Model and Description:
28 Style 14 Fret
Rosewood Back/Sides Spruce Top
MSRP $2,999(per Martin)
Street $2,249(various On-line sellers)
Recent eBay listing of 1944 Martin 000-28 $65,000
Normal eBay completed listing selling price and price guide value(assuming 1980 and newer) $1,700-$2,000 with signature models and special edition getting higher prices.
This is a beautiful guitar that has primary features and quality that would drive you to buy a Martin in the first place. What also makes the 0028 very special is its comfortable size, superb tone, and of course craftsmanship. The use fine woods give this guitar a very special tone and it is obvious by all the examples I have seen Martin takes the time to use quality woods in this model as the have for decades. This guitar while beautiful is not too fancy where you would never want to play it and keep it in a glass case. This guitar begs, pleads, seduces you to pick it up and play. Once in your hands you will find it hard to put down. I bought this guitar used and never regretted it. Any solid wood Martin will hold it value as good or better than any other acoustic guitar ever produced. I dont think I would sell my 000-28 but I know for sure I will get back what I paid for it. Considering the trim quality and detail along with its quality construction the 000-28 is really a great guitar for the money. If you can find the money to buy the 00-28 you will not be disappointed. Of course if you are looking to spend a little less and/or want a slightly different tone you should consider 000-18(Mahogany/Spruce). Signature Models such as the Eric Clapton model of the 000-28 will cost more and add some nice appointments. However I like the no nonsense look and feel of a traditional Martin.
I currently own quite a few guitars(primarily a collector) and only play for personal enjoyment not professionally. I have owned many guitars over the years and always come back to my beloved Martin Acoustics simply because they sound great. I frequently sample many guitars when I go to the store and have in my travels played dozens of 000-28s. In every case, the 000-28s that I tried sounded great (even some that had crack repairs). Of course, the setup of the guitar will dictate its playability and to some degree tone. I have played competing guitars from all the other major brands but still like the Martin 000-28.
Construction and quality
The primary reason to buy a Martin is simply that real solid woods produce superior tone and sound better as the guitar ages. Therefore, a key element in a quality guitar is the selection of woods. The all solid wood constructed 0028 has a Spruce top, East Indian rosewood sides, a two-piece East Indian rosewood back, mahogany neck and ebony fingerboard. The type of woods is important and again, Martin also takes care to select the best possible pieces which is why I really love Martin Guitars. The workmanship of the 000-28 is exceptional inside and out with great precision of construction, first rate finish, and clean insides (no drips of glue visible upon checkout of the insides with an inspection mirror.
Most Martins now come with an adjustable truss rod. Older Martins did not have adjustable truss rods. I have seen a few web sites that indicate Martin began with adjustable truss rods around 1985. This is obviously important when deciding to buy an older Martin.
The glossy finish and grain the wood is beautiful. I had a satin finish guitar before this and really missed the look and feel of a quality gloss finish that wipes clean easily and can be polished. The grain of the wood is beautiful to look at and the fit and finish is first class all the way. Pick it up and examine it closely and you can tell the 000-28 is built by skilled craftsmen. The personality of Martin guitars becomes more unique with age sounding better and better as it gets older. This is really the reason for spending more on a solid wood guitar in the first place. The way wood ages on a fine guitar has and will not ever be replicated by technology. This is why older Martins are highly sought after. Since Music is art, this adds to the appeal. Please note that I have played quite a few 000-28s and found none had a bad sound or personality. Compare it to a Taylor's precision and you will immediately notice the Martin has a hand built feel and personality compared to just being a precisely built machine. Taylor fans do not take these comments to heart. I love Taylor guitars as well but it is harder to find the same comfort with a Taylor.
A word about Martin Cases
The Martin 600 series plastic hard shell case is sturdy and can take abuse. Mine however developed a crack from where the hinge is riveted to the case. I also like the look of a traditional wood frame case. It is classy and seems to be better suited to a Martin. I am sure this would not be a big deal but since I bought it new I decided to return it to Guitar Center and upgraded to the 5 ply wood based 500 series case. The 500 series has more room for accessories with a bigger compartment and room under the headstock. On the 600 series I had to very carefully fold the strap so it would fit in the space under the headstock where the 500 had plenty of room for strap, tuner, cloth, capo, strings etc. The 500 series case also looks better with its traditional style. I somehow feel that a plastic case somehow does not do this guitar justice. The D-41 did fit perfectly(snug) in both cases. The 500 series case is much heavier which for me is fine but if weight is important stay with the plastic 600 series case. It sounds silly but I really wish guitar cases had a better latch system with no sharp edges. The latch alignment tabs are sharp enough to gouge our guitar if not careful. This is not a Martin issue however since all guitar cases have similar latches.
The 000-28 is bright yes still delivers rich bass tone. As it gets older the bass will develop even more(known as opening up). Play it hard and it roars, play it light and it sings. The volume is quite incredible. It continues to surprise me at times with its deep lows and brilliant highs. I play a wide variety of styles and find the 000-28 suitable for almost everything. Of course, I strongly suggest playing a 000-28 before actually buying it or any guitar for that matter. You can always buy on-line and save a few bucks but when spending this kind of money I want to play it before making my decision.
When compared to Taylor guitars in the same class I found the Martin had a fuller tone while the Taylor guitars had a brighter tone. I also have tried some different strings that of course change the tone slightly. Martin suggests Medium strings for this guitar and I agree. I finally settled on Martin strings which provide full tone. I had originally used coated strings but they do dampen the sound a bit. This compares to My D-41 which seemed to do a bit better with the coated strings. Choice of strings really depends on your style of play. Martin does not recommend heavy strings at all for this guitar as it will put too much stress on the neck. Keep in mind that changing string gauge may require a truss rod adjustment.
Comfort and tone which is next to tone quality is the reason I decided to buy my 000-28. The neck has a low profile making it easy for me to reach on those really tough chords. Since I bought mine used I found the saddle for some reason was reversed which made my treble strings a bit hard to play. Obviously this was easily corrected with a string change(just lifted the saddle out and reversed it). Setups can be a lengthy discussion but the basics are really not very difficult to do yourself. Of course if you are nervous about a saddle height or truss rod adjustment take the Martin to your favorite luthier who will make things right for your style and technique.
The Saddle and Nut are made of Corian but I cannot help but wonder if a bone saddle would make a subtle difference in the tone. For now I will leave it alone. Considering this is really a high end standard production Martin I would have been more impressed if natural materials were used.
The one key tone improving change that most folks consider is a Bone Nut, Bridge Pins, and Saddle. Bone tends to bring out better sustain and crisper notes. The difference is noticeable to an experienced player but novices will have a hard time noticing any difference. If replacing the nut make sure it is grooved to fit your strings properly or you will have tuning and buzzing problems. I put my own carved bone saddles in and the results were great. I have decided to leave the complexities of a nut replacement to a later date and a pro luthier. True fanatics will pick up a few different types of Bridge Pins to experiment with tone. To get into the effects on tone with various materials is beyond the scope of this review but suffice to say that it is worth experimenting with to get the tone perfect for your style.
My guitar does not have a pickup. I would recommend the Martin Thinline undersaddle pickup which is what I have in my Martin D-41. . It hides under the bridge and the plug is in the strap button. When I was looking at the guitar I really was not interested in having a pickup. In fact I did not even plug it in until I got home. I have a Crate 30D acoustic amp (bought that for my Ovation) and decided to give it a try
WOW! When I finally plugged in, the sound from this nearly invisible system blew me away. The system reproduced the sound of the guitar better than any on-board mixing system I have used in the past. Of course for serious recording or large audiences I would expect that any mixing would be done externally anyway. Please note that it does use a 9 volt battery mounted to the neck block. This is also a good idea as the neck block is probably one of the least likely surfaces to vibrate or impact in the creation of sound. To replace you will have to loosen or remove strings to get at it through the sound hole. This inconvenience is a very small price to pay when sound is the primary goal. Additionally, I think it is a sin to clutter a fine acoustic guitar with those on-board mixer/tuner combos. Keep in mind that this is an option. It just happened to be in my guitar when I bought it and I guess you can go for other systems if you wanted to or have none and mike the guitar for recording of stage play.
I also think too much electronic junk in the body has to hinder the sound somewhat. I love technology and gadgets but when buying a fine guitar I feel the guitar itself is the first thing to consider.
Why should I even discuss maintenance on a high end guitar when most buyers should already be aware of how to care for a fine instrument? Well for many a Martin might be the first all solid wood guitar for some buyers. In my research for buying my guitar I came across many stories of how beautiful guitars were damaged or ruined due to neglect or abuse. So, in the interest of enjoyment for any guitar... here are the basics...
Martins are warranted for life to the original owner so it is important to take care of your Martin and register the guitar with Martin. Martin also includes a small booklet for care an feeding of your guitar. The most important thing is to control the humidity and temperature of your Martin. Heat and dryness can easily do harm to a high quality guitar. To control humidity I use a planet waves humidity meter and a film canister with holes drilled it so I can keep a piece of damp sponge in the case. Works like a champ. Martin is quite clear that heat damage is not covered. Most experience guitar players know these things already and I am sure the dealer will tell you as well how important these things are. But a solid wood Martin might be an upgrade for an aspiring guitarist who may not have been concerned with these issues before and this is why I mention it. Check a few Guitar Repair sites on the web and you will see some great examples of heat and dryness damage. Keep in mind that you can over do it and watch out for those sound hole humidifiers as it is easy to forget to wring out the tube and stain the inside of your guitar or worse yet get it moldy. About 45-50% humidity and temperature around 70 degrees is what most makers suggest.
One of the primary reasons to buy a quality Martin is that you will own it for a long time even generations in some cases. Even the finest guitars may need and adjustment or repair eventually. I did quite a bit of research on acoustic guitar repair and found that complex jobs such as Neck Resets require expert skills. The common thread is that Martin construction quality makes it worth the effort and repair procedures are well documented and understood by quality luthiers.
Some background on the 000-28
There is tons of historical information about Martin guitars and the 000-28 is no exception. You could easily make it a lifetime endeavor to study Martin Guitars. I will only cover the points I feel are most important in making the decision to buy a Martin 000-28. There is a book by a former Martin Employee, Mike Longworth(deceased) who did an incredible job of documenting the history of Martin Guitars. This book is a must read for any Martin fan. It is well written and incredibly comprehensive. It is out of print however so expect to pay a premium for a used copy. Much of the information in this review came from Mikes book.
The Martin 000-28 was first made in 1911 which should be a good indicator that this design is timeless like many of Martins other models. There is tons of historical information about Martin guitars and the 000-28 is no exception. You could easily make it a lifetime endeavor to study Martin Guitars. I will only cover the points I feel are most important in making the decision to buy a Martin 000-28. There is a book by a former Martin Employee, Mike Longworth(deceased) who did an incredible job of documenting the history of Martin Guitars. This book is a must read for any Martin fan. It is well written and incredibly comprehensive. It is out of print however so expect to pay a premium for a used copy.
Why spend over 2 grand on a Martin? A guitar is like a good friend. Be good to it and it will be good to you. There are lots of Martins that have been around for decades and even some that have been around over a century. The more you play your Martin the more you will love it and it will show in your playing. I tried quite a few cheaper guitars but none have given me that special relationship that my 000-28 has.
The 000-28 is a solid instrument looks beautiful and will be your workhorse guitar. It will be the one you love to just pickup and noodle around. It is obvious that Martin takes great care on selecting the wood used in their guitars. The 28 series is no exception. The East Indian Rosewood back and sides have beautiful grain and the Sitka Spruce in the top is clear and beautiful. Martin's bracing is a major factor in its unique and beautiful tone.
Total Length 40 1/2"
Body Length 20"
Body Width 15 5/8"
Body Depth 4 7/8"
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