Dreadnoughts are also known as the powerhouses of acoustic guitars, and it is not for nothing that they have that reputation. With a sound box much larger than most other guitars, the Dreadnought produces a solid, rich, full, powerful and foremost a much louder tone than most guitars.
The History of the Dreadnought Guitar
As loud rhythm instruments such as banjos and mandolins gained popularity, there was a need for a louder guitar, one that could match the loud volume of the above instruments.
The first 'Dreadnought' shaped guitar was developed in 1916 for the Ditson Guitar Company, it was designed with the help of John Deichmann, frontman at Martin Guitars. These large guitars were taken into production by Martin in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. The '' Ditson Extra Large Model '' was born and became the very first 'Dreadnought' guitar in the world.
The HMS Dreadnought
However, the instrument didn't necessarily look like a Dreadnought as we know it today, in fact, the name Dreadnought had not been adopted yet. The name Ditson Model 111 '' Extra Large Model '' was also just an all-encompassing name, a thick sound box, long scale and large 12-fret body, unprecedented for its time. But when this 'Extra Large Guitar', extra loud guitar was received very well by the audience, it soon got the name the Dreadnought..
Named after HMS Dreadnought, a British battleship; the loudest, most powerful, and largest battleship that fought in the seas off of Europe in World War I. There were many similarities to be found between the powerful ship and the powerful guitar. The name Dreadnought was born and from now on inseparable from guitars.
It wasn't until fifteen years later, in 1931, that Martin Guitars started producing Dreadnoughts under their own name. Despite this, they are often seen as the first to introduce the dreadnought, perhaps because Martin developed the Dreadnought in 1934 to as how we know the instrument today; a 14 frets-to-the-body construction with a closed headstock.
But back to the first year, 1931, Martin introduced not one, but two models, the 12-fret D1 and the D2, both 12-fret-body models. Just like the 'Ditson', the D1 had mahogany back and sides and a spruce top, the model that later would be called the D18. The D2, also with a spruce top, had Rosewood back and sides. Only four (!) D2s were made in its debut year. This model also took on a different name, the D2 is renamed to, you guessed it; the Martin D28. With this, Martin introduces the first Rosewood Dread, arguably one of the most popular acoustic guitars ever!
Fast forward to the 21st century. The Dreadnought has been produced by an unprecedented number of brands all over the world over the years, often in a traditional way such as Rozawood Guitars or in Martin's Authentic series or Collings' Traditional series. There are also more modern interpretations and additions such as cutaways, or D's with modern technologies, but basically it always remains the tested and trialed model from the 1930s. And with good reasons.
Take a look at our Dreadnought guitars!