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T H E J O U R N A L O F ACO U S T I C GU ITAR S

VOLUME 6 | 2016


BALLAD OF THE

DREADNOUGHT A MUSICAL ICON TURNS 100

WATCH THE FILM AT HTTP://BIT.LY/DREADNOUGHTBALLAD


20

THE AMBASSADORS

12

32

THE CHEMISTRY

OF MUSIC

Q&A WITH MARTIN’S NEW PRESIDENT, JACKIE RENNER

52

LIFELINE: INNOVATION TO ADD YEARS TO STRING TONE

IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE

THAT COUNTS INTRODUCING MARTIN’S NEW AURA

®

VT & MATRIX VT ENHANCE™ ACOUSTIC AMPLIFICATION BY FISHMAN

®


SET LIST 6.

LINER NOTES

The Ambassadors

10.

TAKE IT FROM THE TOP

A Word from Chris

12.

THE CHEMISTRY OF MUSIC | Q&A WITH MARTIN’S

NEW PRESIDENT, JACKIE RENNER

By David Schneider

18.

NORTH STREET ARCHIVES

20.

THE AMBASSADORS By Jonathan R. Walsh

32.

IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS | INTRODUCING MARTIN’S NEW AURA® VT & MATRIX VT ENHANCE™ ACOUSTIC AMPLIFICATION BY FISHMAN ® By Sean Kevin Campbell

40.

52.

NEW RELEASES

LIFELINE | INNOVATION TO ADD YEARS TO STRING TONE By Bill Derks

60.

FROM THE WORKBENCH

64.

IN SEARCH OF MADAGASCAR ROSEWOOD AND OPTIMISM By Jeff Simpson

®

70.

THE 1833 SHOP

74.

SOMETHING OLD

M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |

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THE AMBASSADORS

LINER NOTES

“There is so much history and possibility in these instruments. My Martin is a constant source of inspiration, a teacher, and most of all, a companion.” | Anderson East “The Ambassador Program has been a game-changer for us. Martin plays a huge part in supporting us both musically and through our charitable partners. They provide guitars that are tough enough for the road but also make for a sweet sound in the studio. We’re pumped to bring them out on our Tour de Compadres later this year!” | Bear & Bo Rinehart, NEEDTOBREATHE “I’m a Martin guy. Always have been. I fell in love a long time ago with the songs they make. They’re all works of art made by hand. I don’t treat them like they are my most prized possessions because a songwriter’s tools are not for coddling. They have to go where I have to go. Right or regretful, always truthful. It’s an honor to be part of the Martin family.” | Brett Dennen “I didn’t know there was a perfect acoustic guitar until I bought my first Martin. My Martin is a workhorse, a writing partner, and a source of endless power and beauty. I’ve been singing the praises of Martin guitars for years. Not only does Martin support hard touring artists like myself, they treat every customer as if playing guitar is their lifeblood. I’m honored to be a Martin Ambassador. It is honestly a dream come true.” | Chris Carrabba, Twin Forks and Dashboard Confessional

6 | LINER NOTES


“The first guitar I ever played was my dad’s 1968 Martin that had been used to record songs on Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours album. The quality of Martin guitars and their stunningly crisp sound are a standard I grew up

T H E J O U R N A L O F ACO US T I C G U I TA R S

appreciating and loving to play on all my albums and Guitar Ambassador.” | Colbie Caillat “ I’ve always loved the way Martins have looked and

felt since I first picked up a guitar. I couldn’t be more honored to be a part of the Martin family. Every time I play my custom-built piece of art, I have to take a second look to make sure someone isn’t playing a trick on me.

VOLUME 6 | 2016

all of my tours—that’s why I feel honored to be a Martin PUBLISHER C. F. Martin & Co., Inc. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Amani Duncan CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Jonathan R. Walsh

DESIGN & PRODUCTION Lehigh Mining & Navigation ART DIRECTOR Denis Aumiller

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.” | Dallas Green,

DESIGNER & ILLUSTRATOR Laura Dubbs

City and Colour

ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Joe Iacovella COPYWRITER Scott Byers

“I was fortunate enough to be introduced to the Martin

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Pat Lundy

family through Burton Snowboards. We created a graphic

PRINTING Payne Printery

that I and many people in my sport will always remember. Martin is truly a family, and they have been supporting

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jonathan R. Walsh,

projects I am involved with for years now. Stoked to have

David Schneider, Sean Kevin Campbell,

been brought into the Martin family.” | Danny Davis

Bill Derks, Jeff Simpson, Dick Boak

“My old Martin that has a hole in it has been around the world with me and at gigs ranging from Lollapalooza to the Grand Ole Opry. My love of that guitar and the history of the Martin brand are what inspired my signature model, and that’s one of the things I’m most proud of in my career. I’ve really enjoyed getting feedback from fans, and I’m still working on breaking mine in just right too!” Dierks Bentley

PHOTOGRAPHY John Sterling Ruth, Mandee McEvoy ® MARTIN | THE JOURNAL OF ACOUSTIC GUITARS

C. F. Martin & Co., Inc. P.O. Box 329, Nazareth, Pa. 18064 P. 610.759.2837 F. 610.759.5757 www.martinguitar.com

“It’s truly a gift and an honor to be a part of the Martin family amongst so many talented musicians and the most

© 2016 C. F. Martin & Co., Inc., Nazareth, Pa.

passionate, inspiring, and humble employees I have ever

All rights reserved.

met. Growing up, it was always a dream to bridge the gap between snowboarding and music, and with Martin’s support, the dream has never felt so real! Looking forward to jamming with Valerie June and Sleepy Man in the Martin Dome at the Frendly Gathering in June!” | Jack Mitrani

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“The feel of a Martin is unparalleled. So much joy of playing them on stage every night. I recorded with two different Martin acoustics on my new record, Free, and it just wouldn’t feel as authentic and pure any other way.” | Cody Simpson “There’s nothing better than a Martin. If you’re going to play music, you might as well make it sound the best it can. I’m proud to be a part of the Martin Guitar family.” D onavo n Franke nre iter

“What an honour to be an Ambassador of my beloved friend Martin. I’m excited to keep creating and

“My HD-28 is solid.

sharing it with the world.”

We have no problem

Flo Morrissey

endorsing Martin

“Simple. Martin guitars sound the best.” Kenneth Pattengale, The Milk Carton Kids

guitars, because they are great!” | James Valentine, Maroon 5 “I love my custom

“It’s all about

Martin guitar!”

my Martin.”

Raggi, Of Monsters

Rivers Cuomo,

and Men

Weezer

“I’m very proud to call myself a Martin Ambassador. Martin makes the finest acoustic guitars on Earth, and they show immense support for touring and recording artists like me.” Jason Isbell

8 | LINER NOTES


“The Martin Guitar Ambassador Program is far more than an artist link on a website; it’s a family of support by the world’s greatest guitar company. We are honored to have Martin active in our career.” | Tommy Mizzone, Sleepy Man

“I couldn’t be more honored and privileged

“Introducing and fostering a close working relationship with the Martin

to be a part of the Martin Guitar Ambassador

Guitar company as an Ambassador has revolutionized my experience as

Program. From building timeless masterpieces

a working musician. In terms of functionality, the before-and-after would

to raising crucial social awareness worldwide,

be on par with the difference between building a house by me or having a

Martin has truly stolen our hearts and set

legendarily experienced carpentry crew on the site. In this case, fortunately

a positive example for independent and

for me, the additional carpenters have also become my friends.”

corporate businesses alike.” | Chuck Ragan

Seth Avett, The Avett Brothers

“I love my Martin guitars because they are

“ Never in a million years when I was a teenager learning Stanley

so versatile and filled with character. I have

Brothers songs on my grandfather’s guitar would I have ever thought

two that I use solely for writing, and my

someday I’d be a Martin Ambassador. Words cannot express the pride

favourite that I take on the road with me and

and honor I feel representing this company, its legacy, and its products.”

use in the studio. Its tone works perfectly

Sturgill Simpson

in both intimate and full band settings, and, of course, Martin guitars have such a great history that I’m proud to be a part of. ” Gabrielle Aplin

“I was raised around guitars—it seemed like my dad never put his down! And from an early age, I’ve always had an appreciation for them. So naturally I’ve always been drawn to Martins, and I’m

“A prerequisite for a great guitar used to be that it was an older guitar. Thanks to what Martin is doing now, that’s not true anymore. The guitars they’re building now are some of the greatest guitars I’ve ever played, let alone just Martin guitars. I’m glad to be a part of the family!” | Taylor Goldsmith, Dawes “ I am beyond thrilled to have the opportunity to partner up with such an iconic brand as Martin guitars. Music has been a huge part of my life and career as a soccer player. It’s very exciting to bring these worlds together.” | Megan Rapinoe, USWNT

so happy to officially be part of the Martin family now.” Thomas “It’s a privilege to be a Martin Ambassador.

Rhett

I’m a huge fan of the brand to begin with, but getting to work with them and learn their passion for what they do is what makes being a fan even cooler. Being an Ambassador for Martin has allowed me to express my love for guitar playing in all kinds of ways that I wouldn’t have been able to otherwise. It’s especially cool when a brand as credible as Martin supports someone like me and believes “Having the support of the best acoustic guitar company that’s over 100 years old is really an honor. It’s lovely to be a part of the Martin Ambassador family because I consider my guitar to be one of my

in supporting my music and what I do; it’s fantastic to have that kind of support from a company like Martin.” | Hunter Hayes

most valued family members. I rarely leave my house without having it beside me!” | Valerie June

M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |

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A WORD FROM CHRIS

TAKE IT FROM THE TOP

Dear Martin enthusiast, Recently a friend of mine reminded me that I have been Chairman and CEO of my family’s business for 30 years. Wow. I have been so excited by the 100 th anniversary of the Martin Dreadnought that I wasn’t focused on my own personal milestone. Honestly, it’s quite humbling for me. I have been very fortunate to be part of a great business with fantastic coworkers, who help me make the best guitars in the world.

10 | TAKE IT FROM THE TOP


The first Martin Dreadnought (Serial #47052 ) was made in 1931 and was stamped: “Dreadnought Model Made Exclusively for Chicago Musical Instrument Company by C. F. Martin & Co.” Based on the large-bodied D-111 Dreadnought that Martin made under the Ditson brand until their bankruptcy in 1931, the D-1 and its D-2 counterpart were 12 frets clear to the body and were the predecessors of Martin’s iconic D-18 and D-28 models.

Speaking of guitars, I want to take a moment to shamelessly promote some of the new products we are introducing at the 2016 Summer NAMM Trade Show

1931 ORIGINAL D-1

in Nashville. For history buffs, we have a D-1 Limited Edition, a new-old 00-18, a Dreadnought with a large soundhole, and another modern take on a cowboy guitar (thank you, Willy Matthews). The new 17 Series will be offered with electronics. There are several new models from our facility in Navojoa, including cutaway X Series, colored ukes, and, for the first time, full-gloss solid wood guitars. The Retro string line is also being expanded. At the 2015 Winter NAMM Trade Show in Anaheim, we introduced a new body size to our guitar series—the Dreadnought Junior or D Jr. Boy, did this new model create excitement! So much so that we found ourselves in a position that we never like to be in, which is to disappoint you, our dealers and distributors by not delivering in-demand product on time. I can now say with confidence that we are on track, and demand continues to soar for this small but mighty-sounding instrument. Like Martin Ambassador Jason Isbell recently said, “I can’t put mine down.” I encourage you to visit a local Martin dealer and check out one for yourself. Thanks for all the support over the past 30 years.

Sincerely,

C. F. Martin IV Chairman & CEO C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.

M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |

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Q & A W I T H M A RT I N ’ S N E W P R E S I D E N T, J A C K I E R E N N E R BY D AV I D S C H N E I D E R

12 | THE CHEMISTRY OF MUSIC


Great record producers work with artists in a variety of genres and studio environments. While an in-demand modern country producer may thrive in state-of-the-art Nashville studios with first-call session musicians and major label budgets, and a celebrated rock producer might earn a reputation for achieving great drum sounds through innovative microphone placement techniques, the bona fide “super producer” can work with any combination of personalities, tools, and settings. This is because they understand process: who should do what, when they should do it, how they should do it, and under what circumstances it should be done. A professional executive with true business acumen shares all of these traits. Their ability to attain excellence is not confined to a particular office, or a specific team of workers, or even a single industry. They are able to study an organization and understand its operations and its culture—not just by looking at what it is on paper, but by absorbing what’s never been committed to writing and what is subtly expressed in the way people approach their work and interact with their co-workers. Like a fine chef, a professional executive can identify the unexpected ingredient that further refines a process that was already great into something even greater. This discerning competence is what every company wants for all of its leadership positions, but especially for its president, who will be charged with working alongside a chairman and CEO, guiding the direction of a 183-year-old successful family business. In the summer of 2015, after a discerning executive search coupled with an intensive interview process, Martin Guitar’s sixth generation Chairman and CEO, Chris Martin IV, announced that he had found his new co-pilot and Martin’s new President, Jacqueline Renner.

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J A C K I E R E N N E R | M A RT I N G U I TA R’ S N E W P R E S I D E N T

Jacqueline, or Jackie as she’s known among her colleagues, comes to the venerable and historied Martin Guitar organization with her own distinguished body of experience. After obtaining a degree in chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania, Jackie began working as a research chemist at the Olin Corporation before accepting a business development role and eventually assuming the responsibilities in general management. In other words, she helped secure patents and develop products in the laboratory before tackling the entirely separate challenge of making those products successful in the marketplace. After proving herself equally adept in the science of chemistry and the art of business, Jacqueline moved on to take crucial leadership roles at a series of consumer products companies. Having started to settle into her position as Martin’s newly appointed President, Jackie is now applying that spirit of scientific inquiry to the musical instruments industry, and of course more specifically to the layered history of Martin Guitar. This involves asking questions of all kinds—some of them basic and broad, and some more pointed; but when I spoke to Jackie, she was quick, funny, and unflinchingly open.

14 | THE CHEMISTRY OF MUSIC


DS – You have led several companies in different industries. How have those experiences prepared you to guide the direction of a successful, iconic guitar manufacturer known worldwide with 183 years of history?

JR – I’ve had the privilege to lead a number of consumer products companies with outstanding brands and global reach, but I didn’t come to Martin Guitar with a set of preconceived notions about what should happen. When you tie that with the deep respect I have for the legacy of this company, it puts me in a really introspective place to think about the future, and to work with Chris Martin and the core executive team to keep that history alive and to build a bridge to the future.

DS – I can see where a fresh perspective can be quite helpful. Sometimes there’s a heavy nostalgia factor with music— oh, it used to be better back in the day, the good old days and golden ages, etc.

JR – It’s a different perspective. Music is very important in our family and has always been in our home. We have nieces and nephews who are musicians—be they in regional orchestras or bands or in the opera. My husband is an avid clarinet player and has been for many, many years. It’s wonderful to come to Martin and see business processes integrated with creative expression. During the first couple of weeks I was with the company, I entered into my first new product development meeting. There are all these beautiful guitars in the room. The product development team is talking about all the technical aspects—the materials of construction, what they did to elicit certain tones, etc. And then you listen to how it sounds and it’s awesome! That is an experience I’ve never had before in my professional career. It really is soulful.

DS – Did you feel any apprehension about taking the position of President of a business that’s been family run for over 180 years? What advantages does that history offer?

JR – I didn’t feel apprehension; I just felt a deep respect and honor to be invited into the Martin Guitar family, not just due to its history as one of the finest acoustic guitar makers, but also to help guide it into the future. I grew up in a family business. My family’s business is like an infant compared to Martin; it’s 58 years old now. A decade ago, it went through its first generational change. My father started the business, and now one of my brothers has taken over the leadership role in the company. So I’ve seen, on that scale, what it takes to successfully transfer a business from one generation to another, and it is a lot of work! It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of forethought, and an outstanding business model to even enable it to last past one generation. And here, C. F. Martin has already done this for six generations. That puts this organization in a real unique, rarified atmosphere.

DS – Martin Guitar has an independent Board of Directors that you also work with. Can you share some insight into the board and how you work with them?

JR – I am excited to partner with Chris Martin and the Board of Directors in my new role as President. There are many privately held companies that do not have an independent board. C. F. Martin & Co. has operated with an independent board for several generations. It was quite a strategic decision to establish this board last century, and it has provided important counsel over the decades. The Board is not only charged with fiduciary oversight; they provide important input to the company’s governance, strategy, and organization. They are very interactive and engaged. In my first nine months as President, the Board has provided valuable insight into the company that has helped me build on our strong foundation in the development of Martin’s immediate and long-term business strategies.

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DS – Our society has a lot of enthusiasm for innovative technologies, disruptive technologies, and also the musical forms and formats they’ve made possible. In your opinion, is there anything about the guitar that appeals to this part of our culture, or does the guitar represent another end of the spectrum—traditional craftsmanship and artisan techniques?

JR – At first blush, I would say it represents a bit of both. Clearly the premier level craftsmanship and artisanship that goes into the guitar making process is a key part of the beauty, playability, and quality of our instruments. I look at a Martin guitar today, and I think about the history of that instrument in the country and the role it has played in shaping music throughout the times—bluegrass, folk music, rock, country, and other genres that are part of the fabric that is woven into our social history, and then I see new artists like Martin Ambassador Ed Sheeran who are using the percussive parts of the instrument to create different musical experiences. We think about those creative expressions and about how we can make guitars that meet the high standards of excellence that Martin guitars are known for worldwide, but are also innovative and purposeful towards the new music that people want to make. For example, in 2014 we introduced the Retro Series martinguitar.com/guitars/retro-series, which represents the most significant advancement of our era in amplified acoustic sound. Martin’s R&D team took donor instruments from our Martin Museum, and working with Fishman, used some of the best period-correct microphones from the studio of legendary music producer Bil VornDick and recorded the instrument to create an image map for the electronics to recreate that specific sound so that people can have a new instrument with an old sound. The Retro Series guitars offer consumers modern performance and playability, with the visual and tonal integrity of guitars from the pre-war era. They can use it to play old music, but of course also music that’s brand new.

16 | THE CHEMISTRY OF MUSIC


DS – When we think about sustainability in guitars, we tend to think about the wood, but what about the luthiers? What is Martin’s philosophy on talent recruitment and retention?

JR – Martin Guitar as a company is very loyal to its co-worker family. Chris Martin truly believes that they are the lifeblood of the company. It was one of the very attractive points of the company’s philosophy that brought me here. The company actively supports the tradition of guitar making through various luthier conventions, such as Woodstock Invitational Luthiers Showcase, Fretboard Summit, and Association of Stringed Instrument Artisans (ASIA) Symposium. I can tell you from my own experience that the interview process is very intense and the on-boarding process is very helpful. People want to help you figure out w h ateve r you’re doing, how to get up to speed, and how to successfully become part of the company’s progress. We communicate regularly with all of our co-workers so everybody knows how the company is doing and everyone is encouraged to participate. We strive to support our co-workers in a way that encourages them to be the best that they can be.

DS – Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has previously toured the Martin Guitar factory as part of his “Made in Pennsylvania” initiative. If he called today and asked for a guitar to hang in his office, what guitar(s) would you offer?

JR – 2016 marks the 100 th anniversary of the iconic Martin Dreadnought (1916-2016); so for someone who wants to think about history, I would suggest a Dreadnought from our iconic Standard Series line, either a D-18 or a D-28. Both of these models have been loved and played throughout history by some of music’s legends like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, and Jimmy Page. Ultimately, it depends on what he’d want to play! We would happily suggest a few more models for the Governor to consider!

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MARTIN ARCHIVES

NORTH STREET ARCHIVES

Original Photograph by Grant Jacobs – Physical Photograph Courtesy of C. F. Martin Archives

GEORGE HARRISON George Harrison made a surprise visit to Haight-Ashbury and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco on August 7, 1967. Alex Schub (at left in the bowler hat) was there with his Martin D-18 and handed the guitar to George, who gave an impromptu mini-concert to the delight of the gathering crowd. George’s wife Pattie Boyd (of “Layla” fame) is to the right of George. After seeing the photograph in a Martin Museum video, Alex Schub contacted us to tell us the backstory. He still owns the D-18.

18 | NORTH STREET ARCHIVES


CHILDREN’S BAND 1890 Mandolin and guitar orchestras gained popularity in the late 1800s due in large part to Italian immigration. This unique Calumet children’s orchestra from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula features many mandolins, with what appear to be three or four Martin small-bodied parlor guitars and a string bass. It’s hard to imagine all of the instruments actually in tune with each other! Courtesy of Chris Karfakis Archives

Theatrical Studios, Chicago, IL – Physical Photograph Courtesy of C. F. Martin Archives

THE OZARK SISTERS In 1924, Prairie Farmer Magazine began broadcasting the National Barndance on WLS radio out of Chicago. The extremely popular and wide-reaching show featured a broad assortment of grassroots “hillbilly” music. We know that Edyth Bergdahl and Shelly Mae Kelly are two of the three Ozark Sisters, but we’re not sure which ones. In 1937, they were listed as WLS performers. We can assume that the guitar is a 1929 12-fret 2-17, which was Martin’s first regular steel-string guitar not listed as a “Hawaiian” guitar, though it was offered in both configurations.

BIG SLIM Big Slim, The Lone Cowboy (aka Harry C. McAuliffe), was born in Bluefield, West Virginia, and began his long radio career o u t of KQV i n Pi tts b u rg h , Pennsylvania. He achieved national popularity on his show General Store that was broadcast fo r many years o n W W VA’ s J am b o re e out of Wheeling, West Virginia. His 1936 song “Footprints in the Snow” became a country standard. Photo Credit: C. F. Martin Archives

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THE AMB ASSADORS BY JONATHAN R. WALSH

“I PULLED INTO NAZARETH, WAS FEELIN’ ABOUT HALF PAST DEAD; I JUST NEED SOME PLACE WHERE I CAN LAY MY HEAD.” THE BAND

1

Photo: Courtesy of Martin Archives

JIMMIE RODGERS | “THE SINGING BRAKEMAN”

We’ll start with absences before we get to what we have. Let’s picture 183 years of music history without Clapton, without Cash;

you, which limited how well-known most musicians could become, not to mention their guitars.

130 years of recorded sound without Dreadnoughts or rosewood.

It wasn’t until artists could spread their music beyond the room they

Let’s unwrite all the songs that were born between a set of hands

were in, before they could leave a mark that lasted longer than the time

and a Martin guitar. Okay. Now we can build them back. But where

they happened to be in town, that musicians were able to earn a new

do we start? With the players or the guitars? The songs or the

level of popularity. In terms of Martin players, one of the first to achieve

instruments that inspired them?

true stardom was Jimmie Rodgers —“The Singing Brakeman” due to his

“Back in the 1800s, famous guitarists played Martins, but the

time on the railroad, as well as “The Father of Country Music” for more

problem is that nobody remembers them,” says Martin’s Chairman

obvious reasons—who rose to fame in the late 1920s and early ’30s.

and CEO, Chris Martin IV. “In my mind where it really starts to

“When you get somebody like Rodgers, who becomes much more

gel is in the 20th century, particularly with the advent of recorded

famous and well-known, then he’s not just playing live,” says Martin.

music.” Before the invention of the phonograph in 1877 (or the

“He’s selling records; now you can hear him on the radio. I think

phonautograph 20 years prior, if you want to get technical), the

that’s when we really begin to experience this symbiotic relationship

only way to hear new music was if someone performed it live for

between a musician’s love of their Martins and our love of them.”

20 | THE AMBASSADORS


ERIC CLAPTON

Rodgers custom-ordered his Martin 000-45 in 1927, and from there it’s a short jump to Gene Autry and his 1933 custom D-45; Hank Williams’s 1947 D-18; Elvis, Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney and their D-28s; Willie, Dylan, Clapton; and on and on the golden thread goes.“It seems as far as you can imagine, a Martin guitar has been a part of the fabric of American music,” says Amani Duncan, Martin’s Vice President of Brand Marketing. “When I started working at Martin now five years ago, knowing this rich, amazing history that the company already had, we wanted to broaden the brand’s exposure to an even larger consumer audience.” And with that thought, Duncan, a music industry veteran of labels like Virgin Records, Capitol Music Group, Universal Music Group and more, had planted the seeds of what would soon become the official Martin Ambassador Program. “Working in the recorded music industry for 17 years, I was very familiar with Martin Guitar before starting at the company in 2011. I knew many singer-songwriters who loved Martin guitars who could help us introduce the brand to a new audience of guitar enthusiasts.”

2

Photo: Courtesy of Guitar Center

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THE BEGINNING

FLO MORRISSEY

3

4

ANDERSON EAST Photo: Jane G.

5

EMILY BLUNT | CHRIS MARTIN IV | ED SHEERAN

While the Martin Am bassador Program d i d n’ t sta rt officially until 201 1 , i n str u m e nt m ake rs and the musicians who use them have worked together for decades, and Martin is no different. Chris Thomas, Martin’s Director of Artist Relations, describes these players as “an unofficial roster of ‘legacy’ artists—both the folks we’ve recognized before through signature models and the musicians who’ve embraced Martin guitars throughout their careers,” artists who are rarely seen without their Martins, even if they have no official relationship with the company. “Basically, the Martin Ambassador Program is an ex te n s i o n of the Martin Guitar family, the 183 years’ wo r t h of amazing singers, son gw ri te rs, and players who’ve used Martin guitars, loved Martin guitars, and considered their guitars as members of their own families,” says Duncan. “That word—family—describes the key difference between the Martin Ambassador Program and others of its kind. It’s not uncommon for us to get emails of baby photos from our Ambassadors or invited to their homes to hang out. We have built authentic, honest relationships that supersede the business of the music business.” A key facet of the program is nicely summed up in a lyric from one of Martin’s Ambassa d o rs , the Avett Brothers: “Nothing is owed or deserved or expected.” To Duncan, this means that “you pay your debts, and at the end of the day, yo u do n’ t owe a ny b o d y a ny t h i n g—it’s fa n ta st i c, and it’s what we want fo r this program. So when we started, we insisted that we do not pay our Ambassadors. We wanted to b ring on board artists who were motivated by none other than their love for the brand.”

22 | THE AMBASSADORS


6

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KENNETH PATTENGALE | THE MILK CARTON KIDS

MEGAN RAPINOE | U.S. WOMEN’S NATIONAL SOCCER TEAM

SAM HUNT

8

In fact, Duncan says, “Seth Avett was our first Martin Ambassador. I remember reaching out to him, and at the time he thought I was plain crazy. He couldn’t understand what I wanted. His response to that initial conversation went something like this, ‘Well, I already play Martins; I already own Dreadnoughts. I’m not clear on what it is that you want.’ Needless to say, we worked it all out, and through the ‘getting to know you’ process, he grew to understand where I was coming from and vice versa. We understood how we could both benefit from a partnership like this.” Peculiar to the Ambassador Program is that, rather than just pursuing artists at the height of their careers, Duncan and her team tend to reach out to artists at various stages of their careers. And Martin Guitar has a keen eye for ta lent. “We secured artists like Hunter Hayes, Valerie June, the Milk Carton Kids, Sturgill Simpson, and two-time Grammy Award winner Jason Isbell early on. We just announced our 2016 Martin Ambassadors, which include Grammy Award nominees Elle King and Sam Hunt, as well as Flo Morrissey, Father John Misty, Anderson East, Brett Dennen, Taylor Goldsmith from Dawes, and Megan Rapinoe of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team, who is a great guitar player to boot!” From the outside, it looks like the Martin Ambassador Pro g ra m i s a lmost the magic touch. Ar ti sts fre qu e ntl y make their break into the mainstream—from Isbell, to Simpson, to Hayes—not long after becoming Ambassadors. How does an instrument manufacturer manage to become a tastemaker? “We watch trends, go to shows, talk to people, force ourselves to see what we may not want to see;

9

BRETT DENNEN Photo: Steve Rosenfield

not allowing ourselves to be romanced by the lights and the screaming fans, but seeing the artists for who they are and simply believing,” says Duncan.

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THE RELATIONSHIP

SETH AVETT | THE AVETT BROTHERS

10

Now, five years in, the Martin Ambassador lineup has developed to seem more like a record label roster than a guitar company: “You have the Avett Brothers taking Jason Isbell out on tour, Jason taking Sturgill out on tour; you have Elle King going out on tour with Ed Sheeran,” says Duncan. “This little idea has turned into this beautiful extended family.” One of the ways Ambassadors get drawn more closely into the Martin family is through the guitar selection process. That relationship between what artists want out of their instruments and what Martin is able to make for them has driven innovations in guitar craftsmanship from as far back as the invention of the Dreadnought body style over a century ago, to Gene Autry’s first-ever D-45 in 1933, to advances in guitar amplification and beyond. But how do you get someone who is more comfortable playing a guitar to learn to talk about building them? “We try to explain to everybody that a guitar is a series of give-and-takes,” says Fred Greene, Vice President of Domestic Manufacturing. “You can have anything you want on a guitar, you just can’t have everything you want. We try to tell people, in terms of how a guitar sounds; it’s like working with a guitar amplifier that just has a single tone knob. And then we tell them that’s why we make more than one kind of guitar, and you’re allowed to have more than one! You know, pick the right tools for the right job.” “Some people really enjoy the creative process of building a guitar,” Greene adds. “Kenneth Pattengale of the Milk Carton Kids, for example, was very closely involved in the design of his guitar—he wanted to come and pick out the wood, and really sit and talk about what he wanted his guitar to be, what he wanted it to represent. But there are other people who really view the guitar as simply a high-quality tool.”

24 | THE AMBASSADORS


FRED GREENE | V.P. OF DOMESTIC MANUFACTURING

11

CHUCK RAGAN

But just like the rest of the Ambassador Program, for Martin it’s the relationships that matter most. It’s important to everyone at Martin that the artists feel comfortable and at “home”; that they know that you’re someone they can rely upon. Once that partnership is established between artist and craftsman, the team at Martin believes it’s important not to be pushy or obtrusive. The primary goal is about getting artists instruments that inspire them to make good music. One of the most unique features of the Martin Ambassador Program is its reach beyond the factory walls. In many ways, once an artist joins the Martin Guitar family, the company becomes an extension of their support network alongside the record label and artist management. “Guitar techs and tour managers know who to call when they need something on the road quickly, or if they’re touring near Nazareth and they want to visit—we really try to stay full-service and be very responsive,” says Thomas. “We’re not afraid to ship a guitar overnight around the world if they need it.” In this way, the Ambassador Program has pulled to gethe r international distributors and Martin Guitar in a way that didn’t exist before, Thomas explains. “I’ve gotten to know distributors better simply because our Ambassadors happened to be in their country and needed something done quickly. The international Martin team has been amazing! For instance, Chuck Ragan was heading through Germany and his pickup died on him; he didn’t have a backup and needed to get the pickup changed right away. Our German distributor got it to one of their shops and had it swapped out in an hour while his guitar tech waited. I mean you just can’t leave your family out there hanging.”

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AN AUTHENTIC LIFESTYLE

12

DONAVON FRANKENREITER Photo: Josh Letchworth

“When you look at the list of Ambassadors, t h e re’ s someone playing a m u s i c genre that can appeal to everyone: country, pop, rock, bluegrass, Americana, etc. We wanted to show people that we’re everything, not just one genre. You can rock out, strum, fingerpick, or do whatever you want to do on a Martin guitar. We have something for you—this is all part of our bel i e f, th at mus i c i s a lifestyle that a p p ea ls to a wide range of people,” Thomas says. Naturally, this new set of players has found re p rese ntat i o n i n t h e A m ba ssad o r Pro gram. O n e of th e ways Mar ti n has invited new audiences to discove r M a r t in g uita rs is t h ro ug h ou treac h to an u n s u n g g ro up of passionate m us ic love rs : a ct io n s p o r ts fa ns. Billab o ngsponsored surfer and musician Donavon Frankenreiter was the first Ambassador to the join the program from the action sports world. Duncan says, “Martin Guitar has been producing ukuleles for over 100 years, and the roots of the iconic Dreadnought guitar started in Hawaii, which many people do not know.” Martin started sponsoring the annual SURFER Magazine’s

26 | THE AMBASSADORS


13

DANNY DAVIS Photo: Cole Barash

SURFER Poll Awards in Oahu, Hawaii, four years ago (held at the Turtle Bay Resort), where the prizes for the winners include a custom Martin guitar or ukulele. Today, guests of the Turtle Bay Resort can rent guitars and ukuleles from a kiosk inside the hotel’s lobby store, the North Shore Wate r S h e d. “I t h as be e n a wo n de rf u l pa r t ne rs hip, a nd it he lps to s p rea d b ra nd awareness to n e w consumers and players.” And it didn’t stop there. “By a stroke of luck, we got introduced to Danny Davis and the Bur to n snowboard team,” says Duncan. Together with Davis, who is now an Ambassador, Martin co-created a limited edition Burton snowboard, which was a hit among the snowboarding community. “Danny is an awesome guy and musician. He rode [the board] during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and it even made the cover of the New York Times. And once again, it was a natural fit for us: Burton is another family-owned and operated company in Vermont with very similar ethos, and it all just worked…perfectly.”

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A FAMILY AFFAIR

14

ELLE KING Photo: Melanie Swerdan

15

FATHER JOHN MISTY Photo: Brad Moore

“Everyone knows how important family is to Martin,” says Duncan. “Not only is Martin Guitar family-owned and operated for generations, but there are generations of family m e mb e rs w ho work on the factory floor and in the offices. So we wanted to create a program that was intentionally small and filled with what we call career artists,” Duncan’s term for musicians in the business for the long haul. Thomas concurs: “Martin feels like a collection of friends who happen to make guitars, as opposed to a place where the pl aye rs c h a n ge e v e r y ye a r a n d yo u n ever know who’s going to stay or go. In all honesty, we pick artists we like, whose music we like. And folks we think represent the brand, who we want to be associated with, and who we think have legs—not flash-in-the-pan type artists.” That focus on lifestyle is key to much of what Martin has done in recent years. From one perspective, a guitar isn’t truly a living instrument until the day it leaves the factory, on its way to someone’s hands to start a lifetime of making music. And it’s musicians, professional and amateur, who allow those guitars to impact so many lives. While the Martin Guitar team may be selective about whom they invite into the Ambassador Program, to their credit they truly embrace everyone who wants to be a Martin player. “We want everyone on the planet to play Martin guitars, famous or not famous,” says Duncan. “Our customers are our Ambassadors too; we all are. Every single person who works here in our factory in Nazareth and Navojoa is an Ambassador; there are just different levels of ambassadorship. We’re proud of every single person who wants to own a guitar with the C. F. Martin & Co. gold script logo on the headstock.”

28 | THE AMBASSADORS


16

TAYLOR GOLDSMITH | DAWES Photo: Mandee McEvoy

Part of this thoughtful expansion has meant shifting the image of what a Martin player looks like. As we approach the third decade of the 21st century, Martin’s devotion to flatpickers remains strong and thriving with key bluegrass players like A m b a s s a d o rs Del McCoury and Sleepy Man, who represent the next generation of bluegrass music. But, like the music industry itself, Martin’s audience now spans gender, race, age, and location, and the Martin Ambassador Program reflects that. Duncan explains, “If you’re a good musician, and you’re someone who is good for the Martin Guitar brand, we are going to check you out.” That legacy, the nearly two centuries’ worth of music, players, and craftsmanship upon which Martin has built its reputation, is what the Martin Ambassador Program is designed to protect. “You just can’t let anybody into the family,” says Duncan. “Because the last thing anyone wants is some odd duck to come in and change the dynamic of what multiple generations have built. Every decision that we make is weighed heavily. We at Martin believe we must be protectors and shepherds of 183 years of goodness. And we do not take that responsibility lightly.” Learn more about the Martin Ambassadors roster at martinguitar.com/ambassadors.

M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |

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CHECK FOR A MARTIN EXPERIENCE EVENT COMING TO A TOWN NEAR YOU. NO ADMISSION CHARGE | EVENT SPONSORED BY MARTIN GUITAR

7/12/16

Fret Mill Music

Roanoke

VA

9/30/16

Guitar Center

Central Dallas TX

7/13/16

Foxes Music

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9/30/16

TBD

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7/13/16

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10/1/16

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7/14/16

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8/9/16 8/10/16 8/11/16

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10/5/16

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8/12/16

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TBD

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TX

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8/17/16

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10/8/16

Music Outlet

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10/22/16

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11/1/16

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9/14/16

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11/2/16

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9/15/16

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9/15/16

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11/19/16

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11/28/16

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9/25/16

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11/29/16

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9/26/16

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9/28/16

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12/1/16 12/2/16

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CA

VISIT MARTINGUITAR.COM/EVENTS FOR MORE DETAILS. CHECK THE WEBSITE FOR ADDITIONAL EVENTS | EVENTS ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE DON’T SEE A MARTIN EXPERIENCE NEAR YOU? REQUEST ONE AT YOUR LOCAL AUTHORIZED MARTIN DEALER

TX


DC-28E

OMC-28E

GPC-28E


IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS INTRODUCING MARTIN’S NEW AURA® VT & MATRIX VT ENHANCE

TM

ACOUSTIC

AMPLIFICATION BY FISHMAN® By Sean Kevin Campbell

When someone buys a Martin guitar, they expect to get an instrument that will last them for decades, whose tone and value will improve and develop with age. When the time comes, they can pass the guitar on to their children, or their children’s children; a piece of art to help them create art. And the best musical art comes from the best sound. This is true for artists who want to amplify traditional acoustic guitars—like the iconic Martin Dreadnought—for larger venues and those players who prefer a more modern style that uses the instrument’s resonance for tapping, popping, and percussion. For most acoustic-electric players, however, adding an amplification system can mean a Frankenstein’s marriage of plastic to wood, piercing the body of their guitar to install the electronic components. This chains them to an irreversible fact: No matter how great their system sounds now, no matter how much the tonewoods sweeten with time, the electronics are only going to become outdated. Instead of getting better with time, their beloved guitar could become obsolete. “THIS IS SOMETHING PEOPLE HAVE BEEN ASKING FOR THE PAST 30 YEARS,” TIM TEEL, DIRECTOR OF INSTRUMENT DESIGN, SAYS ABOUT THE ELECTRONICS THAT ALLOW MUSICIANS TO AMPLIFY THEIR GUITARS. “THEY WANT SOMETHING THAT THEY DON’T REALLY NOTICE RIGHT AT YOUR FINGERTIPS, THAT’S EASY TO USE, AND SOUNDS AMAZING.”

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“C. F. MARTIN & CO. HAS BEEN MAKING THE FINEST ACOUSTIC GUITARS AND PROVIDING THE BEST EQUIPMENT TO ACCOMPANY THEM FOR 183 YEARS,” SAID CHAIRMAN AND CEO CHRIS MARTIN IV. “THE NEW AURA VT ENHANCE AND MATRIX VT ENHANCE ACOUSTIC AMPLIFICATION BY FISHMAN ARE PRIME EXAMPLES OF OUR DEDICATION TO MAKING A MARTIN GUITAR SOUND LIKE A MARTIN GUITAR WHEN AMPLIFIED.”

That’s where Martin’s new exclusive electronics, Aura ® VT and Matrix VT Enhance™ acoustic amplification by Fishman® comes into the picture. The Aura VT and Matrix VT Enhance electronics systems feature a traditional under-saddle pickup installed underneath the saddle of the bridge, but the control knobs are mounted inside the soundhole to provide an acoustic-electric setup without cutting into the body of the guitar. They also feature an upgraded transducer that is specifically designed to allow for the percussive nature of the instrument. And since the body is not altered to fit the electronic system, older electronics components can be upgraded as the technology advances. For its debut, the Aura VT Enhance system is available on Martin’s iconic Standard Series (18, 28, 35 Series), Customs, Authentics, and Limited Edition models. The Matrix VT Enhance electronic system is available on Martin’s 15 Series and 16 Series. “C. F. Martin & Co. has been making the finest acoustic guitars and providing the best equipment to accompany them for 183 years,” said Chairman and CEO Chris Martin IV. “The new Aura VT Enhance and Matrix VT Enhance acoustic amplification by Fishman are prime examples of our dedication to making a Martin guitar sound like a Martin guitar when amplified.” The team at Martin Guitar do not need to go far to find an example of a premium guitar’s outdated technology devaluing the instrument. The model Kurt Cobain used for his MTV Unplugged performance looks like a cross between a beautiful D-18 and a 1950s transistor radio. It has a classic Martin D-18 body with magnetic pickup punched through the top, as well as a set of electric guitar control knobs along the lower bout. Not only did the guitar’s natural acoustics suffer because they had to install midcentury technology directly into the body, but the magnetic pickups didn’t work as well with the acoustic strings. A lot of work had to go into the signal to get an acceptable sound for amplification. The more they adjusted the signal, the further away from the original tone they went. That was the cutting edge in acoustic-electric design 20 years ago. Now, since the body had to be altered to fit the electronics, that setup can be worth less than a standard D-18 made today. “When you buy a Martin guitar, you’re expecting the instrument to last a lifetime,” says Fred Greene, Vice President of Domestic Manufacturing at Martin Guitar. “There’s not much in the electronic world that lasts a lifetime. When you cut holes in your guitar to fit a certain kind of electronics, when the technology moves on, unfortunately you’re stuck.” In the future, acoustic-electric guitars will have access to technologies like wireless connections and rechargeable batteries, and people buying guitars today may want to swap out the technology as it becomes available. The Aura VT and Matrix VT Enhance electronics will make this possible without devaluing the instrument and build on the rich tones that Martin guitar enthusiasts of the current Aura electronics system worldwide know and love. The same great Fishman system has now been enhanced to allow for more playing styles and add another dimension to the classic Martin guitar tone.

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“You don’t want to burden a fine instrument that is going to have heritage and value over the next 100 years with something that was put on it as an afterthought,” says Larry Fishman, founder of Fishman Transducers and developer of the Aura VT and Matrix VT Enhance electronic system. After hearing more acoustic players adopt tapping, slapping, and the range of percussive playing styles, Fishman became enamored with the sound and its potential for music. Not satisfied with what was on the market, he set out to create a system that took away the hotspots and feedback that hold back many of the acoustic sound systems in the percussive arena. Through research and experimentation, he found that his Aura VT system was the best base to build on. From there, he went back and forth, tweaking settings and refining the digital processing to get the tone right. After that, he simplified the interface so musicians could seamlessly blend their sounds on the fly without being bogged down by unnecessary controls. This new system, for Fishman, is the culmination of over 35 years of looking at the needs, wants, and opportunities in the amplifier and acoustic instrument marketplace. It is taking all the technology he’s developed and putting it into the guitar in an elegant way. “When you make tools for artists, you have to make a lot of decisions that inspire the artist to be creative,” Fishman says. “If you burden them with too much technology, it gets in the way. If you don’t give them enough control, they can’t do what they need to do to be creative because they’re always fighting the instrument. It should be a balance between the two.” Fishman starts by recording the guitar’s natural sound, or image, with his digital processors. After capturing the essence of that sound, he then calibrates the system to be specifically tuned to the body of the instrument. From there, players have a range of tones that they can blend in with the image. With the new system, a variety of sound options are right at the players’ fingertips, ready to be blended to fit their style of play. “The type of music that people are using our guitars to make isn’t just bluegrass or country music or folk music,” says Greene. “They’re using it in all kinds of settings and playing styles, and to assume that one tone works all the time isn’t practical. This new electronics system allows players to create different sonic palates within one instrument and gives them more range in their music.”

“WHEN YOU BUY A MARTIN GUITAR, YOU’RE EXPECTING THE INSTRUMENT TO LAST A LIFETIME,” SAYS FRED GREENE, VICE PRESIDENT OF DOMESTIC MANUFACTURING AT MARTIN GUITAR. “THERE’S NOT MUCH IN THE ELECTRONIC WORLD THAT LASTS A LIFETIME. WHEN YOU CUT HOLES IN YOUR GUITAR TO FIT A CERTAIN KIND OF ELECTRONICS, WHEN THE TECHNOLOGY MOVES ON, UNFORTUNATELY YOU’RE STUCK.”

36 | IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS


& ACOUSTIC AMPLIFICATION BY

NEW OMC-28E

Featuring the Aura VT Enhance™ ®

IT’S WHAT’S • Acoustic Matrix under-saddle pickup, the world’s best-selling under-saddle pickup (available on select models) • Aura VT Enchance features Aura Acoustic Imaging with one custom image built into an internal active preamp (available on select models) ®

• Discreet, soundhole-mounted controls: Volume and tone controls up top and a new Enhance blend control on the lower part of the soundhole • Battery box integrated into endpin jack for easy access Learn more at martinguitar.com/VTEnhance

#VTEnhance


OMC-35E

38 | IT’S WHAT’S INSIDE THAT COUNTS

GPC-35E

DC-35E


“WHEN YOU MAKE TOOLS FOR ARTISTS, YOU HAVE TO MAKE A LOT OF DECISIONS THAT INSPIRE THE ARTIST TO BE CREATIVE,” FISHMAN SAYS. “IF YOU BURDEN THEM WITH TOO MUCH TECHNOLOGY, IT GETS IN THE WAY. IF YOU DON’T GIVE THEM ENOUGH CONTROL, THEY CAN’T DO WHAT THEY NEED TO DO TO BE CREATIVE BECAUSE THEY’RE ALWAYS FIGHTING THE INSTRUMENT. IT SHOULD BE A BALANCE BETWEEN THE TWO.”

Studio tests conducted at Martin Guitar’s Nazareth, Pa., factory showed the same full tone spectrum from the current Aura VT, but with Enhance it’s like a luxury car with a turbocharger added on to it. It allows acoustic-electric players to cut through their bands’ mix without being harsh to the ears. Its sound is transparent and has more presence. When players are on stage, it puts them in the driver’s seat. They can go from fingerpicking to strumming and rhythm to lead without a soundman. Each plucked string is picked up clean by the system and amplified with a soft and smooth tone. Instead of punching in a new setting on the fly, players can roll the Enhance blend knob all the way forward for tapping, and then pull it back for clean, individual notes. For players who already have the Aura system, the Aura VT Enhance or Matrix VT Enhance will be very intuitive. Aura was already easy to use, so this system should be easy to pick up for fans of the previous system and for new players who never tried Aura electronics. The Enhance transducer is mounted to the underside of the bridge plate with a pressure-sensitive adhesive. To upgrade to a new system further down the line, players will just need to pull off the transducer and remove any remaining adhesive. The guitar’s setup will keep the same battery box from the previous design with its popular hinged door system that allows for easy battery replacement and snaps shut to keep the battery in place. It’s compatible with a standard ninevolt battery and gives 30 hours of playing time before it needs to be replaced. The system is non-intrusive and the controls are easy to use. It has a volume control, a blend control for the new Enhance pickup, and a tone sweep that allows players to shuffle between various sounds. Each of the tones is based on the standalone image, so players can add more range without compromising the quality of the sound as they experiment to find the settings they like best. Crucial to gigging musicians, feedback control is built-in and happens behind the scenes. It’s well behaved on stage and has been tested in venues from small coffeehouses to larger clubs. When the product technicians started adding in the Enhance effect, tone began to blossom. It gave them the feeling of being surrounded by the sound. Musicians around the Martin Guitar factory all love the new electronic system. The Aura VT and Matrix VT Enhance systems offer a great balance of features and sound. With a couple of turns of a dial or two, they’re ready to play in any setting. They give artists an expressive set of electronics in the already impressive instruments created by Martin. “For us, the guitar comes first,” Fred Greene says. “People are using the guitar differently, so we want to be there with them. We want to grow with that new guitar player. So we design guitars that are still intrinsically Martin but help people be more creative. It’s about designing guitars that we can put electronics in and feel really proud of, without compromise.” You can learn more about the innovative Aura VT Enhance and Matrix VT Enhance acoustic amplification system at martinguitar.com/features-materials/aura-vt-matrix-vt-enhance or go to your local authorized Martin dealer to try out these new models in person. Find a dealer near you at martinguitar.com/find-a-dealer. #VTEnhance

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AUTHENTIC SERIES

NEW RELEASES D-1 AUTHENTIC 1931 The first Martin-branded Dreadnought (Serial #47052) was simply named the D-1 and was made in 1931 with a back center brace stamping that read: “Dreadnought Model Made Exclusively for Chicago Musical Instrument Company by C. F. Martin & Co.” Based on the large-bodied D-111 Dreadnought that Martin made under the Ditson brand (until their bankruptcy in 1931), the D-1 and its D-2 counterpart were 12 frets clear to the body and were the predecessors of Martin’s iconic D-18 and D-28 models. This new D-1 Authentic 1931 model closely replicates the historic material specifications, tonewoods, and construction processes that were employed in 1931—the primary exception being that standard T-frets are used instead of the older style bar frets (bar frets are available for an upcharge upon request). Other small exceptions include the use of a bone nut and saddle (instead of ivory), and the exclusion of the Chicago Musical Instrument Co. center brace stamp, since such a statement would be untrue today. In keeping with original tonewoods, CITES-certified Brazilian rosewood is selected for the headplate, fingerboard, bridge, and end piece. Genuine mahogany is selected for the back and sides as well as the one-piece dovetailed neck, and the Adirondack red spruce top and internal bracing is pre-aged utilizing Martin’s torrefied (VTS*) Vintage Tone System. An ebony neck reinforcement and a thin, vintage gloss lacquer finish contribute to the surprising lightness of weight for this extraordinary instrument. Authentic instruments are constructed with hide glue under hot lamps and are assembled at individual craftsman stations within the Martin Custom Shop. These instruments represent the highest and most challenging levels of Martin craftsmanship, attention to detail, and tone. Learn more at www.martinguitar.com/new. *This model boasts Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) Adirondack spruce top and braces to replicate the aged appearance and tonality of the original. The new Martin Vintage Tone System (VTS) uses a unique recipe that is based on the historic torrefaction system. The VTS acts much like a time machine in which Martin can target certain time periods and age the top/ braces to that era. Learn more about Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) at www.martinguitar.com/VTS.

40 | MARTIN ™


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LE-COWBOY-2016 William “Willy” Matthews is widely known for his beautiful watercolor portrayal of the working cowboys from the great ranches of the American

LIMITED EDITION

West. Willy Matthews has collaborated with Martin on a number of projects, the most recent being the LE-Cowboy-2015 that featured his original cowboy artwork on the guitar body. Martin Guitar is pleased to introduce the second guitar collaboration with Willy Matthews—the LE-Cowboy-2016. This unique 000 12-fret model features original artwork for both the body and the headstock, created specifically for this edition. The Sitka spruce soundboard is pre-aged with Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS*), and the back and sides are bookmatched from rare quilted mahogany for lightness of weight and clarity of tone. Additional features include vintage style grained ivoroid for the body bindings, a modified low oval neck for ease of play, and durable genuine ebony for the fingerboard and bridge. After owners register their LE-Cowboy-2016 guitars, they will receive the hardcover book William Matthews, Working the West and a feature length DVD William Matthews, Drawn to Paint. Orders for the special edition LE-Cowboy-2016 model will be limited to those received during the 2016 calendar year. Learn more at www.martinguitar.com/new and www.martinguitar.com/playabilityenhanced. *This model boasts Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) Sitka spruce top and braces to replicate the aged appearance and to n a l i ty of the original. The new Martin Vintage Tone System (VTS) uses a unique recipe that is based on the historic torrefaction system. The VTS acts much like a time machine in which Martin can target certain time periods and age the top/braces to that era. Learn more about Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) at www.martinguitar.com/VTS.

42 | MARTIN ™


CUSTOM SHOP

CS-BLUEGRASS-16 Martin’s world-renowned Cu stom Shop proudly introduces the CS-Bluegrass-16, debuting at the 2016 Nashville NAMM Show. This model represents the quintessential 14-fret rosewood Dreadnought, d rawin g i ts i n s pi rati o n from the pre-WWII D-28 “Herringbone” Martin guitars that have long been acknowledged as the timeless workhorses for country and bluegrass music. Perhaps the most unique feature of this instrument is its enlarged soundhole, inspired by the legendary D-28 (Serial #58957), owned originally by Clarence White an d, af te r Cl are nce’s untimely death, by bluegrass legend Tony Rice. The back and sides are crafted from beautiful Guatemalan rosewood, a close v i s u al an d to n al match to the rarer and more restricted Brazilian rosewood. The Adirondack red spruce soundboard and internal scalloped braces feature Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS*) for unparalleled tonal complexity and power. Like Martin’s successfu l Authentic Series, ea ch CS Bluegrass-16 guitar is constructed with hide glue and handcrafted within the Martin Custom Shop. Limited to no more than 100 guitars, this special edition will provide musical inspiration for guitar players who love and play bluegrass music. Learn more at www.mar ti n gu i tar.com/new and www.martinguitar.com/playabilityenhanced. *This model boasts Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) Adirondack spruce top and braces to replicate the aged appearance and tonality of the original. The new Martin Vintage Tone System (VTS) uses a unique recipe that is based on the historic torrefaction system. The VTS acts much like a time machine in which Martin can target certain time periods and age the top/braces to that era. Learn more about Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) at www.martinguitar.com/VTS.

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00-18 As one of the most popular guitar sizes of the mid-1930s through the late 1960s, the small-bodied 14-fret 00-18 has

18 SERIES

been seen in the hands of iconic musicians such as Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Bryan Adams, Tim O’Brien, Jeff Tweedy, and countless amateur and professional guitarists alike. Reintroduced in 2003 as part of Martin’s Vintage Series, the 00-18 is comfortable to hold and tonally pleasing to the ear. The new 00-18 version features a scallop-braced Sitka spruce top with mahogany back and sides that provides the tonal foundation for this classic grand concert design. The combination of the short, expressive 24.9" scale with a modified low oval neck shape and the more parallel “high performance” taper allows for fast action and playability. The purity and durability of genuine ebony for the fingerboard and bridge complete the integrity for this understated Martin model. Learn more at www.martinguitar.com/new and www.martinguitar.com/playabilityenhanced. #MartinPride

™ 44 | NEW MARTIN RELEASES


15 SERIES

GPC-15ME Martin’s GPC-15ME is a Grand Performance acoustic-electric cutaway that possesses an understated beauty, proven tone, and affordable value of solid genuine mahogany for the scallopbraced top as well as the solid mahogany back, sides, neck and internal support blocks. The combination of a 25.4" long scale, rosewood fingerboard with a modified low oval neck shape and a more parallel “high performance” neck taper allows for fast action and playability. Fishman® Matrix VT Enhance ™ electronics make this a versatile instrument for the stage, the studio, or for purely acoustic play. Learn more at www.martinguitar.com/new and www.martinguitar.com/playabilityenhanced. #VTEnhance

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X SERIES

DCXAE BLACK

GPCXAE BLACK

OMCXAE BLACK

DCXAE BLACK | GPCXAE BLACK | OMCXAE BLACK Popularized by the legendary Johnny Cash and beloved by guitarists worldwide, black acoustic guitars exhibit a strong stage presence. Martin Guitar introduces three new X Series cutaway acoustic-electric models—DCXAE Black, GPCXAE Black and OMCXAE Black, crafted with Jett black high-pressure laminate (HPL) top, back and sides with matching black Richlite® fingerboards and bridges. All three models feature the Fishman ® Sonitone sound reinforcement system. So all you need to do is plug in and play.

46 | MARTIN ™


DCX1RAE

GPCX1RAE

GPCX1AE

DCX1AE

DCX1RAE | GPCX1RAE | GPCX1AE | DCX1AE In addition to the new X Series Black cutaway models, Martin introduces two new full-sized Dreadnought acousticelectric cutaway models—the DCX1AE and DCX1RAE. The DCX1AE features m a h o gany- g ra i n e d h i gh - p ressure laminate (HPL) back and side material, while the DCX1RAE uses rosewood-grained HPL. In the slightly smaller Grand Performance cutaway size, the GPCX1AE features mahogany-grained HPL back and sides, while the GPCX1RAE uses rosewood-grained HPL. The tonality of these affordable guitars is enhanced with tops bookmatched from solid Sitka spruce, while durable black Richlite ® is chosen for the fingerboards and bridges. All four models are designed for enhanced playability with the Fishman ® Sonitone sound reinforcement system, offering active plug-in capability for stage and studio use. Learn more at www.martinguitar.com/new and www.martinguitar.com/playabilityenhanced. #XMarksTheSpot

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D JR.

JUNIOR SERIES

D JR. 2 SAPELE

D JR. 2 SAPELE | D JR. “The Dreadnought Jr. sounds surprisingly big. Warm and full low end, clean and clear highs. Not what you’d expect from a guitar that’s smaller and lighter than traditional Dreadnoughts, or from one that’s this affordable. I can’t put mine down.”– Two-time Grammy Award winner, Martin Ambassador Jason Isbell Introduced in January of 2015, the Dreadnought Junior, or D Jr., has been enthusiastically received by amateurs and professionals alike. Reduced to approximately 15/16 of the full Martin 14-fret Dreadnought in size, the D Jr. features an expressive 24" scale with easy action and solid wood body construction that yields a surprisingly clear, powerful tone. The D Jr. has a solid Sitka spruce top with solid sapele back and sides, and we offer a version with Fishman® Sonitone electronics called the D Jr. E. The new D Jr. 2 Sapele has solid sapele top, back and sides. Richlite®, an ebony alternative with similar hardness and appearance, is chosen for the fingerboard and bridge. The neck and body are protected with a thin hand-applied finish. The D Jr. 2E Sapele has the same configuration and comes equipped with Fishman® Sonitone electronics. Every D Jr. model includes a form-fitted nylon gig bag for easy transport. Affordably priced, the Jr. Series is ideal for smaller players, students, travelers, or anyone who aspires to the clarity and depth of tone that has defined Martin instruments for more than 180 years. Learn more at www.martinguitar.com/new and www.martinguitar.com/playabilityenhanced. #DreadNot 48 | MARTIN ™


ROAD SERIES

DRSG The DRSG, Martin’s latest addition to the popular Road Series, is constructed with siris, an exotic tonewood that grows in the same basic region as East Indian rosewood. When used as a back and side material, siris has a strong bass response, yet is less dense and slightly lighter in weight. The DRSG is a 14-fret Dreadnought body size that combines solid wood construction with a Sitka spruce top, Richlite ® fingerboard and bridge, and the neck and body are protected with a thin hand-applied finish. The DRSG is equipped with the Fishman ® Sonitone sound reinforcement system for stage and studio performance. With simple appointments, this is an affordable guitar with versatility and responsive tone. Learn more at www.martinguitar.com/ new and www.martinguitar.com/playabilityenhanced. #OwnTheRoad

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50 | MARTIN â„¢


2016 SUMMER NAMM SHOW SPECIAL

SS-00L41-16 This summer’s Nashville NAMM Show Special—the SS-00L41-16—takes its inspiration from 1930s era sloped shoulder 14-fret 00 guitars and introduces a new back and side tonewood for Martin: African moabi. With an attractive reddish-brown, close-pored grain with medium density similar to Hawaiian koa, moabi yields a pleasingly rich and warm response. For tonal complexity and balance, an Adirondack red spruce soundboard features Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS*). These tonewoods are combined with modified Style 41 pearl inlaid appointments, European flamed maple bindings, an ebony pyramid bridge, and unique high-ratio tuning machines with “skeletonized” butterbean knobs. Similarly delicate “skeletonized” diamond and wing-shaped pearl inlays adorn the flame maple-bound ebony fingerboard. The results of several tonal experiments are employed in the design of this instrument: carbon fiber, laminated with aged Adirondack spruce, creates an extremely light yet strong bridgeplate support. Additionally, a lightweight, D-shaped, carbon fiber neck reinforcement contributes to tonal breathiness. Constructed with hide glue in the Martin Custom Shop, each special guitar is hand-finished with an extremely thin “unearthed hardwax oil” to further enhance tonal openness. Lastly, chrome-colored “liquid metal” bridge pins have a discernible impact on the tone of this innovative model. Restricted to orders placed by authorized Martin dealers in attendance at the show, this premium model is limited to no more than 30 instruments with interior labels numbered sequentially and bearing the signature of C. F. Martin IV. Learn more at www.martinguitar.com/new. *This model boasts Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) Adirondack spruce top and braces to replicate the aged appearance and tonality of the original. The new Martin Vintage Tone System (VTS) uses a unique recipe that is based on the historic torrefaction system. The VTS acts much like a time machine in which Martin can target certain time periods and age the top/braces to that era. Learn more about Martin’s Vintage Tone System (VTS) at www.martinguitar.com/VTS.

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52 | LIFELINE: INNOVATION TO ADD YEARS TO STRING TONE


LIFELINE INNOVATION TO ADD Y E A RS T O S T RI N G T O N E BY BILL DERKS

For many, the word “Martin” conjures images of guitars, of rosewood grains and that iconic square headstock. We think of lacquered mahogany, of rich tones, of the Dreadnought design and the resonance of X-bracing. Of course we should think of rock ’n’ roll, of Clapton—always think of Clapton— but what we should also think of is metal. No, not that kind of metal. At least not exactly. We should think of alloy. Bronze, copper, zinc, tin, and all of the components that make up that steely hum, which turns a humble G chord into something so soothing we would swear the ears are the fastest, most direct route to the soul.

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However, unlike rosewood and spruce, which develop richer tones over time, alloys of even the finest quality tend to lose their luster when exposed to the elements and daily wear. Taking into account the oxidation of said metals— rust to you and me—as well as longevity, shelf life, and customer satisfaction, a Martin development five years in the making has finally come to fruition, one that has the potential to add years to string life. And it’s all in the packaging. Yes, packaging. It may seem simple, but to the men and women at Martin who pride themselves on quality above almost all else, “the impact of overhauling such a well-known design is one that must be extremely precise,” especially when it has a dramatic effect on the sound of an acoustic guitar. In accordance with their mission to put the player above all else, Martin’s focus was customer satisfaction. Before the redesign, internal packaging consisted of two strings per envelope. For instance, a typical pack of six-string SP Lifespans coiled the low E and G strings into a single envelope, the A and B strings into a second envelope, and so on within a three-envelope box. This was not an unconscientious idea; in fact it was born with conservation in mind. As a company that uses the highest quality wood on its most prized creations, trees are of the utmost importance, and what better way to preserve them than to use fewer—half as many, if we consider three string envelopes versus six. But even diehard Martin string aficionados found this three-envelope design cumbersome. Under stage lights, it can be awfully difficult to discern an E string from a G when you’re in the middle of a set. We’re talking microscopic measurements that can lead to issues like improper tunings, or in the most extreme cases, wasted and broken strings caused by a condition we’ll call “String Confusion.” Let us say that Martin has heard the call and has cured String Confusion, not only by maintaining its beloved string formula, but also by placing each string in its own clearly labeled, corrosion-inhibiting envelope. Martin’s goal was to do everything in their power to see that the next gig, whether it be in China or Grand Rapids, Michigan, went on uninhibited. With that problem resolved, it was time for Martin to tackle a far more difficult task as far as packaging was concerned: seal i n g eac h pac k of stri n gs to ke ep air out and tone in. This had been an ongoing debate within the company for years, which meant the next step of the design process was not as easily remedied. The two largest enemies of treated metal are oxygen and changes in temperature. When a large order of strings is put on a cargo ship headed to England, Italy, or Australia for months on end, it is exposed to cold, heat, and moisture at all ends of the spectrum. Before the strings have their first chance to play that humble G chord, they could begin to oxidize on a microscopic level. And this impacts tone. But in a world beset by climate change (man-made or not) and increased

54 | LIFELINE: INNOVATION TO ADD YEARS TO STRING TONE


“YES, I A M TALKIN G A BOUT S TRIN GS, A K EY T O GOOD TON E, WHI CH MA RTIN GUITAR HA S T A K EN GREAT P RI DE I N DE VELOPIN G F OR OV ER THE PAST 50 YEARS.”

global trade, how does a company more experienced with hide glue and fret wire over microscopes and pH balances combat this? The men and women at Martin are no strangers to hard work. This is a family that has been in business for nearly 200 years. Th is is also a company that prides itself on quality, on the world’s finest tonewoods and the precise, micrometer adjustments an instrument needs to cover the gamut from “Layla” to “Master of Puppets.” By all means, these are sharp people we’re dealing with. But these are people whose business revolves around the reverberation of air, not of sealing away oxygen as an element. But what the people at Martin did understand was that developing certain ideas leads to new questions, and that those questions can lead to enhanced designs. They knew they needed an airtight seal and one that could also protect the strings as well as house them efficiently. And it didn’t hurt that they were no strangers to trial and error. “In order to change for the better, you must first start with a small idea,” says Martin’s Product Manager for Strings, Tim McNair. A package of sliced bologna is sealed, correct? And doesn’t the shape of shipped and bound guitar strings have roughly the same rounded circumference as, say, that package of sliced bologna? So, would it be incorrect to possibly show up to a packaging expo (yes, a packaging expo) with an empty bologna package and say, “I would like this, but for guitar strings”? If it works you’re a genius, and if it doesn’t, it’s not that you failed; it’s that you simply found another way that didn’t work. That’s what McNair tried and, in this case, understood that vacuum sealing strings was a good start, but not good enough for Martin. By all means, they were getting warmer. The strings team then moved on to tin boxes. They tried pouches. They even tried self-sealing baggies, but again, “the seals trapped too much oxygen within that packaging, and with it oxidation,” says McNair. In the end, it wasn’t bologna that solved the riddle of rust; it was a package of candy from Mars, Incorporated (maker of M&M’S ® ). It wasn’t until the strings team had stumbled upon the Mars company’s (another family-owned business) process of combining a foil inner layer with a system of purging of oxygen by nitrogen infusion, that they had their biggest breakthrough. What Martin Guitar now has on hand is something called a flow-wrap package: a permanently sealed pouch, expunged of oxygen through a nitrogen purging process, which fits the strings to size and preserves their alloy for much longer than previous methods. As many guitar players know, shelf life can be paramount. After all, how many times have you found a package of strings hidden inside your trunk or in an old gig bag? From now on, when you ask yourself how long they’ve been there, you still may not know, but with the redesigned package they will sound as good as the day you lost them.

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56 | LIFELINE: INNOVATION TO ADD YEARS TO STRING TONE


But what about that well-intentioned desire to save trees, to help preserve the environment? It hasn’t been forgotten. In the strings team’s search for new packaging, they tested a range of packaging materials, most of which held the recyclability rating of 7—in other words, generally not recyclable. In a time when plastics are piling within our oceans and our landfills are overflowing, a 7 wasn’t going to cut it. Martin wanted something roughly as sustainable as the cardboard they’d been using for years, and as McNair put it, “with the new flow-wrap design, we’d found it.” The plastics that are used now are a 5 on the recyclability scale—not unlike a margarine bowl, a foodsafe, health-safe container widely accepted as recyclable and considered to have one of the least toxic ratings. With the increase in the number of envelopes, Martin also made sure to use envelopes that are certified by the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. It’s no question that Martin is one of the most respected and recognizable names in the guitar industry. If you’ve heard the twang of Johnny Cash, the dry thrum of Bob Dylan, or the throaty grit of Chris Cornell, you probably know a Martin when you hear one. What you may not realize is that the unmistakable sound you’re hearing is the marriage of Martin’s timeless guitars with the rich tone of a fresh set of their strings. Martin has spent more than 180 years building the reputation behind their logo, and they put that reputation on the line with every pack of strings they sell. The new nitrogen-sealed, flow-wrap design packaging has not strayed too far from the pond in that regard. The new artwork on the packaging incorporates a larger Martin script logo with the popular color-specific gauging in the upper left corner. The bold new circle set off by a white background indicates the product family, while a new material indicator (so you can see at a glance if you’ve got 80/20 bronze or phosphor bronze) now lies in the upper right. “These new packages are not meant to confuse, simply to make the guitarist’s life a little easier,” says the strings team—a little clearer, a little sharper, somewhere in the G range. And just like the strings themselves, these packages are designed to let players spend less time worrying about string changes, and more time making music.

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MARTIN STRINGS MEET THE FAMILY

We believe that the strings, the very last critical ingredient in the guitar making process, are the vocal cords of any fine guitar. We know that we can apply generations of experience to every guitar we build, but if we don’t give that guitar the voice it deserves—the perfect voice—then we haven’t finished our work.

MARTINSTRINGS.COM


FALL 2016 EXTRA L I G H T 1 2 ST R IN G EXT R A L IGH T M ED IU M

Discover vintage tone with strings made to harmonize with your guitar’s wood. Visit martinguitar.com/strings/retro for details.


WE ARE FAMILY

FROM THE WORKBENCH

NATE ABEL Nate Abel has worked at Martin Guitar for the past three years. His career started in Top and Back Assembly, and he now works in Polishing. Nate has had a passion for playing guitar since the age of ten and thinks it’s sweet he gets to work on them all day. Nate says that working for the company that crafted the American guitar is the best place he can think of to work.

DEE FRABLE A 13-year employee of Martin Guitar, Dee Frable currently places the rosette around the soundhole of Martin guitars and inspects tops. Her favorite part of the day is mingling with the tour groups that pass by her workbench. Her favorite tour visitor was Eric Clapton, who toured the factory with Chairman and CEO Chris Martin IV a few years ago. Clint Black comes in as a close second as her favorite tour-goer. De e gi ves h i g h praises to her Martin coworkers, who are a big part of why she loves working at Martin Guitar.

60 | FROM THE WORKBENCH


PENNIE KOLB Pennie Kolb is a 13-year employee who works in the Binding Department and has many family members who are also her coworkers. Pennie grew up in a musical family, so working for Martin Guitar seemed like a perfect fit. She feels great pride when she walks into a music store and sees a Martin guitar. Anyone who has a Martin guitar bound by Pennie should know that it was made with great passion for music and love of the instrument.

KATIE BRYANT Katie Bryant has been an employee of Martin Guitar for a little over a year. She works in the Filling Department and also takes on a few other responsibilities, like scuffing and neck taping. As a Nazareth native, Katie decided to work at Martin Guitar after taking a tour and finding the guitar process fascinating. She is proud to tell people about Martin Guitar’s 183-year history of being a family-owned business that is still going strong!

BRYAN REPSHER You could say that Bryan Repsher, after 43 years at Martin, knows a thing or two about guitars. Bryan currently works in the Spraying Department, but has previously worked in Sanding, Inspection, and Repair. His philosophy is to put everything you’ve got into what you are doing. When he tells someone he works at Martin Guitar, he is most proud to add how great his coworkers are and how much pride they have in the work they do.

ED MORBER Ed Morber became an employee at Martin Guitar through a vo-tech program 4 3 years ago. He has worked in many departments, including Maintenance, Polishing, Sanding, and now works in WIP Repair. One of the many reasons Ed has had such a long tenure at the company is because Martin Guitar constantly gives him an opportunity to learn more. He encourages anyone interested in learning more about Martin Guitar to co m e ta ke a to u r a n d se e fi rst- h an d t h e many pro cesses, cra f ts m e n a nd wo m e n, a nd g uita rs.

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By calligrapher Dick Brown


64 | IN SEARCH OF MADAGASCAR ROSEWOOD & OPTIMISM


IN SEARCH OF MADAGASCAR ROSEWOOD

& OPTIMISM BY JEF F S IM P S ON

In the summer of 1869, John Muir, the Scottish-American naturalist whose activism helped preserve California’s Yosemite Valley and pave the way for our national parks system, hiked into the Sierra mountains where he wrote what would become one of his most famous lines about environmental responsibility: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.” To Muir, everything was interconnected, a lesson Nick Colesanti and Forest Based Solutions consultant Robert Garner would learn after traveling halfway around the world in search of rosewood.

So u t he r n Ma dag ascar


Nic k Colesa nt i, V.P. o f Su p p ly c h a i n m a n ag eme nt, in So u t he r n Ma dag asca r wit h lo cal c hild r e n

In late January, Colesanti, Martin Guitar’s Vice President of Supply Chain Management, left Newark International Airport headed for Madagascar, the world’s fourth largest island located off the southeast coast of Africa. The journey would take him across two continents, and in the weeks leading up to his departure, he would navigate malaria vaccinations, a polio booster, and last-minute travel changes. Colesanti’s mission was deceptively simple: investigate new connections for importing legally-sourced, sustainably-produced Malagasy rosewood. Rosewood has long been a choice hardwood used by both guitar builders and high-end furniture makers. Prized for its rich, reddish-brown color and sturdy, close-grained timber, it fulfills two design ambitions few other tonal hardwoods can achieve: strength and beauty. “Rosewood has a little more drama in terms of its graining,” Chris Martin IV, Martin Guitar’s Chairman and CEO (and sixth generation heir to the company) said. “Mahogany is simple in its beauty. We know guitar consumers buy guitars based on what they sound like and what they look like. So we make sure we offer a wide variety of options to suit individuals’ preferences.” Rosewood, an impeccable tonewood capable of sustaining deep, resonant tones, is ideal for constructing the backs and sides of fine acoustic guitars. Its only downside is its scarcity. For decades, most exotic hardwoods have failed to reach any sort of market equilibrium. Insatiable demand has driven several species of exotic tonewoods to near extinction. Chris Martin, who has been criticized in the past for his interest in alternative materials, says there simply aren’t enough rosewood trees in the world to produce the number of guitars consumers buy every year. “As much as I love the traditional woods, there’s a reason they’re called rare and exotic,” he said. “Because they are.” In the 30 years that Chris Martin has served as Chairman and CEO, he’s watched the global supply and management of exotic hardwoods undergo rapid and ceaseless change. Historically, Brazilian rosewood (Dalbergia nigra) was the most sought-after species on the world market until the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)—an international trade agreement formed in 1973 that has now been signed by 181 of the world’s 196 countries—passed a 1992 amendment that severely restricted imports of Brazilian rosewood on grounds that it was endangered. Once Brazilian rosewood became virtually impossible to import through legal channels, many manufacturers, including Martin Guitar, switched to East Indian rosewood (Dalbergia latifolia) sourced from India. While East Indian rosewood is a good substitute, it varies in both

66 | IN SEARCH OF MADAGASCAR ROSEWOOD & OPTIMISM


appearance and density. Its hue is more cocoa brown to purplish, and greater porosity makes it less attractive and slightly less resonant than its Brazilian cousin. While the supply chain for East Indian rosewood has remained relatively stable for several decades, the Indian government has heavily regulated the harvest and sale of its crop to conserve tree populations since 1980. There was another source for Martin Guitar to explore: Madagascar. The first time Chris Martin saw a stack of Malagasy rosewood (Dalbergia baronii), he recalls immediately noticing how identical it seemed to the Brazilian species. “It came into the factory, and I said, ‘Oh my God, if we’re not careful and we inadvertently mixed up the rosewood from Madagascar with the rosewood from Brazil, we might not be able to separate them.’ That’s what intrigued me about the rosewood from Madagascar—it seemed to be the closest replica to Brazilian rosewood I have ever seen. And our customers really responded positively to it.” With an equal (if not better) substitute in hand, one would think the problem was solved; but importing rosewood from Madagascar proved extremely difficult. The problem starts with the country’s recent history of illegal logging that stems from a 2009 political coup that left much of the country’s northern half mired in corruption and illegal activity. Then, in 2011, CITES extended trade controls on all Malagasy species of rosewood and ebony in an effort to curb illegal logging and exports after illegal trade increased 25 percent in 2009, resulting in about 25,000 metric tons of rosewood being illegally exported. Chris Martin adamantly supports going through legal channels even when those channels produce nightmarish snags. “I’m in favor of regulating wood,” he said, “so whatever CITES comes up with, whether people like it or not, you kind of go: There must be a reason that they’ve decided to put this material in this category.” While CITES governs on an international scale, guitar manufacturers must also comply with the U.S. Lacey Act, passed in 1900, which prohibits illegal trade in wildlife. It was expanded in 2008 to include protections of plants and plant products by addressing illegal logging practices. Martin stressed the degree to which the Lacey Act requires the company to verify that the wood they purchase, no matter where they bought it, was harvested legally. “We became very concerned that the verification couldn’t be done properly,” he said. “You might get a piece of paper, but is that piece of paper legitimate? So we just backed off. Martin Guitar isn’t going to partner with anyone who is not legitimate.”

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So u t he r n Ma dag ascar

But a chance encounter with an ad in Forbes magazine put Madagascar back on Martin’s mind. “I saw a paid advertisement from the government of Madagascar that basically said, ‘We know we’re not perfect, but we want to re-engage with the world community to stimulate our economy.’ That’s when I started to talk to Nick about checking out Madagascar again to see what’s going on.” After arriving in Antananarivo, Madagascar’s capital city, Colesanti made his way to Fort Dauphin, located on the southeast coast of the island. His initial goals were twofold: First, he wanted to verify reports warning importers that Madagascar, with its recent political crisis and increased regulations, is too difficult to deal with. “We often see reports in the media or get direct communication from folks who are painting with a very broad brush, and sometimes we feel that some of the details may be missing,” Colesanti said. Second, he had to try to figure out the government’s long-range plans concerning sustainability and forest management. Colesanti began his career with Martin Guitar in 2002 as the Director of Supply Chain Management. With many years of experience managing logistics and chain-of-custody compliance, he was well equipped to handle any supply and/or regulatory issues on the ground. However, he would soon discover another, more complicated problem he couldn’t have predicted. “I thought most of the land was being deforested because of legal and illegal logging,” he explained. “And it really wasn’t.” In addition to logging, substantial acreage is lost every year, especially in the southern half of the island, due to subsistence farming. “That was hugely eye-opening,” Colesanti said. According to a 2013 World Bank report, roughly 90 percent of the Malagasy people live on less than two U.S. dollars a day. To feed themselves, most villages clear huge swaths of jungle in order to plant subsistence crops, namely rice, but also beans and cassava root. Colesanti recalls seeing small plots of rice and beans planted i n o ne

68 | IN SEARCH OF MADAGASCAR ROSEWOOD & OPTIMISM


of the small communities he visited before trekking

He says he would ultimately love to maximize the

w i t h h i s g u i d e th ro u g h v e r y d e n s e j u n g l e o n ly to

value-added activities in-country. “I would love to see

re - e m e rg e l a te r i n to a n o t h e r l a rge c l ear i ng . “I’m

Malagasy communities with their own mills, learn how

looking around this huge open area in the middle of

to cut the wood themselves, so they can keep more

the jungle, and I said, ‘I’m really curious how they

of that money,” he said. “In addition to just selling

carried out all those big trees.’” His guide, puzzled,

the standing trees, there’s lots of money to be made

asked what he meant, and Colesanti explained that

cutting the trees, transporting the trees, cutting logs

they’re far from the village, there are no roads, and

into lumber, and drying it. The more they can do in

they don’t have industrial logging equipment. He asked

country, the more revenue they keep—then hopefully

again how the locals carried out the trees. The guide

the fewer trees they’ll have to cut down.”

told Colesanti they don’t take out the trees; they burn

While there are still many obstacles to overcome,

them. Colesanti said, “They’re taking down the jungle

Colesanti and the team at Martin Guitar see the

and they’re not harvesting the wood?” The guide said

glass as half full. He recounted a story about taking

no; they just burn them.”

pictures with school kids who had never seen a digital

To make matters more challenging, these small,

camera. He said, “I showed them the picture on my

impoverished communities are not versed in modern

phone, and they were screaming and pointing. They

farming te chn i qu es, so th ey de pl ete th e l a nd of

were just so nice, but they literally have nothing. That,

nutrients within a few seasons. Without methods of

to me, is the real reason to do something. It’s great

fertilization, crop rotation, and soil conservation to

for us to have wood and make really nice guitars,

increase and sustain yields, every year more acreage

but giving the people of Madagascar some kind of

has to be cleared to meet food demands. Much of the

sustainable economic development is really key.”

cleared land rests on hillsides, making soil erosion

It’s a sentiment Chris Martin shares in spades. When

a constant plight. Colesanti soon realized that the

asked about the tension between turning a profit

problem of importing rosewood goes well beyond

quarter-to-quarter and looking out for the long-term

simply waiting for the moratorium on exports to

health of the company, he said without hesitation,

expire before finding a reliable broker to help ensure

“This is a multi-generational family business. You

all purchased wood is harvested legally. To create a

want to look out far enough to say we’re going to be in

lasting supply channel, it became apparent to Nick

business as long as the world wants guitars.”

that Martin Guitar would more than likely have to work

Like Muir, Colesanti learned everything is connected

with the Malagasy government and numerous non-

to something else. Though it’s easier to pretend

governmental organizations (NGOs) to help create

otherwise, a guitar is not a solitary thing. There’s a

both sustainable farming practices and a sustainable

Malagasy proverb that says, “Nothing is so difficult

logging program.

that diligence cannot master.” Colesanti mentioned at

Luckily, Colesanti is not alone. Though he says the

one point that the easy thing to do would be to give

many NGOs working in the country have little central

up, say it’s all too much; but that the real work is

coordination, they’re all doing exceptional work, and

in finding the good parts, like some old and faithful

they’re all interested in getting some form of forest-

craftsman, and starting from there. “There’s a lot of

based economy back up and running. Martin Guitar’s

good people doing good work there,” he said. “We are

immediate objective is to start a few small pilot

optimistic. Someone has to be.”

programs where they can extract wood in a controlled manner. However, Colesanti sees real opportunity to create a lasting and mutually beneficial partnership.

M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |

69


FEATURED ITEMS

THE 1833 SHOP

®

DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL MARTIN GEAR Celebrate the 100 th anniversary of the iconic Martin Dreadnought with these limited edition shirts, hats, mugs, stickers, and more. Visit martinguitar.com/1833-shop to celebrate this milestone in style.

DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL SLIM FIT TEE | $24.99 ITEM#: 18CM0092

DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL BASEBALL CAP | $25.99 ITEM#: 18NH0035

DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL 12 OZ COFFEE MUG | $26.99 ITEM#: 18N0201


DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL STICKER | $3.99 ITEM#: 18N0208

DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL EMBROIDERED PATCH | $6.99 ITEM#: 18N0205

DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL MAGNET | $5.00 ITEM#: 18N0207

DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL POCKET TEE | $26.99 ITEM#: 18CM0089

2016 DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL CALENDAR | $9.99 ITEM#: 18N0195

WOMEN’S DREADNOUGHT CENTENNIAL TEE | $19.99 ITEM#: 18CW0050

M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |

71


“The D Jr. E sounds surprisingly big. Warm and full low end, clean and clear highs. Not what you’d expect from a guitar that’s smaller and lighter than traditional Dreadnoughts, or from one that’s this affordable. I can’t put mine down.” – J ason Isbell

2016 Two-time Grammy® Award Winner

D JR. E

D-45

JASON ISBELL

Something More Than Free jasonisbell.com

LXM

martinguitar.com/djr | #DreadNot


RESHAPING MUSIC

TAKES LONG HOURS OF RECORDING, A DEMANDING PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE AND STRINGS THAT CAN KEEP UP WITH ALL OF IT.

martinstrings.com/LifespanSP

#staytuned

JASON ISBELL

Something More Than Free jasonisbell.com


OLIVER DITSON

SOMETHING OLD OLIVER DITSON COMPANY | BOSTON Page 7 of a recently found antique catalog, circa 1916, describes all nine of the models made exclusively by Martin for the Oliver Ditson Company of Boston (and New York). Models 1, 2, and 3 were noted as Standard size and were the smallest. Models 11, 22, and 33 were noted as Concert size, being slightly larger than the Standard size. Models 111, 222, and 333 are listed as Extra Grand. During this time, these large instruments were fan braced and set up for Hawaiian slide play, but eventually X-bracing, steel strings, and lowered playing action would launch the Martin D rea d n o u ght into the heart of American musical stage performance and culture.

Front cover

74 | SOMETHING OLD

Back cover


Inside page


C. F. Martin & Co., Inc. 510 Sycamore St., Nazareth, PA 18064 www.martinguitar.com

VOLUME 6 | 2 01 6

Â

AMAZING HOW ELLE KING

CAN ROCK SO HARD WITH SOFT, SILK-WRAPPED STRINGS.

ELLE KING martinstrings.com/Marquis

#staytuned

Love Stuff elleking.com

Photography: Melanie Swerdan

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Martin | Journal of Acoustic Guitars: Volume 6  

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