Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged Review & Prices

Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged Review
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  • From Martin's 2018 Authentic series
  • Made in United States
  • 6 strings
  • 25.4"'' scale
  • 16" Fretboard Radius
  • Solid Adirondack Spruce with VTS top
  • Solid Genuine Mahogany back
  • Solid Genuine Mahogany sides
  • Genuine Mahogany neck
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: (/)
  • Ebony bridge
  • Acoustic Authentic 1939 Set neck
  • 20 Medium frets
  • Nickel Open Gear - Aged tuners
  • Compare Specs >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 73
Sound 85
Build quality 84
Value for money 66
Overall Score 81
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged
  • Made in United States
  • Expensive Wood
  • Bone Nut
  • Bone Saddle
  • Solid Top Wood
  • Solid Side Wood
  • Solid Back Wood
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • No Top Brand Pickups
  • No Electronics
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $3500, which means that the Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged costs around 100% more than the competition. It might be due to it having additional features, but know that you can find cheaper similar alternatives. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 6 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in United States.

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Videos

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Not all instruments are created equally. That's why it's important to have different opinions. Here's what our users who have played this instrument say. If you've played it before, help others by voting below!

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Is it Easy to Play?

The Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged meets 3 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not recommended for complete beginners. This takes into account the type of frets, scale length, nut width, bridge type, fretboard radius, and neck profile to determine the easiest combination for new players to get used to.

New Player Friendliness

Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable shape
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • Narrow nut
  • Short scale
  • Soft Strings
  • Locking tuners

Hand Size Comfortability

After taking into account the neck profile, scale size, fretboard radius, and nut width, we can conclude that the Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged's construction is balanced for most hand sizes.

Nevertheless, this comes down in the end to personal preference. Make sure you test this guitar—or another one with similar characteristics—before buying.

Big Hands
Small Hands

Scale Length

Scale length is the distance the strings will span between the bridge and the nut. It can tell you a lot about the overall playability and tone of the instrument. A longer scale length means longer distance between frets, brighter tone and more string tension—which means lower action, but more difficult bending of the strings.

Here's the Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged's 25.4" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged Scale Length Comparison
Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is considered a long scale, but slightly shorter than what's commonly found in acoustic guitars.

Since the distance between bridge and nut is relatively long, strings will feel stiff and more difficult to bend, but the tone will feel brighter. It will also be less likely to produce fret buzzing and rattling when strumming hard.

More with the same scale length:

Neck Profile

Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged Neck Profile
Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged's neck profile

The neck profile tells you the thickness (neck depth) and shape in cross section. Every difference will completely change the feeling and comfortability of the neck. This is a highly subjective thing, but most players indeed prefer certain types of necks (like Cs and Ds) because they feel nice in most hands.

It has a Vintage type neck. This is a type of vintage neck, so it's thick and has a wider grip than most modern guitars. This is a very particular type of neck that usually only people with a specific taste for vintage guitars will like. We recommend you try this in person before buying if it's your first vintage neck. You might end up absolutely loving it or hating it.

Fretboard Radius

When it comes to fingerboard radius, personal preference will dictate which one is better for you. However, most people seem to agree that a more curved (lower) radius will make it easier to play chords while a less curved (higher) radius is better for soloing and bending.

The Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged has a 16" fingerboard radius.

Here's an image comparing this fretboard radius to other popular choices:

Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged's fretboard radius compared to others

This fretboard radius is really different than Stratocasters, but it's also a lot flatter than Les Paul fingerboards. It'll heavily favor soloing over playing chords. This doesn't mean you can't use it for chords, but it will be more comfortable to play chords without muting strings in a more curved fretboard. Bending and sliding without losing sustain will also be more likely in a flat fretboard like this one.

Compound radius fingerboards give the best of both worlds. Unfortunately, the Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Playability compared to main competitors

25.4'' Scale Length
Vintage Neck Profile
1.688'' Nut Width
16'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
U Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
12'' Fretboard Radius
24.75'' Scale Length
C Neck Profile
1.725'' Nut Width
16'' Fretboard Radius

Nut Width

Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged Nut Width
Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged Nut Width

The Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged has a nut width of 42.9mm (1.688''). This is within the most common range of nut widths for a 6-string guitar. It offers a good balance of string separation at the nut. It's the size that most guitarists prefer as it gives them just enough space to play open chords without muting the strings, but without spreading the strings too wide and making bar chords difficult to perform.

Frets

It comes with nickel silver frets, so they won't last as long as stainless steel frets. If you use your instrument a lot, you might need to replace the frets after a few years. But this is unlikely as most people change instruments before this happens.

More with the same amount of frets:

Fret Size

Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged Fret Size Comparison
Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged's fret size (in orange) compared to other popular sizes

Finally, let's talk about fret size. Some people prefer tall frets because it's easier to press the strings and perform bends since there's less friction against the fretboard. On the other hand, some people like shorter frets because they like to touch the fretboard when playing, or because they got heavy hands and tend to press too much on the string and alter the of the note pitch accidently.

The Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged's frets are Medium size. With medium frets, you can feel the fretboard more than with jumbo frets, but it's still easier to press the strings cleanly than with small frets; notes might change their pitch just slightly if you press hard on the fret. Also, if you need to do some fret leveling after years of playing, you'll have some room to sand them down without having to replace them.

Playability Score

Bending & Vibrato Ease 75
Chord Playability 75
Solo Playability 70
Playability 73

Tone Analysis

The type of wood and even the shape of the body will have a lot of influence in the final tone of an acoustic guitar. Here's we'll talk about what kind of tone you can expect from its specs.

Wood

Spruce wood pattern used for guitar building
Spruce Top
Mahogany wood pattern used for guitar building
Mahogany Back, Sides, Neck
Ebony wood pattern used for guitar building
Ebony Fretboard

Spruce Top: This wood has a light color with tight grain patterns. It's very stiff but relatively light. It's known for producing a well-rounded tone with a broad dynamic range.

Mahogany Back, Sides and Neck: This is the type of wood found in many top-of-the-line guitars, so that's a positive point for the build quality. This red-looking wood Mahogany is found in Africa and Central America and has great sustain and a warm tone due to its high density. The downside about this type of wood is that it's relatively heavy.

Ebony Fretboard: This is one of the most expensive woods there is, which is why it's mostly used for fretboards. It is dense, heavy, highly resistant and comes in a really dark color that gives any guitar a classy touch. Tone wise, it helps the high side of the spectrum and provides good sustain.

Pickups

This acoustic guitar doesn't come with preamp pickups, so you won't be able to connect it directly to an amplifier. Instead, you'll need to use an external microphone.

Sound Score

Sustain 90
Versatility 80
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 85

Build Quality Analysis

Country of Origin

Knowing where the instrument is produced is a good way to know how well it's built. Some manufacturing countries are known for having higher quality standards. For example, most expensive instruments are made in the US or Japan, but there are some exceptionally great countries—like South Korea—that are building a good reputation.

The Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged is made in United States. Guitars made in the USA have the reputation of being the best instruments you can get. This statement isn't as accurate as a few years ago, but you should still expect top-quality from a guitar made in this country.

Bridge

Ebony: The advantage of fixed bridges is that they don't require any kind of set-up. This makes it extremely easy when changing strings because you don't need to adjust anything besides tuning the guitar. Also, the fact that the bridge is directly attached to the body will help to increase sustain. The disadvantage is the lack of versatility since you can't create the same vibrato effects as with tremolo bridges.

Nut Material

Another important thing to analyze is the nut material, as it's one of the most important aspects that can affect the sound and playability of your guitar. A well-cut nut will make sure it stays in tune and will make it more comfortable to play.

In this case, the Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged has a Bone nut. This material is one of the highest quality you can get. It provides excellent sustain and tune stability if cut well. The only disadvantage is that it's an organic material, so it's not consistent. Two different bone nuts, even if made from the same bone, will probably sound slightly different. However, bear in mind that this is only relevant when playing open strings.

More with the same nut material:

Build Quality Score

Quality of materials 86
Features 65
Quality Control 100
Build Quality 84

All Specs

Martin D-18 Authentic 1939 Aged
General
Brand: Martin
Year: 2018
Configuration:
Strings: 6
Made in: United States
Series: Authentic
Colors: Natural
Left-Handed Version: Yes
Body
Type: Hollowbody
Body Material: Solid Adirondack Spruce with VTS
Bridge: Ebony
Neck
Neck Joint: Set
Tuners: Nickel Open Gear - Aged
Fretboard: Ebony
Neck Material: Genuine Mahogany
Decoration: Abalone Old Style 18
Scale Size: 25.4"
Shape: Acoustic Authentic 1939
Frets: 20 Medium
Fretboard Radius: 16"
Nut: Bone
Nut Width: 42.9mm (1.688'')
Electronics
Switch: 0 Way
Knobs:
Volume Controls: 0
Tone Controls: 0
Bridge Pickup: ( / )

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