-war features into a vintage herringbone D-2 format, including: grained ivoroid bindings, forward-shifted scalloped bracing, butterbean tuning machines, and a diamond-and-squares fingerboard inlay. These combine to result in an exceptional pre-war re-creation in both tone and appearance.

For Gruhn, they went a step further and used an Adirondack spruce top, Indian Rosewood sides and back, Golden Era style Adirondack bracing and a thicker 1-3/4" nut width to make this HD-28V even better. Finished off with a gloss body finish, aging toner on top and a bevelled & polished tortoise pickguard this guitar became an instant classic.

This Adirondack top provides ample power suitable for most applications. The tone is punchy, bright, clear and loud. Additionally, the Adirondack top allows for lots of headroom and power when you need it. Adirondack is the stiffest tonewood and provides an instant attack and unmatched clarity, though it takes a bit more pick attack to drive it.

The body has zig-zag herringbone black and white binding, which always looks very nice, and it carries over to the purfling on the back. The V-shaped neck is a fine piece of workmanship. It is made of satin-finished hand-shaped mahogany with an ebony fretboard (the bridge base is ebony too). The neck is not bound, and 14 of its 20 frets are clear of the body, which is a change that Martin made in 1934. The neck has an easy and shallow profile, with a 16-inch radius. The nut and compensated bridge are both made of bone.

Of course the craftsmanship is first-rate. It came to me perfectly set up, and the nut and fretwork is unparalleled. It plays very smoothly, and it feels very comfortable even without any break-in period. It can be a very loud guitar, and the more you lean into it, the more you realize how well balanced it is from string to string. I go back and forth on whether I like the sound of mahogany or rosewood better, but the tone of this one is great, so rosewood it is…

The limited edition Gruhn guitars are all gone, but you can get close with a standard HD-28V if you are willing to pay the price. These guitars are fantastic, but not terribly cheap. A brand new Martin HD-28V has a list price of $4599 and a street price of $3499, which includes a nice hard case and a limited lifetime warranty for the original purchaser. Think of it as an investment in your future, as these guitars will last a lifetime if kept in a loving environment. By the way, a while back I went on the Martin factory tour and got to see first-hand the care that goes into building these guitars, and it made me proud to own one. If you are ever in Eastern Pennsylvania, I highly recommend that you stop by their factory for a tour.

Fortunately, I was able to find a good home for this fine instrument, and I am sure that I will come to regret selling it. But, guitars were meant to be played, and to have this one just siting in its case was certainly a crime.


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