Martin D-28 vs HD-28 Acoustic Guitar: The Differences Explained


The Martin D-28 and HD-28 are probably two of the most compared acoustic guitars on the market. They look very similar to each other and to the untrained eye, might even look identical.

However, there are a few cosmetic and structural differences between these two acoustic guitars which makes them look, and most importantly, sound different from one another. I’ll be comparing these differences in-depth in this article.

The Quick Answer

The Martin HD-28 has scalloped bracing makes it slightly louder and gives it a warmer tone with more bass compared to the D-28 which does not have scalloped bracing. There body and fretboard inlay design is also slightly different. Both guitars use the same woods and have the same body and neck shape.

Martin D-28Martin HD-28
Non-scalloped bracingScalloped bracing
Tighter low-endMore bass emphasis
Sounds brighter and more focusedSounds warmer and fuller
Mother of pearl dot fretboard inlaysAbalone diamond and square fretboard inlays
Black multi-stripe body inlay designHerringbone body inlay design
Style-28 back strip designZig-zag back strip design
Differences between the Martin D-28 and Martin HD-28

Martin D-28

Martin HD-28

Images link to Amazon

Bracing Pattern and Tone

Both the Martin D-28 and HD-28 have a forward-shifted X-braced top, however on the HD-28, the bracing is scalloped unlike on the D-28.

The scalloped bracing on the HD-28 makes the top of the guitar more flexible compared to the non-scalloped bracing on the D-28. Having a more flexible top has the following effects on the HD-28’s tone:

  • More volume
  • More bass-frequency emphasis

The result is that the HD-28 has a more “boomy” tone due to the bass-emphasis and increased resonance giving it a more open tone compared to the D-28 which has a more focused and balanced tone due to the tighter bottom-end.

The HD-28 sounds warmer compared to the D-28 which has a brighter tone and sounds more articulate.

These differences are very subtle though and you really need to hear them both played one after another to be able to recognise the differences.

Check out this YouTube video to hear the HD-28 and D-28 being played back-to-back.

Cosmetic Differences

The HD-28 gets it’s name from the “herringbone trim” which surrounds the edge of the guitar’s top and makes it look more decorative compared to the black multi-stripe top inlays found on the standard D-28 guitar.

On the D-28 you’ll find mother of pearl dot inlays, whereas on the HD-28 you’ll notice abalone diamond and square inlays. The D-28 and HD-28 also have slightly different stripes on the back of the body with the herringbone trim being featured again on the HD-28.

Similarities

As I mentioned at the start of this article, these two guitars are incredibly similar except for the bracing and some very minor cosmetic differences. Here’s a list of key similarities between the D-28 and HD-28:

  • Body shape and size
  • Gloss body finish
  • Solid Sitka spruce top
  • Solid East Indian rosewood back and sides
  • Mahogany neck
  • Ebony fingerboard
  • 25.4″ scale
  • Neck shape, size and satin finish
  • Bridge, nut and saddle material
  • Headstock design
  • Tuning machines
  • String gauge
  • Molded hard-shell case comes included

Full Specification Comparison

FeatureMartin D-28Martin HD-28
Body SizeD-14 FretD-14 Fret
Body FinishGlossGloss
Bracing PatternForward-Shifted X-BracingForward-Shifted X-Bracing
Scalloped BracingNoYes
Brace Size0.31”0.31”
TopSolid Sitka SpruceSolid Sitka Spruce
Back and SidesSolid East Indian RosewoodSolid East Indian Rosewood
NeckMahoganyMahogany
Scale25.4”25.4”
Frets2020
Nut Width1.75”1.75”
Fingerboard Width (12th Fret)2.13”2.13”
Bridge String Spacing2.16”2.16”
Neck ShapeModified Low OvalModified Low Oval
Neck TaperHigh Performance TaperHigh Performance Taper
Neck JointDovetailDovetail
Neck Joint Position14th Fret14th Fret
Neck FinishSatinSatin
BridgeEbony – Modern BellyEbony – Modern Belly 
SaddleCompensated BoneCompensated Bone
Saddle Radius16”16”
BindingAntique WhiteAntique White
PickguardTortoiseTortoise
Top Inlay MaterialMulti-StripeHerringbone
InlaysMother of Pearl DotsAbalone Diamonds and Squares
RosetteMulti-StripeMulti-Stripe
Headstock ShapeSolid w/ Square Taper and DiamondSolid w/ Square Taper and Diamond
Headstock MaterialSolid East Indian RosewoodSolid East Indian Rosewood
Headstock LogoScript Old Style OverlayScript Old Style Overlay
Back StripStyle-28Zig-Zag
Tuning MachinesNickel Open GearNickel Open Gear
StringsMedium (0.013)Medium (0.013)
CaseMolded HardshellMolded Hardshell
Left-Hand AvailableYesYes
Average Price$3000$3200
Martin D-28 vs HD-28 acoustic guitar specifications

Here are links to both guitars so you can check the current prices on Guitar Center:

Check out my in-depth comparison between the Martin D-18 and D-28 acoustic guitars.

Heather

Hey, I'm Heather. I started playing an electric guitar when I was given a Squier Strat for my birthday around 15 years ago. I now own an acoustic guitar and several electric guitars including my personal favourite, a PRS SE Custom 24.

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