Martin HD12-28 Overview and Best Prices

Martin HD12-28 Review
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  • 3 Prices - New from $3,499 >
  • From Martin's 1931 Standard series
  • Made in United States
  • 12 strings
  • 24.9"'' scale
  • 16" Fretboard Radius
  • Solid Spruce top
  • Solid East Indian Rosewood back
  • Solid East Indian Rosewood sides
  • Select Hardwood neck
  • Ebony fretboard
  • Bridge pickup: Fishman (Preamp/Active)
  • Ebony bridge
  • Acoustic Performing Artist Set neck
  • 20 Medium frets
  • Chrome Enclosed Gear tuners
  • See all specs and compare >

Our Scores and Tone Evaluation

Playability 80
Sound 88
Build quality 90
Value for money 71
Overall Score 86
Tone Evaluation
  • Heavy Metal
  • Hard Rock
  • Jazz
  • Blues
  • Funk
  • Country
Strengths & Weaknesses
Martin HD12-28
  • Made in United States
  • Expensive Wood
  • Bone Nut
  • Top Brand Pickups
  • Electronics
  • Compensated Saddle
  • Solid Top Wood
  • Solid Side Wood
  • Solid Back Wood
  • Cheap Fret Wire (NS)
  • No Locking Tuners
  • No Compound Radius Fretboard
  • No 21:1 Tuner Ratio
  • No Strap Lock

Price Overview

Its average competitor's price is $3800, which means that the Martin HD12-28 is around 8% cheaper than the competition. This takes into account all instruments of the same category in our database with 12 strings and Fixed bridge that are made in United States.

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User Feedback

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!

Weight

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Neck access to high frets

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Neck profile shape

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Fret edges

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Videos

Martin HD12-28 2017
First Impressions of the 12-String Martin HD12-28 at the Martin Showroom
Martin HD12-28 Standard 12-String Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar
Martin HD12-28 12-string REVIEW
Martin HD12 28 12 String Reimagined played by Milo Groenhuijzen | Demo @ The Fellowship of Acoustics
More Videos

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Playability

The Martin HD12-28 meets 4 out of our 8 criteria items for beginner friendliness, which means that it's not bad for beginners, but it could be better. 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 HD12-28
  • Easy-to-use bridge
  • Tall frets
  • Narrow nut
  • Comfortable neck
  • Comfortable shape
  • Comfortable fretboard
  • 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 HD12-28's construction favors people with relatively small hands.

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 HD12-28's 24.9" scale length compared to other common sizes:

Martin HD12-28 Scale Length Comparison
Martin HD12-28's scale length (at the top) compared to other popular sizes

This is the scale found in most triple-O acoustic guitars. It's still considered a long scale, but shorter than the standard 25.5" scale.

A shorter scale length guitar has a few advantages. One is that it is easier to play because the strings are under less tension. This can be helpful for beginners, or those with smaller hands.

Neck Profile

Martin HD12-28 Neck Profile
Martin HD12-28'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 C type neck. C-shaped necks like this have been the most popular for the last years. The reason is that they feel good in most hands. It's generally a thin neck that doesn't get in your way when playing fast, but that also has enough mass to give your hands a comfortable grip for chords if they aren't too big.

Thin necks like this make it easier to move your hand across the neck and it helps when playing fast solos, especially if you like to leave your thumb free while playing high on the fretboard. However, thinner necks are also weaker and will need adjustment more often than a thicker neck.

More for different hand sizes

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 HD12-28 has a 16" fingerboard radius.

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

Martin HD12-28 Fretboard Radius Comparison with Fender Stratocaster and Gibson Les Paul
Martin HD12-28'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 HD12-28 has the same radius across the board.

More with the same fretboard radius:

Nut Width

Martin HD12-28 Nut Width
Martin HD12-28 Nut Width

The Martin HD12-28 has a nut width of 46mm (1.811''). This is considered a narrow width for a 12-string guitar. This means that this guitar will have a narrower string separation at the nut, which will affect your fretting hand.

If you are a player with big hands, you might find it difficult to play chords without muting strings. However, this is good for players who have smaller hands, as it will allow them to reach each string more easily at the nut.

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 HD12-28 Fret Size Comparison
Martin HD12-28'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 HD12-28'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 80
Chord Playability 80
Solo Playability 80
Playability 80

Tone

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
Rosewood wood pattern used for guitar building
Rosewood Back, Sides
Hardwood wood pattern used for guitar building
Hardwood 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.

Rosewood Back and Sides: Since the ban of Brazillian Rosewood, this has become a rare and expensive wood. It's not usually used for guitar bodies because of this, and also because it's heavy. Instead, it's used mainly for fretboards. Sometimes it's also used for necks because it's an extremely hard wood (even harder than maple). Its tonality tends to favor warm tones.

Hardwood Neck: This is just a generic hardwood that can come from many species. This type of wood is used to build guitars because it provides a rich, warm sound. The wood also has good structural properties, making it durable and long-lasting.

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 guitar comes with pickups from one of the top brands: Fishman. So you can expect well built pickups with great sound that shouldn't need an upgrade anytime soon.

Sound Score

Sustain 95
Versatility 85
Tuning Stability 70
Sound 88

Build Quality

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 HD12-28 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 HD12-28 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 84
Features 85
Quality Control 100
Build Quality 90

All Specs

Martin HD12-28
General
Brand: Martin
Year: 1931
Configuration:
Strings: 12
Made in: United States
Series: Standard
Colors: Natural
Left-Handed Version: Yes
Body
Type: Hollowbody
Body Material: Solid Spruce
Bridge: Ebony
Neck
Neck Joint: Set
Tuners: Chrome Enclosed Gear
Fretboard: Ebony
Neck Material: Select Hardwood
Decoration: Abalone Diamonds and Squares Long Pattern
Scale Size: 24.9"
Shape: Acoustic Performing Artist
Frets: 20 Medium
Fretboard Radius: 16"
Nut: Bone
Nut Width: 46mm (1.811'')
Electronics
Switch: 0 Way
Knobs:
Volume Controls: 0
Tone Controls: 0
Bridge Pickup: Fishman (Preamp / Active)