Thunderous bass response balanced by crystal-clear, articulate highs—the D-28 sets the standard by which all acoustic guitars are judged. Hank Williams, Sr., The Beatles, Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Page, countless bluegrass greats—the list becomes a who’s who of guitarists and songwriters across pretty much every genre. Simply put, the D-28 does everything well. It is the quintessential workhorse guitar.
“The post-WWII D-28 had a slightly different look than its predecessor and became the centerpiece of the folk and folk rock movements at their pinnacle in the 1950s and 1960s,” current Martin chairman and owner Chris Martin said.
This early 1954 D-28 (serial #135281) is a superlative example of the post-war Martin D-28. It features Brazilian Rosewood back and sides that show subtle figuring and beautiful book match. This D-28 was produced during the "mystery top" era—a short period of time when some historians argue Martin used a stash of Red Spruce and/or Engelmann on some dreadnoughts instead of Sitka Spruce. Without testing a sample in a lab, it’s impossible to prove what species of Spruce was used here, but does it matter? Considering how good this guitar sounds, it's not that important.
Considering its age, this '54 D-28 is in excellent cosmetic condition, and its repair history is minimal, too. This is about as nice of a postwar D-28 as you are likely to find. The original Kluson "waffleback tuners" feel stable and keep in tune nicely, and the original bone nut gets the job done. What's really impressive, thought, is that this guitar made it 70 years with its original tortoise-dot bridge pins. At some point along the way, the end pin was replaced with a sturdy metal one. The bridge may be a replacement, but if original, it has at least been removed and slightly lowered.
Like a lot of Martins from this era, this D-28 suffered the typical pickguard crack (along the outer edge of the pickguard), but the crack is properly repaired and cleated. In October 2018, a well-known Austin-based luthier reset the neck, dressed the frets, and fit two interchangable bone saddles for the bridge. One saddle is slightly taller than the other, so they can be swapped out for quick action adjustments. At present, the shorter saddle is in place, and the action is super low with light gauge strings. Even with the lower string tension, the sound is incredible, and the box absolutely explodes with sound when you dig in. The playability is everything you could ask for, and the powerful tone packs the nuance and subtleties of a well-aged vintage guitar.
This 1954 D-28 includes a vintage case, but the plush is too pale to be a Martin case.