While not as well documented, like GreatDane, I too had been on a quest for a new acoustic guitar. I've never pulled the trigger on a top notch acoustic before, and had decided the time had come.
I started off looking at acoustics around the $1000 range and quickly determined that I was going to push a little higher if I was going to be truly satisfied. I did plenty of online research and started to make the rounds to local shops to see what I could get my hands on. I tried Taylors, Martins, Breedlove, Gibsons and a few others. I quickly dismissed the Taylors and wasn't impressed with the Breedloves. I eventually narrowed it down to a short list of a Martin D28 and a Gibson J45. On several different trips, I played them both. I sent by Dad to try them both and report back. Long story short, after several head to head matchups, I finally decided it would be a Martin D-28.
However, I liked the look of the sunburst version of the D-28 I had seen online, so was going to see if Guitar Center would order one for me because I hadn't been able to find one anywhere. I stopped in a couple of weeks ago and headed for the acoustic room. I sat down with the D-28 they had in stock and started playing, just to be sure it was what I had remembered. I put it back and started making my way through a few other acoustics, one of which was a model I had never played.
I had erroneously thought that the Martin HD-28s were identical to D-28s except for a few cosmetic differences, for which I couldn't justify the added cost, so I had completely discounted them in my quest. For some reason, for this trip, I gave it a try. It instantly sang out in a way that none that I had played before had. After spending about an hour switching between the D-28 and the HD-28, it was unmistakeable that the HD-28 was louder, and had a bit more pronounced highs and lows.
It didn't make any sense. Remember, at this point, I was under the impression the difference should only have been cosmetic. I also know that different guitars of the same model often can sound dramatically different. I whipped out my iPhone and did a quick search. I learned from checking Martin's site that the HD-28 has scalloped bracing, which differs from the D-28 and they went on to explain the exact differences I had experienced.
Another hour of playing it and I knew I couldn't go home without it. Sorry for the long, boring story. On with the pics...