Entries in golden era (1)


1995 Martin D-18 Golden Era information and tracker

I have recently become interested in the Martin D-18 Golden Era from 1995. This was a limited edition guitar from 1995 and is not the same guitar as the "D-18GE" that has been a popular model in the Martin line-up since its introduction in 1999 (I wrote about my 2002 D-18GE previously). The 1995 Golden Era is roughly based on a 1937 D-18 and was the first Martin to bear the "Golden Era" name; it was followed the next year by the 12-fret 000-28 Golden Era and in 1998 with the 00-21 Golden Era. See an advertisement for the 1995 D-18 Golden era here (along with the 000-42 Eric Clapton model and D-35 30th anniversary edition). In addition, the good people at Martin supplied me with the spec sheet for this model. They noted the guitar was known as the "D18VGE," which is name I haven't heard before for this instrument.


According to the Johnson, Boak, & Longworth (2009) reference book, the 1995 D-18 Golden Era was produced with a natural sitka spruce top (272 instruments) or sunburst top (48 instruments) and listed for $3100 ($3320 for the sunburst model). They note that:

Many features were copied directly from at 1937 D-18, including: original mahogany stain color, black binding, small abalones dot pattern on neck, Brazilian rosewood headplate with old-style decal, hot stamp burned in reinforcing center strip, cloth strips on sides, 1 3/4" V-neck, 2-5/16" spacing at bridge, long bone saddle, bone nut, chrome vintage-style tuners; other features simialr to later D-18V. This first version of the D-18GE did not have an Adirondack spruce top like the later GE Series model. (pg. 139)

Click on the image above to see a PDF of the spec sheetAnother notable feature is that the 1995 model lacks a tongue brace (a.k.a., popsicle brace), similar to early D-18s. The sitka spruce top and lack of a tongue brace are two of the key differences with the later D-18GE (1999 to current; based on a 1934 model), which has an adirondack spuce top and includes a tongue brace.

I find this guitar particularly interesting because 1995 is right at the up-turn in Martin production; it was among the first vintage-inspired models that have now become a staple for Martin and other manufacturers. For example, the 1985 D-18V sold 56 units, the (non-traditional) HD-18LE sold 51 in 1987, 15 1989 D-18 Specials, and 215 D-18 Vintage in 1992. In 1995, Martin built 589 "regular" D-18s and 320 of these limited edition guitars, so relatively speaking the Golden Era was a success. Maybe this showed Martin that the "lowly" D-18 could still be popular on the market and justified the development of the later "GE" series.


Click here to check out some 1995 D-18 Golden Era videos >>

Based on some sleuthing around on the internet and tracking of various guitars on ebay and guitar shop websites, and contributions from folks who have stumbled upon this page, I have started a registry of serial numbers and prices, when available, of 1995 D-18 Golden Eras:

Serial numbers known:

Serial numbers unknown (i.e., some of these could be the same instruments and/or listed above):

*For sale, at least the last time I checked...

If you have a 1995 D-18 Golden Era (or have information about one), please contact me here; I'd love to hear from you and add your guitar to the list above.