Martin D-18E Retro - Natural

6-string Acoustic-electric Guitar with Solid Spruce Top, Mahogany Back and Sides, Ebony Fingerboard, and Onboard Electronics - Natural
Martin D-18E Retro - Natural image 1
Martin D-18E Retro - Natural image 1
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Martin D-18E Retro - Natural
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Vintage style and modern playability merge to create the Martin Retro series. Within the Retro series, you'll find a who's who of Martins past, with new incarnations of the legendary HD-28, D-35, D-45, D-18, 000-18, and OM-28. Each proves to be historically accurate aesthetically, but tweaked to meet today's gigging guitarist's needs.

Everything Old Is New Again!

A quick, casual glance at any member of the Retro series, and you'd think you were looking at an extremely well-preserved vintage Martin, not unlike some of the guitars that fill the Martin Guitar Museum: the tops are finished with aged toner, the appointments echo the classic stylings of 1930s- and 1940s-era Martins, and the body styles are among the most revered in all the guitar world. Even on the inside, these Martins exude vintage, boasting forward-shifted scalloped braces just like they used to.

But Martin wasn't content to simply reissue these legendary instruments, equipping the Retro series with Fishman F1 Aura for incredibly authentic onstage amplification and a reshaped neck to give players a fluid, comfortable playing experience.

Martin D-18E Retro

For their Retro series, Martin selected a handful of prime specimens from the Martin Museum and analyzed them, looking for ways they could be improved while retaining the essence of their vintage goodness. The result is a distinctly vintage-looking D-18 with a smooth-playing high-performance neck and superb Fishman F1 Aura Plus electronics. A dreadnought that plays like butter, projects like a cannon, and records beautifully — the ultimate D-18? For many of us Martin fanciers here at Sweetwater, the D-18E Retro is just that.

To the D-18's classic Sitka spruce top and mahogany back and sides, Martin added a new, sleeker-profile neck with a Modified Low Oval profile and Performing Artist taper. Martin also tapped the talent of Larry Fishman — the legendary acoustic guitar pickup designer — to capture the sonic essence of the classic instruments using vintage mics, essentially "bottling" the sound. So when you plug in your D-18E Retro, you get the unmistakable sonics of a golden-era D-18.

Vintage Tones, Unplugged

The sound of an acoustic guitar is the sum of a number of factors, each significant in their own way. The wood used for the top, back, and sides all impact the tone, as do the neck wood and fingerboard. Martin chose to faithfully mimic the tonewoods used on the original models, though they did opt for more ecologically sound choices than the vintage guitars used (substituting East Indian rosewood for Brazilian rosewood, for example).

The physics of acoustic guitars tell us that the style and positioning of the internal braces play a large part in the overall sound. To make sure these Retro series guitars sound just like their vintage brethren, Martin resorted to the same forward-shifted scalloped X-bracing used in their vintage counterparts. By scalloping the bracing, the top is allowed to vibrate more freely, providing a warmer bass response. Scalloped bracing along with forward-shifted bracing also creates more volume than standard scalloped bracing.

Rounding out the vintage vibe is the lack of a cutaway, despite these guitars all being equipped with Fishman pickup systems for awesome onstage sound. Purists will love the look, and the neck is so comfortable, you won't miss the cutaway at all — but more on the neck in a minute.

Vintage Tones, Plugged

That's a rundown of the "retro" side of the Retro series, so let's take a look at what Martin tweaked to meet the demands of today's player. The first time you pick up a Retro series guitar, you'll notice the neck. It's slimmer, more comfortable, and built for incredible playability. Martin equipped these beauties with the Modified Low Oval profile with a Performing Artist neck taper, giving you a comfy feel that is equally suited for rhythm playing or higher-fret runs. Whether you're onstage or in your living room, you'll love the way you can effortlessly cruise up and down the neck. Acoustic players will find it familiar, but electric players will be right at home on it, as well.

But the neck isn't the only thing drawing from modern inspirations. The Fishman F1 Aura system is both unobtrusive and incredible. The F1 Aura Plus gives you the option of using the under-saddle pickup, a variety of modeled acoustic sounds, or a blend of both, on top of onboard EQ, feedback suppression, and compression.

Modeled, you say? It's not what you think! These models aren't conjured in a lab; they're sonic re-creations of real vintage Martin guitars from the hallowed halls of the Martin Guitar Museum. A vintage version of each model was meticulously miked up using only the finest studio gear, and then reproduced inside the F1 Aura Plus system.

The Aura system defaults to Easy Mode, which gives you the choice of three image presets and a built-in tuner (the tuner can also be used when the guitar isn't plugged in, super handy for strumming around the house!). When you enter Performance Mode, you have access to six more images, along with the aforementioned EQ, feedback suppression, and compression. This may seem like a lot of extras for a purist, but we put these through their paces here at Sweetwater, and believe us, they meet our excruciatingly high standards.

Martin-standard Dovetail Neck Joint

Like the originals, the Retro series guitars come standard with the classic dovetail neck joint. Lightweight and sturdy, the dovetail joint is the go-to construction methodology for Martin guitars, as the area of direct wood-to-wood contact is increased. The thinking is that the increased contact provides better tonal transfer between the neck and body. Martin has done it like this forever, and there's no reason to fix what's not broke.

The mechanics of the standard dovetail neck joint dictate that merely fitting the neck to the body and stringing up the guitar should provide more than enough strength to hold the neck to the body. But to make sure every Retro series Martin (or any other Martin for that matter) is built to last a lifetime, the neck joints are thoroughly glued for maximum structural integrity.


Why Buy Your Guitar from Sweetwater?

See how Sweetwater goes to great lengths to give you the very best online guitar buying experience. From our online Guitar Gallery that allows you to see and select the exact instrument you want to our 55-point Evaluation process and our in-house guitar techs, we take the guesswork out of buying your next guitar online.

Additional Media

Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide

Tech Specs

String Type Steel
Number of Strings 6
Body Shape Dreadnought
Body Style No Cutaway
Left-/Right-handed Right-handed
Color Natural
Finish Gloss
Top Wood Spruce
Back & Sides Wood Mahogany
Body Bracing X Scalloped
Binding Tortoise-colored
Neck Wood Select hardwood
Neck Shape modified Low-Oval profile with Performing Artist taper
Fingerboard Material Ebony
Fingerboard Inlay Old Style 18 green abalone
Number of Frets 20
Scale Length 25.4"
Tuning Machines Nickel open-geared, with Butterbean Knobs
Bridge Material Ebony
Nut/Saddle Material Bone
Nut Width 1.75"
Body Length 20"
Body Width 15.625"
Body Depth 4.875"
Overall Length 40.5"
Electronics Fishman F1 Aura Plus
Strings Martin Studio Performance Lifespan Phosphor Bronze Medium Gauge
Case Included Hardshell
Manufacturer Part Number 10D18ERETRO

Customer Reviews

Based on 6 reviews
Write your review

Absolutely stunning!

I bought a Martin D18e retro series guitar just a couple of short weeks ago, and I have already put about 30 to 35 hours of play time on it. I literally cannot put this instrument down! I also own a 20 year old HD28, and this guitar is the perfect complement to it. It has a fantastic punch that is great for flatpicking, with a very well-balanced tone that has that fantastic Martin low-end rumble. The neck on this guitar is fantastic, in my humble opinion. In recent years, my hands have started to get very stiff from arthritis, but the 1.75" nut width, and modified low oval profile allow me to play for much longer at a sitting than I can with my HD28. The setup out of the box was absolutely perfect. I will be heading to a friends house over the holidays, and I can't wait to see what this magnificent hog is going to sound like when we record it in his studio. I have to agree with Norman Blake when he sang "Thank you, Mr. Martin"! Enough talk, I need to get back to playing....
Music background: bluegrass, folk, country-rock

Martin d 18

It heaven on earth ,my didn,t have auric pickups .I put a L R Baggelement it still great Sounding I love fishermen product thank you Martin and sweet water keep it going
Music background: Band playing and teacher

Martin D-18E Retro

I have been wanting a D-18 for sometime. The more I would read about the D-18E Retro the more intrigued I became. I have heard several D-18's but never the Retro in person. I also wanted the string spacing similar to the guitar I learned to play on. I called my sales rep, Tyler Moore and asked him about the spacing. He told me the nut was 1.75 but he would have to go measure for the exact distance from E to E at the nut. He called me back shortly and I placed the order. Sight unseen, other than pictures, and never hearing the Retro in person, I was a little nervous. All I can tell you is that this guitar sounds and plays unbelievable. I absolutely love this guitar
Music background: novice

Best Dreadnaught out there!

I have owned several Martins, from the DX1AE ( best guitar for under $600) out there!) on up to several Martins from the Professional Artist series. Once I played the D-18 Retro, I could not believe how much better the sound was than the other Martins I had owned. If its possible, the D-18 Retro was even clearer & precise, even easier to play, and was strikingly and unexpectedly beautiful! The Retro Edition features beautiful retro sounds that you can select from the top of the line Fishman Aura electronics. Very cool and warm sounds. For performing, this guitar is hard to beat. Built in tuner and sound selections you can change on the fly, battery changes out from the strap button area as opposed to the inside of the guitar, and the ease of playability is by far the best of any guitar I have ever owned. I know this guitar is not inexpensive, but if you gig or play out regularly, you have to try this guitar out. Sweetwater has been outstanding to work with and they take a personal interest in every customer to make sure you select the guitar you truly want and best fits your needs.
Music background: Worship Leader


I just spent the weekend learning how to use my new D18E Retro, and I could not be happier.This is the Holy Grail for me,A D-18 with exceptional tone right out of the factory and the ability to get that tone plugged in live or in the studio. The setup was perfect,intonation spot-on,and, even new, great D-18 tone. I can't wait to hear it in a couple years,once it starts to open up real well, and whoever owns it 10-20 years down the line will have an instrument to love.The Aura F1 system was not tough to learn with the enclosed DVD and booklet. and I was able to sort out an incredibly acoustic clean tone in no time for the Images I have selected to use, The anti feedback and compression features were a big help here in addition to the spectacular images Bil Vorn Dick captured using some of the most coveted mics out there. I played through my Fishman Loudbox mini and my P.A. and was simply knocked back by the great natural acoustic tone at electric guitar volume. If you need to compete with loud instruments onstage,here's your answer. If you play acoustic but want more articulation ,here is your answer.If you're a fingerpicker,here is definitely your answer.I'd say the finest acoustic/electric guitar you can get. I'd give it 10 stars if I could.
Music background: Musician,audio engineer,Americana,Bluegrass and Country Blues
See also: 6 string acoustic guitars, Martin, Martin 6-string Acoustic Guitars, Martin Acoustic / Electric Guitars