This is a rare vintage-inspired Martin in excellent condition. The sound is balanced and smooth. It is effortless to play and has the feel of high quality craftsmanship.
Bold herringbone, authentic East Indian rosewood, ebony, Sitka spruce, and vintage appointments give a classic look to a timeless sound.
Here are a couple of reviews...
Well-balanced with great uniform action and playability all the way up the neck, the OM-28E Retro incorporates the Fishman F1 Aura Plus electronics system, which offers settings based on the modeled sounds of vintage mics and guitars. The F1 Aura Plus’ revolutionary imaging technology allows a player to get a variety of vintage sounds or just the straight sound of the pickup alone, or some combination thereof. This is a great feature for someone who is playing in public through a PA or amp and either finds a specific sound within the F1 Aura Plus that suits his or her tastes, or needs a better sound if a particular mic in a venue isn’t delivering.
As far as just playing acoustically, this guitar is sweet. The neck has Martin’s “performing artist” taper with the modified low oval profile, and it’s really noticeable, so smooth and playable that it’s a mystery why this neck construction isn’t on all their guitars, or why more guitar makers aren’t using whatever the formula is. It may just be my left hand, but it’s that good in my opinion. With a satin-finish neck, the fretboard is ebony, as is the bridge, a 1930s-style belly bridge with white Tusq drop-in saddle.
The guitar has East Indian rosewood back and sides, a Sitka spruce top and bold herringbone for the top inlay, with the cool HD (herringbone dreadnought) zig-zag design for the back purfling. With 14 frets clear and 20 total, it has the classic Martin headstock, nickel open-geared tuning machines with butterbean knobs, ivoroid binding, a Delmar tortoise-color pickguard, diamond-and-square fingerboard inlays and a plain rosette.
Even if you never plugged the OM-28E Retro into an amplifier or P.A. it would still be an immensely pleasurable playing experience. The design balance that’s so visible at a glance translates to a playing comfort that makes the guitar feel like an extension of your body and fingers at times.
This much we’re used to from a higher-end Martin OM. The addition of the Fishman F1 Aura+, however, extends the performance potential of this guitar significantly. In the simplest terms, the Aura is not a modeling system that can magically turn the OM-28 into, say, a 12-string jumbo.
Instead, it’s what Fishman calls imaging—an algorithm that imparts the performance characteristics of a classic OM-28 mic’d in a studio. Because this is the Retro Series, Martin and Fishman based many images for the OM-28E on the most classic permutations of that equation imaginable— recording a classic OM in a Nashville studio with microphones like an RCA 74B and a Neumann U 47, among others.
Through a set of headphones, the effect is especially pronounced—the gorgeous, basic voice of the OM-28E Retro takes on a very accurate studio ambience and the performance essence of the microphone at the core of the image. It’s capable of adding a lot of vibe and atmosphere in a performance situation, but it has very real studio potential too and can be a shortcut to a very sweet tone without involving memory hogging plug-ins or tinkering with microphone placement and outboard gear.
The capabilities of the Aura system go pretty deep. When you’re getting acquainted, there’s an “easy” mode with a few easy-on-the-ears and versatile images that you can navigate with a push button. But there’s also a very capable edit function that lets you fine-tune your images for a given performance or recording situation, and access other images in the library. It’s not something we’d recommend attempting for the first time on stage—there is a learning curve when you want to get deeper into the system. But the practice and exploration that leads you to the additional images, and controls to tailor them, is a blast.
Martin and Fishman should both be applauded for applying the potential of digital processing in a way that, in the end, sounds unmistakably organic.