What are the Differences between the Gibson J-45 and Martin D-28 acoustic Guitars?
The electronics and body shape are the biggest differences
We can't go against either of these guitars as they're two of the nicest and most popular in existence, at least in the higher price ranges. But the J-45 does give you LR Baggs electronics, where the D-28 does not have electronics (which some might prefer). We also like the warmth of the Gibson's tone, though you won't find us complaining about the D-28's sound quality either. We'll cover the major differences below.
|Specification||Gibson J-45 Standard||Martin D-28|
|Brand and Model||Gibson J-45 Standard||Martin D-28|
|Body Shape||Round Shoulder Dreadnought||Dreadnought|
|Bracing Pattern||Hand-Scalloped X-Bracing||Forward-Shifted X-Brace|
|Back and Sides Wood||Solid Mahogany||Solid East Indian Rosewood|
|Neck Shape||Slim Taper||Modified Low Oval, High Performance Taper|
|Inlays||Mother-of-Pearl Dots||Mother-of-Pearl Dots|
|Scale Length||24.75 inches||25.4 inches|
|Nut Width||1.724 inches||1.75 inches|
|Tuning Machines||Grover Rotomatics with Kidney Buttons||Nickel Open Gear|
|Top Finish||Gloss Nitrocellulose Lacquer||Gloss|
|Binding||Multi-Ply Top, Single-Ply Back||Antique White|
|Nut/Saddle Material||Black Composite Nut/Tusq||Bone/Compensated Bone|
|Strings||Gibson, .012-.053||Martin Lifespan 2.0 92/8 Phosphor Bronze, .013-.056|
|Fingerboard Inlay||Mother-of-Pearl Dots||Mother-of-Pearl Dots|
|Body Bracing||Hand-Scalloped X-Bracing||Forward-Shifted X-Brace|
|Manufacturer Part Number||RS45VSN19||102017D28|
Price difference update Fri, December 08th, 2023.
Top 12 Notable Differences Between the J-45 and D-28
- Body Shape: The Gibson J-45 Standard is a round-shoulder dreadnought, whereas the Martin D-28 is a traditional dreadnought. The traditional will feel slightly larger around the waist of the guitar.
- Bracing Pattern: The Gibson J-45 Standard features hand-scalloped X-bracing, while the Martin D-28 uses forward-shifted X-bracing, which impacts the soundboard's vibration and tone characteristics.
- Back and Sides Wood: The J-45 Standard has solid mahogany back and sides, while the D-28 features solid East Indian rosewood (note that both guitars use a solid Spruce top).
- Neck Shape: The J-45 Standard has a slim taper neck shape, while the D-28's neck is a modified low oval with a high-performance taper, potentially affecting playability and comfort, depending on your preference.
- Fingerboard Material: The J-45 Standard uses rosewood, whereas the D-28 employs ebony for the fingerboard.
- Scale Length: The J-45 Standard has a scale length of 24.75 inches, while the D-28 has a slightly longer scale length of 25.4 inches, affecting string tension and playability.
- Nut Width: The J-45 Standard has a nut width of 1.724 inches, whereas the D-28 has a wider nut width of 1.75 inches, influencing string spacing and playability.
- Tuning Machines: The J-45 Standard is equipped with Grover Rotomatics tuning machines, whereas the D-28 uses nickel open-gear tuning machines. We'd prefer Grover tuners, but neither guitar should have trouble staying in tune.
- Top Finish: The Gibson J-45 Standard features a gloss nitrocellulose lacquer top finish, while the Martin D-28 has a gloss top finish.
- Nut/Saddle Material: The J-45 Standard has a black composite nut and Tusq saddle, while the D-28 uses bone for both the nut and compensated bone for the saddle. These materials can affect the guitar's tone and sustain.
- Bridge Material: The J-45 Standard has a rosewood bridge, while the D-28 uses an ebony bridge, which can influence the guitar's tone and durability.
- Electronics: The J-45 has an LR Baggs active pickup system installed, while the D-28 does not house any electronics.
If you care about having electronics in your guitar, the Gibson J-45 is probably a better choice. Also note that it's typically priced lower than the Martin D-28, but make sure to check the price guide above for updated numbers. We would also prefer the smaller body design of the J-45, just because it's typically easier to hold.
So we'd take the Gibson J-45 if given the choice. However, your situation might be totally different, so you need to do your research and make the call based on your situation. This page is simply meant to help steer you in the right direction.
Definitely figure out how you feel about the body shape and LR Baggs active pickup system, because those are major features in the J-45. If you don't want them, the D-28 is a better fit.
Leave questions in the comments section below.
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