No guitar demonstrates the sweet, classic "Martin Sound" quite like a good D-18. Since 1934, the 14-fret D-18 has been Martin's flagship mahogany dreadnought. Its voice is powerful and well-balanced with every bit of that low-end thump we all love so much.
Along with the D-28, the prewar D-18 is one of the Golden Era instruments that sets the standard for acoustic guitars. The power and depth of the Dreadnought body combine with the sweetness, sparkle, and singing character of mahogany, making the D-18 a versatile axe well suited to any musical situation. Martin Dreadnoughts produced between 1934 and 1941 are perhaps the most sought-after Golden Era acoustic guitars. And for good reason, too—the acoustic guitar would not be what it is today with their influence.
This 1941 D-18 delivers everything we love about prewar dreadnoughts, and it's an early example of the rear-shifted bracing that became standard in the postwar era. Its tone is powerful, but deeply refined. It comes alive with even the lightest touch, and its syrupy midrange jumps across the room. The original scalloped braces allow for wide dynamic response. Like a good mahogany dread, its tone is woody and unassuming, and it does everything with style and grace.
At present, it has a nice playable setup, and the narrower 1-11/16" nut width make the neck carve feel more approachable than '30s models. Like any prewar Martin, it has had the necessary neck reset, as well as new frets, new bridge, and bridge plate. On guitars like this D-18, these repairs are like fresh tires on a car—they are necessary if you want the guitar to play and sound like it should, and on this one, the result is a great a player with impressive tone. It also feels impossibly lightweight, especially relative to modern guitars—just 3 lbs 14.4 oz. There's an airy resonance to lightweight guitars that you'll never get from a heavy one. If you know, you know.
As for structural repairs, there is a professionally repaired crack on the bass side, along the shoulder. The side is neatly reinforced with Mahogany strips on the inside, and from the outside, the workmanship is so tidy that it's hard to spot without a blacklight. At some point, the end block was drilled out to accommodate a pickup, and there is a strap button installed on the heel. From there, there are three small repaired cracks on the back, and fortunately the top has been spared from the annoying pickguard cracks that plague these guitars. It came to us with some vintage plastic-button Japanese tuning machines, but we were able to drop in some late-'40s Klusons that look more the part. The original screw holes were filled a long time ago, and these Klusons fit the same screw pattern as the old replacements.
All in all, this 1941 D-18 is an awe-inspiring dreadnought. It sounds amazing, and it's a great player. Plus, it has the authentic wear of a well-loved vintage guitar. The good ones get played, and while this one may have been put through the paces, it finds us in nice condition—used and loved, but not abused. This guitar is ready to inspire the next generation of dreadnought pickers. Original case included.