martin guitar company
A history of Martin Guitars could occupy a book. It already has, actually. Several. A great Wikipedia article as well. Colonial Lehigh Valley, religion, 19th century European trade unions, and freedom all combine into a tasty story. Truly exceptional guitars was the result.
Our bluegrass circle in Hockessin can sometimes boast 90% Martins. Fantastic flat picking guitars; everyone wants one. Plenty of bass, always a clear tone. One of the most consistently good instruments on the market. Anything you play sounds better on a Martin. The mind is a stage, and all the world an audience – Cicero
Whenever within 200 miles of Acoustic Vibes Music, I make a point to revisit the best crop coming out of a mostly agrarian area in Pennsylvania, three walls of Martin Guitars. My wallet has thus far stayed in the pocket, but I’m only three or four thousand dollars from a guitar of my dreams.
Here is one of my favorites: OM28. Sitka Top, Solid East Indian Rosewood Back & Sides. 25.4″ Scale, 14-Fret. Grover Vintage Nickel Button Tuners. Thanks, Kathryn, for great pictures!
ANY TEENAGER WHO PLAYED an instrument probably hung out for hours in the local music stores. Staring at a limited selection, they’d imagine how cool it would be to own such a store. The business side is usually far from childhood fantasy. Music stores are risky endeavors but there are occasional success stories.
A perfect example? Jeff Looker, architect. Pondering transitional career options to pad out retirement, he bought a half dozen guitars direct from Santa Cruz Guitar Company, becoming their sole Phoenix distributor. Into his orbit came other brands, notably C. F. Martin & Company. Business acumen developed running an upscale architectural firm definitely had a place operating a top-tier acoustic instrument shop. Acoustic Vibes Music arguably has the finest and largest selection of high-grade acoustic instruments in the country.
Looking for a Martin 000 14-fret acoustic guitar? Local shops don’t carry this model. On my last visit Jeff had two stock copies and four from the famed Martin Custom Shop. Four custom Martin 000 guitars with
list prices pushing $7,000! Jeff picks the options he would like to see, and nine months later, voilá! One-of-a-kind guitars are delivered to his store!
On my last visit there were 450 guitars in stock, 80% in this upper range or higher. When you want a great-looking, great-sounding guitar, and don’t want to wait ten years for Wayne Henderson to build you one, book a flight to this Destination Guitar Shop. Forget the budget. Buy a guitar you’ll have forever.
TWO DECADES AGO, a man in his mid-30s went into a music store with a friend. They each bought a new Guild D4 dreadnought guitar. The dreadnought, so named by guitar manufacturer C. F. Martin & Co. in 1916, is a full-bodied guitar with a standard length neck. Perhaps the most commonly purchased model, these days.
Guild made their guitars in Westerly, Rhode Island at that time. The ’96 Guilds had magic in them. Something about the wood and craftsmanship produced instruments of unusual resonance and tone. Crisp and full of body with excellent projection. A clarity which rivals many $2,000 guitars of today.
The young man and his friend each practiced songs with which they grew up. The friend persevered while the young man set his guitar in a closet after a year. And it sat. And sat. Eventually the young man found himself in a large house with his pets but no furniture, no children, no wife. A middle 50’s man in divorce. Scraping for money, an ad was placed, the guitar listed for his buying price, and I showed up on his doorstep.
Even coated with grime, strings with little life, a neck out of adjustment, I heard promise in the guitar. There was something. Considering the cost of repairs and the risk I might be wrong, half his asking price was offered, and the guitar found a new home.
Several deep cleanings later with warm water, mild soap, and a damp, well-wrung cloth, with new strings and a straightened truss rod (to correct the neck), true tone burst forth. As it once did in 1996, in a music store in Northern Delaware, for an optimistic young man, this American Gem will inspire a new generation of musicians. And with care and luck, another beyond my years.