Review of the Martin D18E Retro Series Acoustic Guitar

Martin D18E Retro Series Acoustic guitar

As the innovators of the iconic dreadnought shape of acoustic guitars, Martin and their D18 and D28 models need no introduction to the world of musicians of all ages and skill levels. Used by the likes of Johnny Cash, Elvis, Neil Young and many other well-known artists, the D18 model was a breakthrough for its time.

With it's rich mahogany body, aged vintage Sitka spruce top and comfortable neck string spacing, it quickly became the choice of countless musicians wanting a focused sound for finger picking, exceptional projection for strumming and overall character that has allowed so many award-winning songs to be written and performed on the world war 1 inspired guitar.

Now in Martin's Retro series the classic model is available to guitarists of all skill levels and genres, with a little piece of history added into the mix. As well as a visitors' centre and factory, Martin's headquarters in Nazareth, Pennsylvania boasts a museum, among which are the 170-plus classic Martins from the 30s and 40s - known as the 'Golden Era' of guitar making. It's these unique, highly valuable guitars that are now available with Martin's new Retro Series.

Martin Guitars and Fishman Electronics have enjoyed a collaborative association for over 20 years. During a brainstorming session in early 2011, Martin CEO Chris Martin put forward the idea of recording some of the museum's pre-war Martins to Larry Fishman, CEO of Fishman Electronics. These include a 1942 D-45, a 1941 D-28, a 1937 D-18 and a 1934 long-scale 000-28 model. These models are now available at a touch of a button.

Acoustically, the Retro D-18E offers a clean, bright, crisp tone with lots of power and projection. It's a mid-heavy sound that's sensitive to dynamic variations. Direct comparisons with a standard D-18 reveal a slightly more woody tone compared to the Retro guitar, but overall they sound very similar in character. The D18 Retro is an all-solid affair featuring a solid Sitka top and mahogany back and sides. Tortoiseshell-colour binding edges both the guitar's back and front and complements the Delmar pickguard.

Though simplistic in appearance, the D18 retro does have a classic air about it, be it the ebony 30s-style bridge, old-style abalone position inlays, or vintage-style tuners, Martin clearly intended the D-18E to hark back to yesteryear. Martin's Retro series will excel in any home, studio or live environment, though how many people will realistically submit such finery to regular gigging life remains to be seen.

Martin D18E Retro Series

Review by Ryan Canning - Our Mars Music City Store guitar specialist

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