Vintage Martin D-18 Guitar Comparison with Courtney Hartman

Acclaimed flatpicker Courtney Hartman performs John Hartford’s “Homer the Roamer” on three vintage Martin guitars: A shadetop 1937 Martin D-18, a 1941 Martin D-18 and a 1938 Martin D-18.

The 1937 D-18 has a shaded dark top, Adirondack top and mahogany back and sides, along with forward X-scalloped bracing, 1 3/4″ nut, and a wider string spacing at the bridge.

The 1941 D-18 has the rear-shifted, scalloped X-bracing and a “popsicle” brace in its upper bout. (Beginning in 1939, as more people were playing with flatpicks, Martin narrowed the neck and string spacing. The nut was slightly narrowed to 1 11/16″, as on this guitar.)

Lastly, the 1938 D-18 is similar to the ’37 but with a natural top and rear shifted (but still scalloped) bracing. The 1938 D-18 retains the wider neck and string spacing of the ’37. It is one of the few examples of this period D-18 that was built without the infamous “popsicle” brace.

Special thanks to Seattle’s Jet City Guitars for lending us the vintage D-18s used in this session.