Looking for a midrange instrument that plays like an ultra-expensive one? They aren’t always easy to find, but suitable guitars do exist, in which the quality and playability seems to greatly outweigh the price. The Martin Special D might be just the ticket for discerning acoustic players looking for exemplary Martin craftsmanship at more reasonable mid-level cost. In this review, we’ll go over everything you need to know about the Martin D Special, a Guitar Center exclusive acoustic guitar with average player pricing in mind.
The Martin Special D Acoustic Guitar Offers Classic Martin Style at an Affordable Price
Martin is one of the most reputable makers of fine acoustic guitars. With a nearly 200-year history, they’ve had plenty of time to develop a reputation! These instruments were played by Civil War soldiers and have been a pivotal part of music’s legacy throughout time. Martins were used by musicians at Woodstock, MTV Unplugged, during countless other timeless performances, and on innumerable hit records.
Martin guitars are also quite pricey. The quintessential workhorse of the Martin catalog, the D-28, fetches around $3000. Many of the entry-level offerings make use of composite materials and cost-cutting manufacturing techniques. They’re still nice guitars, but certainly in a different league than some of the staples of the Martin catalog.
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The Special D plants firmly in the middle. It’s a very nice guitar for quality-conscious players, while still remaining affordable by most standards. A lot of players actually prefer midrange guitars over higher-end counterparts for many reasons that the Special D encapsulates. You want an instrument that looks, feels, and sounds great, yet you don’t want the responsibility of babying it because of its exorbitant cost. Mid-level guitars like the Martin Special D fulfill that need.
The Special D Offers Great Tone & Playability
Martin excellence tends to bleed into all they produce, regardless of price. It’s true that a standard D-28 will feel and sound markedly different than an entry-level X Series, but the legacy and tradition behind the instruments is the same throughout.
Again, the Special D is the ideal medium between spending less than $500 on a lower-end import or more than $3000 on a masterpiece. Most importantly, you get the iconic sound and playability of a Martin dreadnought, minus the additional cost that’s just not feasible for some.
The Special D is a unique guitar exclusive to Guitar Center and its affiliated retailers, like Musician’s Friend.
Martin Special D Review
Neck & Body
The neck consists of select hardwood with a hand-rubbed satin finish. It meets the spruce and sapele body through a mortis and tenon joint that allows the acoustic properties of the guitar to shine. Because of the careful attachment of the neck to the body, the guitar resonates as if it were one piece. Many players have also commented on how fast and playable the neck is, comparing it to an electric in terms of speed and feel.
The Special D comes with an ebony bridge and non-locking chrome tuning machines. It does not come with a pickup or any sort of built-in electronics. Little is mentioned about the other parts of the instrument, such as the frets, though they appear to be some sort of standard material like nickel. Per the design of the instrument, there isn’t much in the way of hardware.
How Does It Sound?
Martin’s Special D sounds fantastic for an acoustic at this price. The combination of spruce and sapele isn’t “standard,” per se, but it performs impressively well. You should hear an expressive mid-range and energetic highs, with harmonics that jump from the instrument. The low end is round and full, though it doesn’t overpower the other frequencies and the three-dimensional sound they produce. The guitar also resonates and sustains beautifully.
Does It Come with a Case?
Unfortunately, the guitar does not come with a hard case. It does, however, ship with a gig bag, which is certainly better than nothing.
How Does the Special D Compare to Other Mid-Level Martin Acoustic Guitars?
Being that it’s all solid wood, the Special D typically outperforms other mid-level models that make use of composites or synthetic materials like Richlite. It’s going to give you that all-natural quality you’d expect from a finely made acoustic instrument, like the resonance and bloom of a big-bodied dreadnought style guitar.
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Directly compared to a Custom D, the Special D is virtually identical. The only difference is the use of sapele for the back and sides of the guitar instead of mahogany.
Our Take: The Martin Special D Proves Quality Can Be Had for a Reasonable Price
The Martin Special D is a gorgeous guitar. It’s a solid wood dreadnought acoustic sporting Martin quality for an unbeatable price. Most players would immediately fall in the love with this instrument, especially if they’re coming from playing entry-level acoustics. That’s because the gap between entry-level and mid-level instruments can be quite large, though it tends to narrow when going from the middle to the high-end. With respect to that, the Special D is arguably one of the best Martin acoustics available in terms of value.