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Mickthemiller

D18 or hummingbird?

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i know I will get the usual "they are apples and pears" but some of you guys must have both or have tried both. So give me the benefit of your experience, please. Thanks

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Owned two different 18s and two different Hummingbirds within the last 10 years. The last 18 was a D-18V, vintage model, and it was very, very fine. Flawless build, great playability and powerful tone. The last Hummingbird is the Vintage model I now have and it is the best player I have ever had the pleasure of putting my hands on.........melted butter. The deciding factor for me is scale length. While the D-18V was very good in this department it was still a long scale instrument which, in a contest with a short scale, loses every time. Both are my favorite woods, spruce over mahogany, but the scale length is the difference. Of course there's the difference between the Martin tone and the Gibson tone.............

 

Choose your weapon, sir.

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Had a '65 D-18 - Have a '65 Hummingbird

 

The D-18 was a fine Martin.

The Hummingbird is an incredible Gibson.

 

Had to make a choice at one point in my life, and the Gibson's still here....

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I have both the D-18 (2015) and a Hummingbird standard (2016). I agree with Buc on this. I love the playability of my Hummingbird. The short scale makes it so comfortable to play, it fits me like a glove.

 

I know Buc has a "Vintage" model, mine is a standard, but I love it too. Very comfortable and sounds great.

 

The D-18 is no slouch by the way. Great guitar too.

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Owned them both... love them both. Conventional wisdom say that the Martin D18 projects more and cuts through better. However, my Vintage was just as loud as my HD28, and likely as loud as my prior D18s. Forget the generalizations and play them, and enjoy the hunt.

The Bird Vintage I owned was the finest guitar I have owned. Why is it gone? Not worth dwelling on the why.

By the way, I have a special D18 coming my way come the late summer...

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By the way, I have a special D18 coming my way come the late summer...

 

Well, that's a bit of a teaser, yes?

 

We don't know what guitars the OP has, as if it was important to cover more ground with less wood. Nor do we know the bulk of the music you'll be using the guitar for: singer-songwriter-y vocal accompaniment, or pounding out bluegrass runs? To further confuse issues, there are some D-18 Short Scales floating around; sort of a Martin trying to wriggle into a Gibson shirt, with it's 24.9" (short for Martin) scale, and it's shade top finish link: http://www.guitarcenter.com/Used/Martin/Custom-Shop-D-18-Short-Scale-MV-Hot-Rod-Acoustic-Guitar.gc.

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We own a 62 Hummingbird and a 63 D-18. That is our only Hummingbird and our newest D-18 -- we have 8 other D-18s.

 

I guess you already know this, but we have those D-18s because they are great bluegrass lead and light rhythm guitars. We play a lot of that kind of music -- thus D-18s. Our Hummingbird is a great full blended strumming guitar -- we also do folk revival stuff, and the hummingbird is great for that. For BG -- not so much.

 

63 D-18

63 D-18

 

62 Hummingbird

 

 

Here is a weird situation where we did use the Hummingbird in a bluegrass-like situation. We have a recording environment (used on all above) designed to faithfully record single acoustic guitars. If we used normal strong BG instruments in the same environment, we overpower the room. But if we use a 1/4 muted Kay bass, 24 RB-4 trapdoor banjo, and the Hummingbird for rhythm -- less powerful instruments -- it works ok.

 

link

 

Disclaimer -- this is all jams, so perfect it is not.

 

Here is a lot more with the Hummingbird

 

 

Best,

 

-Tom

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ONly own one Martin and it is the 000 15M and I really like it and really like all the Martins I have tried,However I have a few other acoustics and 4 of them are Gibsons. If I had to get rid of all my guitars but one, I would keep the Hummingbird standard. Love that guitar. Good luck with your decision. I would like to eventually buy a D18 or 28 or 35 not really sure.

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We own a 62 Hummingbird and a 63 D-18. That is our only Hummingbird and our newest D-18 -- we have 8 other D-18s.

 

I guess you already know this, but we have those D-18s because they are great bluegrass lead and light rhythm guitars. We play a lot of that kind of music -- thus D-18s. Our Hummingbird is a great full blended strumming guitar -- we also do folk revival stuff, and the hummingbird is great for that. For BG -- not so much.

 

63 D-18

63 D-18

 

62 Hummingbird

 

 

Here is a weird situation where we did use the Hummingbird in a bluegrass-like situation. We have a recording environment (used on all above) designed to faithfully record single acoustic guitars. If we used normal strong BG instruments in the same environment, we overpower the room. But if we use a 1/4 muted Kay bass, 24 RB-4 trapdoor banjo, and the Hummingbird for rhythm -- less powerful instruments -- it works ok.

 

link

 

Disclaimer -- this is all jams, so perfect it is not.

 

Here is a lot more with the Hummingbird

 

 

Best,

 

-Tom

Somehow, this doesn't surprise me - bluegrass is powerful music, and can be 'overpowering' in some settings. The folks I know who specialize in bluegrass eventually get around to nuance as opposed to sheer power. Makes me wish my bluegrass skills were at least minimal!

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Bluegrass scene seems to mirror the traditional scene over here in Ireland

The amount of posts online about this martin that's a cannon , when talent doesn't sort it out then buy a really loud guitar to get noticed and talked to .

Because it's usually unmiced it just takes one idiot to not notice he's too loud , then the rest of the group have to go slightly louder and the whole thing snowballs into what intitially seems like a lot of craic but has lost its path

Bluegrass or traditional Irish music played with touch and nuance is beautiful

But it's sad that the true talent is usually sitting putting up with a few wallys , but it's also the nature of the beast as it should be a session

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Since you asked for opinions, I'll give you mine - was looking for another acoustic 1-2 years ago. I already had two Gibsons and was looking for something else to round out the small collection - I found a nice Martin (D Mahogany is like a D-18 but with sustainable woods) and am happy with the choice. I'm doing bluegrass anyway, and the D-18 is a better fit for that as has been pointed out already.

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It would depend on what else you have there OP ...

If you don't have a Martin and a few gibsons then I'd get a Martin

If you have a few martins and no gibson , then you need a Gibson

 

And of course as someone already asked , what sort of music will you be playing on the thing ...

 

A d18 and a hummingbird are aesthetically so different , so . Will the fancy pants hummingbird inspire you or do you like a plain Jane ??

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Somehow, this doesn't surprise me - bluegrass is powerful music, and can be 'overpowering' in some settings. The folks I know who specialize in bluegrass eventually get around to nuance as opposed to sheer power. Makes me wish my bluegrass skills were at least minimal!

 

I'm sure you would be welcome at a bluegrass session.msp_biggrin.gif

 

When I used the "overpowering" adjective above I was talking about the room acoustics. Forget the guitar lead and the vocals -- bluegrass banjos, fiddles, mandolins and dobros are all loud instruments. Bluegrass music is really incredibly nuanced, with all the instruments interacting in an ever changing pattern of lead and backup. If you are playing in a acoustically wet small place, the room has a bit impact on the music. For a solo or a small group, such rooms can be heaven -- enhancing the music. The extreme example is singing in the bathroom. BUT -- add more instruments, things go south in a hurry -- the phase distortion muddies up the sound and turns it to goo. That is a terrible for a highly nuanced vocal harmony genre like bluegrass.

 

In any bluegrass sessions, all the instrument must modulate a lot to follow the music. Bluegrass music has a lot of instrumental presentations -- both in instrumental pieces and in many (many) instrumental breaks in the vocal pieces. In the instrumental leads, a single instrument (banjo, mandolin, fiddle, Dobro or guitar) has the lead and everything else plays backup. The first four of those are LOUD instruments and when playing lead the one lead instrument is generally played wide open. That sets the rhythm requirements for that part of the music. When the guitar takes the lead, it is (relatively speaking) not very loud -- and everything else must back down. That and the vocals are the opportunity for playing too loud -- inexperience people often make that mistake.

 

The structure of bluegrass music is much more like jazz than it is like old time or Irish session music -- an ever-changing and even-interacting presentation of voices and instruments. [i can be very boring on this subject. Here is an article I wrote 20 years ago for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine that has been translated into 10 different languages and republished on every continent except Antarctica. To me this means obviously someone needs to start a bluegrass club in Antarcticamsp_biggrin.gifmsp_biggrin.gif. ]

 

Loud acoustic music is not the same when played more quietly. Not even close.

 

Best,

 

Tom

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If we're talking new(ish) instruments, Hummingbird aces it for me every time.

 

I had a 2006 D18 for a while that was boring and characterless. It just sounded like whatever strings were on it and didn't really have much touch sensitivity or sweetness. The post-2012 D18s have forward shifted bracing and different neck profiles and sound much better than the ones from '95-2012, but I'd still pick a Hummingbird any day. I've owned two Birds and absolutely loved them. I have a Dove now which is phenomenal too, and worth considering if you're set on a square Dread ☺️

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I have always found the bass response on Martin dreds a bit overwhelming except on the Martin D-15 and MMV models which have the non scalloped X bracing. I can see why bluegrass players love them though. I much prefer the sound of the Hummingbird. Your playing style and type of music you want to play will determine which you prefer though.

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