NAMM 2023: Martin debuts spotlight-stealing StreetLegend series, recreating historic models from the brand’s museum

Some of Martin's new-for-2023 acoustic guitars
(Image credit: Martin)

NAMM 2023: Martin has made a spectacular start to 2023’s NAMM season by issuing a handful of new-look satin-finished and Authentic Series D-18 and D-28 dreadnought acoustic guitars.

The standout six-strings from the whole drop, though, are the all-new StreetLegend D-18 and D-28 models – two heavily-worn acoustics that are said to be inspired by "historic models” found in the Martin museum.

Spiritual counterparts to last year’s StreetMaster series, the new StreetLegend pair promise to provide the reliability and playability of a brand-new guitar with the feel, soul, and tone of a more ancient instrument.

These are joined by new-look D-18s and D-28s in the brand’s Authentic series – the Authentic 1937 Aged models – and, for the first time, Satin and Satin Amberburst-finished iterations of Martin's famed dreadnoughts.

To find out more about each Martin acoustic, cast your gaze below. 

D-18 StreetLegend and D-28 StreetLegend

Martin D-18 StreetLegend

Martin D-18 StreetLegend (Image credit: Martin)

Leading the way for Martin’s 2023 NAMM exploits are the D-18 StreetLegend and D-28 StreetLegend models, which introduce a brand new aged aesthetic into the Martin catalog.

The D-18 carries a considerable amount of wear strapped to its satin-finished spruce top, and sports some more subtle aging around its mahogany back, sides, and neck. Some Forward Shifted X scalloped bracing can be found under the hood, with other functional specs including an ebony bridge, purfling binding, a Dovetail neck joint, and abalone inlays on its ebony fingerboard.

Martin D-28 StreetLegend

Martin D-28 StreetLegend (Image credit: Martin)

Its companion, the D-28, is a tad more modest in its worn finish, and instead opts for East Indian rosewood back and sides, which are paired with the spruce top. Other specific specs include mother of pearl inlays and non-scalloped bracing, as well as a multi-stripe back inlay.

The D-28 StreetLegend is capped off with an ebony fretboard, Dovetail neck joint, and mahogany neck.

Both models also flash bone nuts, compensated bone saddles, tortoiseshell pickguards and nickel open gear tuning machines.

Price-wise, the D-18 StreetLegend weighs in at $2,399, while the D-28 StreetLegend will be available for $2,799.

D-18 Satin, D-18 Satin Amberburst, D-28 Satin and D-28 Satin Amberburst

For something slightly more conventional, Martin has issued clean, unworn, satin-finished versions of the D-18 and D-28 templates, which have previously only been available in gloss finishes.

As for build specs, both these guitars subscribe to their classic designs, with the D-18 offering a mahogany back and sides, a spruce top, and a mahogany neck, which is topped with an ebony fingerboard. Elsewhere, it sports an ebony bridge, scalloped bracing, abalone inlays, and nickel open gear tuners.

It’s a similar story for the D-28, too, which comes equipped with its standard rosewood back and sides and a spruce top, all of which house non-scalloped forward shifted X-bracing.

Notably, both guitars have been treated to an “aging toner," which purports to darken and provide a pre-war vintage appearance naturally over time.

These two models carry the same price tags as their StreetLegend peers: $2,399 for the D-18 and $2,700 for the D-28.

As an added bonus, the classic natural-finished D-18 and D-28 models have also been released alongside Satin Amberburst alternatives, which deliver some additional aesthetic intrigue by flashing an ornate 'burst finish.

Despite the more elegant colorways, the Satin Amburst D-18 and D-28 carry the same price tags as their standard satin peers.

D-18 Authentic 1937 Aged and D-28 Authentic 1937 Aged

Martin D-18 Authentic 1937 Aged

(Image credit: Martin)

Martin has taken the opportunity to bolster its Authentic collection with the D-18 Authentic 1937 Aged and D-28 Authentic 1937 Aged, both of which seek to replicate the “perfect storm of craftsmanship, innovation, and materials” that made ‘37 an “excellent year for guitars."

The basic build appointments are largely the same for each model, with some high-end exceptions: Guatemalan rosewood (as opposed to East Indian) back and sides for the D-28, plus brown tortoise binding, and an Adirondack spruce top for the D-18.

True to their inspiration, each model also introduces a new body profile, said to be more accurate and indicative of golden era Martin dreadnought shapes.

Martin D-28 Authentic 1937 Aged

(Image credit: Martin)

What sets these models apart, though, is the Vintage Tone System, which ages the wood so as to replicate the “pleasing visual aesthetics of a vintage guitar and reproduce the particular tones previously reserved for vintage instruments."

Unsurprisingly, these boutique builds carry hefty price tags. While the D-18 version will be available for $7,999, the D-28 will have a price tag of $8,999.

Visit Martin's website to find out more about each of its newest instruments.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.