Todd's Professional Martin D-18 Review (new 2012 version)
The D-18 is the Mahogany dreadnought in Martin’s Standard Series of professional-level acoustic guitars.
The only thing standard about Martin’s Standard Series is the consistently excellent hand-made construction and high-quality materials, including solid quartersawn tonewoods, solid bone hardware, and a solid Sitka spruce soundboard with tight, straight, even grain and loads of cross silking. And today’s D-18 is a stellar example.
Martin recently performed a makeover on the venerable D-18, giving it a sleek, fast modern neck matched with a vintage Martin look, and upgrades including fuller, more resonant tone thanks to the ebony bridge and forward-shifted, scalloped bracing under the high-quality spruce top.
I always enjoy watching a guitarist’s face light up with surprise and delight when they get their hands on a new Martin D-18 for the first time. The model immediately impresses with its ring off the strings, then it charms with its depth and definition, and wows with its power and projection. (read more of Todd's Professional Martin D18 review)
Martin D18 Customer Reviews (new post-2012 version)
Name: Chris Date: 2/20/14 Review: Martin D-18 Rating you give the Martin D18: 4 - Highly recommend it
Likes: Superb sound, fit and finish.
Dislikes: Nothing much to complain about at all. Gloss on the headstock would be nice but no big deal.
Additional Comments: I have owned a bunch of different D-18 models over the years and played dozens more. The standard off the shelf D-18 has for many years been really hit or miss, mostly guitars that were just OK but not really in the same category as the great D-18s from the thirties, forties, fifties, sixties. You had to buy one of the upper level models (V,GE,etc.) to get a chance of getting a real great guitar, but even then it was not a given. In 2012 Martin upgraded the standard D-18 cosmetically and build wise and result, at least with the one that I just bought and one other that I played in a store, is remarkable. This is a lively, responsive guitar that has "it"....which is that feeling of the tone just jumping out of the guitar that we all love. This is truly the D-18 restored back to its glory. It is one of the best D-18s I have ever played and of course it is only going to get better with playing time and age. Right out of the box it is a better guitar than, for example, a D-18CW that I owned for many years--a very nice guitar--but the new D-18 blows it out of the water with that extra woody, crunchy sweet tone that only great guitars can give. I really think the D-18--especially at the great price point--is the best deal going in dreadnought guitars. And Maury's customer service was great, thanks guys. If you want a great mahogany/spruce guitar, you need to try the D-18. The only factor which may or may not matter is the neck, which is a little slimmer than most vintage neck shapes. If the neck on the standard D-18 is too thin, you would need to upgrade to the GE or higher level to get a thicker neck profile. But sound wise, I think the D-18 has just as much to offer as its more expensive siblings.
Name or Forum username: Willow-Bagger Date: Jan 31,2013 Review: 2012 D-18 Rating you give the Martin D18: 4 - Highly recommend it
Likes: Most Everything. I especially like the light weight of the D-18. To me the simplicity of the D-18 is part of its elegance. Nothing superflous about the D-18, It consists of what is fundamentally, bare bones essential to deliver a professional guitar platform and nothing else. Its a trim, fit,bare bones machine. Absolutely no dead weight. This is to me what makes the D-18 a D-18. Sure the D-28's, 35's, and 45's are marvelous, wonderful machines. But the D-18 is that pure lean, mean utilitarian machine. Again, to me its the simplicity of the D-18 wich gives it it's own brand of elegance. I am simply delighted with my 2012 D-18 with the sole exception of the PLASTIC STRING PINS... this was my only disappointment and it was easily corrected.
Dislikes: Plastic String Pins with a Bone Saddle and Ebony Bridge? Just doesn't make any sense. Obviously, this was a decision made by the Bean-Counters at Martin. Come'on Boys, use a little common sense. There is absolutely NO reason to use PLASTIC string pins on a BRAND NEW $2000 + dollar Martin D-18 Guitar. First thing I did when I got the guitar home was to take off the old strings and put on new wires WITH EBONY STRING PINS with the mother of pearl dots... Its little details like this which make the world round.
NOW, my brand new $2000+ dollar Martin D-18 Guitar has an Ebony Bridge,Bone Saddle and Bone Nut, with EBONY STRING PINS..sheesh fellas, it really wasn't that hard and it removed the knawing knowledge and Stigma in the back of my mind that my Brand New, LEGENDARY D-18 Model, Martin Guitar NO LONGER HAS CHEAP, PLASTIC STRING PINS! And for this I thank God! Something is just fundamentally WRONG with the notion and idea of PLASTIC STRING PINS in ANY Martin Guitar, especially a LEGENDARY model like the D-18. Now that the issue of PLASTIC STRING PINS in my brand New Martin D-18 Guitar has been resolved, the world is once again round, Birds sing, and there is again peace in the valley.
Additional Comments: P.S. dear fellas at Martin Guitar Company, Ditch the PLASTIC STRING PINS. Also, Ditch the Bean-Counter who recommended using PLASTIC STRING PINS... Just because it saves (X) number of cents per ebony string pins times six per guitar times (x) Number of guitars manufactured annually is NO REASON to use the cheap, inferior widgets known as PLASTIC STRING PINS... Keep the QUALITY in the details of the guitar, no matter how small, and the Martin Guitars will continue to deliver on what made them famous to begin with.. QUALITY MATERIALS AND WORKMANSHIP...i.e. NO PLASTIC STRING PINS ! :)
Date: Jan 22, 2013 Review: 2012 Martin D-18 Rating you give the Martin D18: 4 - Highly recommend it
Likes: quality of construction, overall sound and playability of the new neck
Dislikes: nothing to dislike
Additional Comments: I've owned and played many guitars over the years and plenty of them have been acoustics. Among the latter have been Santa Cruz, Gibson, Taylor and, of course, Martin. I play many different styles of music. All that said, the new D-18 simply caught me by surprise when I picked one for the first time. This is definitely a big step up from the previous d-18, with serious upgrades in woods and construction. The result is a guitar that is feather light with a huge but balanced sound. Perhaps most impressive is the overall responsiveness generally found in guitars priced 3 to 4 times higher. Notes simply jump off the top - it's lightening fast. Give one a test drive and I'm betting you'll be impressed. By the way, I bought the one I played the first time . . .
Forum username: Blu-grassplayer Date: 12-2-2012 Review: Martin D18-2012 Rating you give the Martin D-18: 5 - Best thing I ever played
Dislikes: It is much lighter in weight than my D-28. Not a drawback, just an observation. Factory finish smells weird for about two months! Go figure.
Additional Comments: Maury is awesome. Great prices and service. This guitar coupled with Maury's service made the buying experience and now playing a joy.
Name: Brad Date: 12-1-12 Review: D-18 2012 model Rating you give the Martin D-18: 5 - Best thing I ever played
Likes: Sweet tone, limitless "headroom", Performance series 1/34" neck, Top grade silky sitka spruce top, (has to be AAA) fit & finish par excellence, and of course, Maury's awesome prices.
Dislikes: I'm not a fan of medium strings so those will be changed to med-lites.
Additional Comments: It's been 6 days since I received my D-18 via UPS, and I've played it enough to know that it's a keeper. The tone is very sweet and plays real nice right outta the box. I haven't made any adjustments and don't believe I'll need to make many, if any other than lighter strings. This guitar is so loud it drowns out my singing voice. I have a D-15 mahog that's also a real sweety but it's not nearly as loud as this newly designed D-18. Although I will keep this guitar forever, I believe it's strong suits will be lead runs and recording, as I think a rosewood tone suits my singing voice better. That said, this is a versatile guitar that shines either picking or playing fingerstyle. Highs are shimmery like a Taylor, mids are more present than any guitar I've ever played, and the lows will loosen the fillings in your teeth. What else would expect out of a Martin Dreadnaught? I applaud Martin for their most excellent overhaul of this classic axe, and Maury for providing such a great service in his website, communication, shipping, just everything. I love the fact that I got to pick mine out from the pics on Maurys website. The top on this guitar is the most beautiful piece of Sitka Spruce I've seen in any guitar, in any price range. If you haven't played one yet, do it. I couldn't because of where I live, but I did wear out lots of youtube videos on this model before I bought it and I was not disappointed when it arrived. It will remain an heirloom in this family.
Martin D-18 Reviews (old version - pre 2012)
Name: Mike Date: 03/31/12 Review: Martin D-18 Rating you give the Martin D18: 4 - Highly recommend it
Likes: Easy to Play. Great sound. Well balanced tone
Additional Comments: I bought my Martin new in 1968 for $375. Sad to say I abused the guitar when I was young, but sound has only improved over the years
Name: Walt Date: 1/13/2010 Review: Martin D-18
Additional Comments: I'm getting on up in age and have owned many guitars over the years. I'm owned several D-28's, D-35, HD-28, Gibson Dove, Hummingbird, etc. You get the picture. A couple of years ago I still had a purchased new Martin D-28 which I was planning to keep forever and a Yamaha FG730S with sold top and laminated rosewood sides and an old Yamaha FG-180. I got GAS for a Mahogany Martin and purchased the 2008 D-18 new. Glad I did. Now it's the to keep forever guitar. The Yamaha was so close to the D28 sound, I sold the D-28 and now only have the two Yamaha's and the Martin D-18. The D18 is about the best thing I have ever played and the Yamaha FG-730S satisfies my Rosewood playing desires. Great complement to the Martin D18. I have had other D-18's and all were great, but this one stands out.
Name: Allen C. Date: 6-3-09 Review: Martin D18 Rating you give the Martin D-18: 5 - Best thing I ever played
Likes: Mine is a Vintage 1956 model and has the best tone I've ever heard in an acoustic guitar.
Dislikes: Absolutely nothing.
Additional Comments: Warm low-end; crystal clear mids and ringing highs. Easy to play which is not always the case with old Martins. Wherever I go it smokes the competition hands-down.
Name: Dave Date: 09/17/08 Review: Martin D18 Rating you give the Martin D-18: 4 - Highly recommend it
Likes: Everything, except I have to borrow it to play it.
Dislikes: Not having my own.
Additional Comments: Hey Mac Dunleavy,I enjoyed reading your review. Hope you keep it.
Name: Mac Dunleavy Date: 12-7-07 Review: Martin D-18 Rating you give the Martin D18: 4 - Highly recommend it
Like about the Martin D-18: The classic Martin sound.
Dislike about the Martin D18: These guitars have certainly gone-up in price over the years. My first D-18 cost me $110 though I was making only 25 cents an hour in those days.
Additional Comments: I once owned one of these, a 1937 model that I saved for over three summers while working in the sorghum fields as a youth during the 1930s. My buddies & me had a little bluegrass band & we used to perform at various church socials in West Virginia. Then the war came along & following my enlistment in the US Navy, my parents sold their small farm & moved to the west coast (California). Somewhere along the way, my D-18 got lost, stolen or misplaced. After I returned home from the war, guitar music got put on the backburner as I got married & raised seven children while working as a steam fitter. I never had the extra money to buy another guitar, let alone a Martin as the expenses of running a household pretty much depleted most of my available income. I retired after 45 years of steam fitting at age 67 still in debt & the thought of ever resuming my interest in music & guitar seemed distant at best. The union had compromised its retirement benefits package & whatever I had coming pretty much went to paying outstanding medical expenses for my wife who had worked herself to the bone during those 25+ years of raising children & keeping up the household. Nevertheless I was grateful for having my hearing & being able to enjoy various forms of music while either listening to the radio, watching TV or checking out LPs from the local library. Funny, though I hadn't picked-up a guitar in over 50 years, I could still visualize the chordal progressions & the memories of playing with my little group in the late 30s still remained clear as a bell. I guess it's like riding a bicycle, you never forget. Anyway & to make a long story short, several months ago I managed to scrape together about $85.00 in order to take a charter bus along with some other seniors to an Indian gaming casino in the foothills of Califorina. Having only $25.00 to gamble with, I was very cautious of how to allocate my resources. I immediately lost $10.00 in the slot machines & after losing another $10.00 at two hands of blackjack, I was pretty much finished. I then decided to to play one round of craps recalling my navy days when some guys would blow an entire pay period on a roll of dice. Call it Providance but I somehow managed to win $1500 as the dice were friendly that evening. Upon returning home & after careful deliberation, I decided I really wanted to replace my old D-18 & though there are other more pressing expenses to deal with, I bought another D-18 with the help of a few retirees at the senior center who offered to pitch in another $300 or so. I am now paying them back at about $15-$20 per week but being able to resume playing music & the guitar has been very enriching. I perform a little Texas Swing for my acquaintances & though I can barely scrape up $6 for a new set of strings every now & then, the purchase was well worth it. Martin has always made a fine guitar & though this one lacks a 'little something' compared to my first D-18, I am very grateful for the opportunity to be able to play again.
UMGF username: oldandintheway Date: Dec 14 2005 Review: Martin D-18 Rating you give the Martin D18: 4 - Highly recommend it
Like about the Martin D-18: Fit and finish is perfect.Initially I was dissapointed with the sound, but after 3 months it has totally changed.Balance, bass and fat trebles. I am very pleased with this guitar for Bluegrass backup fingerpicking and blue grass lead
Dislike about the Martin D-18: I wish it had a 1 and 3/4 fingerboard width.
Additional Comments: If you're a Mahogany fan, this is hard to beat