The birth and evolution of the Martin D-18 Dreadnought – the archetypical acoustic guitar

Mark Knopfler's Martin D-18
(Image credit: Future / Joby Sessions)

The instrument you see here – Mark Knopfler’s 1935 Martin D-18 – represents an apex of acoustic guitar building. Despite the vast technological advances of the post-war period, many would argue this perennially popular design has never been bettered. 

One of the most imitated flat-top blueprints in history, Martin’s Dreadnought (originally spelled Dreadnaught) is the archetypal American acoustic guitar. But it would be a mistake to think that it suddenly appeared from out of nowhere; there was an entire century’s worth of innovation leading up to its arrival. 

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Rod Brakes

Rod Brakes is a music journalist with an expertise in guitars. Having spent many years at the coalface as a guitar dealer and tech, Rod's more recent work as a writer covering artists, industry pros and gear includes contributions for leading publications and websites such as Guitarist, Total Guitar, Guitar WorldGuitar Player and MusicRadar in addition to specialist music books, blogs and social media. He is also a lifelong musician.