Issuu on Google+

The diffe re nce was n’ t i n t h e n u m b e rs , of co urse. That’s t he t ro ub le w it h anniversaries. We boil a passel of years into a party or a ring or a guitar, and those on the outside—like myself—are often left oblivious to the hard work and technical expertise that goes into tuning just one string. And as systems become automated and as further American manufacturers make the voyage overseas, fewer citizens have a proper vantage point from which to examine and appreciate the nature and the heart of the American artisan. But if the morning news ever gets you low and lonesome over the worries and affairs of this world, do yourself a favor and follow a star to the old Moravian hill country of Pennsylvania. Slouch toward Bethlehem, Pa., and then Nazareth, Pa., and take a tour of a guitar factory where folks still whistle while they work and where a man or a woman may pick up some odd-shaped piece of wood or shell and tell you more about it than you know about your mother’s chicken soup. And they’re well aware of the two-million milestone, of course. They have reason to be proud. But what I suspect, if my own experiences serve as any proof, is that most of the people in that factory would say from their work stations, “Sure. I had some hand in some of those guitars. So did my mother and father. But right now, if you want to know the truth, I’m really only concerned with this one.” And that’s part of the secret to the recipe. That’s where quality and craftsmanship trump all. That’s Robert Goetzl laboring for long days with his pen, sketching out th e shadows and lines that will later grace a children’s book, an ad campaign, a mural, or the time-inspired features of a wooden machine that brings together the deep roots of his personal and artistic history. That’s Roland Murphy and his people laboring over guilloché while pondering th e gears an d complications that push us through the days, through the hours. And that’s the hundreds of people who go into Martin Guitar every day with an eye toward improving and perfecting a long tradition of beauty, one piece at a time. And just as the strings of the lyre once represented the sun and the moon and the wandering planets, and just as the ticks of the watch once represented the menagerie of glittering animals that marked the hours and the seasons while guiding the travelers of a bygone era, these guitars serve as a living artifact of what may occur when theory and practice fight against the odds to merge into a tangible harmony. And maybe one day there won’t be American artisans to collaborate, if the dwindling number of American guitar makers or watchmakers may be submitted as evidence. Maybe there won’t be the hands-on technicians. Maybe there won’t be the metal or wood. That is yet to be known in an environmentally distressed world. But if this anniversary guitar sticks around for a thousand years, complete with its headstock and design, its well-constructed bridge, some lucky admirer is going to pick it up one day, dust it off for clues, and most assuredly say to anyone around, “Can you even believe that people used to make things as beautiful and enduring as this?” And that guitar will hold some mysteries and knowledge of the forgotten world that even the makers may not have been fully aware of. One guitar, pegged for an anniversary, reaching around the heavens to say something about the beauty and order of this world. But it is still just one of two million, of course, and two million is a lot of anything. Lots of stars and lots of pennies. But the trick, from what I gather, goes something like this: The only way to two million of anything is to learn how to make one—but to learn how to make that one exceptionally, exceptionally well. Learn more about the D-200 Deluxe at MartinGuitar.com/D200Deluxe. Watch the video of the making of Martin’s Two Millionth guitar at YouTube.com/CFMartinGuitar. 22 | TUNING THE HARMONY OF TIME


MARTIN | The Journal of Acoustic Guitars: Volume 7