The “dreadnought” guitar owes its name to an enormous, heavily armed battleship that first set sail in 1906, but it wasn’t until the early 30s that Martin started churning out the highly sought-after “cannons” that forever changed the shape of American folk music. The D-1, which eventually became the D-18, was the less expensive option, but many musicians found that they preferred them over the more expensive overtone-laden rosewood models for their dry, woody, fundamental presence. They cut better. When you’re waist-deep in a string band, the competition for sonic space is real. The 14-fret mahogany dreadnought helped early country and folk guitarists cut through the din of banjos and mandolins. It has become a staple of the bluegrass genre.
The 2018 D-18 continues the noble tradition with a slimmer neck profile that caters to modern tastes. It is loud, articulate, and warm. Chords sound well defined and single notes leap right off the fretboard. The bass is very present, but well contained, and I could even see playing fingerstyle on it with a thumbpick. If you’re looking for a big, classic sound, it’s hard to beat a D-18.
The Martin D-18 is known for its sleek, high performance neck for intense playabililty. It features a solid sitka spruce top combined with mahogany back and sides.