Up for sale, a 1982 Martin HD-28 Custom Prewar Reissue dreadnought acoustic guitar in exceptional, 100% original condition and in perfect working order. A stunningly rare and early iteration of the model that would become the HD-28V, this HD-28 Prewar Custom stands apart in its vintage accuracy both from the HD-28V and the Custom 15 model which preceded it.
The genesis of this model can be traced back to 1977, when Mandolin Brothers struck an exclusive deal with Martin to produce a small quantity of faithful 1934 reissue D-28s. By 1980 Martin offered expanded availability of these features in a limited fashion under the "Custom 15" banner, so christened as these instruments were Martin's 15th custom order in that calendar year. But here's where things get really interesting (and tonally impactful): The Custom 15 had only some Prewar features as well as modern Schaller tuners and an adjustable truss rod so that Martin could get outside their exclusive contract with Mandolin Brothers. This contract was apparently just for the domestic market, as Tokai in Japan special ordered 20 "HD-28 Custom Prewar Reissue" guitars which exactly matched the early Mandolin Brothers guitars, featuring vintage-spec Kluson-style tuners, a large V-shaped neck profile carve, and a non-adjustable square bar truss rod. This is one of those 20 guitars.
The truss rod design and the heartiness of the neck carve are integral to the lively, powerful, transparent tone of this HD-28 Custom (also a central feature in Martin's modern line of Authentic Prewar reissues), and the guitar checks every box in terms of impactful features to capture the quintessential D-28 sound. The guitar features scalloped X bracing, a small maple bridge plate, mother of pearl snowflake inlay on the ebony board, an ebony bridge with long through saddle, tortoise inlaid bridge pins and endpin, the requisite herringbone top binding, aged toner on the AAV (AA Vertical Grain) spruce top, bookmatched rosewood back and sides, and a custom etched gold metal plaque on the heel block commemorating this model in lieu of the common heel block stamp.
The top is perfectly worked in with a rich, balanced sound that’s never harsh yet always articulate. The bass register is particularly smooth and doesn’t punch too hard, letting the treble strings sparkle, an appreciably nice sonic character for fingerstyle playing. The overarching sound is pure Martin dreadnought clarity and power, with a ringing, bold response across all strings and the ability to produce considerable volume and dynamic range in the bass register without compressing or distorting. The guitar weighs 4lbs 6oz, dialed in to play its best here at Mike & Mike's Guitar Bar with fresh 12-53 bronze strings.
The mahogany neck has a nice full V profile carve, deeper than both the Custom 15 and HD-28V, with gently sloping shoulders and a very vintage-correct feel, measuring .875" deep at the 1st fret and tapering to 1.015" at the 9th. The neck profile is extremely clean, save for a couple shallow marks behind frets 2-3 which aren't distracting to the palm. The original slender fretwire retains its full factory height, exhibiting moderate uniform wear on frets 1-2, extending beneath the plain strings until fret 5, with virtually no wear further up the fretboard. The nut measures 1 11/16" in width, and the rosewood headstock veneer and Martin logo are nigh flawless. As noted on the original build sheet from Tokai (furnished to us by Martin), the correct vintage-style tuners were provided by Tokai, who at the time were making exceedingly accurate guitars with Martin's blessing under their Cat's Eyes banner. As such, the tuners are dead-on replicas of early Kluson Deluxe no-line tuners, offering a smooth and reliable performance.
The body features the distinctive transparent swirly brown tortoise used by Martin in the early ‘80s on their vintage reissues, contrasting nicely with the aged toner top framed by herringbone binding. The ebony bridge sits flush with the top on all edges and the original through saddle has decent height with a touch of room to adjust lower in the future as needed. Crack-free and exceedingly well-kept, Martin picked some particularly nice bookmatched rosewood for this short run, nice and dark with tight grain, creating a subtle chevron effect as the grain broadens on the lower bout. Cosmetic wear is limited to strum wear across the guard, extending to the treble side upper bout, with some tiny pockmarks and a few shallow nicks on the top primarily beyond the bridge. The back exhibits just a few tiny marks and light finish scratches in the clear coat of the nitro lacquer gloss.
The original gray molded Martin hardshell case is included.