CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
INK & WOOD: SAILOR JERRY CUSTOM GUITARS NAVOJOA, SONORA, MEXICO CELEBRATING 30 YEARS
AUTHENTIC ACOUSTIC STRINGS Q&A WITH MIKE ZEHNER
SET LIST 6.
From the Community TAKE IT FROM THE TOP
A Word from Chris
NORTH STREET ARCHIVES
INK & WOOD: SAILOR JERRY CUSTOM GUITARS
By Jonathan R. Walsh
By Marshall Newman
HOW TO BUY A CUSTOM MARTIN GUITAR
CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
46. NAVOJOA, SONORA, MEXICO CELEBRATING 30 YEARS 52. A GUIDE TO VISITING THE MARTIN FACTORY 54.
AUTHENTIC ACOUSTIC STRINGS
Q&A with Mike Zehner, Director of Product Management
I’M STILL GONNA USE MY HANDS
By Eric Hutchinson
FROM THE WORKBENCH
MARTIN OWNERS CLUB
FO R B O N U S D I G I TA L CO N T E N T O F T H E M A RT I N J O U R N A L , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
2017 The Kingwood Custom
VOLUME 9 | 2019
T H E J O U R N A L O F ACO US T I C G U I TA R S
PUBLISHER C. F. Martin & Co., Inc. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF C. F. Martin lV MANAGING EDITOR Kristi Bronico CREATIVE MANAGER Mandee McEvoy
DESIGN & PRODUCTION Lehigh Mining & Navigation CREATIVE DIRECTOR Denis Aumiller COPYWRITER Scott Byers DESIGNER & ILLUSTRATOR Laura Dubbs ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Cathy Wagner PRODUCTION ASSISTANT Donna Mugavero PRINTING Payne Printery
CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Michael Nelson CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jonathan R. Walsh, Marshall Newman, Kristi Bronico, Eric Hutchinson, Keaton Yoo, Jason Ahner, Chris Thomas, Scott Sasser, Rameen Shayegan PHOTOGRAPHY Zachary Hartzell, John Sterling Ruth, Keaton Yoo ® 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 MartinGuitar.com
© 2019 C. F. Martin & Co., Inc., Nazareth, Pa. All rights reserved.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
M I C H A E L W. H A R R I S | G E O R G I A
My dream guitar just didn’t exist. The Martin Guitar
Custom Shop built it to my specifications exactly. I purchased a custom OMCPA1 Plus. The suggestions and assistance in building this guitar were, to say the least, fantastic! The thing is, I didn’t sacrifice
LETTERS FROM THE COMMUNITY
ANY sound for the looks. NONE. It didn’t break the bank either. The workmanship? WOW!!
NICK MUSUMECI | NEW JERSEY
Last year on my birthday, my mother suddenly passed away. It was incredibly tough to cope with the loss of my mom, and for months, I was a shadow of my former self. After this, my father had come up with an idea for a tribute to my mom—to buy a high-end acoustic guitar for me in memoriam. We had looked at several Martins, but we never really found on e that struck u s as th e one, until a good friend of ours mentioned having the Custom Shop build us one. We thought that was a great idea, but were unsure of the costs to do it. In our search for a dealer to order this guitar, we came across Vintage Instruments of Philadelphia. Catherine and Fred of Vintage Instruments set us up with a Martin representative, and we tested out different guitars and neck feels to suit my and my father’s playing. I had chosen to get the 000-42 Martin with the performance neck. To top it off, we had my mother’s name, “Pina,” inlaid into the fretboard. When we asked for the price, we were amazed to find that the cost of the guitar was within our budget. The deal was done, and we put the deposit down to have the guitar made. After months of waiting and a visit to the factory to see the neck prepped for setting, we picked up the guitar this past Christmas. The guitar is beautiful and plays and sounds amazing. I couldn’t have wished it to come out any better. Now every time I play a song, it’s like my mom is here with me listening. Here pictured is my father and me with the guitar on Christmas Eve.
MIKE LEONARD | TEXAS
My dad gave me his 1946 Martin D-28! That’s him—a big Jimmie Rodgers and Merle Haggard fan! He and his brother bought it for $100 brand new! He sent it back to the factory in ’66, and they fixed a few things and sent it ba c k to h i m i n Texa s w i t h a n ew hard case for $250 total. I have the original receipt and a letter from C. F. Martin III. My dad designed the pickgua rd ! Still have t h e brochure fo r n ew M a r t i n s in ’66. B ra n d - n ew D - 28 ? $ 3 5 0 !
6 | LINER NOTES
KRISTEN JOSEPH CALL | CALIFORNIA
My wife of 27 years passed away on New Year’s Eve 2011. I’d already at that point gone through about 20 high-end acoustics, most of them being Martins. Just trying to find that ONE!! On April 28, 2017, our 33rd wedding anniversary, I walked into Guitar Center, and someone had just sold a 00-18 Special Edition John Mellencamp 12-fret. I picked that baby up and played it. Sold every piece of equipment I had and took it home. I found that ONE. Guess my wife was tired of me looking and throwing money away. Very few of these were made in 2009. I got #12.
CHRIS JEEMIN MOON | KENTUCKY
It’s been a year since I’ve owned this Custom Shop 000-21 Sitka (VTS) /Guatemalan rosewood, spec’d after its original 1943 000-21 serial #84224. It looks gorgeous, sounds like a piano. This is my only acoustic, which I use at church, live gigs, recordings, and tours. It plays almost effortlessly and feels like a part of me. Thanks, Martin Guitar Company!
S K I P N O O N | M A RY L A N D
I wrote out the specs and custom-ordered this beauty back in 1992. Florentine cutaways were not all that popular at the time, but that’s what I had in mind. The back and sides are specialorder Brazilian rosewood, the inlays are D-41s, and the headstock inlay is a torch. I could not be happier with the finished product. The timbre gets better and better with each passing year.
RO B BY C H I S M | M I C H I G A N
I was fortunate enough to be able to pick out the wood set for my dream D-28 while at the factory. I chose the specs on this beauty, and after the long wa i t, co u l d n’ t have been happier with this guitar. Based on t h e D - 28 CW , i t i s m a d e of R a r e R o s e G u a t e m a l a n rosewo o d , w i t h so m e changes to suit me. It has mostly Authentic construction, thin finish, hide glue, cloth side strips, etc. I changed the bracing a bit to work well with microphones (for me) and went for basically everything I thought I wanted in a D-28. This guitar was worth every penny, but I have to say, I enjoyed the process of choosing wood, choosing specs for the g u i ta r, etc., almost as much as I enjoy the guitar itself. What a terrific a n d educational ex p e r i e n ce. . . A n d t h e result i s o n e of t h e finest bluegrass guitars I’ve ever played, and I’m lucky enough to own i t. Th a n k yo u , M a r t i n G u i ta r !
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
A WORD FROM CHRIS
TAKE IT FROM THE TOP
Custom Shop ad from the ’80s
Dear Martin Enthusiast, I think it is fair to say that my great-great-great-grandfather opened the first Martin Custom Shop at 196 Hudson Street in New York City in 1833. He immigrated to the United States seeking opportunity and freedom, and found it when he moved his business and family to Pennsylvania in 1839. But he soon realized he needed to develop standard models with consistent features as he expanded distribution across the U.S. and eventually around the world. Fast-forward to the late 1970s, when we realized that some of our customers wanted their own unique Martin guitar. In the book Martin Guitars — A History, Mike Longworth said, “In past years C. F. Martin declined most customer work except for names in the fingerboard. Recognizing an increase for custom features, they opened the Custom Shop in 1979. Guitarists who wanted an unusual or personalized instrument were then able to consider the instrument of their dreams within reason.” Still true 40 years later.
8 | TAKE IT FROM THE TOP
Dick Boak and Chris Martin IV
Navojoa 30th Anniversary guitar artwork by Robert Goetzl
Another significant milestone in 2019 is our 30-year partnership in Mexico at our Navojoa, Sonora, facility. What started as a small experiment making some strings has grown into a very significant part of our business. Today we make all of our strings, the Backpacker,ÂŽ X Series (Happy 20th Anniversary), and, more recently, full-gloss solid wood guitars in Mexico. Speaking of strings, you have to check out our new line of Authentic Acoustic strings. They look, feel, and sound better than any string we have ever made. We are confident that they offer unmatched stability, tone, comfort, and longevity. I also want to share with you an important certification our company has recently achieved. We are now a certified B Corporation. This designation acknowledges our ongoing commitment to be good corporate citizens. Take a look at the B Corp website https://bcorporation.net. I think every business should seek B Corp status.
Thanks for listening,
C. F. Martin IV Chairman & CEO C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.
P.S. I want to personally thank all of you who have contributed to the Bill Collings Memorial Fund that is part of the NAMM Foundation. These funds will be devoted to getting more guitars and guitar teachers in schools so we can all look forward to future generations of enthusiastic players. To learn more and to donate, please visit www.nammfoundation.org/donate/bill-collings-fund.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
NORTH STREET ARCHIVES
JUSTIN HOLLAND We can see in early Martin guitars that a great deal of customization was available. From the very beginning in Germany, C. F. Martin Sr. was flexible and tailored guitars to his customersâ€™ needs. This practice continued for decades after the Martin family arrived in the United States. Justin Holland was a prominent guitar instructor and a proponent of Martin Guitar from the 1860s until his death in 1887. He would order instruments direct from Martin and would All photos courtesy of C. F. Martin Archives
recommend only Martin-built guitars to his pupils. This excerpt from a letter dated March 18, 1869, from Mr. Holland illustrates how C. F. Martin & Co. would fine-tune one of their guitars to be exactly what their customer wanted. This guitar, billed as a 1-27 to Justin Holland, appears in the company sales ledger on April 1, 1869.
10 | NORTH STREET ARCHIVES
ARKIE After the Ditson Company went out of business in 1931, most of the early Martinbranded Dreadnoughts were built for the Chicago Musical Instrument Company. While Gene Autry’s D-45 is arguably the most famous Dreadnought ever ordered by CMI, the D-2 built for fellow WLS National Barn Dance entertainer Luther Ossenbrink, better known as the “Arkansas Woodchopper,” or simply “Arkie,” might be second. As you can see from the correspondence sent to Martin, Arkie wanted people to know who he was just by looking at his guitar. Arkie’s guitar was a D-2, and he wanted his name inlaid in the fingerboard large and wide enough to be seen in a theatre. The extra charge for the fingerboard inlay was $10, and the completed guitar was shipped to CMI on April 13, 1932.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
12 | MARTINÂ®
“YOU M U S T U N DE R S TA N D T H E F E E LI NG OF OR IG I NAT I NG A S OPPOS E D TO I M I TAT I NG. ” -NORMAN “SAILOR JERRY” COLLINS, JUNE 8, 1971
BY JONATHAN R. WALSH When Thomas Edison first marketed his groundbreaking but short-lived electric pen in 1876, his powerful imagination pictured it revolutionizing the writing and publishing industries. More sewing needle than pen or pencil, Edison’s device was designed to perforate paper that could then be used as a stencil to make unlimited copies of ordinary handwriting. Soon rendered obsolete by the advent of the typewriter, however, the electric pen would have been relegated to the dustbin of history had it not been picked up again in 1891 by tattoo artist Samuel O’Reilly, who modified it to drive ink into human flesh. Edison moved on to the phonograph and light bulb, and, armed with the first modern tattoo gun, the art and science of tattooing moved into the 20th century. It is here that we meet up with the man who would transform American tattooing as we know it: a young Norman Collins.
MAR R TTIIN NG GU UIITA TARR. .CCOOMM | | 13 13
Born in Nevada in 1911 and precocious enough to be nicknamed “Jerry” after the family donkey, Collins’s wanderlust led him to crisscross the country on freight trains till he eventually found himself in Chicago in the roaring 1920s. Under the tutelage of Gib “Tatts” Thomas, Collins honed the craft of tattooing he’d picked up on the railroad, beginning to develop the bold linework and exquisite shading that would go on to define his iconic style of tattooing. Just as a certain Christian Frederick Martin eventually grew beyond the confines of tradition passed on to him by Johann Stauffer in the early 1800s—devising the X-bracing system that would one day become the standard for acoustic guitars worldwide—so, too, did Collins begin to develop techniques and tools (he is supposedly the first to use purple, white, yellow, and blue pigments in his work) that would reshape the centuries-old tradition of tattooing that had been passed down to him. By the 1930s, around the time that Martin’s koa-wood guitars and ukuleles were bringing the Hawaiian music craze to dance halls across the nation, Collins had relocated to Honolulu, eventually serving in the Navy before setting up shop, and taking the “Sailor Jerry” moniker that would soon be synonymous with the ubiquitous, uniquely American style of tattooing he pioneered. “You’ve got this American, iconic, hard-line tattoo style that exists, and a lot of people may not realize that the ink they’ve got written into their skin originated with Sailor Jerry. That’s the ‘somebody’ that was first,” says Scott Sasser, head of the Custom Shop at Martin Guitar. “And similarly inside of every acoustic guitar on the planet that does not have a 19th-century fanshaped or ladder-brace design, every guitar that carries that X-brace is—in essence—a tribute to Martin.” That parallel is an important part of what sparked the idea for the Sailor Jerry Custom Shop guitar that would feature Collins’s work somehow tattooed in wood, but the resonance between the artist’s impact on tattooing and Martin’s on guitar making was part of a broader synergy: the longstanding marriage of body art and music.
14 | INK AND WOOD: SAILOR JERRY CUSTOM GUITARS
“BOLD SIMPLICITY IS THE KEYNOTE TO GOOD DESIGN.” -NORMAN “SAILOR JERRY” COLLINS, NOVEMBER 20, 1970
“I grew up playing drums and had a modest amount of success with touring and recording, so I was always around creative folks who had tattoos, and it just seems like that’s an important part of the music scene. And if you’ve ever been by the factory, there’s just an incredible amount of art on skin around here,” says Sasser. It was while researching the relationship between music and body art that he says he first came across Collins and his impact on tattooing. “If you look at who, in terms of this uniquely American tattoo style, put the flag on the moon, it was Norman Collins. It was that authenticity that attracted me to it, and I thought a guitar, like a body, would be a great canvas to feature that style of art.” Like all things Martin, the notion of authenticity became central to the project as it took shape in the Custom Shop. “I knew that in order to do a tattoo-themed instrument right, we had to go to the real source,” says Sasser. “We couldn’t do tattoos ‘in the style’ of a particular artist. To do justice to this, you had to go right to the genuine article and be proud to present yourself alongside of that.” To help pitch the idea to the company in charge of steering the Sailor Jerry legacy, Sasser enlisted the help of Sean Brandle, the Custom Shop’s inlay-artist extraordinaire, and Emily Meixell, a longtime Custom Shop employee just getting her start in the art of inlaying. Poring through page after page of Collins’s work from across 50 years, Sasser says the Custom Shop was able to group the images into two broad themes that would come to life on an acoustic instrument. “One is the Homeward Bound, a nautical-themed guitar, and the other is the heart-and-floral theme that appears on the True Love guitar that we’re doing. We selected some of the most timeless images that really went to the core of those themes—the clipper ship, the rope and anchor, the nautical star, the heart, the rose— and we began working them into a presentation for the Sailor Jerry folks. And immediately they seized on those exact images for these guitars.”
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
Inlay is the art of removing small amounts of wood from the fingerboard, top, back, or any other part of a guitar and replacing it with a design that complements the look of the guitar. It’s a painstaking process that requires a rare combination of artistic ability (to design the inlay) and craftsmanship (to carve and place it permanently into the guitar without damaging it)—not unlike a tattoo artist. “It’s kind of funny because I was always joking that my job was to be a tattoo artist for guitars,” says Brandle. “And now we’re doing just that with the Sailor Jerry instruments.” Once the concepts were finalized and the images set, the Custom Shop began to tackle the real challenge: how to turn an exciting idea into a beautiful, functional instrument. Would Collins’s artwork be rendered best in mother-of-pearl? In precious metals? In stone? “Sean and I got together, and we started collaborating. It was Sean who suggested that we use a variety of tonewoods to create these inlays,” says Sasser. “He thought that, if we want to capture the look of a tattoo, with the guitar body occupying the role of the human figure this tattoo would go onto, then we had to go the organic route with the wood inlays—the pale browns up through the rosewoods, the koas with their different flames, the blood red of the bubinga.” “I really like to use wood a lot in my inlays. I like to mix my materials around—wood, pearl, stone, metals—I like to incorporate them all together because I think you get a different look and feel,” says Brandle. Meixell, who worked alongside him to inlay the Sailor Jerry guitars, agrees: “It’s really about the beauty of the wood. I love how you can look at a guitar and see pieces from all over the world— this guitar, for instance, it’s got padauk on it from Africa, maple from the U.S., and wild grain East Indian rosewood from India.” A tattoo lover himself—his arms are covered in ornate sleeves of ink—Brandle suggested one wood selection with special significance for the Sailor Jerry project: “Since Norman Collins lived in Honolulu, since he’s buried there, for the Homeward Bound guitar I picked flamed Hawaiian koa wood for the back and sides. It’s a detail in that instrument that points back to Norman Collins and Sailor Jerry that you might not pick up from the inlay alone.” Those details are what set Brandle’s work—and that of the Custom Shop as a whole—apart from other guitar makers’. As Brandle explains: “If you spot a guitar hanging on the wall, you can see the inlay from a distance. But once you get up close to that inlay, that’s where it should come to life—fine details you might not notice at first. I want you to be able to look at that inlay two or three times and still see something new about it that you didn’t see before.”
“YOU’VE GOT THIS AMERICAN, ICONIC, HARD-LINE TATTOO STYLE THAT EXISTS, AND A LOT OF PEOPLE MAY NOT REALIZE THAT THE INK THEY’VE GOT WRITTEN INTO THEIR SKIN
ORIGINATED WITH SAILOR JERRY.”
-SCOTT SASSER, HEAD OF THE CUSTOM SHOP
16 | INK AND WOOD: SAILOR JERRY CUSTOM GUITARS
“IT’S REALLY ABOUT THE BEAUTY OF THE WOOD. I LOVE HOW YOU CAN LOOK AT A GUITAR AND SEE PIECES FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD...” -EMILY MEIXELL, CUSTOM SHOP “It is meticulous, and you should see how geeky Sean and I get about choosing the different pieces of wood,” adds Meixell. “For the rose in particular we found this piece of padauk—usually this pinkish or reddish color—and we found this really great stripe on this one piece that was sort of a canary yellowish color, and we were like, ‘This looks so cool—a yellow rose.’ So we used that specific piece; we saved it just for that rose. So there’s definitely a lot of attention to detail that goes on over there— even down to the orientation of the grain.” For Brandle, the Sailor Jerry project is a chance to commune with the legacy of an idol. “I have a love of tattoos. I’ve got sleeves of my own, and Norman Collins is a legend in the tattoo world,” he says. “I’d always seen his work at tattoo parlors, but never actually sat down and studied it all. Eventually you start to pick up on what made his style his own—the color choices he made, the way he used bold, black lines on a lot of his stuff,” he says. “It was a lot of picking apart the things that he did and trying to make the stuff that I inlaid look as close to the originals as possible. There was a lot of trial and error—in terms of materials, in terms of techniques.” A key challenge was how to match the stunning sense of depth Collins achieved in ink, using only workable pieces of tonewood. The answer lay in a technique known as sand shading, common in certain types of French marquetry but rare in luthiery and, until now, never before seen in the Custom Shop. “The sand shading is kind of homegrown with Sean—he picked up on it somewhere out in the world, and he thought he might be able to teach himself how to do it. And not surprisingly, it is absolutely perfect for the Sailor Jerry images that we’re doing,” says Sasser. “The things we were inlaying were 3-D, really, roses and the American flag—we wanted the flag on the top of the guitar to look like it was waving, like it was blowing in the breeze,” adds Meixell. “This technique really lent itself to what we were trying to get across.”
Emily Meixell, Scott Sasser, and Sean Brandle
18 | INK AND WOOD: SAILOR JERRY CUSTOM GUITARS
“I WAS ALWAYS JOKING THAT MY JOB WAS TO BE A TATTOO ARTIST FOR GUITARS. AND NOW WE’RE DOING JUST THAT WITH THE SAILOR JERRY INSTRUMENTS.”
-SEAN BRANDLE, THE CUSTOM SHOP’S INLAY-ARTIST EXTRAORDINAIRE
Like so many great ideas, Brandle’s foray into the new technique began in the kitchen. “When I read about sand shading, I was like, ‘Well alright, let’s try this out!’ I went to the local craft store, came home, and threw some sand in one of my frying pans, threw that on the kitchen stove, cranked it up, and started experimenting. Later on my wife walks in and says, ‘What the heck are you cooking?’ But I took it into the shop and my boss loved it, and so we brought the technique over to Martin.” Sand shading is a way to bring a three-dimensional quality to wood without using artificial dyes or paints. “What you’re seeing is the actual wood—you’re not just spraying a coat of paint on it,” says Brandle. “In a nutshell, you actually burn the wood—taking wood inlay and putting it into hot sand. The deeper into the sand you go, the hotter it is in there, so you get a nice, dark burn on the bottom, and then it gradually gets lighter as you move to the top of the sand. So you have this nice, even gradient on the piece, which, when you fit it all together, gives it a really nice 3-D shadow effect. You add a depth to it that makes the inlay come to life.” Teamwork and collaboration helped the Custom Shop render the timeless designs of Norman Collins in resonant tonewood, and the result is something new, something greater; a combination of vision and craftsmanship, of bold ideas and artisanal technique that allowed one American classic to pay homage to another. “When I stepped back and looked at that rosette, the back, the way it almost looks like it’s painted on—it just gave me goosebumps,” as Brandle puts it. “Sean’s ability to look at all of those little pieces and think, ‘What needs to be different here? What type of wood will look best as a coil of rope? What will work best to give it that strong, black outline? If I’m going to give it some shadow, then I need to take this minute piece of wood and dip it into a hot skillet full of sand until it’s just right—and if I burn one, I’ve got to start all over again’—it’s like a great Persian rug in that every stitch has got to be in place or the whole thing doesn’t work,” says Sasser. “His ability to conceptualize and maintain the vision for all of those tiny parts, to me, it’s spectacular. It’s a level of craftsmanship that just doesn’t show up much in this industry, and when it does, it’s a handful of small luthiers who spend years upon years working on this one masterpiece. For Sean to be able to do that now is just incredible. He just sees an idea, and he latches onto it until he’s got it mastered. He’s a very talented artist, and we’re very fortunate to work with him every day.”
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
Both the Homeward Bound and True Love guitars will be available in a limited run and represent what the Custom Shop is all about: the best at what they do, doing what they do best. The Custom Shop is where the greatest luthiers working today combine their skill with Martin’s 186 years of guitar-making tradition to create something truly spectacular. “Every day here in the Custom Shop is a good day,” says Meixell. “I’m a hands-on kind of girl, so anytime I’m actually working on the guitar, that’s when I’m the most satisfied and happiest.” “I think being in the Custom Shop is a pretty amazing gig,” adds Brandle. “It’s definitely a tight-knit group. Everyone’s a top-level performer, so you can trust in each other to help out and get the job done. Is there a lot of pressure? Sometimes there is. Not just because of the level of work that’s expected from us—that’s everywhere at Martin—but because other coworkers look to us as the specialists within the factory. They’ll come to you for guidance because you’re working in the Custom Shop. And you want to know the right answer so you can steer them in the right direction—you want to help them get better as well.” “There are really creative people in the Custom Shop, and the fruit of their effort is shaped like a guitar. I think in some ways I owe it to them to let them stretch their wings out a little bit,” adds Sasser. “And I hope that, not just for Sean and Emily, but for all the ladies and gentlemen in the Custom Shop, being able to lay their hands on a guitar like the Sailor Jerry makes them proud and gives them a chance to feel creative too. I can’t wait till the first run of True Love and Homeward Bound are all glossed up—man, it’s just going to knock everybody out.”
S E E T H E F I N I S H E D SA I LO R J E R RY G U I TA R S AT M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
20 | INK AND WOOD: SAILOR JERRY CUSTOM GUITARS
22 | DEALER STORIES
DEALER STORIES B Y M ARSHALL NEWM AN The Martin Custom Shop is where guitar dreams
have taken that journey to the next level through
come true. While every Martin Custom Shop guitar
the Platinum Experience: visiting the Custom Shop
represents a unique dream, some Custom Shop
in Nazareth to select the tonewoods and discuss
customers dream BIG. Those big dreams have
the ap p o i ntm e nts of their fo r th co m i n g g u i t a r
produced some exquisite Custom Shop guitarsâ€”
w i th the sta ff, and later returning to celebrate
ultimate examples of the luthierâ€™s art.
the completion of their Custom Shop guitar with
These ultimate Custom Shop guitars are genuine
the craftspeople who built it.
collaborations, with the customer, authorized
The stories of these elite Custom Shop guitars
Martin dealer, and Custom Shop working together
are as varied as the guitars themselves. Here are
closely throughout t he design and build. In a
four of those stories. (To protect their privacy, only
real sense, the process is a shared journey. A few
first names of the customers will be used.)
The Martin Custom Shop is where guitar dreams come true.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
“ The Martin Custom Shop was amazing. To meet the people and see their craftsmanship was a great experience. The guitar they made for me is phenomenal, and I expect it to get even better with age.” -Bella
CUSTOM SHOP 00 12-FRET, ORDERED THROUGH THE UPPER BOUT, CHAMPAIGN, ILLINOIS A comfortable environment and personalized service have been hallmarks of The Upper Bout since its founding, so owner Ricky Bright wasn’t surprised
dragon and lion inlays, custom fretboard markers, and custom alternative torch headstock inlay. They returned to the Martin Custom Shop nine months
when Bella approached him to discuss ordering a
later for the presentation of Bella’s finished guitar.
Martin Custom Shop guitar. She already owned a
She gasped when she opened the case, and for good
couple of guitars, but wanted a truly spectacular,
reason: The guitar is magnificent. Colorful Paua pearl
headstock and fretboard inlays are joined by Style 42
He was impressed by how much thought she had put
Paua pearl purfling around the top. The dragon and lion
into her guitar-to-be. “She had a three-ring binder with
inlays are beautifully executed—the former in Paua
notes on every aspect. She wanted a 00 12-fret with a
pearl and mother-of-pearl, the latter in various woods
slotted headstock and engraved gold tuners. She wanted
and mother-of-pearl. Contrasting elements abound,
pearl inlays on the body, fretboard, and headstock. She
including a rock maple neck and birdseye maple pyramid
wanted a dragon inlaid on the fretboard and a roaring
bridge, an African blackwood fretboard with sapwood,
lion inlaid into the top as the pickguard.” After receiving
flamed koa binding on the fretboard and headstock, and
assurance from the Martin Custom Shop that everything
European flamed maple binding on the koa body.
Bella had in mind was possible, Bright developed the preliminary specifications for her Custom Shop guitar. Taking advantage of the Martin Platinum Experience,
As the woman whose signature is inlaid in Paua pearl above the 19th fret of her Martin Custom Shop guitar, Bella gets the last word. “The Ma r ti n Cu sto m Sh o p
Bella, her father, and Ricky Bright traveled to Nazareth
was amazing. To meet the people a n d see their
to meet with the Martin Custom Shop staff and put
craftsmanship was a great experience. The guitar they
the finishing touches on her Custom Shop order. They
made for me is phenomenal, and I expect it to get
joined Exotic Wood Specialist Mark Smith in the wood
even better with age.”
room, where Bella selected a top, back and sides set of flamed koa, with a center wedge of rare blistered koa for the three-piece back. They also met with inlay artist Sean Brandle to discuss and approve the guitar’s
24 | DEALER STORIES
TO S E E M O R E P H OTO S O F T H I S G U I TA R A N D A V I D EO O F B E L L A’ S P L AT I N U M E X P E R I E N C E , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
“ Martin Custom Shop guitars like this one are works of art. It’s an honor to have a role in their creation, knowing how much they mean to their owners.” -Paul Decker
CUSTOM SHOP ORCHESTRA MODEL, ORDERED THROUGH MUSIC VILLA, BOZEMAN, MONTANA Charles was thinking radical when he approached Paul
multiple-ring rosette of iridescent Paua pearl, with one
Decker, the owner of Music Villa, about having the Martin
ring of Paua pearl herringbone. Style 45 purfling around
Custom Shop build his guitar. “He wanted a special OM
the top, back and sides, along with the Style 45 fretboard
with lots of pearl and an incredible rosette.”
markers, the alternative torch headstock inlay, and the
A Martin dealer with significant Custom Shop experience, snowflakes and edge border on the bridge are also in pearl. Decker described the order process. “Charles had a very
The tonewoods are similarly spectacular: a premium
specific vision of the guitar. He and I discussed tonewoods,
Adirondack top and Guatemalan rosewood back and sides
appointments, and other build elements one by one,
selected by Decker during one of his periodic visits to
and I made some suggestions based on insights gained
Martin. Side-mounted Waverly tuners with engraved and
over the years. Then I took those specifications to the
polished bronze baseplates adorn the slotted headstock.
Custom Shop and went through them one by one. I went
Hide glue construction and scalloped quarter-inch Golden
back to Charles and back to the Custom Shop six times to
Era top braces add their own magic.
finalize everything before submitting the order.”
“Martin Custom Shop guitars like this one are works of art,”
The Custom Shop delivered the completed guitar 10
commented Decker. “It’s an honor to have a role in their
months later. Charles’s Custom Shop OM features a
creation, knowing how much they mean to their owners.”
TO S E E M O R E P H OTO S O F T H I S G U I TA R , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
“My Custom Shop 12-string is everything I hoped it would be. It’s perfect.” -Bob
CUSTOM SHOP GRAND JUMBO 12-STRING, ORDERED THROUGH TOBIAS MUSIC, DOWNERS GROVE, ILLINOIS “I searched for the perfect 12-string guitar for years
Completed in just under a year, Bob’s Custom Shop
and never found it,” commented Bob. “So I had the
12-string showcases select abalone pearl inlays,
Martin Custom Shop build it.”
including a tree of life inlay that begins on the
Bob contacted Tobias Music, a Martin dealer of 40
headstock and continues uninterrupted the length
years standing located near Chicago. “Bob previously
of the fretboard, tree of life inlays on the bridge and
had ordered a Custom Shop D-45 through us, but it
pickguard, Style 45 purfling on the premium Adirondack
was clear from the beginning this 12-string would be
spruce top, and Style 45 purfling on the back and sides.
unique,” recalled owner Paul Tobias. “He wanted a
The body, fretboard, and headstock are all bound with
Grand Jumbo, the largest body size Martin makes. He
European flamed maple, and the headstock is fitted
also wanted rare tonewoods, Style 42 abalone pearl
with gold Grover tuners.
purfling, and abalone tree of life inlays.” After the two discussed and refined the guitar’s
Bob picked up his completed guitar in Nazareth through Martin’s Factory Delivery Program. “Meeting
specifications, they took them to Martin Custom
the Custom Shop craftspeople and having them
Shop Director Scott Sasser, who suggested hide
there when I opened the case was memorable,” Bob
glue construction. Bob also joined Tobias on a trip
recalled. “For those people, my guitar was personal—a
to Nazareth, where they selected a premium set of
representation of Martin pride and heritage.
Madagascar rosewood with the help of Mark Smith, Martin’s Exotic Wood Specialist.
“My Custom Shop 12-string is everything I hoped it would be,” Bob continued. “It’s perfect.”
TO S E E M O R E P H OTO S O F T H I S G U I TA R , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
26 | DEALER STORIES
Model in progress
“ We have a blast working with the Martin Custom Shop. The craftspeople there love their work and love challenges, but — most importantly — they make extraordinary guitars.” -Bob Willcutt
CUSTOM SHOP GRAND PERFORMANCE, ORDERED THROUGH WILLCUTT GUITAR SHOPPE, LEXINGTON, KENTUCKY Willcutt Guitar Shoppe ranks among the largest Martin
“We sent the preliminary specifications to Custom Shop
Custom Shop dealers in the United States, ordering
Administrator Jimmie Kleintop, who made a couple of
Custom Shop guitars both for customers and for shop
suggestions based on Allen’s objectives,” said Willcutt.
inventory. “We began ordering Martin Custom Shop
“After Allen approved them, we confirmed everything and
guitars eight years ago as a way to set ourselves apart
submitted the order.”
from the typical music store,” said owner Bob Willcutt.
Allen’s Custom Shop Grand Performance guitar features a
“Today we typically have more than 100 Martin Custom
Sitka spruce top and FSC®-certified East Indian rosewood
Shop guitars in stock.”
back and sides. The Style 41 purfling and Style 45
When Allen contacted Willcutt Guitar Shoppe, he had in
rosette are inlaid in Paua pearl, vibrant against the
mind a beautiful, understated but unconventional Martin
Ambertone 1933 top finish. The “CF Martin” on the
Custom Shop guitar. “He wanted a guitar with a ‘big’
headplate and reduced hexagon fretboard markers also
sound like a Dreadnought, but one not so hard on the
are inlaid in Paua pearl. European flamed maple binding
body,” Willcutt remembered.
and gold Schaller tuners provide additional pizzazz.
With help from Willcutt and sales manager James Adkins,
“We have a blast working with the Martin Custom Shop,”
Allen chose specifications to fit his ergonomic, tonal,
said Willcutt. “The craftspeople there love their work
and esthetic needs: a combination of Mar t in’s Gran d
and love challenges, but—most importantly—they make
Performance body and a 1ƒ-inch modified low oval
neck with Performing Artist taper for player comfort, scalloped Adirondack spruce Golden Era top braces to enhance volume, traditional tonewoods to add elegance, and Paua pearl accents and a sunburst top to deliver some dazzle. TO S E E T H E F I N I S H E D G U I TA R , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
28 | HOW TO BUY A CUSTOM MARTIN GUITAR
1. VISIT the Martin website (www.martinguitar.com) to familiarize yourself with body shapes, tonewoods, neck shapes, headstock styles, glue type, ornamentation, electronics options, etc.
2. TEST DRIVE your favorite models at an authorized Martin dealer.
3. CONFIGURE your dream guitar using Martinâ€™s new Custom Configurator, which allows you to choose among our most popular and compatible options.
4. FINALIZE your custom guitar with an authorized Martin dealer, who can guide you through the ordering process and suggest any additional design options to make the guitar u niquely yours.
5. ORDER your custom guitar. Your preferred dealer will confirm your configuration with the Martin Custom Shop and submit your order.
6. PICK UP
7. ENJOY your brand-new custom Martin guitar!
your custom guitar at your authorized Martin dealer, or talk to your dealer about arranging a Martin Factory Delivery and pick up your factory-fresh guitar in Nazareth, Pa., where it was made. Some custom guitars are available for Martinâ€™s Platinum Experience. Ask your
WE BUILD THEM ONE-OF-A-KIND, ONE AT A TIME!
dealer for details.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
1843 Madame de GoÃ±i 1921 0-44 Vahdah Olcott-Bickford 1970 Trapezoid Custom
1995 000-42 Eric Clapton 1996 Art Nouveau Custom 1997 000-45 Jimmie Rodgers 1998 CTSH Brazilian Humphrey Classical
1998 D12-42RM Roger McGuinn 2000 Peacock Guitar 2000 DVM Veterans Model 2002 Judy Collins Custom 2002 USA-1
2003 D-50 Deluxe Koa 2003 MTV Guitar 2004 Ian Anderson Custom 2005 M3M Sir George Martin 2005 Sting Mini
2005 Claire 1 2007 OM Negative 2008 Psychedelic Custom 2011 J12SO! Sing Out Pete Seeger Custom 2012 Butterfly Custom
30 | CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
2013 1T IZ Tenor Uke 2014 Amanda Shires Custom Ukulele 2014 SS-000S-14 NAMM Show Special 2014 Jacobsburg Guitar 2014 Clapton/Ferrari
2015 Danny Davis Snowboarding 2015 OM-45 Deluxe 2015 D-12 Fret Double Cutaway Custom 2016 LE Cowboy 2016 (William Matthews) 2017 Kingwood Custom
2017 Eagle 2017 Ornamental 2017 Dwight Yoakam DD28 Signature Edition 2017 Hot Rod
2018 Fire & Ice 2018 Size 2 Custom 2018 OM-Arts & Crafts-2018
CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
2018 Quilted Maple
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
1843 MADAME DE GOÑI C. F. Martin created the very first Size 1 model and the earliest X-braced guitar ever documented, supporting Martin’s longstanding claim as the inventor of X-bracing, a primary innovation in the evolution of the modern American guitar. After entertaining her in his home, C. F. Martin made the special X-braced guitar for Madame Delores N. de Goñi, who was probably the finest professional guitar soloist of her time. Her performances were widely popular throughout the Americas between 1841 and 1892. She pronounced Martin guitars to be “superior to any instruments of the kind [she had] ever seen in this country or Europe for tone, workmanship, and facility of execution!” Martin released a replica of Madame de Goñi’s Size 1 in January 2019. FO R F U L L E D I TO R I A L A N D I M A G ES , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
1921 0-44 VAHDAH OLCOTT-BICKFORD
1970 TRAPEZOID CUSTOM
Of all the performing artist/instructors who
This unique custom “trapezoid”
championed Martin guitars in the early 1900s,
guitar was the inspiration for
none had as long a relationship as Vahdah Olcott-
the very first acoustic guitar
Bickford. She preferred the highest grade Martins
made by a young Chris Martin.
but with plain appointments. This Style 44 guitar
He completed a version of this
was the first Olcott-Bickford model to bear her
design as a woodworking project
“Artist Model” headstock decal.
while attending summer camp.
1995 000-42 ERIC CLAPTON In the halo of Eric’s landmark Unplugged video and CD, Martin and Eric collaborated on the first Eric Clapton signature model. He is unquestionably one of the world’s finest acoustic blues players, long favoring Martin 000 size guitars almost exclusively.
32 | CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
1996 ART NOUVEAU CUSTOM
1997 000-45 JIMMIE RODGERS
The D-45 Deluxe Art Nouveau was one of the
Honoring the “Father of Country Music”
earliest designs by renowned inlay artist Larry
and “Singing Brakeman” Jimmie
Robinson. It includes intricate art nouveau
Rodgers, this unique “Blue Yodel”
flower and plant design elements in pearl.
model closely replicates Jimmie’s
Larry Robinson went on to design additional
original 12-fret 000-45 specially made
Martin custom instruments, including the one
for him in 1927. C. F. Martin III was a
millionth serial number.
big fan of Rodgers and hand-delivered the guitar to him by train to his show in Washington, D.C. At the end of each show, Jimmie would flip the guitar around to show the large “THANKS” engraved on the back.
1998 CTSH BRAZILIAN HUMPHREY CLASSICAL This custom classical guitar was the result of the collaboration between Martin and classical guitarmaker Thomas S. Humphrey. It features a lattice-braced soundboard and elevated neck and fingerboard.
1998 D12-42RM ROGER MCGUINN Founding Byrds member and solo folk singer/songwriter/guitarist Roger McGuinn has enthusiastically collaborated on two very special Martin editions. This is the first, and it is as fine a 12-string guitar as Martin has ever produced. M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
2000 DVM VETERANS MODEL The DVM Veterans Special Edition was created by a task team of Martin employees to honor veterans. The guitar features emblems of the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Royalties were donated in support of disabled veterans.
2000 PEACOCK GUITAR The spectacular D-45 Peacock was built to commemorate Martinâ€™s 750,000th guitar. It features inlay by Larry Robinson, who hand-cut thousands of individual pieces of inlay for the neck, fingerboard, and body, including the strutting, bedazzling peacock on the back.
2002 JUDY COLLINS CUSTOM When the Sycamore Street factory was completed in 1964, Judy Collins serenaded Martin workers from the loading dock. A longtime Martin player, Judy gravitated toward a D-12-35 to accompany her pristine vocals. This guitar celebrates her career.
2002 USA-1 The USA-1 is the first guitar that Martin digitally painted. Martin has now produced multiple successful models using this technology.
2003 D-50 DELUXE KOA The D-50 Deluxe Koa is only the second edition of this very elaborately inlaid model, which was made available in a limited edition after the first was successfully sold out in a more expensive Brazilian rosewood edition that sold for $50,000.
2003 MTV GUITAR This unique custom guitar was made for MTV and features a body that is half mahogany and half rosewood. Almost 700 were sold in 1996, which was a new record for limited edition models.
2004 IAN ANDERSON CUSTOM Jethro Tull guitarist Ian Anderson’s “Chameleon” guitar is a modern version of an 0-28 with a special triangular saddle slot in the bridge that can accommodate steel or nylon strings with accurate intonation. It also has a unique mother-of-pearl triangles rosette.
2005 M3M SIR GEORGE MARTIN To honor George Martin, brilliant producer of the Beatles, this elegant mahogany model was designed for optimum studio recording. Unique “M” marquetry adorns the headstock and quilted mahogany center wedge of the three-piece back. The number “5” at the fifth fret acknowledges George Martin’s role as the fifth Beatle.
2005 CLAIRE 1 To celebrate the 2004 birth of Chris Martin and Diane Repyneck’s daughter, Claire Frances Martin, this precious Brazilian rosewood Size 5 limited edition guitar was issued in 2005, complete with Claire’s footprint inlaid at the last fret. It also had a custom pink felt-lined case and was limited to 100 instruments.
2005 STING MINI When the Size 5 Mini Martin edition was introduced in 1999, Sting was one of the first to buy one. He tuned it up to Nashville Terz tuning with high-octave basses, and the amazing results, recorded on his CD Sacred Love, led to this Sting Mini limited edition custom.
36 | CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
2007 OM NEGATIVE The OM Negative is a 14-fret Dreadnought with a gloss black lacquer body and stain black neck and black binding. The black is offset by an ivory colored Micarta bridge, pickguard, fretboard, and headplate.
2008 PSYCHEDELIC CUSTOM Larry Robinson was commissioned to design this guitar to celebrate the anniversary of the Summer of Love.
2011 J12SO! SING OUT PETE SEEGER CUSTOM Pete Seeger was an iconic figure in American music for more than 75 years. As a member of the Weavers and throughout his long solo career, he fueled a revival of traditional music that continues today. His iconic songs “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” and “If I Had a Hammer” defined a generation. He also helped found Sing Out! Magazine. This unique Pete Seeger tribute guitar was created as a limited edition in support of Sing Out! in 2010.
2012 BUTTERFLY CUSTOM Designed in collaboration with artist Robert Goetzl and the Custom Shop to explore new inlay techniques and the vibrant colors of stone and pearl materials with a spring design theme. Work on this unique instrument allowed Martin to develop a fresh concept of layering inlays for a greater illusion of depth. Certain techniques from this instrument would also be utilized on S# 2,000,000 and the D-200 in 2017. M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
2013 1T IZ TENOR UKE A tribute to legendary artist Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (“Iz”), this tenor ukulele features beautiful, genuine quilted mahogany construction, an East Indian rosewood headplate adorned with “IZ” inlaid in Hawaiian koa, and a hibiscus flower inlaid in pink awabi pearl.
2014 AMANDA SHIRES CUSTOM UKULELE Amanda Shires selected highly flamed koa for her custom tenor ukulele and included beautiful pearl inlay throughout. “For me, owning a Martin custom ukulele was a dream. Now I have her, and she is just dreamy. My ukulele has a warm sound and huge projection and is very much an extension of me. It was a bonus when I noticed that she matches every dress I own, too.” -Amanda Shires
2014 SS-000S-14 NAMM SHOW SPECIAL Offered as a 2014 NAMM Show Special, limited to no more than 30 premium instruments, the SS-000S-14 is a breathtaking, traditional 12-fret design crafted with rare highly figured Claro walnut top, back, sides, and neck. A classic floral and vine inlay motif is executed in thin veneers of tonally viable aluminum, beautifully designed and engraved by master engraver Tira Mitchell. A thinly dimensioned top, supported with Adirondack red spruce bracing and hide glue body construction, yields a surprisingly balanced and brilliant fingerstyle sound.
2014 JACOBSBURG GUITAR This special Martin Custom Shop guitar was constructed of local “falldown” woods following Hurricane Sandy from nearby Jacobsburg State Park. It is made with bookmatched Norway spruce for the top and the internal braces; white oak for the back, sides, and headplate; and ash for the neck. The unique inlays in the red oak fingerboard feature a variety of insects that may be found in the park. The “Department of Conservation and Natural Resources” is handinlaid in the pickguard by Martin inlay artist Sean Brandle. 38 | CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
2014 CLAPTON/FERRARI One of our dealers in California, Gryphon Stringed Instruments, had yet another enthusiast/collector client with a unique request. It was such a specific request that we had to dig long and hard to make the dream come true. We learned that the client was not only a Martin enthusiast but also a HUGE Eric Clapton fan…and a passionate Ferrari owner. The challenge was to unite these special interests into one fantastic Custom Shop guitar inspired by various elements of our popular “EC” models. The most specific request was that the instrument couldn’t just be “metallic grey.” The instrument color in this case had to be authentic Ferrari Grigio Silverstone—there could be no substitute. We quickly learned that every paint manufacturer has a file cabinet full of “metallic grey” samples. Some are close; some not so much. What made this difficult was the fact that Ferrari owns the codes, so to speak. Only certain exotic car repair and restoration facilities are given specific permission by the manufacturer to use the authentic factory formulations. We had been researching a few color presentations from the exotic car world, and we were fortunate to have a contact in this exclusive restoration community. Our contact eventually led us to one of only a handful of specialists in North America with access to the true recipe. We were challenged aggressively about our intended use and quantity requirement and received a barrage of other questions to ensure that we would only acquire enough material to perform a few application tests before we had our one opportunity to spray the instrument. We were advised of the possibility of a subtle difference due to the light absorption/diffraction of the curvature of the automobile in contrast to the relatively flat surfaces of the instrument— AND that the pre-color primer used at the Ferrari factory couldn’t be provided. The simple notion of metallic grey could get lost on the general public, who might consider it an insignificant consideration. We, however, understood its part of the larger brand identity. It goes without saying that we appreciate and respect the cautious approach. Fast-forward a few months when the instrument was delivered to its new home. We were so happy to learn that the owner was overjoyed with the results. Apologies were even made that the pair (guitar and automobile) were difficult to photograph because the colors were so deep and reflective. We were reassured that the colors were equally flawless in person, just as the owner had envisioned. We never know what it may take to make a collection complete.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
2015 DANNY DAVIS SNOWBOARDING This Custom D-16 was digitally painted to celebrate Danny Davisâ€™s gold medal win at the 2015 X Games. Danny performed his winning run on a custom Burton snowboard emblazoned with an image of his beloved Martin Dreadnought cutaway. TO S E E T H E S N OW B OA R D , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
2015 OM-45 DELUXE The latest in the OM-45 Deluxe editions. This guitar closely replicates the one purchased for the Martin Museum that same year. The original guitar went through an MRI machine to assist with the build of this Authentic series guitar.
2015 D-12 FRET DOUBLE CUTAWAY CUSTOM Chris Martin commissioned the instrument design group at Martin to create a unique, never-before-done guitar with a double cutaway.
2016 LE COWBOY 2016 (WILLIAM MATTHEWS) This truly unique instrument is crafted from a solid Sitka spruce top with Vintage Tone System (VTS) and adorned with artwork by William Matthews. Artist William Matthews is widely known for his beautiful watercolor portrayals of the working cowboys from the great ranches of the American West. This Auditorium 12-fret body with quilted mahogany back and sides, grained ivoroid binding, a modified low oval neck, ebony fingerboard and bridge, and cowboy-themed artwork carried through on the headstock made this a guitar of choice for collectors and players alike. All registered LE Cowboy 2016 guitars received a book and DVD about the artist.
40 | CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
2017 HOT ROD This guitar was designed to incorporate elements from the high-performance automobile enthusiast community. It includes a slotted disc rotor with red caliper rosette, carbon fiber appointments, pinstripe inspired inlay, and a subtle, blackwithin-black fingerboard inlay that mimicks tire tread patterns.
2017 KINGWOOD CUSTOM Martin acquired a hand-carved “Phoenix” neck some years back, and we were looking for a piece of wood that was just as unique. We made a trip to visit one of our wood vendors, and we asked them to show us the most unique wood in their inventory. They had some spectacular uncut kingwood that was acquired from a private collection. It hadn’t seen the light of day for the better part of 20 years— but it wasn’t in their inventory for sale. The vendor offered to skim cut one of these kingwood slabs to let us see the grain, but only if we were truly interested in purchasing it. Once the cut was made, they doused it with denatured alcohol to show off the figure. The runoff on their workshop floor looked like someone had spilled a bottle of Cabernet. This was some of the most gorgeous material any of us had ever seen. We offered to buy any of the material they’d be willing to sell from their personal collection. We couldn’t get all the wood—but at least they were willing to part with a little. Once the wood was ready for production, we knew we had finally found the match for the Phoenix neck. The remaining appointments, such as the hand-carved bridge, modified diamond inlay theme with Paua bordered in abalone (pearl-in-pearl technique), and complementary rosette and back purfling, were all designed in-house and appeared first on this guitar. The build was rounded out with ebony binding, Waverly tuning machines with ebony buttons, and a black ebony headplate also featuring a pearl-in-pearl logo. The Kingwood Custom is rarer than rare. In Martin’s Custom Shop world, it is like the unicorn of customs. Only it’s real.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
2017 EAGLE The Custom Shop production manager had been collaborating with an artist on themes for an instrument to showcase talent and craftsmanship within the department. While the eagle theme was part of the original concept, there were several different versions of artwork being considered. It was difficult to decide: Should the design be on the back? Should the image appear to be wrapping itself around the instrument body? How’s it going to look hanging on a hook versus being played? Then the questions turned to the look and materials: How much pearl? Could it be painted? How on earth do you accomplish feathers? One of our specialist coworkers, Sean Brandle, said he’d been learning a new technique called sand shading, where individual pieces of wood are heated to achieve different color gradients. He tested out the concept, and everyone was blown away. It turned out to be the perfect way to achieve the look of feathers. The final design would be accomplished as a combination of wood and pearl. Heating each little puzzle piece in blistering hot sand would cook it to the point of charcoal, if that’s the color you wanted. Each element of the eagl e design was cut and test fit before being individually dipped by hand and tweezers into the hot sand skillet until the shade was just right. This technique gives the feathers a hand-painted look, and that’s true to a degree…pardon the pun. The impressively large inlay using thin slivers of different woods and pearl was then inlaid into a spruce top and finished as smooth as glass. The fingerboard and headplate are elegantly appointed too, but the eagle and banner were over the top. This is the first C. F. Martin instrument to showcase the sand shading technique.
2017 ORNAMENTAL Custom Shop coworkers were asked to consider a craft-built instrument with a high level of sophistication and complication. “Intricate” and “elegant” were among the words used to present the challenge. A series of inspirational photo storyboards were prepared to unify the design concept and direction. Some of the elements brought forth were images of antique wrought iron castings, while other compelling shapes came from Mediterranean-inspired architecture. These cues from seemingly unrelated materials and sources actually combined to create a beautifully unique instrument featuring handwork on every conceivable surface—both inside and out! The guitar is beautifully appointed with combinations of exotic woods and pearl from the headstock down to the endpiece. The internal structures (blocks and bracing) feature gorgeous pairings of wood and pearl inlay to carry the theme. Even the area surrounding the bridge pin ho les received stylized inlay. 42 | CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
2017 DWIGHT YOAKAM DD28 SIGNATURE EDITION The Dwight Yoakam DD28 is inspired from a 1972 D-28, the guitar Dwight has played his whole career. He has always loved the sound of his guitar, and his custom signature model could not be anything less. Honky-tonks and casinos are the theme for this model. Crafted from Sitka spruce top and East Indian rosewood back and sides, this model honors the classic booming sound of the Dreadnought. An ebony fingerboard is the backdrop for the inlaid mother-of-pearl and recon stone playing cards. The other truly unique feature of this instrument is the bull’s horn-shaped pickguard. This guitar is sure to be a treasured instrument for years to come.
2018 FIRE & ICE This Golden Era Style D-45 is a recent design collaboration with renowned inlay artist Harvey Leach. This one-of-a-kind model is adorned with original artwork that symbolizes opposite forces, in the form of a phoenix and a dragon, coming together in battle. The inlay incorporates a technique developed by Leach called “Smoke & Mirrors,” and it is used on this model to portray the dragon being neutralized in ice.
2018 OM-ARTS & CRAFTS-2018 This is the third instrument from Martin that pays homage to the Arts & Crafts design movement that dates back to the late 1800s and often presents in the form of romantic, folk, or medieval style decoration. The movement was thought to be anti-industrial and advocated for economic and social reform. This ornate Orchestra Model features Arts & Crafts inspired pearl inlay designs throughout, paired with German white oak back and sides and Adirondack spruce top with a Guatemalan rosewood headplate, fingerboard, and bridge. The tonewoods for this guitar were selected for their significance in the movement because they were used by craftspersons and designers as alternatives to traditional industrial materials and excel tonally in the voice of the guitar. The OM-Arts & Crafts includes a comfortable high-performance neck, a Vintage Tone System (VTS) top, and vintage copper open gear tuners. This model is limited to 100 instruments and includes an engraved plate label signed by Chris Martin IV.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
2018 SIZE 2 CUSTOM One of our dealers in California, Gryphon Stringed Instruments, has a longtime client with a special assortment of instruments he’s acquired over the years. We’ll call this gentleman “Lenny.” Lenny’s into a cool variety of shapes and materials and different eras of instruments. Occasionally, he’ll commission a custom instrument through his dealer, and it’s always a special event. He travels a lot, and he’s never without a guitar. Lenny paid a visit to the Martin factory last fall, and he happened to have his favorite daily beater with him. He regularly gigs with this guitar. We’re sure plenty of people travel and gig with their favorite guitar…it’s just that Lenny’s favorite hammer in the tool box happens to be a Size 1 Style 42 from 1902. It’s thought to be one of only a handful of that style built. He complained that the guitar underwent a tuning gear transplant sometime back in the ’50s or ’60s, where it likely received geared tuning machines in place of friction pegs. “Other than that, it’s a pretty good guitar,” he says. We spent some time hanging out with Lenny during his visit. When he showed us what was in the well-traveled case, we got all weird—the way true nerds get when something painfully rare drops out of the sky. It was a special treat to see design elements, from the ivory bridge to the crisp mitering and the clover inlay on the fingerboard. We hadn’t seen the clover on anything in recent history, as confirmed by our in-house specialist. It doesn’t mean clovers haven’t happened. It’s just that the clover hasn’t had a regular appearance in any fingerboard inlay theme that we could recall. Although we don’t build a Size 1 today, we thought it’d be fitting to build a tribute instrument based on the one Lenny plays day in and day out—just as originally intended! We drew this one up as a Size 0 12-fret. The appointments were selected to include a white Micarta bridge, with binding & pearl inlay to replicate the original. On the chance that the original had friction pegs, we opted to use modern peg-style tuners with planetary internal gears to complete the look and be functional. As long as Lenny was here, we asked him to help us choose the back and sides. We ruled out Brazilian rosewood, so Lenny suggested cocobolo with a traditional straight figure for the back and sides as an alternative. An Adirondack spruce VTS top rounds out the wood selection. His guitar didn’t have a logo, so we made the choice to have a pearl logo inlaid into the back of the headstock. The entire project was built using our traditional hide glue process. The parts are pre-heated during assembly, and the glue dries like glass—it may be finicky to work with, but it doesn’t lose energy. It’s part of the magic of the old Martin guitars, and Lenny’s go-to guitar certainly has the years to prove it. We also thought it’d be special to honor the original guitar by creating a solid pearl tribute label. It’s engraved with black filled lettering and signed by C. F. Martin IV. The finished instrument is gorgeous. The cocobolo is such a deep dark brown that it’s tough to photograph. You just get lost staring at the entire instrument. Our coworkers in the Custom Shop did a tremendous job, and the comments from those who’ve seen it in person have been on another level. We weren’t attempting to recreate Lenny’s 1902 as an “Authentic.” Rather, this new guitar—S# 2157343—was inspired by some of the best craftsmanship our predecessors had to offer back in 1902. It’s a modern take on a great guitar that was bright and shiny one day back when some lucky player gave it the first strum and made it their own, over 116 years ago.
44 | CUSTOM SHOP YEARBOOK
2018 QUILTED MAPLE These instruments were inspired by coworkers who were enamored of some of the dramatic finishes found in the solid body electric guitar world. These beauties are the successful result of experimentation with various finishing techniques.
TO S E E A D D I T I O N A L P H OTO S O F T H ES E F I N E C U S TO M G U I TA R S , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
E S T. 1 9 8 9
C. F. Martin & Co. opened their second, and only other, facility 30 years ago in Navojoa, Sonora, Mexico, to expand the production of their popular acoustic guitar strings. Fourteen years later, the company began the production of their LX Series guitars in Navojoa to answer the call for more affordabl e i nstr uments made with alternative wood materials such as HPL (high-pressure laminate). Today, in addition to strings, all X Series guitars are made there along with some solid wood guitars. Thirty years after its modest beginning, Martinâ€™s Mexico operation is thriving and growing to meet the demand for the exemplary Martin products they make.
an fr om
ag ng ph
N Je su s D
Martin Olmos, Strings Manager | Navojoa “Navojoa City is a very, very small town with less than 200,000 people. And we are very proud to be part of the production for Martin Guitar, which is the best guitar maker in the world,” said Martin Olmos, Strings Manager | Navojoa. “The Martin brand, for me, means precision. Everything has to be perfect. It will be the best. When we started making strings, it was b e ca u se we wa nted to make the best strings for the best guitar. Everything starts with the incoming inspections, where we make sure that all the materials meet the specifications that we require. We have very tight specifications to make sure that our product is going to be the best for our customers. We only have one quality for all of our strings. It doesn’t matter what the price is. On the manufacturer side, everything has the same quality label. We m a k e the best guitars, and we make the best strings.” | Martin Olmos has been a loyal Martin employee for 19 years.
Jen Weiss, International Manufacturing Director | Nazareth “In January of 2019, Navojoa will begin its 30th year with Martin Guitar,” said Jen Weiss, International Manufacturing Director | Nazareth. “The reason that we build guitars in Navojoa is because we need to be able to compete with all of the different less expensive brands throughout the world. So we introduced the LX production in Navojoa, and we slowly moved all of the HPL production there, as it is the entry-level guitar. We aren’t just a Mexican facility, we are Martin Guitar, and so we expect the same high quality in an instrument that’s made in Navojoa as we do in Nazareth. And knowing that Martin makes the best guitars in the world, it only makes sense for us to make our own strings.” | Jen Weiss has been a loyal Martin employee for 26 years.
Erika Zavala, Quality Assurance Manager | Navojoa “Quality is the most important thing for us,” said Erika Zavala, Quality Assurance Manager | Navojoa. “We always care about making guitars and strings with the best quality in the world. It doesn’t matter if the company is in the U.S. or in Mexico if we are always working with the same purpose, which is getting the best quality of the product to satisfy those expectations.” | Erika has been a loyal Martin employee for 15 years.
48 | NAVOJOA: CELEBRATING 30 YEARS
José Ruiz, Instrument Manager | Navojoa “Working at Martin is a lot of responsibility because you’re talking about a huge brand of guitars,” said José Ruiz, Instrument Manager | Navojoa. “I t’ s a v e r y strong brand, so it is a l ot of responsibility trying to get the right quality and trying to co nv i n ce p eo p l e around the world that the guitars, even though they are made in Mexico, are still Martin and t h ey are as good as they want an d ex p e c t them to be.” | José Ruiz has been a loyal Martin employee for 18 years.
Martha Patricia, Necks Operator and Union Secretary | Navojoa “Thirty years is a whole lifetime of adventure,” said Martha Patricia, Necks Operator and Union Secretary | Navojoa. “I’m still here working, and I have had great experiences, financial stability, an excellent work environment, and a great job that has helped me to raise a family.” | Martha Patricia has been a loyal Martin employee for 30 years. Juan Ramirez, Plant Manager | Navojoa “If it’s a Martin, it’s a good instrument,” said Juan Ramirez, Plant Manager | Navojoa. “It’s going to sound like a Martin. We are doing the same things that they are doing in Nazareth; the only difference is that we are Mexican and they are American. We use the same patience to produce them, the same materials, the same quality, and we produce the same instruments. This was my f i r s t fo r m al j o b i n a g reat wo r k in g environment. I h ave m et exce l l ent people, and I have been exposed to a whole new working culture. I started and raised a great family, and I have seen my work in the hands of great artists, which makes me feel so proud to be part of this excellent Martin family. I have grown as a person and professionally, and I am grateful to the Martin family for sharing this world and this experience with us.” | Juan has been 30-Year Employees: Martha Patricia, Juan Ramirez, and Marta Borquez
a loyal Martin employee for 30 years.
Marta Borquez, Finishing Supervisor | Navojoa “In the 30 years working for Martin, I have met a lot of people who helped me to grow and keep developing my personal and professional skills,” said Marta Borquez, Finishing Supervisor | Navojoa. “With the help of this job, I raised a family, and I feel very proud and thankful to belong to this great Martin family. We share every day here as family, and, as with any other relationship, there are ups and downs, but we overcome them together. I really love what I do here.” | Marta Borquez has been a loyal Martin employee for 30 years. TO WAT C H V I D EO S A N D S E E M O R E P H OTO S , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
Navojoa employee Juan Pablo Zazueta with artwork by Robert Goetzl
50 | NAVOJOA: CELEBRATING 30 YEARS
MARTIN COMMEMORATED THE 30 TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE NAVOJOA FACILITY AND THE 20 TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE X SERIES WITH TWO NEW GUITAR MODELS.
DXMAE NAVOJOA 30 TH ANNIVERSARY MODEL The year 2019 represents a milestone in the history of our Navojoa manufacturing plant—30 years of operation. In that time, Martin colleagues in Mexico have produced world-class guitars and strings and helped put affordable, high-quality instruments in the hands of countless musicians. Custom artwork from Robert F. Goetzl on the DXMAE honors these employees and features elements of Mexican national symbols on a custom HPL Dreadnought. Made in Mexico
C. F. M a rt i n & C o ., Nazareth, Pennsylvania
Dreadnought 14-fret body, custom HPL top, Macassar HPL back and sides, laminated birch neck, Richlite ® fingerboard and bridge.
GPX1AE X SERIES 20 TH ANNIVERSARY MODEL In 1999, Martin broke into the world of alternative materials and created a whole new class of high-quality guitars: the X Series. In the 20 years since then, the X Series has evolved to include multiple design changes and alternative materials. This Grand Performance model, featuring a solid hardwood neck, pearl pattern fingerboard and rosette inlay, and morado fingerboard and bridge, harkens back to the earliest days of the X Series. Timeless tone for the modern age. GP 14-fret body, spruce top, Macassar HPL back and sides, select hardwood neck, morado fingerboard and bridge, mother-of-pearl pattern fingerboard and rosette inlay.
TO S E E P H OTO S O F T H E CO M P L E T E D A N N I V E R SA RY G U I TA R S , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
A GUIDE to visiting
Sho 3 3 18
The 1833 Shop offers a dazzling selection of Martin apparel, souvenirs, guitar accessories, and collectibles.
Museum & r te V is it o rs C e n The Martin Guitar Museum is a center for reflection, bringing together music history, culture, and craftsmanship. Attractive displays, including our new session stage, showcase over 170 exquisitely crafted guitars that parallel our history. Through six generations, our company’s legendary h e ri ta ge ha s helped create music history and define musical culture. Martin Museum Audio Tours, at a cost of $2.00 per person, are also available. Our audio tour is currently offered in English, French, and Spanish, and consists of 20 a udi o po i nts i n the Museum. We hope
In the Pickin’ Parlor and
that you enjoy the stories associated with
lobby, guests are invited to
this remarkable collection of instruments
play a wide variety of Martins,
a nd ot he r a r t i facts as told by Mar tin G u i ta r e m pl oyees.
Pickin’ Pa rlor
including high-end and limited edition models. You can even plug them in and hear how they sound with an amp!
52 | A GUIDE TO VISITING THE MARTIN FACTORY
ORIGINAL MARTIN FACTORY/ GUITAR MAKER’S CONNECTION (GMC) To completely immerse yourself in Martin’s history, we invite you to visit the original Martin factory and old Martin Homestead located a short distance from our Visitors Center. Today it is home to the Guitar Maker’s Connection, a retail store that offers a unique collection of luthier tools. Located at 10 W. North St. Nazareth, Pa. 18064 For more information, please visit www.martinguitar.com/about/visit-us
The Martin Guitar Buy From Factory program allows you to exp e rien ce fi rst hand t h e r i c h h i s tory and culture of the oldest American guitar manufacturing company by purchasing an instrument during your visit. Your purchase will be credited to an authorized Martin dealer of your choice.
Buy Fr Factor y om (BFF)
r y To u
Your gu id e d tour will s h ow yo u , as a visitor on the fac to r y floor, h ow o u r gu i t a rs c o m e t o life th rough the h an d s of th e c ra f ts p e r s o n . Explore the art of gu i ta r m a ki n g , from old-world tools to our state-of-the-art facili ty. Follow a guitar from ro u gh l u m b e r to a f i n i s h e d p ro d u c t, a p ro cess that requires more than 300 steps to co mplete.
OTHER PLACES TO EXPLORE DOR NE Y PAR K 2 4 MI
C RAYOLA FAC T ORY 9 MI
S ANDS C AS I NO 1 8 MI
NE W YORK C IT Y 86 M I
P OC ONO M OU NTAI NS 4 8 MI
PHILAD E LPHIA 77 M I
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
SITKA SPRUCE VTS
ADIRONDACK SPRUCE VTS
Primary wood used for
Slightly heavier and
tops at Martin. Great
stiffer than Sitka, which
results in a louder, more
with very efficient,
heat treatment process
complex tone. A very loud
heat treatment process
that artificially ages the
and lively top material.
that artificially ages the
ITALIAN ALPINE SPRUCE
Slightly higher density
Lighter than other top
than Sitka but still light
woods; great for people
enough to produce a
who play softly but still
clear, balanced sound.
want a complex tone.
CERTIFIED EUROPEAN SPRUCE Quick response with bright trebles, warm bass with loud projection; very dynamic sound.
MAHOGANY Woody and warm tone with an emphasized midrange; less harmonic complexity than spruce.
Tonewoods play a significant role in the sound of the acoustic guitar. Different woods produce varying degrees of volume; bass, mid, and treble response; harmonic complexity; sustain; and
ultimately affect the degree to which a guitar sounds appealing to you. At Martin, we use many species of wood to build guitars offering a full spectrum of custom options. This graphic displays some commonly used tonewoods. We encourage you to visit an authorized Martin retailer or visit us in Nazareth to try as many as you can. Nearly all of our guitars have at least 70% of their wood content sourced from responsibly harvested forests. Some models contain the FSC ÂŽ label and are independently certified by
Cherry produces a rich,
Similar to koa but
Loud sound with a
Bridges the gap
mellows out over time to
bright treble response
between rosewood and
and balance without
produce a warmer tone.
and a punchy midrange.
mahogany. Very well
favoring the bass or
Much lighter in weight
balanced. Also used to
EAST INDIAN ROSEWOOD
Similar in appearance
Denser with slightly more
Very dense like
Very resonant with deep
and tone to genuine
rosewood but produces
bass and rich overtones.
mahogany, sapele exhibits
than regular mahogany.
a reflective, bright tone
Well balanced for all
a powerful midrange,
Salvaged from a river
that accentuates the
great punch, and bright
bottom in Belize.
and airy trebles.
FO R M O R E WO O D O P T I O N S , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
the Forest Stewardship Council.ÂŽ To learn more, visit martinguitar.com/environment.
56 | AUTHENTIC ACOUSTIC STRINGS
Q&A WITH MIKE ZEHNER DIRECTOR OF PRODUCT MANAGEMENT
Mike Zehner has been with C. F. Martin & Co. for over 20 years. During
string. In fashion with our continual strides to do better,
his tenure, he has managed multiple manufacturing areas throughout the
be better, and to never settle, we found that there was
organization, and he now brings all of his experience and enthusiasm to
some room for improvement.
Martin’s strings business. Mike is responsible for strings market research, product design, and new product development. We stopped by to talk to Mike, so he could share an inside look at Martin’s most advanced strings innovation to date—Authentic Acoustic strings.
We had three major goals in mind when we developed the Authentic Acoustic product line. The first goal was to simplify our line so that every player can easily find the strings that work best for their playing style. The
What prompted Martin to change their existing string products?
second goal was to choose only the very highest quality
At Martin, we challenge each other to continually improve our products
materials available to make our strings. And the third
and to be innovators in the industry. As a result, our product line has
was to make our acoustic strings last longer and sound
grown to become somewhat complex over the years. We decided to take
better than any other acoustic strings on the market.
a step back and focus on the most critical aspects of the acoustic guitar
I’m very happy to say that we achieved all three goals.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
58 | AUTHENTIC ACOUSTIC STRINGS
How has the product line changed overall? We have taken our market-leading strings and made them better in every way. They look better, they feel better, and they sound better than ever before. And with three versions to choose from, any player can find the ideal strings for their acoustic guitar. There are three key components that make Authentic Acoustic strings stand out from the crowd. The first is the industry-leading, high-tensile strength core wire. We were the first to offer it, and we still offer the best. The second component is the tin-plated core wire. While it’s true that many string products have tin-plated plain strings, Authentic Acoustic strings offer tin-plating on all six strings. The third component is our next-generation Lifespan ® 2.0 treatment. It’s unlike anything else on the market! Why did you choose to tin-plate the core wire on all six strings? It’s simple. What you don’t see matters! The tin-plating is engineered to resist corrosion, and it’s widely used throughout the industry on the plain strings; but that’s not the only place corrosion happens. Much of the reason a string will lose its tone and start to sound flat is the corrosion that happens when the core wire interacts negatively with the wrap wire. We tin-plate the core wire to prevent this metal-to-metal corrosion. It makes a big difference in the life of the string. There’s a secondary benefit, too. The tin-plating enhances the overall tonal quality of the strings and increases tuning stability. There are three variations of Authentic Acoustic strings. What are the differences, and how will players choose what’s best for their guitar and playing style? The Authentic Acoustic SP ® strings are the simplest product in the line. They have the key attributes we discussed to this point—high-tensile strength core wire and tin-plating on all six strings. The Authentic Acoustic Marquis ® Silked are a great choice for players who are looking for some extra protection for their guitar. We’ve taken our Authentic Acoustic SP ® and added a soft silk wrap to the ball ends to prevent wear and tear on the bridge and bridgeplate as you play. This wrap puts a comforting layer of protection in place every time you change your strings, and it’s only available on Martin’s Authentic Acoustic strings. Players who loved our Marquis ® strings will love Authentic Acoustic Marquis ® Silked! The third choice is our next-generation Lifespan ® 2.0 strings, engineered using a new, patented technology only available from Martin. This technology was developed to protect the core wire and the wrap wire to prevent corrosion without compromising tone—the single most important attribute of the guitar strings. Authentic Acoustic Lifespan® 2.0 strings look better, sound better, and feel better, providing a smooth playing experience that reduces finger drag. We invested two years developing our next-generation Lifespan® 2.0 strings to ensure they will sound better, longer than any other extended-life string on the market. M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
Why are Martin strings superior to other brands? What sets them apart? Our approach to quality is to never settle for good enough. We have specifications for everything involved in the making of a string. This starts with the working partnerships we foster with our suppliers. We meticulously qualify incoming materials with every delivery, and our quality standards are the same for our strings as they are for our guitars. We don’t settle for anything but the best. What makes Lifespan ® 2.0 different from the previous version? The treatment used for our Lifespan ® 2.0 strings is an entirely new formulation that our Research and Development team has worked on for over two years. Lifespan ® 2.0 not only protects the tonality of the string but also creates a smoother-feeling string, and it keeps the strings looking fresh and new for much longer. How does Lifespan ® 2.0 stand up to other long-life strings? We developed a very robust treatment for our Lifespan ® 2.0 strings, yet we still vowed to increase the longevity and improve the feel without compromising the tone. This is not an easy task, but we really hit the mark with Lifespan ® 2.0. I hope every acoustic guitar player in the world gives them a try so they can see, hear, and feel the difference for themselves. Are Authentic Acoustic strings designed specifically for Martin Guitars? Or are they suitable for any acoustic guitar? I get asked this first question a lot, and the answer is no. The truth is, we have tried all of the other leading brands over the course of our long history, and there is a reason we make our own. We put our best foot forward with every product that leaves our doors, and our strings are no exception. Authentic Acoustic strings sound amazing on our guitars, and they’ll sound amazing on yours! They are suitable for all acoustic guitars and all playing styles. Give them a try! You just may fall in love with your guitar all over again.
TO L E A R N M O R E A B O U T AU T H E N T I C A CO U S T I C S T R I N G S , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /A A .
60 | AUTHENTIC ACOUSTIC STRINGS
Photo by Shervin Lainez
I’M STILL GONNA USE MY HANDS H O W M Y D A D , H I S D I S A B I L I T Y, A N D H I S 5 0 -Y E A R - O L D G U I TA R I N S P I R E D M E T O W R I T E N E W M U S I C BY ERIC HUTCHINSON
My name is Eric Hutchinson, and if you don’t know me,
The story of “ h a n d s” begins i n 1 9 6 5 , w h e n my dad
I’m a singer, a songwriter, and a guitar player based in
was just 2 0 ye ars o l d an d b o u ght h i m se lf a new Martin
New York City. I’ve just made my most personal album
D-28 guitar. This was a b eau ti fu l instrum ent, made of a
ever, called Modern Happiness. Each song on the record
Brazilian rosewo o d that no l o n ge r exists today. It had a
deals with depression and the aim of happiness in today’s
spotted pickguard made from tortoiseshell (which would be
mo d e rn t i m es. The most personal song from Modern
unthinkable now). It had a thick, strong neck and a warm,
Happiness is a song called “hands,” which I wrote as a
rich tone. My dad’s last guitar had been stolen by a buddy,
tribute to my dad, Royal, who is living with myotonic
so to make sure nobody took this new Martin guitar, Royal
muscular dystrophy, or DM. DM is a disease that has
carved his driver’s license number into the top of the head-
affected my dad and my family for over 35 years, but was
stock and his name “R D Hutchinson” down the back of the
never something we really talked about. “Hands” is a song
headstock. (This usually sends a shiver down the spine of
about being seen and heard as a disabled person.
any guitar-collecting enthusiast.)
62 | I’M STILL GONNA USE MY HANDS
Royal Hutchinson was born in 1945 in California. By high school, he was living outside of Washington, D.C., where he still lives today. He is a quiet, thoughtful, enigmatic man with an odd, dry sense of humor. He loves music and raised me on a steady diet of the Beatles, Ry Cooder, Steely Dan, and Bob Dylan. Royal took his guitar everywhere with him when he was younger. He played it in bands; he took it to the beach; until one day, he couldn’t play it anymore. When my dad was 35, he started noticing the muscles in his hands were seizing up. After some testing, he was diagnosed with myotonic dystrophy. Suddenly, he began losing his fine motor skills and with it, his ability to do everyday stuff I take for granted—like being able to write with a pencil or open a car door. This also meant that his fingers were no longer strong enough to play the guitar, and soon my dad had to give up playing altogether. Eventually, DM started affecting Royal’s balance, and today he can no longer walk or stand. DM deteriorated the muscles in his mouth, making it extremely difficult for him to speak clearly or chew and swallow. Throughout all of this, my dad continued to work into his late 60s. He never used his disease as an excuse for anything (even when I think maybe he could have). My brother and sisters and I grew up watching him continue to push and persevere, even as he became weaker and weaker. Today Royal is almost completely housebound and requires 24/7 care from my mom. I have no memories of seeing my dad play the guitar, but as far back as I can remember, I knew about my dad’s Martin D-28. This guitar loomed large in our home when I was growing up. My parents referred to it simply as “The Martin,” with the high esteem other families might refer to “The Bible” or “The President.” But while my dad’s old songs and guitar were often mentioned fondly, The Martin sat unused in our house and was rarely seen, a symbol of the things my dad could no longer do. In 1994, I was a freshman in high school and found an old cheapo guitar in my grandma’s basement. I started teaching myself how to play, but I avoided playing guitar in front of my dad. DM had long since stripped away my dad’s ability to play music, and I was afraid of hurting his feelings or seeming like I was showing off a skill that he no longer possessed. Even as I was taking guitar more seriously, there was an unspoken understanding that The Martin was off limits to me in the same way a classic Ferrari might be off limits to a driver’s ed student. I was still a reckless teenager, however, so every now and then, when my dad wasn’t around, I would sneak and open up The Martin’s old, creaky wooden case. I’d strum The Martin and marvel at its big, thick neck that made it hard to make barre chords and at the vintage smell of its wood, like old paperbacks in a used bookstore. This was a man’s guitar—it didn’t fit me, a 16-year-old boy. It was big; I was small. It was old; I was young. And so, I decided I didn’t like The Martin and resolved to forget about it. I traded in my cheapo guitar, and I bought a new, better cheapo guitar, and I learned to love it. Years went by, and I took music more and more seriously, starting to write and record my own songs. In 1998, on my 18th birthday, my dad summoned me into his bedroom and pronounced that The Martin was now mine to have. He waited for me to freak out in gratitude, but I didn’t say anything. My dad didn’t understand that I had learned to despise that guitar over the years. I associated The Martin with all the things my dad would never be able to do again. The Martin represented all the hurt and pain surrounding myotonic dystrophy—this mysterious disease we never talked about in our home, despite the fact that it was slowly crippling my dad and warping our family. How could I ever want The Martin, a guitar with my dad’s name and old driver’s license number carved into the headstock? That wasn’t my guitar. I had a cheapo guitar that worked just fine. So, when my dad offered me The Martin, without even considering it, I coldly told him, “I don’t want it.” My dad was shocked, hurt, confused. Years went by, and with no one to play The M a r ti n , i t sat i n i ts case inside my pa re nts’ h o u se throughout the early 2000s. Som e t i m e s I’d find it under the guest b e d wh e n I was h o m e visiting, and I’d take i t o u t to make sure I still didn’t want it. I never did. Royal and Eric Hutchinson
I began a career as a professional musician, and I played my cheapo guitar until I made enough money to buy a beautiful, expensive acoustic guitar, handmade in Ireland by George Lowden, a master luthier. I proudly played that Lowden guitar, touring with it all over the world. Sometimes when I was home, my dad would as k if I wanted to take The Martin out on tour, and I would brush him off. Why did n’ t he get that I didn’t need that old thing now? Something you should know about me is that while I was growing up and making music, I was dealing with chronic depression and the anxiety of wondering whether I had inherited myotonic dystrophy from my dad. There was a 50 percent chance I had the disease, and if I did, the symptoms would likely be even more severe for me than they had been for my dad. In the winter of 2015, I made the intense decision to finally take a DNA test to find out if I had inherited DM from my d a d . To make a long story short, I ended up testing negative, and despite being convinced my whole life that I had DM, I did not in fact have the disease. Howeve r, th e te s t re s u l t s d idn’t breed the kind of relief I’d always fantasized they would. My dad and my family were still affected by DM—I had the emotional scars to prove it. One of the empowering things to come out of that testing process was the chance to finally talk with my dad and start a conversation with my family about DM and the state of my dad’s health. My dad and I had conversations we’d never been able to have before, and I found a new understanding of him and his life. I was able to ask him basic questions about his relationship to myotonic dystrophy that were once unimaginably hard for me to bring up. We achieved a new level of closeness and a father-son understanding that was unspeakably important to me. Among all this soul-searching, I found a new understanding of myself, and I discovered a renewed interest within me in my dad’s old guitar. With the cycle of DM broken in my family, I was able to see the guitar as just a family heirloom, and I was able to picture a happier future for the guitar in my life. In 2016, I came to my dad and asked for his permission to take The Martin back home with me to New York City. My dad is not a particularly emotional or excitable man (partially a symptom of DM), but I could see him well up with pride. He said yes right away and called for my mom to tell her the good news. I grabbed The Martin and its case from underneath the spare bed upstairs, threw it in my rental car, and took it home with me. But when I got back home to New York and opened the case, I was crushed to discover that The Martin was broken—its bridge had snapped off, strings were everywhere, and its body was cracked and dried out from years of neglect. It was unplayable.
64 | I’M STILL GONNA USE MY HANDS
I sent The Martin to an authorized Martin repair shop, and they put it into guitar intensive care. They kept the guitar in a giant humidifier for several weeks to help the wood regain its shape. They attached a new b r i d ge an d tested the strings to make sure they’d hold. After a month, I got the guitar back, and in January 2017, I could finally play and enjoy that old 1965 Martin D-28, the one with Royal’s name and old driver’s license number carved into the headstock. Almost immediately, I began playing Bob Dylan protest songs on The Martin, imagining the music my dad might have been making on this very guitar back in his hippie, radical days. I thought about progress and protest, and I thought about the voice of a disabled person who can no longer be heard like he or she once was. I thought about all of this while I played my dad’s guitar, and I wrote “hands” with it. I wrote “hands” as a tribute to my dad, Royal Hutchinson, who has bravely pressed on for so many of his years, when it would’ve been a hell of a lot easier to just give up. I wrote “hands” for my mom, Jean Hutchinson, who has been married to my dad for over 40 years and has grown into his full-time caretaker, dressing him every day, blending his food for every meal, and taking him to endless doctors’ appointments. I wrote “hands” for the millions of people who live with myotonic dystrophy and any disability every single day, but still long to be heard and noticed. I WAS SO I N S P I R E D P L AY I N G T H E M A R T I N , THAT I ENDED UP WRITING AN ENTIRE ALBU M ’ S WO R T H O F S O N G S I N J U S T A F E W W E E KS . I N A P R I L 2017, I B R O UGHT MY TOURING BAND, THE BELIEVERS, INTO THE STUDIO, AND I BROUGHT ALONG THE MARTIN. I PLAYE D T H E M A R T I N O N E V E RY S O N G O F M O D E R N H A P P I N E S S . IT MIC’D UP BEAUTIFULLY—RICH, THICK BASS NOTES, WITH AN EASY PLAYABILITY THAT MADE IT HARD FOR ME TO BELIEVE I EVER COULDN’T PLAY IT. After some discussion of how to record “hands” and whether the band should accompany me, I decided that “hands” was a song I should record alone, just me and this guitar with over 50 years of Hutchinson family history. I recorded the song in one take, playing The Martin D-28 with the thick neck and the extinct Brazilian rosewood and my dad’s name carved into the headstock. You can learn more about myotonic dystrophy and the Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation’s remarkable fundraising, research, and their mission of care and a cure at myotonic.org.
Eric Hutchinson is an international, platinum-selling recording artist,
Photo by Shervin Lainez
songwriter, and mu sic lover. His single “Rock & Roll ” earned him his first gold record in the United States, and the song became a #1 hit in several countries. Eric is a seasoned touring artist, has performed in all 50 states, and has shared the stage with acts such as Katy Perry, Kelly Clarkson, OneRepublic, and Jason
E R I C V I S I T E D M A RT I N G U I TA R L AS T FA L L . TO WAT C H H I M P E R FO R M I N O U R M U S E U M , V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L .
Mraz. Learn more at EricHutchinson.com.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
FROM THE WORKBENCH WE ARE FAMILY
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE CUSTOM?
JEN D. | WILLCUTT BUTTERFLY “This was such a beautiful and colorful guitar without going overboard for design’s sake. The contrast on the neck was incredible, and all of the different types of pearl we used to match the colors of the butterflies were amazing. Working next to Sean and Emily, who do the inlay work, I got to see firsthand how much effort was put into making sure each detail of the guitar was perfect.”
CHRIS E. | 000 12-FRET CUSTOM “It was when we first started the Custom Edition models (EDI) about 13 years ago. There were a few guitars being built for a program we were trying to ramp up. The sides and back were of quilted sapele with rosewood bindings. I believe it was the first or second time we used sapele to build with. The top was Sitka, which looked like it was sitting around for the past 50 years or more waiting to be used. It was dark in color, almost looking similar to cedar. I remember being excited to see the finished build because I was going to be the first person to play it. I remember it sounding absolutely amazing. It was just a great combination with a top that was long overdue to be used on a guitar.”
66 | FROM THE WORKBENCH
MIKE R. | JON BON JOVI’S GUITAR “He sent in a Takamine that he had been playing for a while. The neck was worn in a specific way that Jon was fond of. We custom-made a neck to the same shape as the Takamine that he was using. I was happy to accommodate his preferences and excited that he was choosing a Martin guitar. It’s pretty cool to be the person who is trusted to make such a special instrument for one of the world’s best-known artists.”
LISA J. | THE AGED GUITARS “The best thing about the aged guitars is the amount of handson lacquer cracks we have to make. These aged guitars give you the freedom to be more creative when weathering the guitar. It’s fascinating to me that we can make a brand-new guitar look and sound so old—it’s incredible. Each one we make is different from the other, and that makes working on them that much more fun.”
JESSE K. | DAVE GROHL’S CUSTOM “I grew up listening to Nirvana since the unplugged album in New York. Their music is what inspired me to play the guitar in the first place. Once I found out that Dave, who was their drummer, contributed to the guitar work on that album, I was hooked. I have followed Dave from the end of Nirvana until today as part of the Foo Fighters. It was a privilege to give something back to a man who gave me so much musically.”
EMILY M. | THE SIZE 2 GUITARS “I was drawn to the Size 2 ever since we built one to commemorate the Met guitar for the history of the Martin Guitar event. We built a few more after the Met exhibit, and I really love the shape. It really sticks out and has a big sound for such a little guitar.”
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
Sawmill & Rough Operations
FSCÂŽ Lumber for bodies & necks
At the Martin Factory in Nazareth, we have found dozens of ways to save energy, reduce waste, and protect the environment. FSC richliteÂŽ for bridges & fingerboards Chiller Plant
Final Assembly & Inspection String recycling
Repurposed wood bin
Tooling & Machinery
Finish waste to energy
Lacquer storage Polishing
Filling & Taping
Pearl in Passive reheat for curing room
Finish Sanding & Repair
Filling & Scraping
Return air on dust collectors
HPL Guitar Manufacturing
Electronic filing & emailed receipts
Rim Assembly Cafeteria
Waterfill station Heated sidewalk for winter Solar Panels
Top & Back Assembly
n ic a l
Fretting, Friezing, Binding
Neck Fit Prefinish Sanding
V I S I T O R
S Y C A M O R E
Wood pellets made into electricity
P A R K I N G
S T R E E T
Passive reheat for office space
IN MEMORIAM SCOTT HUTCHISON NOVEMBER 20, 1981 – MAY 10, 2018 A Martin Ambassador and founding member of the U.K. indie-rock band Frightened Rabbit, Scott H u tch i so n wa s a tal e nted singer, songwriter, guitarist, an d artist. He poured his heart and sou l i nto h i s m u s i c and recorded five studio albums with Frightened Rabbit, even creating the artwork for each. Scott’s friends at Martin Guitar had the great honor of spending time with him and the band during a factory tour and Museum Session just weeks before his tragic departure. We are deeply saddened by the loss of this brilliant young man who brought such happiness to his fans through his love of music and art.
V I S I T M A RT I N G U I TA R . CO M /J O U R N A L TO V I E W T H E L I V E M U S E U M S ES S I O N V I D EO F RO M S COT T ’ S V I S I T TO M A RT I N .
70 | IN MEMORIAM
C. F. MARTIN III
NEIMAN MARCUS CUSTOM C. F. Martin III was an accomplished guitarist who, in his younger years, played guitar alongside his brother, Herbert Keller Martin, on mandolin in the Aetna Mandolin Club of Nazareth. When Frederick, as he was mostly known, attended Princeton University, he performed with their Mandolin and Banjo clubs. In April of 1980, Neiman Marcus placed an order for this lavish Custom, and from the looks of the photo, C. F. Martin III seemed to be pleased with the outcome.
All photos courtesy of C. F. Martin Archives
72 | SOMETHING OLD
THE MC-45 This Custom Sh o p M C-45 was commissioned by Chris Martin as the first guitar to be built in 1983, which was Martinâ€™s 150th year of operation. The guitar features an Alpine spruce top, East Indian rosewood back and sides, and outlined Style 45 hexagon inlay on the fingerboard. It also included a special interior label signed by C. F. Martin III and C. F. Martin IV.
CUSTOM SHOP VAN The Martin Guitar Custom Shop van was a regular attendee at guitar shows and festivals in the 1980s, including the Anaheim NAMM show of 1982. The van carried examples of Martinâ€™s custom instruments as well as strings and other merchandise.
JOIN THE MARTIN OWNERS CLUB
BENEFITS OF MEMBERSHIP: $45 PER YEAR • MOC welcome/renewal gift* including: ° Official membership card and certificate ° Club key (new members only) ° Set of Martin Strings ® ° Printed copy of MARTIN – THE JOURNAL OF ACOUSTIC GUITARS
° Special members-only gift
74 | MARTIN OWNERS CLUB
• Opportunity to attend “An Evening with Chris Martin” • 20% off 1833 Shop merchandise and Guitar Maker’s Connection and 10% off shipping** • Quarterly mailing of exclusive MOC items • Access to members-only website • Prize draws and MOC promotions • Special gift when you visit the Martin Guitar booth at festivals or Martin Experience events • Preview of new Martin gear • Monthly e-newsletter • 10% off repairs and a free restringing with Martin Repair Shop services performed at the Martin factory (appointment required) • One free Behind the Scenes tour per member, per calendar year (member must be over 18) • Opportunities to sign up to be a new product tester
* Items subject to change – visit www.martinownersclub.com for current gift items **10% off of shipping excludes kits and barstools; subject to change without notice
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |