Martin HD-28E Retro Series - Natural

6-string Acoustic-electric Guitar with Sitka Spruce Top, Indian Rosewood Back and Sides, Bold Herringbone Inlays, and Custom Fishman F1 Aura Plus Electronics - Vintage Natural
Martin HD-28E Retro Series - Natural image 1
Martin HD-28E Retro Series - Natural image 1
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Martin HD-28E Retro Series - 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 HD-28E Retro

Short of breaking into the Martin Museum, the HD-28E Retro is the closest any of us will probably ever get to handling a "golden era" Martin instrument. The original HD-28 dreadnought (like the D-28) established the very tone of the acoustic guitar in modern American music, and there's nothing like the sound of a classic Martin to prove it. That's why Chris Martin got together with Larry Fishman to capture a complete series of spectral models from the very original guitars on display at the Martin Museum. At the same time, the HD-28E Retro comes fitted with an entirely modern Martin neck carve. The result is a classic-looking and vintage-sounding HD-28 that plays like a dream.

When Chris Martin set out to create the HD-28E Retro and the rest of the Retro series lineup, he started right at the heart of the traditional Martin sound by turning to the beautifully preserved models on display at the C. F. Martin Museum in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. For months, the top luthiers at Martin labored to re-create the look and feel of some of the most iconic guitars Martin has ever made, including this exquisite classic herringbone dreadnought model. When you pick up an HD-28E Retro acoustic guitar, it's easy to imagine that you're holding the same guitar that inspired such great artists as Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, or Elvis.

When you think about all of those incredible old-time recordings that established the sound of American music, you'll recognize a particular acoustic guitar tone at the heart of it all. It's the same sound you hear when you think of acoustic guitar, and it's the sound you'll get from your HD-28E Retro. Part of that has to do with the wonderful onboard electronics (more on that below), but much more of it has to do with its tonewoods and construction. You see, Martin practically invented the popular dreadnought acoustic guitar body, a shape that hasn't really changed much over the years. Combined with the bold voice of an Indian rosewood back and sides and a light and expressive Sitka spruce top, you've got the recipe for quintessential acoustic guitar sound.

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.

Additional Media

Acoustic Guitar Buying Guide

Tech Specs

String Type Steel
Number of Strings 6
Body Shape Dreadnought 14-Fret
Body Style No Cutaway
Left-/Right-handed Right-handed
Color Aged Natural
Finish Polished Gloss (top, back, and sides), Satin (neck)
Top Wood Solid Sitka Spruce
Back & Sides Wood Solid East Indian Rosewood
Body Bracing Scalloped, forward shifted, Solid Sitka Spruce
Binding Grained Ivoroid
Neck Wood Select Hardwood
Neck Shape Modified Low Oval Profile with Performing Artist Taper
Fingerboard Material Solid Black Ebony
Fingerboard Inlay Diamonds & Squares - Long Pattern
Number of Frets 20 (total), 14 (clear)
Scale Length 25.4"
Tuning Machines Nickel Open-Geared with Butterbean knobs
Bridge Material Solid Black Ebony
Nut/Saddle Material Bone/16" Radius Compensated Bone
Nut Width 1.75"
Body Length 20"
Body Width 15.625"
Body Depth 4.875"
Overall Length 40.5"
Electronics Custom Fishman F1 Aura Plus
Strings Martin SP Lifespan Phosphor Bronze Medium Gauge
Case Included Hardshell
Manufacturer Part Number 10HD28ERETRO

Customer Reviews

Based on 9 reviews
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Best I've ever had!!

The look, the feel, the smell of the wood, the sound, I can't put this guitar down. When I take it out of the case at a gig or open mic night, it gets passed around like you know what. Everyone who plays it loves it. Thank you Aaron for helping me rationalize this purchase, he always does, no matter what I'm buying!


I have owned this guitar for about a year now, and I'm still blown away every time I play it. I play Sunday praise and worship and this is my go to acoustic guitar. To note I also have the Taylor 814 with the new ES2 but this Martin guitar is different. I don't understand why people would say it doesn't sit well in a band because it does and it sounds amazing with the proper setup, gear and settings. Johnny Cash or Elvis Presley could not have played a D-28 if they are not good, right?
Music background: Lead/acoustic praise and worship band

Martin HD-28E Retro

Nothing surprising, it's a Martin! Ordered it on Tuesday and was playing it before noon Friday. Came out of the box unblemished and in tune. A typical example of the professional service of Sales Engineer Matt Kreager and all the people of Sweetwater. It's hard not to get a complaint from a 70 year old but you succeeded. By the way, the Fishman F1 Aura+ electronics are great.
Music background: "Jack of all trades, master of none"

Electro-Acoustic Cannon

This Martin is fantastic! I've had it for about a month, previously played a Taylor cutaway through a Fishman Aura Spectrum. The neck is just right for fast bluegrass pickin down on the open chords, and running up the neck whenever you like. The sound is fantastic - sounds like an acoustic, only louder! My history is playing Upright bass through every Fishman piezo imaginable, via a good AI amp. Switched to guitar, and have struggled to get a loud acoustic punchy tone until this beauty. Have added a drummer to our acoustic act and turning it up is no problem within reason - and I've seen no reason to get into the advanced settings, basic F1 settings do just fine with no fuss.
Music background: Mech Engineer / Gigging Musician Side Job

After 2 years with this dream guitar

Everyday, I grab a guitar; at this season of life, a six-string is a tool of the trade. Having said that, I've never enjoyed an instrument like this Martin Hd 28e retro. Perfect neck, fingerboard, tone and electronics. Unplugged, this guitar intuitively recreates 50 years of the sounds that define a perfect instrument. Engaged, the Aura system bypasses the complexities of a studio environment. As it ages, the guitar is "opening up," sounding like a lifetime of favorite moments. From Taylors to Gibsons, I've owned and played them all, but this Martin out-performs anything I've touched.
Music background: Professional - performance, studio and worship for 40 years.
See also: Acoustic-Electric Guitars, Martin, Martin 6-string Acoustic Guitars, Martin Acoustic / Electric Guitars