VO L U M E
BUILT TO LAST
Sustainability at Martin Guitar
C. F. Martin Senior
THE CABINET MAKER’S SON JAM IN PLACE Music in the Time of COVID-19
48 FROM RIVER TO RHYTHM
The Extraordinary Journey of Sinker Mahogany
SET LIST 6 .
TA K E I T F R O M T H E TO P A Word from Chris
L I N E R N OT E S Letters from the Community
B U I LT TO L AS T S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y AT M A RT I N G U I TA R By Jonathan R. Walsh
WO O D S U M M I T H I G H L I G H T S A WO R L D O F P R O G R E S S A N D C H A L L E N G E S By Marshall Newman
2 2 .
O N E M A N ’ S T R E AS U R E H OW A C H R I S T I E ’ S AU C T I O N L E D TO A DAV I D G I L M O U R C U S TO M S I G N AT U R E M A RT I N By Kristi Bronico
2 6 .
M A RT I N + R E V E R B W H E R E S U S TA I N A B I L I T Y A N D M U S I C I N T E R S EC T By Kate Koenig
E V E RY DAY I S E A RT H DAY I N T R O D U C I N G T H E 0 0 L E A RT H G U I TA R By Kristi Bronico
O R I G I N S TO R I E S
M A RT I N ’ S R E VO LU T I O N A RY S C-1 3 E By T. S. Phillips
F R O M R I V E R TO R H Y T H M T H E E X T R AO R D I N A RY J O U R N E Y O F S I N K E R M A H O G A N Y By David Schneider
FROM THE WORKBENCH
JA M I N P L AC E M U S I C I N T H E T I M E O F C OV I D -1 9 By Cliff Hall
C . F. M A RT I N S E N I O R THE CABINET MAKER’S SON By Jason Ahner
N EC K P R O F I L E S
6 2 .
C H O O S I N G A S T R I N G G AU G E
6 6 .
JAC K I E R E N N E R R E T I R E M E N T
N O RT H S T R E E T A R C H I V E S
IN MEMORIAM John Prine
T H E 18 33 S H O P ®
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
M a r t i n h a s c h o s e n A l c o m to p r i n t t h i s j o u r n a l b e c a u s e we s ha re a passion for environmental responsibility. Alcom became the 13 th printer in the United States to be certified as a sustainable green printer by the Sustainable Green Printing Partnership.
David Gilmour 12-String Custom Signature Artist Edition
VOLUME 11 | 2021
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 & COPYWRITER Kristi Bronico CONTRIBUTING EDITORS Michael Nelson, Jonathan R. Walsh CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jaso n Ah n e r, K r ist i B ro nico, Cl i f f H al l , Kate Ko e n i g, M arsh al l N ew m a n, T. S . P hillip s , D avi d Sc h n e i de r, Jo n at h an R . Wal sh DESIGN & PRODUCTION Lehigh Mining & Navigation CREATIVE DIRECTOR Laura Dubbs DESIGNER & ILLUSTRATOR Gina Naseef, Kasey Jeffrey ACCOUNT DIRECTOR Cathy Wagner PRODUCTION Donna Mugavero PHOTOGRAPHY Zachary Hartzell Editorial requests can be submitted to email@example.com 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 © 2021 C. F. Martin & Co., Inc., Nazareth, Pa. All rights reserved.
F O R B O N U S D I G I TA L C O 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 .C O M /J O U R N A L .
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
A WORD FROM CHRIS
TAKE IT FROM THE TOP
sus·tain·able | \ s -'sta-n -b l \ :a method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged Dear Martin Enthusiasts, Are we there yet? I guess it depends on if you think sustainability is a destination or a journey. I personally think it is a journey. We humans have done an amazing job of extracting resources from our precious earth. And this scouring of our planet has allowed us to create what seems like the good life. And it is a good life. But we risk losing it all to our own greed. We are at a tipping point. We have taken so much that the earth is reacting in unforeseen ways. If you look around, it appears Mother Earth isn’t happy. But, honestly, I don’t think she really cares. After all, the earth is always evolving. We humans just happened to be in the right place at the right time. But we are not doing a very good job of taking care of the environment that we all grew up in. We are not doing a good job of preserving this beautiful earth, as we know it, for future generations. Did you know that scientists (remember them?) are very concerned that if the trend toward global warming isn’t reversed soon, the coastal region of Alaska and Western Canada will get so warm year-round that Sitka spruce trees will not be able to regenerate? Did you know that purposefully burning tropical rainforests not only endangers our climate but also endangers the supply of many of our favorite tropical hardwoods? Since there appear to be many issues around the world that are causing this degradation of our environment, and, unfortunately, there is no quick fix or easy button, this global problem will require global cooperation. And not with a nationalistic “us versus them” strategy.
6 | A WORD FROM CHRIS
I want to help. I hope you do too. For example, I believe it would make a big difference if more of our elected officials were genuinely concerned. After all, don’t they work for us? I’ll admit, I am concerned about the long-term viability of my family’s business. And I acknowledge that, over the years past, we have used some very exotic materials that are now endangered. Lesson learned. But I don’t want this to be like Groundhog Day, where some day, traditional guitar woods that are plentiful now become so scarce and expensive that no one could afford our guitars if we could even find the wood to make them. I’m proud of the work we are doing here at the company to become more sustainable every day. I hope you agree with me that this journey is important not only for us but for future generations. Change has to start with all of us. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Call your elected officials and voice your concerns. And give your kids and your grandkids a hug, and tell them there will be a habitable planet for them to enjoy when they get older, if we get started right now.
C. F. Martin IV | Chairman & CEO C. F. Martin & Co., Inc. M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
LINER NOTES LETTERS FROM THE COMMUNITY
“I was doing monthly folk and Americana sets for my local nursing home’s dementia unit. They were a great audience and love music.” | Joe D.
“I WRITE COUNTRY MUSIC THAT REPRESENTS THE LGBTQ+ COMMUNITY BECAUSE I’VE ALWAYS WANTED MORE SONGS I COULD IDENTIFY WITH!” ANNA M.
“I STARTED A GUITAR GROUP FOR VETERANS AT THE VET CENTER I WORK AT.” | CLARENCE W.
“I’ve been lucky enough to raise over $6,000 through various charity livestreams and have partaken in a collaboration livestream that raised over $20,000 for Australian bushfire relief and performed for kids at both Westmead and Sydney Children’s Hospitals as a part of Sony Foundation’s Bedside Music Program. I’m a full-time performer, so I’m not drowning in money, but I try to do what I can to help!” [With my trusty Martin GPC-Aura GT guitar #bestguitarever] | Meri A.
“I play my Martin at church. Recently I have had the opportunity to play at both of our teen camps in Pennsylvania. And this week, I have been able to lead our songs for our teen rally at Vacation Bible School. It’s great to see all of our teens singing together.
“I use my guitar playing in the jungle of the Amazon in Brazil where we support the families and tribes who live along the river.” | Brent K.
8 | LINER NOTES
Always a blessing to use my Martin for the Lord!” New Life Baptist Church member
“After working for 25 years as a social
“I’m retired now. But for 26 years, in my role
worker advocating for kids and young adults
as a therapist in an outpatient psychiatric
w i t h spe ci al needs, I star ted a business
day program, I conducted sing-along groups
teaching guitar to both neurotypical kids and
twice a week. We had raucous good times, with
kids with superpowers, as I prefer to call it.
sometimes 30 people in a group! Everyone got
These kids are going to change the world.
to choose a song from a songbook I compiled
Happy original Martin owner...1992 J-65.”
over the years. It was the best of all the groups
I ran, lifting people out of their depression, anxiety, symptoms, and cares for those 60 minutes. While I did have to leave my precious 000-18 and HD-35 at home and use other axes,
“My band plays an annual charity concert with proceeds going to local diabetes research.” | Chris S.
my 000-18 has been my heart since I scraped together the dough to buy it in January 1970.” Janice C.
“I WRITE SONGS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES TO HELP PEOPLE KNOW THEY’RE NOT ALONE AND TO HELP THOSE WHO DON’T STRUGGLE WITH MENTAL ILLNESS TO HAVE A GLIMPSE INTO WHAT IT IS LIKE SO THAT THEY CAN BE MORE UNDERSTANDING OF THOSE AROUND THEM WHO DO STRUGGLE. ” | TINA B.
“I use my guitar while working with @_inpath_ to teach youth songwriting, guitar, and music production in remote northern Indigenous communities.” | Ila B.
“I use my Martin D-28 almost exclusively nowadays working with @electricumbrellacharity, where we bring people with learning disabilities from across the world together through music.” | Tom B.
“I use my Martin guitar to lead meditation/ kirtan in a nonprofit band that helps give back to the community, bringing peace and joy to people’s lives.” | Kalindi
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
SUSTAINABILITY IS IN VOGUE. Hotels proudly a n n ounce they’ll no longer wash towels because they’re going green (to save water, they claim), the status vehicle of 2020 is the all-electric Tesla, composting is the new yoga. All good things, to be sure, but what, really, d o es t h e wo rd s u sta i n a b i l i ty m ea n? M e r r i a m - We bste r Dictionary defines it as anything relating to a “method of harvesting or using a resource so that the resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.” 1 Simple enough. But it also defines sustainability as any “lifestyle” that involves the use of sustainable methods.
“Sustainable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, accessed July 29, 2020, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sustainable. 1
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
That is where things get a little tricky. A company that turns off the lights at night is a far cry from one that generates its own electricity from a renewable generator, but both can claim they’re being “sustainable.” No company has as much riding on that distinction than Martin Guitar. The difference between being sustainable on paper— giving only a nod to that “sustainable lifestyle”—and making the hard choices now to save resources for the future could mean the difference between producing hand-built instruments made of the finest tonewoods on Earth for generations to come and churning out overbuilt instruments with bolt-on necks and laminates on even the most deluxe instruments. So which path has Martin taken? I spoke with some of the folks who are responsible for making choices about sourcing and sustainability at Martin to find out.
Sp eaking i n 1 908 to th e N ati on al C onfe re nce of
That was over a century ago. In the past 30 years alone,
Governors, President Theodore Roosevelt laid out his
the world has lost over 500,000 sq u a re miles of forest,
thinking on sustainability, or as it was talked about then,
and in some places—notably the Amazon rainforest—the
conservation. On the heels of America’s Gilded Age—a
rate of destruction is on the rise. 2 Minerals like lithium
term coined by Mark Twain to desc ribe an era when a
and zinc 3 are being mined in unprecedented quantities
new breed of industrialist giddily razed mountain ranges
to produce digital gadgets that get tossed out 18 months
in search of iron, blasted valleys to find coal, and fed
later on average, creating toxic e-waste 4.
entire forests to the machinery of mass production—
In 2021, none of this is new information. Whether one
Roosevelt outlined a looming problem. “[T]he prosperity
believes the planet is heating up due to human influence
of our people depends directly on the energy and
or as part of a long-term climatic cycle, the fact that there
intelligence with which our natural resources are used,”
are more people—and more industrial societies—using
he told the packed hall. “It is equally clear that these
limited resources faster than they can be replenished, if they
resources are th e fi n al bas i s of n ati o n a l p owe r a nd
can be replenished at all, has caused a growing number
perpetuity. Finally, it is ominously evident that these
of people to realize what rough-riding, elk-hunting Teddy
resources are in the course of rapid exhaustion.”
Roosevelt saw back in 1908. But how do you solve a centuryold dilemma like sustainability?
2 3 4
“Deforestation explained.” National Geographic, accessed July 30, 2020, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/environment/global-warming/deforestation/. “The spiralling environmental cost of our lithium battery addiction.” Wired Magazine, accessed July 30, 2020, https://www.wired.co.uk/article/lithium-batteries-environment-impact. “The Five Shocking Environmental Effects of E-Waste.” Mayer Alloys, accessed July 30, 2020, https://info.mayeralloys.com/ewaste-blog/5-shocking-environmental-effects-of-e-waste.
12 | BUILT TO LAST: SUSTAINABILITY AT MARTIN GUITAR
“What I always like to say is, every lesson you learn
L u c k i l y, D i c k i n s o n s a y s , m o s t s e l l e rs r e c o g n i z e
in life you learn in kindergarten,” says Mike Dickinson,
i n c e n t i v e s b eyo n d p r o f i t m a rg i n s to h a r vest wo o d
Martin Sourcing Specialist. “So, to me, s u sta i n a b i l i ty
sustainably. “Most of the places go above a n d b eyond
simply mean s doi n g what your ki n de rgarten teacher
b e ca u se they real l y d o u n d e r s t a n d t h a t if they cut
taught you, which was to only take what you need. This
eve r y t hing d ow n, t hey ’ r e o u t o f j o b s a n d m a k e n o
way, everybody else can have theirs. And there will be
m o re m o n ey,” he says . “ I n G u a t e m a la , fo r i nsta nce,
plenty for the next class, and the class after that, and
local villagers divide u p se c tions of forest, and they’ll
the class after that.” Deceptively simple words, but they
work in one se c ti o n fo r, say, five or ten years b efo re
get at the heart of what has made sustainability a part of
ho p p ing ove r to the nex t se ct io n . ” T h e s ec t i ons are
Martin Guitar’s business model since the very beginning.
big enoug h , h e s a y s , t h a t t h i s k i n d o f rotation can
Dickinson should know a thing or two about
last a century or more.
su stai na bi l i ty. A s a M a r t i n S o u rc i n g S p e c i a l i s t , he
Sourcin g sustainable s u p p l i e s o f w oo d , h o w ever,
travels th e globe to fi n d th ose rare a nd cho ice b est
is about mo re th an simply l o cat i ng them. Often the
tonewoo ds th at ke e p Mar ti n G u i tar ’ s inst r um ents a
Martin team will find an excellent batch of wood to put
step above the rest. That means more than tapping on
into their supply stream but, w he n it com es t i m e to
trees and listening to see if they’ve got “the so u n d ” : It
restock, be informed that there simply isn’t any more
requires evaluating the entire economic and environmental
available due to local politics, or the rainy season, or
health of a site to make sure the sources he finds will
iss ues finding the right permit. Sourcing wood is not
help Martin deliver great guitars not just to d ay, b ut
like hea d ing down to the lo ca l ha rd wa re sto re a nd
tomorrow and for years to come.
throwing it in the back of your pickup truck. There are
“W h e n I trave l a ro u n d t h e w o r l d , I m a ke sure tha t suppliers are first following all the rules,” says
whole ecosystems and e co nom ies at play, connected t h ro u g h a netwo r k of small, passionate vendors.
Dickinson. That can be a challenge, according to Albert
Beyond this, the work n e e d e d to p repare wood for
Germick, Dickinson’s fellow Sourcing Specialist. While
guitar building is far more precise than what is needed
there have been e nv i ron me ntal re gu lat io ns in place
for typical construction or furniture work. Trees must
through treaties like the Convention on International
be p ro c e s s e d i n a s ig nifica nt ly d i f ferent wa y t ha n
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
b uild ing , say, two - by- fo urs. This m ea ns t he Ma r t i n
(CITES) and caretaking organizations like the Forest
team has to go to where the trees are. The next step
Stewards h i p C o u n c i l
( FSC ) s i n ce t he 1 970 s, t he
is then to either set up a sawmill or work with a local
massively complex process of sou rc i n g wood from
sawyer and begin to work the woods so that it can
across the globe can make it easy to sidestep these
ultimately be sold to guitar makers.
prote ct i o n s.
T h e c h a l l e n g e w i t h s u s t a i n a b l e w o o d s i s n’ t o n l y
Similarly, a D-28 remained a D-28 after Martin m ad e
s u p p l i e rs— i t ’ s p l a ye r s . W h e n i t c o m e s to a co ustic
t h e s h i f t f ro m B r a z i l i a n r o s e w o o d t o E a s t I ndi an
guitar m anu fac tu ri n g, m o s t m u s i c i a n s l o o k fo r t he
rosewood in 1969; a 000-18 remained a 000-18 when
t h r e e c l a s s i c t o n e w o o d s : s p r u c e , m a h o g a n y, a n d
Martin began relying on Sitka spruce over Adirondack
rosewo o d . Wi t h ove r 2 . 6 m i l l i o n g u i ta rs s o l d i n t h e
re d s p r u c e fo r m o s t o f t h e i r i n s t r u m e n t s. D es p i te
United States alone in 2017 , th at’ s a l ot of pressure
swa p p in g o u t entire s p e ci es of wood for the sake of
on only a few s pe c i es o f t re e s . W i t h e ve n t he m ost
t h e environment (and our wallets), the guitar market
rob ust and de di cate d c o n s e r va t i o n effo r ts, cur re nt
ba re ly ra ise d a n eye b row at t hese cha nges.
consumption of those woods is likely to reduce forest
St r uctura lly g uita rs have c h a n g e d a s w e l l : N ec k
populations beyond the point where they can be used
c o n to u rs a n d n u t w i d t h s a re c o n s t a n t l y e v o l v i n g ;
for manufacturing in the not-too-distant future. That
w h e n h e r r i n g b o n e b e c a m e t o o c o s t l y, t o b e a
m e a n s l o o k i n g b e yo n d t h e b i g t h re e t o n e w o o d s —
Martin 28-series instrument meant to b e without it ;
s o m e t h i n g m a n y i n t h e g u i t a r p l a y i n g c o m m u n i ty
sca llo p ing , t he key to to ne fo r m a ny a M a r t i n, wa s
are wary of.
d ro p p e d fo r a p e r io d o f d e c a d e s . A n d ye t , d esp i te
“I think gu i tar pl aye rs a s a w h o l e w i l l have to b e
the fact that a straight- b ra ce d , baseball- bat-necked ,
dragged into alternative woods kicking and screaming,”
p l a i n - b o u n d D - 2 8 f r o m 1 97 0 w i l l l o o k , fe e l , a n d
says Dickinson. The reason why, paradoxically, is the
so und fa r d iffe re nt t ha n a he r r ing b o ne g ui ta r wi t h
same reason players are drawn to storied brands like
sca llo p e d b ra c i n g a n d a H i g h Pe r fo r m a nce N ec k ®
Martin in the first place: tradition. “It’s not that they’re
ta p e r, few wo uld a rg ue t hat o ne is a D - 28 a nd t he
against the oth e r woo ds, ” says Di c ki n so n. Instead,
other is n o t . “ I f yo u a c t u a l l y g o b a c k a n d l o o k i t
it’s the fact that “my grandfather played a Martin D-28
up,” adds Dickinson, “we changed constantly.”
made of Brazilian rosewood and Adirondack red s p r u ce,
“I thi n k , a s t i m e g o e s o n , i t m i g h t g e t e a s i e r t o
and my dad played a D-28 made of Brazilian rosewood
e ducate people that these alternative woods actually
and A d i ro n d a c k s p r u ce, so I want to play a D - 28 ,”
d o so und go o d ,” says D ick inso n. “ A g re a t exa mp l e
he says. “Or somebody saw Crosby, Stills, Nash, and
of t hat is t he J eff Tweedy Custo m A r t ist mo d el . We
Youn g o n s t a ge a n d t h ey h a v e t h e i r M a r tin pre-war
d id a lim ite d e d it io n g uita r for him made out of all
D-45, and a real avid fan wants a guitar exactly like
FSC ® -c e r t i f i e d w o o d s . H i s fa n s w e n t nu ts a nd we
that. It is t h e same woo ds i n eve ry th i n g . There’s a
sold it, a nd sold i t , a n d s o l d i t u n t i l o u r c o n t ra c t
fanaticism about that.”
w it h him ra n o ut.” A s m o re a nd m o re p rofessi o na l
The irony is that, despite a bone-deep commitment to
p laye rs catch o n to t he g reat to nes ava ila b l e f ro m
tradition, to love a Martin is to love change. The notion
ma te r i a l s l i k e c h e r r y, m o a b i , s i r i s , a n d s a p e l e —
of what makes a D-28 a D-28—and what makes a Martin
a n d d u r a b l e , m u s i c a l m a t e r i a l s l i k e S t ra t a b o n d
a M a r t i n , fo r t h a t m a t t e r — h a s e v o l v e d a s t a stes,
a n d H P L — p e r h a p s t h e i r fa n s w o n ’ t s e e t h e m a s
supplies, and standards have changed. Jason Ahner,
“ a l te r n a t i v e, ” b u t ra t h e r a s o n e p a r t o f a w i d e r
Martin’s resident historian and veritable encyclopedia
pa lette of sta nd a rd m ate r ia ls.
of Mar tin e ph e me ra, poi nts to th e s h i f t away from ivory in 1918 as awareness grew about the danger to elephant populations associated with its harvest. Yet nowadays, few pe o pl e covet th at “pre - Wo r ld-War-Islab-of-ivory tone” on their parlor-size Martin guitar.
14 | BUILT TO LAST: SUSTAINABILITY AT MARTIN GUITAR
“Guitars Are Getting More Popular. So Why Do We Think They’re Dying?” Rolling Stone, accessed August 1, 2020, https://www.rollingstone.com/pro/news/ guitars-are-getting-more-popular-so-why-do-we-think-theyre-dying-630446/. 5
With woods, spe c i fi cati o n s, an d te c hniq ues cha ng ing f ro m year to yea r, w hat is t hat ineffa b le quality that makes a guitar a Martin? The short answer is a tradition of excellence. It is a tradition that’s passed down from generation to generation of craftspeople, but also runs deep into the soil of Nazareth itself. The Martin Guitar factory is a purpose-built machine. Just like every part of a Martin guitar is custom-designed to gene rate to n e —f ro m L i qu i dmetal ® b r i d ge p i n s to scalloped bracing—so is every part of the Martin factory tuned toward a single purpose: to make great g u i ta rs. L i ke t h e wo o ds t h emselves, though, sustainability and tradition can sometimes work against one another. In an industry that prides itself on hand-fitted dovetail neck joints and hide-glued joints, modernity can be viewed with skepticism. This can c reate a te n s i o n betwe e n ca re fo r t he e nviro nm e nt a nd res p e ct fo r t ra d it io n. A s Ro osevel t to l d that audience of governors in his 1908 speech: The Americans of centuries past could not have predicted the industrialized dynamo it would become. The same is true for the Martin Guitar company: In 1833, C. F. Martin Se nior wou l d n ot h ave forese e n a ti me w he n hi s f a cto r y m e a s u re d p ro d uct io n not in hund re d s of g ui ta rs p e r year, bu t i n te n s of th o u san ds. To b e s ure, M a r t in ha s modernized in t hat t im e — ex pa nd ing i ts fa c to ry, introducing steam powe r, slowly weaving mechanization into its production techniques. The challenge has been to introduce these new techni qu es t h o u g h t f u l l y, in a way t hat im p roves, rat he r t ha n im pa irs, t he o l d ways. Ensuring the factory runs sustainably is the job of Fre d Eve rett, M a r t i n’ s Director of Process Improvement. It’s a job every bit as challenging as building the guitars themselves: The factory’s interconnected network of systems are delicately balanced to keep temperature and humidity at precise levels depending on which part of the building you’re working in, while maintaining a workplace free of sawdust and debris, conserving energy, and minimizing waste at eve ry tu rn . A c h an ge to one system— t h e ch i l l e rs i n c h a rge of cooling the building, for instance—can have drastic repe rcu ss i o n s t h ro u g h o u t t he w h o l e n etwork. Entire stocks of wood could be compromised, whole runs of guitars affected.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
The key, Everett says, is that “you really just have to understand your operations.” This means being not only expert on the inner workings of an HVAC system able to maintain a steady humidity level in a factory the size of an airplane hanger, but how heat is carried from one end of the building to the other, the i m pa c t of wate r co o ling systems on ambient air temperature, and what to do with the 180 tons of sawdust that hang in the air at a workspace like Martin’s Nazareth, Pennsylvania, facility. A case study on how Martin is tackling sustainability is in their cooling system. “We had a very wasteful, energyintensive process to control temperature and humidity,” says Everett. Martin’s current factory space was built in 1965 and relied on air conditioning to provide temperature control and b o iling stea m to mo d erate humidity. The method for providing humidity was known as DX, or direct expansion, and basically relied on over-cooling (thereby dehumidifying) the air, and then blasting the steam boilers to rehumidify the air to the precise level needed to build guitars. It was an approach that, in essence, took two steps back for the sake of taking one step forward, wasting huge amounts of energy in the process. As the time to repl ace th at e qu i pme nt approached,
One of the things that makes Martin Guitar so uniquely
Everett and the rest of the Martin team faced a dilemma
a b le to ca p ita lize o n sustainable technology i s t hei r
to many in the building systems industry : to ta ke an
fo r m i d a b l e h i s t o r y a n d d e e p i n v e s t m e n t i n t h e i r
affordable, short-term approach and opt for a direct
community. Unlike most Amer ican companies, Martin
replacement of the DX system, or to take a much more
isn’t going anywhere—it is as much a part of Nazareth as
costly—but far more sustainable—route and overhaul the
Nazareth is a part of it. And for that reason, it can make the
system entirely. In the end, Martin chose the sustainable
long-term commitments required to make sustainability not
ro u te : wa t e r - c o o l e d c e n t r i f u ga l c h i l l e r s a n d h i g h -
only affordable, but profitable—not a small consideration
e f f i c i e n c y, c o n d e n s i n g b o i l e rs a b l e to h i t p re c i s e
for a company that’s survived 188 years.
temperature and humidity targets. Deciding to switch to more efficient, more sustainable
“Chris M ar t i n , the Board of Directors, and the Executive Team have a very long view because of our
equipment seems like a no-brainer, but the issue is in
history. The fact that we're not planning on moving
the bottom line. A new energy-efficient chiller should pay
anywhere means we were allowed to take a longer view
for itself in saved energy costs, but for most businesses,
to the future,” says Ev e re t t . That view to t he f uture
the payback isn’t fast enough. “Typically when you do a
i s k ey to b e i n g a t r u l y s u s ta ina ble compa ny: “ Yo u
capital expenditure, people are looking for one-year, two-
really have to understand the inputs and outputs, how
year, maybe three-year payback—the upper limit of that
things happen. And then you have to figure out how to
is, like, five years,” says Everett. “This investment was
continually challenge yourself to make sure that you’re
not anywhere near that.”
not wasting anything.”
16 | BUILT TO LAST: SUSTAINABILITY AT MARTIN GUITAR
In another speech on the environment, this one in 1911, Theodore Roosevelt said, “Of recent years this country has rightly awakened to the need of conservation. We have begun to realize that we are guilty of crime against our children if we hand them over a wasted heritage.” For a company like Martin, sustainability takes on an importance beyond even the environment. There’s 188 years of history riding on it. “A lot of companies nowadays th row out the word sustainability. Put a recycling bin in your plant, now you’re sustainable. A tree blows down in your neighbor’s yard and you use that to build a guitar, hey, you’re sustainable,” says Dickinson. “You know, we’ve been around since 1833 and if we don’t figure out how to keep this thing going, we will go away one day. And I don’t think anybody who works at Martin Guitar, since we have such a long history, wants to be the person who made Martin Guitar go away.” N o o n e i s mo re a cu te l y awa re o f t h a t p re s s u re to
tonewoods like rosewood by CITES regulations a few
sustain—to survive—than Martin Guitar Chairman and
years back , C hr is M a r t in se es a n o p portunity there.
CEO Chris Martin IV. “My joke is, what I don’t want is my
“When the shipments of rosewood got restricted, what I
daughter, Claire, to show up at a NAMM show 20 years
saw, particularly in Europe when I went to the Frankfurt
from now wearing a t-shirt that says ‘my daddy cut down
trade show, is that the smaller European guitar builders
the last tree and there’s no more,’” says Martin. “Nobody
readily embraced alternatives. It was almost like someone
wants to cut down the last tree. No guitar builder wants
had given them permission. And you could just see they
to cut down the last tree.”
were like, ‘this is a breath of fresh air.’”
Today, Martin Guitar produces more guitars, of higher
New woods, new materials, and new techniques offer
quality, played by more people in more places around
M a r t in G uita r a cha nce to d o w hat t hey d o b est—to
the world than ever before. The vision that has enabled
c r e a t e . T h a t i s t h e i r t r u e s t t ra d i t i o n : i n n o v a t i o n ,
Chris Martin to guide the company, begun by his great-
excellence, and a vision that perceives sustainability
great-great grandfather, to new heights is the same vision
not as a setback, not an obstacle, not a buzzword—but
that p osition s h i m to ensure a f u tu re of s ustainable
an opportunity. “I’m confident,” says Chris Martin. “I’m
co nfid e nt t hat t he re a re m o re a lte r nat ive materi a l s
“We have th i s fo u n dati on th at my an cesto r s b uilt, a n d I ’ v e a l wa y s s a i d to my col l eagu es, ‘This is t he foundation upon which we can build whatever kind of
t hat are viable fo r g uita r c o n s t r u ct io n that we have yet to d iscove r.” The challenge is to find those materials and weave them
thing we want,’” says Martin. “I would never mess with
into Martin’s tradition of excellence, so generations
the foundation itself, but the structure can evolve and
of players to come can continue to enjoy that
change and get remodeled and re bu i l t and even torn
elusive, special sound of a Martin guitar.
down. But the foundation’s always there to remind us:
“That’s our job,” says C h r i s M artin.
‘No, this, thi s i s w h at we do. Th i s i s h ow we do it.’”
“You know, I don’t want to have the
It is a position that is unique to Martin: one in which
customer feel it’s their job.
the tone, the fe e l , t h e q u a l i t y o f t h e g u i t a rs is not
I t’s o ur jo b to ta ke t he
in any one technique, in any single tonewood. It is in
responsibility to try to
generations of builders working side-by-side, in the walls
do it right.”
of the factory, in the soil that surrounds Martin’s roots. And that means change is possible, in a way that allows a Martin to remain a Martin—a timeless thing. Although many players lament the increased restrictions placed on key
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
WOOD SUMMIT HIGHLIGHTS A WORLD OF PROGRESS AND CHALLENGES
The 7th Biennial Wood Summit, organized and hosted by C. F. Martin & Co., brought together tonewood suppliers, supply chain consultants, conservation organizations, and government officials from the United States and Canada to review the current state of sourcing sustainable raw materials—specifically the exotic tonewoods from which Martin Guitar handcrafts guitars. But like the definition of sustainable, the Biennial Wood Summit—held June 11, 2019, at the Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center in Nazareth—expanded to encompass far more than how to maintain supplies of these rare woods. In wide-ranging presentations and panel discussions, the Wood Summit tackled issues such as forest management, wood source relationships,
BY MARSHALL NEWMAN
sustainable certification, chain of custody documentation, regulatory matters, and alternative tonewood options. A presentation early in the day by Mitchell Nollman, Martin Guitar’s Vice President of Global Marketing & Sales, showed tonewood sustainability to be more important than ever. While the compound annual growth in musical
18 | WOOD SUMMIT HIGHLIGHTS: A WORLD OF PROGRESS AND CHALLENGES
Photos by Albert Germick
instrument sales since 2009 was 2.5 percent, the compound annual growth of acoustic guitar sales for that same period was 8.5 percent. Acoustic guitars now account for 10.8 percent of all musical instrument sales, a total of $820 million. In his presentation, Chris Martin, Martin Guitar’s Chairman and CEO, reiterated the company’s commitment to procuring traditional tonewoods in a sustainable way, while also “convincing the customers—both the consumer and the dealer—that there are other viable woods” suitable for guitars. “All wood has a story,” he continued. “Consumers want to know that story, the story behind each and every tree that we are involved with along the way. As we tell those stories, I think it will help sell more guitars.” He also announced Martin Guitar’s plans to build a new 200,000-squarefoot warehouse, now in progress, at the Chrin Commerce Centre in nearby Easton, which will be used to store both raw materials and finished product. In keeping with the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship, the majority of construction waste will be recycled, and the building will be equipped for rainwater recycling, energy efficiency, and water conservation. John McElroy, Martin Guitar’s In-House General Counsel, detailed the significance of the company’s recent B Corporation ® (B Corp ®) certification. B Corp is a third-party certification that requires companies to meet social, environmental, accountability, and transparency standards, and is only issued after a rigorous 170-point evaluation. C. F. Martin & Co. is the first musical instrument manufacturer to receive B Corp certification. Other B Corporation-certified companies include Ben & Jerry’s, Eileen Fisher, and Patagonia. A panel discussion regarding the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) focused on key objectives for musical instruments at that organization’s 18th Conference of the Parties (CoP18) held in August 2019. Panelists included Ken Farr of Natural Resources Canada, Heather Noonan of the League of American Orchestras, James Goldberg of the National Association of Music Merchants, Chip Barber of the World Resources Institute, and Frank Untermyer, Martin Guitar’s Director of Supply Chain Management. One particular concern was CITES’s 2017 revision that added all species of Dalbergia (rosewood) to Appendix II, a protection status that requires permits to move both raw
“ ALL WOOD HAS A STORY... ”
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
legal importation of the wood impossible. The men recounted their recent visit to this unique country, which included visits to stockpiles of rosewood logs overseen by the government. Martin Guitar’s Sourcing Specialists, Albert Germick and Michael Dickinson, kicked off the afternoon sessions with a presentation on the company’s strategies for wood supply sustainability. Both men spend several weeks every year visiting timber regions around the world—India, Republic of Congo, and Guatemala among them—where Martin Guitar tonewoods grow. Those visits include stops at log depots and mills, but also include calls on tree farms, reforestation projects, forest research facilities, and local (also sometimes national) government officials. “Sustainable strategies for forests and the local communities that depend on them wood and finished products between countries. Those on the
differ in each country,” observed Germick. “It is important
panel were hopeful a modification in the rules would allow
for Martin Guitar to support those strategies through
manufacturers, retailers, and musicians to move finished
partnerships whenever we can.”
instruments across those borders without permits. (Editor’s
The presentation that followed showcased Martin Guitar’s
note: In August 2019, CoP18 adopted an amendment to exempt
long association with the Forest Stewardship Council ® (FSC ®)
finished musical instruments, as well as finished musical
License Code FSC-C008304. Cynthia McAllister, Martin
instrument parts and accessories containing Appendix II
Guitar’s Director, Intellectual Property, Community and
Dalbergia and Guibourtia from CITES permit requirements.)
Government Relations, detailed the company’s more than 20-
The panel also considered the impact proposed future CITES
year relationship with FSC and its commitment to build with
listings would have on musical instrument makers.
FSC-certified and FSC-controlled tonewoods. In addition to
A second panel, featuring John Veremis and Dorothy
ensuring Martin tonewoods come from responsibly managed
Wayson of the United States Department of Agriculture, Cindy Squires of the International Wood Products Association, and Sascha Von Bismarck of the Environmental Investigation Agency, highlighted the Lacey Act, the U.S. law that prohibits import, export, sale, or acquisition of wildlife, fish, and plants in violation of state, United States, or international law. Enacted in 1900 and amended in 2008 to include products made from illegally sourced wood, the Lacey Act has been a positive force for sustainable forestry and a deterrent to illegal logging. Panelists described how four Lacey Act wood enforcement cases between 2012 and 2017 resulted in nearly $15 million of penalties, payments, and restitution, plus agreement to strict compliance plans by the companies involved. The Lacey Act also has resulted in several denial of entry cases for illegally sourced wood from Peru. Despite its success in curtailing illegal logging, the Lacey Act is not perfect. Panelists discussed its shortcomings and ways it might be strengthened, refined, and improved in the future. Rob Garner of Forest Based Solutions and Rick Hearne of Hearne Hardwoods provided an update on the current situation regarding timber in Madagascar during the last presentation of the morning. Madagascar rosewood is highly prized as a guitar tonewood, but a chaotic political situation, a ban on legal logging, and rampant illegal logging have made
20 | WOOD SUMMIT HIGHLIGHTS: A WORLD OF PROGRESS AND CHALLENGES
“IT IS IMPORTANT FOR MARTIN GUITAR TO SUPPORT THOSE [SUSTAINABLE] STRATEGIES THROUGH PARTNERSHIPS WHENEVER WE CAN.”
forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits, the relationship has resulted in a series of special Martin guitars crafted entirely from FSC-certified woods, including several non-traditional tonewoods. The Rainforest Alliance provided Martin Guitar with the chain of custody documentation for FSC-certified and FSC-controlled woods for several years, but in 2017 transitioned that responsibility to NEPCon, another nonprofit organization with an equally strong commitment to sustainability. Samantha Morrissey of the Rainforest Alliance, and Briana Capra and Jeff Sokol of NEPCon discussed this transition, their role in tracking FSCcertified and -controlled wood through the supply chain, and the Rainforest Alliance’s new focus on sustainable agriculture certification. The last panel of the day brought together Martin Guitar’s wood suppliers to discuss current supply chain issues. Ankit Yogi of Overseas Traders, Nicholas Weber of Tonewoods S.L., Larry Blakaitis of Central American Timber, Jordan McIlvain of Alan McIlvain Co., and Rick Hearne of Hearne Hardwoods shared their procurement and transportation stories. As they made clear, every corner of the world presents a unique set of challenges, from old technologies to modern bureaucracies. Wood Summit presenters and attendees then traveled to Martin Guitar headquarters in Nazareth for a last event: the planting of an ironwood tree in memory of the 269 people who perished during the April 21, 2019, terrorist bombings in Colombo, Sri Lanka. Targeting churches and hotels, the bombings took place just weeks prior to CITES’s CoP18 meeting scheduled for Colombo and resulted in the meeting being postponed by three months and moved to Geneva. The 8th Biennial Wood Summit is tentatively scheduled for 2021.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
ONE MAN’S H O W A C H R I S T I E ’ S AU C T I O N L E D TO A
DAVID GILMOUR CUSTOM BY K R I S T I B R O N I C O
When you hear the name David Gilmour, the name of one of the most influential and accomplished musicians of the 20th century, from one of the most legendary rock bands of all time, it may be hard to imagine him as a young boy with aspirations and musical influences of his own. It may be difficult to conjure thoughts of a young David Gilmour saving up money to purchase his first record at eight years old or borrowing an acoustic guitar from a neighbor so that he could learn to play his first chords. These events, though seemingly insignificant at the time, would lead David Gilmour to pursue a career in music and ultimately change the world’s musical landscape forever. Today, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone wandering the Western Hemisphere who hasn’t heard of Pink Floyd. And if you narrow it down to guitar players, well, it may be damn near impossible. Yet back in the early ’70s, even with multiple albums under his belt, the lead guitarist and covocalist for Pink Floyd was only at the precipice of superstardom when he happened upon a musician selling a used Martin D-35 outside of Manny’s Music shop in New York City. Gilmour purchased the guitar on the spot, and it would go on to become his primary studio acoustic for both Pink Floyd and his solo recordings for more than four decades.
Above photo by Mark De Neys
The now famed D-35 sold recently at Christie’s auction house for $1.2 million as part of The David Gilmour Guitar Collection, which comprised over 120 guitars and fetched more than $21 million. It was the largest and most comprehensive sale of guitars ever offered at auction. The proceeds from the auction went to ClientEarth, a charitable foundation dedicated to fighting climate change. In an interview with Christie’s, Gilmour said of his decision to donate the proceeds to this important cause: “The global climate crisis is the greatest challenge that humanity will ever face. I hope that the sale of these guitars will help ClientEarth in their actions to use the law to bring about real change. We need a civilised world that goes on for all our grandchildren and beyond, in which these guitars can be played, and songs can be sung.”
D-35 David Gilmour Custom Signature Artist Edition
Photo by Polly Samson
After the auction and sale of Gilmour’s cherished D-35 (along
Looking back on the design process, Greene said, “My
with his much-loved D12-28, on which he wrote the opening
first thought was that David might want a replica of his 1969
riff for “Wish You Were Here”), Martin and their partners at
D-35, and, while that would be cool, it would not leave a lot
Westside Distribution approached David, and he agreed to
of room for creativity. I was so excited to hear that he was
collaborate with the team on both a 6-string and 12-string
more interested in creating something unique and special to
custom signature artist edition.
this moment in time. I knew we could provide him with options
“I was so excited when Westside, our U.K. distributor,
and features that would allow this new instrument to exist on
contacted us about the opportunity to build a signature
its own merits, while still drawing upon his original D-35 for
model for David,” said Fred Greene, Vice President of Product
inspiration. Much like David’s music, this guitar is a unique and
Management at Martin Guitar. “He is one of my all-time favorite
inspirational piece of art that hopefully will inspire others to
guitar players, and having the chance to collaborate with him
create their own art.“
on an instrument was truly a bucket list moment for me. The
Starting with this idea of a "new" D-35, the Martin Custom
collaboration is also a perfect fit for Martin Guitar, a company
Shop set about creating three prototypes that would later be
that shares David’s hope for a more sustainable world that we
presented to David for feedback. Typically made with rosewood,
can leave in good conscience for generations to come.”
this is the first time Martin has built a three-piece back “35”
Now, the process of designing a custom guitar for an artist isn’t without challenges. With so many options to choose from, it can be difficult to anticipate what will feel and sound right to a player who knows exactly what he likes, but also wants something unique and fresh; that balance of volume and tone, weight and comfort, feel and control. And that’s not even taking into account the aesthetics. From wood selection to the body size and neck profile, the guitar can only come together with honest input and feedback from all parties throughout the process, until the final moment when the artist proclaims, “Yes. That’s it.” Photo by Mark De Neys 24 | DAVID GILMOUR CUSTOM
with sinker mahogany, and the result is absolutely stunning. The back, sides, neck, and neck block are all made of solid sinker. (You can read all about sinker mahogany and what makes it so special on page 40.) The 6-string and 12-string models are both finished in vintage gloss, a historic process normally available only on Martin’s Authentic Series models. It delivers a soft sheen patina somewhere between full gloss and satin. David chose Adirondack spruce for the top of the 6-string model, as found on an early ’40s vintage D-18 that he also owns. Adirondack is a little stiffer than its more commonly used Sitka spruce cousin and offers more complex overtones. The top is torrefied using Martin’s Vintage Tone System® (VTS), a process that "ages" the wood, adding vintage sound characteristics without waiting years for it to happen naturally. The top braces on the 6-string are 1/4-inch Adirondack spruce, for added support and resonance, and they are scalloped and forwardshifted. The top of the 12-string is Carpathian spruce, grown in the mountains of Romania and often prized for its "best of both worlds" properties. It has the stiffness found in Adirondack, while maintaining the lower density and lightness often seen in the traditional European spruce varieties (German, Swiss, and Italian). The fingerboard inlay on both guitars is a special pattern created for this signature edition. It’s a standard 35 layout, but the dot size has been scaled down slightly and inlaid in abalone. The neck shape for the 6-string is unique and was created specifically for David. It began as a modified low oval but is now more rounded and slightly fuller below the 5th fret, creating a neck that is very comfortable and easy to play. The 6-string also features a carbon fiber bridge plate, as found on the recent Modern Deluxe Series, offering enhanced volume and clarity. Both models have head stamps, as found on early Martin guitars, however, this is the first time in its history that Martin has created special head stamps for an artist signature edition. The 6-string is unusually strung with 12-gauge strings (lights)—specifically Martin Authentic Acoustic Lifespan® 2.0 (MA540T). Martin Dreadnoughts usually come equipped with 13-gauge strings (mediums), however, David uses MA540T strings for all of his Martin guitars, so Martin felt that his fans should receive the guitar setup in the very same way that David chooses to play his. Both guitars come in a slate blue case, a nod back to the blue case that David’s original D-35 would have left the factory in all those years ago. Finally, and as if all this isn’t already special enough, every guitar bears a custom internal paper label, each one individually signed by David himself. An incredible collector’s instrument, for a truly special musician. Martin will produce a total of 250 guitars, split between the 6-string and 12-string models. They will be available for purchase at select Martin retailers. Through this partnership, Martin Guitar is proud to support the David Gilmour Charitable Foundation. Martin would like to give special thanks and recognition to David’s Guitar Tech, Phil Taylor, and Westside’s Artist Relations Manager, Mark De Neys, for their invaluable contributions to this project.
WHERE SUSTAINABILITY AND MUS C
For the past five years, Martin Guitar has partnered with REVERB (reverb.org), an environmental organization whose mission is to “green” live music and expand environmentalism in the music industry. With Martin being rooted in the music world with a deep commitment to protecting the environment, their union lives exactly where environmentalism and music intersect. The two offer each other a helping hand in making music more sustainable— whether in the live concert scene or in the guitar market.
BY K AT E KO E N I G
26 | MARTIN + REVERB
Photos courtesy of REVERB
TAKING R O O T
REVERB was founded in 2004 as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization by environmentalist Lauren Sullivan and her musician husband, Adam Gardner of the band Guster. As someone who’s devoted her life to defending the environment, Sullivan spent her academic career
studying where environmental issues and cultural issues meet. Later, she worked for the
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) and Partnerships for Parks, an NYC-based program that empowers local volunteers to advocate and ca re fo r p u b l i c g re e n s pa ces. Getting the
individual involved in the cause has always been a part of her mission. “I was grappling
with the echo chamber of sniffing our own fumes; a bunch of environmentalists that were all in agreement with each other,” Sullivan says. “We weren’t always reaching out to the
greater population or your average everyday citizen, which I found frustrating and difficult to address.” It was while Sullivan was working with RAN on their Old Growth Campaign, whose mission was to end logging in ancient forests, that she first saw the potential in using the connection between music and environmentalism to get fans to participate in green causes. Both Dave Matthews and Bonnie Raitt were supporters of the campaign, and Sullivan took note of how influential their involvement was on drawing public interest.
“ T H E I R C E L E B R I T Y A C T I V I S M A N D C O M M I T M E N T T O T H E I S S U E O P E N E D M Y E Y ES IN MANY WAYS,” SHE SAYS, “MOST NOTABLY TO THE CONC E P T OF CONNECTING WITH A MORE DIVERSE GROUP OF FANS—INSTEAD OF THE NARROWER F I E L D OF ENVIRONMENTALISTS T H AT I WA S A PA RT O F —TO E D U C AT E , AC T I VAT E , A ND INSPIRE THOSE FANS TO ACTION.” “[In the early 2000s,] to be an environmentalist you had to be a ‘granola,’ so one of the early goals of REVERB for Lauren was to bring that mainstream,” says Gardner. “At the same time, while I was out there touring, I was feeling bad about my impact on the road and how everything is disposable: all the single-use plastic water bottles, the diesel fuel we were burning, and everyone coming to and from the shows. We were opening for bands like Maroon 5, Dave Matthews, and John Mayer and having similar conversations with those artists where they were feeling bad too.
“ T H AT B EC A M E T H E T W O M A I N G O A L S O F R E V E R B : T O H E L P T O U R S B E C O M E M O R E SUSTAINABLE, AND TO USE THOSE TOURS AND THE POWER OF MUSIC AND ITS REACH AND INFLU E N C E TO B R I N G E N V I R O N M E N TA L C A M PA I G N S , C A U S E S , A ND OTHER NONPROF I T ORGANIZATIONS TO THE FOREFRONT.”
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
REVERB ON THE R O A D
To date, REVERB has worked with artists like Dave Matthews Band, John Mayer, The 1975, P!nk, Shawn Mendes, and Harry
Styles to bring an environmental conscience on the road. As Chris Spinato, Communications Manager at REVERB, says,
“ [O U R M I S S I O N B EG I N S W I T H ] LO O K I N G AT P R O B L E M A R E A S I N L I V E TO U R I N G , I N I T I A L LY F R O M T H E A RT I S T S TA N D P O I N T— T H E N M OV E S I N TO AC T I VAT I N G FA N S .”
For each tour they work on, REVERB sends along an onsite
coordinator who becomes an essential part of the road crew and is responsible for boosting sustainability in every possible area
Along with greening tours, REVERB leads a number of
of the tour. That can mean
environmental campaigns: No More Blood Wood, which
coordinating biodiesel fill-
fights to stop all trade in illegal timber; Farm-to-Family,
ups for trucks and buses,
which purchases food from community-scale farms and
arranging for the delivery of
delivers it to community food banks; and various service
food from local family farms—
projects, where REVERB coordinates volunteers to do
located 25 to 50 miles from
everything from planting trees to cleaning up beaches to
the venue—and working with
rehabilitating teen centers.
venues to set up recycling
#RockNRefill, a program created between REVERB and
and composting backstage.
reusable bottle company Nalgene ® , aims to reduce single-
“Surprisingly still not the
use plastic water bottles at live music events. “We do things
norm, but it certainly wasn’t
like provide water stations backstage for the artists and
back in 2004,” says Spinato.
touring crews so they can use reusable bottles as opposed
At each concert, REVERB
to having mounds of plastic bottles left over after shows,”
then sets up an Eco-Village,
says Spinato. “Then we also do that with fans. It’s led to the
where fans can interact with members
elimination of the use of over 2.5 million single-use plastic
of local and national environmental
water bottles in just the few years we’ve been doing that
groups and get involved. Causes can include anything from supporting the Rhino and Elephant Conservation, an organization
program.” Beyond minimizing their carbon footprint on tour, artists
devoted to saving rhinos and elephants from poaching; to
also work with REVERB and their partner Native Energy to
writing a supportive message to a veteran via the Heart and
neutralize their carbon emissions in what’s called a “carbon
Armor Foundation; to getting involved with REVERB’s very own
offset.” Essentially, REVERB calculates the total carbon
unCHANGEit Campaign, which unites the music community in the
emissions from a tour—between ground travel, air travel,
fight against climate change. Taking action makes fans eligible to
fan travel, venue energies, hotel stay energies, and more—
win a signed Martin (more on that later).
and, in turn, funds the construction of projects around the
“ TO DAT E , W E ’ V E H A D 4 M I L L I O N AC T I O N S TA K E N BY FA N S AT C O N C E RT S A N D O N L I N E ,” S AYS G A R D N E R .
world that directly and measurably eliminate greenhouse gases. The artists’ financial support helps build these climate change-fighting projects, making it so the carbon emissions from their tours are effectively canceled out. “[The projects] would not happen outside of people funding them,” says Spinato. He adds, “[Artists] can also fund an equivalence beyond what they’ve emitted. Then, they’re not only taking care of their carbon footprint, but they’re becoming climate positive.”
THE PERFECT F I T
The partnership between REVERB and Martin first began back
in 2015, when Martin began supplying REVERB with guitars that were then signed by touring artists to use as giveaways at EcoVillages. “Sometimes it’s just a signature, and sometimes it’s
more than that,” says Tanner Watt, Director of Partnership and Development at REVERB.
“ L A S T Y E A R , D A V E M AT T H E W S D I D A S E L F - P O RT R A I T O N T H E G U I TA R B E F O R E W E GAVE IT AWAY. JAC K J O H N S O N H A S D O N E B E A U T I F U L M U R A L S O N G U I TA R S . B U T B E I N G A B L E
“On that note,” Watt continues, “it works great for our artist
TO U S E T H E I N C E N T I V E O F A B E A U T I F U L M A R T I N A S A W AY
partners. They play Martins because they play beautifully, but fo r
TO E N C O U R AG E FA N S— I T R U LY B E L I E V E I T H A S I N C R E A S E D
t hose a r t ists w ho a re t r y i n g to re d uce their own environmental
T H E N U M B E R O F AC T I O N S W E G E T AT T H O S E S H O W S . O N C E
impact to find out t h at t he i n struments they’re playing are
T H E R E ’ S A C H A N C E TO W I N A S I G N ED M A RT I N , T H E N U M B E R
being built by a company that shares those values? It makes it
O F P E O P L E W H O W A N T TO TA K E A C T I O N I N C R E A S E S
that much easier for our artists to want to participate in these
E X P O N E N T I A L LY.”
programs. They know that t hey ’re not o nl y rep resent i ng a n
It doesn’t hurt that Martin’s commitment to sustainability extends to their manufacturing principles. More than 70 percent of the wood Martin buys has a Chain of Custody Certification from the
a m a z ing p roduct but they’re representing an amazing company that’s building it in a way they can be proud of.” As the relationship with Martin and REVERB has developed,
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC ), which upholds one of the
it’s expanded to Martin’s factory and offices, where REVERB
highest social and environmental standards on the market. (Martin’s
has distributed #RockNRefill bottles to Martin employees and
OME Cherry is 100 percent FSC certified.) Originally provided
Martin set up water refill stations throughout the facilities to
by the Rainforest Alliance, who founded the FSC in 1993, the
encourage the elimination of single-use water bottles and cups.
certification is currently provided by Nature Economy and People
The partnership has also led to the activation being brought to
Connected (NEPCon), and lets consumers know that the wood used
NAMM, an industry trade show that attracts over 110,000 visitors
comes from forests that have met rigorous standards for protecting
each year, thanks especially to Martin’s Chairman and CEO, Chris
forestlands, communities, and wildlife. Martin has maintained the
Martin, who took the reins as Chair of NAMM’s Board of Directors
certification for 19 years.
in 2019. That year, #RockNRefill bottles and a five-gallon refill
station were provided at the Martin booth. In 2020, water stations Dave Matthews’s “self-portrait” was featured on a guitar top for his Fall 2018 Tour as an incentive for fan action in the BamaGreen Eco-Village.
were provided across the entire NAMM floor. “We would not even have a voice in the conversation with NAMM if it wasn’t for Martin and for Chris Martin’s efforts especially,” says Watt.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
WALKING THE W A L K
Beyond the partnership, Martin goes out of their way to make every aspect of their
business sustainable. If you look under the Sustainability section of their website, you’ll
find the Green Idea Index, a detailed list of the countless environmental initiatives Martin
has taken at their facilities and around the world. Some include purchasing hybrid vehicles wherever possible, installing LED lights throughout their facilities, and having sawdust turned into pellets to be used as fuel for electricity. They've also spearheaded tree reforestation projects in Hawaii, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.
Martin has also initiated industry conversation around wood sustainability: Since 2007,
they have hosted a Biennial Wood Summit that invites forestry experts, representatives of lumber distributors in the U.S., and environmental organizations such as REVERB—who were invited to the last two summits—to take part in a discussion on wood procurement. (Read more about the Biennial Wood Summit on page 18.) Part of what makes the partnership between Martin and REVERB so natural is both companies’ commitment to taking action for the same causes. As a part of their No More Blood Wood Campaign, “REVERB has been working with the Environmental Investigation Agency since 2012 to identify forestry impact issues,” Watt continues. “Adam [Gardner], our co-founder and co-executive director, testified before Congress in 2012 around the issue of illegal importation of endangered species wood for use in instruments. Certain brands at the time were doing things that were, in some cases, illegal. We still work very closely with the EIA as well as other agencies around the issue of illegal logging. “Because there’s such a passion surrounding the topic and a public eye on musicians, we find that addressing the issue of illegally logged woods through the lens of musical instruments is a great way to get exposure around the issue,” he continues.
“ S I N C E O U R W O R K B EG A N I N 20 12 W I T H T H E E I A , W E ’ V E B E E N H Y P E R AWA R E O F T H E S E I S S U E S , S O W E H AV E TO B E E V E N M O R E C A R E F U L A B O U T T H E B R A N D S T H AT W E PA RT N E R W I T H A S A N O N P R O F I T. T H E L A S T T H I N G T H AT W E WA N T TO D O I S M A K E S O M EO N E W H O ’ S D O I N G BA D T H I N G S LO O K B E T T E R . M A RT I N C O N T I N U E S TO D O I T R I G H T, A N D T H AT ’ S W H Y W E PA RT N E R W I T H T H E M .” “Really what REVERB is about and what we’re about is getting the message out and educating people,” comments Mike Nelson, Senior Director of Marketing for Martin Guitar. “We want to support REVERB as much as we can because we believe in their mission, and we also want to promote the fact that Martin, throughout its history, has been a sustainability-focused company, and we think REVERB is a good partner to help do that.”
30 | MARTIN + REVERB
WHAT LIES A H E A D
At the time of this article’s publication, REVERB’s action on the road
was still on pause due to COVID-19 precautions. But in terms of moving forward, Watt says: “Our long-term goals are to increase the size of our partnership and to put more Martins in the hands of music fans on the
road once concerts and music festivals start again. I see our partnership growing once the live music space comes back.”
Looking forward, REVERB is focused on furthering the causes they’ve
been devoted to since their foundation. “Climate change is definitely an incredibly urgent issue,” says Sullivan. “We’re also working on behalf of
indigenous communities through our No More Blood Wood Campaign and talking about how we, as consumers, can have an impact on the health of forests.” She adds,
“ I L I K E TO S AY T H AT O U R B I G G E S T G OA L I S TO P U T O U R S E LV E S O U T O F B U S I N E S S .” If you’d like to support REVERB, please visit www.reverb.org/donate.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
I N T R O D U C I N G T H E 0 0 L E A R T H G U I TA R BY KRISTI BRONICO On March 15, 2019, artist Robert Goetzl watched the news in awe as a million students, across 125 countries, gathered as part of the School Strike for Climate, an international movement of students who skip Friday classes in protest to demand action from political leaders against climate change. The movement started in 2018, when Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old activist from Sweden, staged a lone protest outside the Swedish Parliament holding a sign that read “School strike for climate," inspiring students across the globe to stand together to fight for the future of the planet. The movement fanned a flame in Goetzl that had been slowly burning for many years. He wanted to use his talent to become part of the solution, so he immediately dropped what he was doing and began a sketch for a watercolor of the earth. His hope was that it would one day adorn the top of a Martin guitar that could be used to bring awareness to the urgent need for climate action. Upon completing the sketch, Goetzl wasted no time driving to Nazareth to share his idea with Martin Chairman and CEO Chris Martin. The sixth-generation leader shares with Goetzl a deep passion for fighting climate change and preserving the earth for future generations. This shared passion, reignited by the energy and perseverance of this new generation of activists, put into motion the plans to develop what is now being introduced as the Martin 00L Earth guitar—the first acoustic guitar that is both 100% FSC ® certified AND 100% plastic-free. "When I first heard this eloquent young woman, Greta Thunberg, speak so passionately about climate change, I was immediately inspired and thought, why not design a guitar with a visual element as a tool to promote the message ‘Save the Earth,’” said Goetzl. “Perhaps this is a way to help raise awareness of resource sustainability and our society’s failure to take action against the global crisis that this troubled planet is facing."
32 | EVERY DAY IS EARTH DAY
00L EARTH SPECS Model
Simple Dovetail Neck Joint
Body Size 00-14 Fret Slope Shoulder
Artist Robert Goetzl Photo courtesy of Robert Goetzl
With Martin’s blessing, Goetzl set about doing what he does best—turning his initial ideas into refined art—and he later presented several variations to the team. The final design featured the earth and stars with a beautiful light burst peaking over the horizon. While Goetzl was finalizing the artwork, Director of Instrument Design Tim Teel and former Martin Green Team Leader Chris Thomas began working on building out the model that would ultimately become the master
FSC ®-Certified Wood
FSC-Certified Sitka Spruce
to use the framework from Martin’s 17 Series and then
Binding FSC-Certified European Flame Maple
went on to collaborate with many colleagues throughout
Top Inlay Material
Black Fiber Stripe
Modified Low Oval
canvas for Goetzl’s artwork. Teel and Thomas decided
the company to select and source only materials that are 100% FSC certified and free of all man-made plastics. “I
environmental issues seriously,” said Teel. “This project illustrates the importance of our planet and is depicted
Neck Taper High Performance Taper Plek
responsibly harvested materials, we will ensure the next
generation of musicians and luthiers will have great tonewoods to choose from when designing, building, and
Solid with Square Taper
playing stringed instruments of the future.”
Full list of specifications can be found on the Martin website.
in this amazing graphic by Robert Goetzl. By using
Martin chose to go plastic-free with this model because single-use plastic is destroying entire ecosystems and greatly contributes to global warming. The world urgently
Please look for FSC ® -certified products.
needs to reduce single-use plastic, and we hope that this guitar will be another vehicle for spreading this message. So much thought and care went into every single piece of this guitar build, right down to the use of hemp, a fast-growing and highly sustainable material, for the gig bag—another first for the company. (See a list of key specifications in the sidebar.) “There’s so much that we can do as individuals to fight climate change in our daily lives,” said Chris Martin. “Yet we are continually looking for ways that our company can inspire musicians and their fans to take action. Not just on Earth Day, but every day. Music has always been a powerful tool for bringing people together for change.” Photo by Keaton Yoo
Robert Goetzl and Tim Teel
Born in the small town of Abbott, Texas, Willie Nelson got his start as a radio DJ and songwriter penning classics like “Pretty Paper” and “Crazy.” He got his breakthrough as a solo artist in the mid-1960s, eventually joining the Grand Ole Opry. After a brief hiatus, Willie became the centerpiece of the outlaw country movement and scored hit after hit through the 1970s and 1980s. Along with John Mellencamp and Neil Young, he founded Farm Aid, with the inaugural concert being held on September 22, 1985. The money raised would benefit family farmers in danger of losing their farms to mortgage debt. In 1987, John Mellencamp and Willie Nelson helped to have the Agricultural Credit Act created to prevent farms from going into foreclosure. In 2004, Willie introduced Willie Nelson biofuel, sold under the name BioWillie. Made from soybean and vegetable oils, BioWillie is a more earth-friendly alternative to diesel fuel, made from crude oil. Also, purchasing the ingredients necessary to produce BioWillie from family farmers is another opportunity to work toward the initiative that Farm Aid started.
© Photo by Platon
34 | ORIGIN STORIES
One of the most prominent figures in folk music, Pete Seeger and his group the Weavers helped lay the groundwork for the folk movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He authored and co-authored such anthems as "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” “Turn! Turn! Turn!,” and "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)." In addition, he was one of the founding members of the popular magazine of folk music and songs Sing Out!. After being blacklisted, Seeger returned to the music scene in the 1960s with his primary focus being protest songs. He was also a major supporter of the civil rights movement and environmental causes. His
preservation of the Hudson River. In 1966, Pete and his wife, Toshi, founded the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, a nonprofit organization whose primary goal was to protect the river and the wetlands around it. Every year, the Great Hudson River Revival Music and Environmental Festival is held to support the organization.
Photo courtesy of the C. F. Martin Archives
Known worldwide for her social activism, Joan Baez has been at the forefront for decades as a musician who works toward the greater good. She took part in the 1963 March on Washington alongside her friend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and sang the civil rights movement’s anthem “We Shall Overcome.” She played a key part in the founding of the U.S. section of Amnesty International, and in more recent times, she performed a three-song set at the Occupy Wall Street protests. Joan has also participated in tree sit-ins with environmental activist Julia “Butterfly” Hill. Baez and Bonnie Raitt joined Hill on the platform atop the redwood tree Hill spent over 700 days living in to protect it from being cut down by loggers. Again, she joined Hill in a “tree sit” in Los Angeles, performing songs for the local residents in an attempt to help protect the South-Central Community Garden from being demolished.
Photo by Greg Solomacha M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
blue inlay as part of the top trim, the avant-garde
upgraded Style 13 appointments, the SC-13E met with
aperture soundhole rosette, and the matching bullseye
immediate success when C. F. Martin & Co. unveiled it at the
position marker at the 12th fret, as well as some
Winter NAMM Show in January 2020. Unprecedented praise
seriously gorgeous tonewoods.
was awarded to Martin’s newest acoustic-electric marvel from all quarters of the guitar-playing world.
The back and sides feature primo Hawaiian koa, laid down as a fine veneer over an interior core of solid
Where other recent models have bodies that were inspired by
African mahogany that was chosen for its tuneful
older designs reaching back to the 1930s, the Martin-invented
strength and stability. Photographs can’t do justice to
S body size is the basis for a truly original, ultramodern
the 3D holographic tapestries of koa grain, woven from
21st-century acoustic-electric guitar. Its incredible new technology
hues of pepper-flecked cinnamon, honey, and amber,
eliminates the heel from the fast, shapely neck, making
with glinting rays of golden thread that sparkle from
available the entire fretboard while providing exceptional ergonomic comfort.
under a crystal-clear, high-gloss finish. Breathtaking! The soundboard is solid, straight-grain, quartersawn
Acoustic guitarists will be drawn to
Sitka spruce from the Pacific Northwest, prized
the SC-13E because of its balanced
for its broad dynamic range. It is nicely flexible and
unplugged tone and weight distribution.
responsive, partly because of the special bracing that
Electric guitarists will adore this model
was developed for this specific body.
as an acoustic guitar with a cutaway
To get the most out of this new sound chamber, the
that works seamlessly with all of their
design team renovated the classic X-bracing devised by
complex stage gear, thanks to the plug-
C. F. Martin Sr. in the 1840s. The result is the innovative
Tone Tension bracing, with enhancements that include
both will love how effortless it is to play
an X brace scalloped on the treble side for resonance
for extended periods of time.
and tapered on the bass side to increase low-frequency
Martin has introduced this new
response. This explains why the bass E string is never
body size in Style 13, at a
overwhelmed by the other wound strings. They all
price point accessible to any
sound with identical volume and projection. Another
working musician or even
guitar may not exist that has such perfect string-to-
someone just starting
string balance. It even has a second X brace to support
out. Its stunning good
the back, visible through the soundhole—one of the
looks include celestial
many Martin firsts on the incomparable SC-13E.
A NEW MARTIN FOR A NEW DECADE Fred
the needs and feedback of a great many guitarists. “One Product
of the first elements we focused on was the position of the
Management, wanted an asymmetrical production model
neck joint. We split the difference between Martin’s original
for some time now. The development team explored fresh
12-fret designs and the later 14-fret designs more prevalent
concepts and back-burner experiments that had simmered in
today to make it extra-comfortable for as many guitar
the R&D department for years before arriving at the exciting
players as possible.”
final version released to the general public.
With the shoulder at the 13th fret, the far end of the
For the first time in Martin model history, the S signifies the
fingerboard is closer to the guitar’s body, so the 25.4” long-
actual body shape, rather than it being an initial, as in D for
scale neck feels more like a short-scale neck, while retaining
Dreadnought, or J for Jumbo. Tim Teel, Director of Instrument
the potential energy in long-scale string tension. Having all
Design, said the naming was as simple as noticing the S
the frets closer to the guitarist’s body reduces repetitive
apparent in the fluid curves he kept sketching during early
stress upon their wrist, elbow, and shoulder, so they can
brainstorming. As he put it, “In the end, I feel the S stands
convert more of their kinetic energy into free-flowing music
for whatever the player decides it stands for, on a personal
for longer periods of time.
level. Maybe it will stand for Stage, or Studio, or Stadium, or Solo, or Sexy, or Shredder. It is such a versatile musical instrument; it will earn every one of those designations, and more.” The S could also stand for Serious, as in the serious versatility that will earn many fans among rock and jazz players who wish to perform on an acoustic guitar without compromising
The roomy cutaway starts at the 17th fret and slants downward, so all 20 frets are within easy reach. The distance between the highest frets remains unchanged, so the fingers do not encounter the traffic jams found on
for those who require a cutaway. And by having no heel, chord shapes
and note runs can be
technique and style.
achieved above the
A broader spectrum
12th position without
contorting the hand
embrace this model’s comfy contours, which are
other Martin body sizes or anyone else’s body sizes for that matter. It feels right at home in the lap, resting on either knee. And it’s superbly suited for playing standing up, with a strap button installed on the bass-side shoulder, so the hand remains unhindered in the upper frets.
strings and the tone along with them. The 13-fret neck is a major factor in the comfort quotient of what is still a full-size instrument. The total length is 40-1/2” (the same as Size D,) while the body length is 20-3/8” (a smidgen longer than Size M.) At its widest, it measures 15-1/2” (closer to Size GP than OM.) The asymmetrical
It is fitting that the SC-13E was released in the Style 13,
silhouette shifts the bass side toward the neck and the treble
atop the affordable Road Series. This is Martin’s first 13-
side toward the lower bout. This means less of the sound
fret model. Guitars with 13 frets free from the body existed
chamber’s cubic volume is eliminated by the cutaway, while
before and after Martin introduced the first 14-fret six-
making the body seem shorter than it actually is.
string guitars in 1930, the fabled Orchestra Models that
Since it has the same comfortable 4-1/8” side depth as
transformed acoustic guitar design ever afterwards. However,
the 14-fret 00 and 000 sizes, the SC-13E’s ratio of top width
this 13-fretter is anything but a throwback to the old days. It
to body depth adheres to the best Martin traditions, even
is all about playing thoroughly modern lead guitar.
on such a non-traditional Martin guitar. But then there is
Rameen Shayegan, International Instrument Design Manager,
that astonishing physical poise. Unlike typical acoustic
said that most every aspect of this project was informed by
guitars, the overall weight is centered directly on the neck
Photo by Keaton Yoo M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
joint. It hangs from a shoulder strap perfectly balanced
strings that feature a .011" treble E string, allowing this
between the headstock and the end block. As a result,
new Martin acoustic guitar to respond and perform
the potential for full-fledged Elvis dancing and Van Halen
very much like an electric guitar indeed. The default
fretboard tapping is through the roof.
setup provides a relaxed playing experience that is fun and rewarding, with full-step Jimi Hendrix bends and
A NEW NECK FOR THE NEW MARTIN
waggling Nita Strauss vibrato.
The select hardwood neck is attached to the body by
Light or medium gauge strings can be used by those who
the patented Sure Align system, which is a noteworthy
prefer the action and dynamics of their traditional acoustic
departure from previous Martin luthiery. The internal
guitars, while still reaping the ergonomic advantages
wooden neck block is meticulously sculpted from
exclusive to the S size and its new neck. That remarkable
solid African sipo to accommodate the 4mm two-way
neck must be experienced to fully grasp its virtues, both
adjustable truss rod and the components of Martin’s
the futuristic ones and those rooted in Martin’s venerable
new linear dovetail neck joint, currently exclusive to
heritage. For all its groundbreaking specifications, this
unconventional hybrid cutaway acoustic-electric guitar
Authorized Martin service centers can set the action to the guitar owner’s preferred height in no time at
has an important feature found on the best vintage Martins from the pre-war era: the neck profile.
all, by exchanging a prefabricated adjustment plate in a narrow slot just beneath the fingerboard. Precise
A NEW PROFILE FOR THE NEW NECK
adjustments to the intonation are made via a small
The neck profile debuting on the SC-13E was inspired
Allen wrench inserted into a set screw on the treble
by the incredibly comfortable neck on the priceless
side of the truss rod.
1930 OM-45 Deluxe in the Martin Museum. Essentially,
Where the shoulders meet the neck, the conventional
that vintage V profile is skewed, so the apex drifts off-
obstacle of a heel is replaced by a radical concave
center, keeping it in the nook of the cupped hand as
it advances up the frets. The profile on Martin’s neck
fretboard. In other words, it’s like having an electric
of the future has no V. It is carved more like the Low
guitar neck that actually works on an acoustic guitar—a
Profile used on the OM John Mayer model, yet it has its
holy grail for many musicians.
own distinctive skewing.
To m a ke th e m o s t of th e s e te ch n olo gic al b re a k-
Tim Teel named it the Low Profile Velocity and described
throughs, the SC-13E comes with Custom Light gauge
it as “an asymmetrical barrel that t wists in a helical
38 | MARTIN’S REVOLUTIONARY SC-13E
manner to move ergonomically with your hand in all
huge, or lovely and delicate. And that makes for
playing positions.” From the 1 st fret, where the hand is
one terrific stage and studio guitar, for not a lot
angled outside of the wrist, to higher positions, where
of money. And therein lies the brilliance of Mar tin
the hand is in-line with the wrist and turned parallel to
introducing this new body size and neck in the Road
the floor, the Low Profile Velocit y remains an absolute
Series. They are obtainable within modest budgets,
joy to hold.
while being a relative bargain for those with deeper
Guitarists encountering the SC-13E in a shop may
not even notice the subtle way its neck adjusts to
This elite Road Series model will appeal to younger
their playing. But that is the point; the neck shouldn’t
players shopping in a price range below Martin’s
be noticed. And in this case, the neck is so kind to the
Standard Series. Owners of high-priced acoustic
fretting hand that the guitar practically plays itself.
guitars will add an SC-13E to their collection because
The solid ebony fingerboard has the 1930s depth
it is such a distinguished instrument had for such
identical to those on the Authentic Series instruments,
a reasonable price. And avid public performers will
while also having the High Performance Taper of most
love this uncommonly versatile axe that they can
contemporary Martins. So, it begins with a roomy 1-3/4”
bring into clubs and bars, or take on tour in place
width at the nut and measures a slender 2-1 /8” across
of their expensive heirloom instruments. And that
the 12th fret, a scant 3/8” difference that enhances the
is exactly what Martin’s Road Series guitars were
sleek electric guitar feeling.
intended for all along.
Speaking of solid ebony, the sloped belly bridge is
Not your granddad’s Mar tin, the SC-13E is an
another improvement. Both low and smooth, it is free
ultramodern acoustic-electric guitar of tremendous
from the usual interior edges that dig into the hand when
it’s resting on the bridge or palm-muting the strings.
achieve an ef for tless playability that is ideal for
A N E W V E R S AT I L I T Y F O R N E W M U S I C
leng thy practice and per formance sessions, while
The versatility of this new guitar will overcome anyone’s
creating a satisfying tonal balance that is good for
reservations about it seeming so different from other
countless musical styles. There is little wonder it
Martins. In fact, a famous bluegrass phenom was visiting
has created so much buzz and that its
the Martin factory before the SC-13E was released and
popularity grows as guitarists
absolutely loved playing it.
And playing is what it’s all about—playing for long sessions without the fatigue that can set in with conventional guitars. That is why many people will end up owning this extraordinary Martin model. An even greater number will appreciate its worth as an electrified performance and recording instrument. It simply excels in that capacity. On stage, the SC-13E will perform any acoustic guitar music straight out of the box. But it also handles anything an electric guitar can do. Run it through distortion, delay, or flange pedals and you just might be amazed at the righteous results. Lay off the gas pedal and settle into a nice groove, and it rings as pretty as any acousticelectric guitar one could wish for. The Fishman ® MX-T pickup system includes an onboard tuner, discreetly hidden inside the soundhole, across from the volume and tone wheel. There is also a switch to cut the bass output in the mix, for those extralarge venues, or when a band doesn’t want the guitar’s bottom end encroaching on the bass and keyboards. When plugged in, the SC-13E can sound downright
lives up to its reputation.
BY DAVID SCHNEIDER
Photos by Keaton Yoo
y name? Call me Woody. Call me Mo. Call me whatever you want. I’ve been called a lot of things over the years, in several different languages, and at
this point in my life, I’m just happy to not be covered in silt and snails at the bottom of a river. Although thinking back on it, I guess it wasn’t really that bad. It certainly could have been worse. I suppose that’s easy to say now since we know it all worked out in the end. But on those long summer days in August, after the rainy season had ended and the currents were weak, and all manner of gunk was starting to pile up on top of me in the cloudy stillness—well, you could probably say my outlook was a little darker. Aw shucks, just listen to me ramblin’ on here in my old age! I had better back up a little bit and start my story from the beginning. I was born hundreds of years ago in what is now called Belize, but, of course, no one called it that back then. The Mayans and the Spaniards and the British all had different names, but for me home was the forest where my family had put roots down ages ago. My childhood was tough—really tough—but that’s how it was for anyone growing up in a dense, mature forest. The competition for resources is fierce. For starters, there’s barely any sunlight coming through the canopy. If you happen to be strong enough to sprout from the stray specks of light and drops of water that do reach the forest floor, you’ve still got to contend with a gallery of predators until you’re big enough to exit the food chain, and that takes a few very long years. Only the hardiest and most resilient survive that slow, shadowy adolescence, but I suppose it does pay off in the long run. I’ve got distant relatives that were raised on farms where there’s a complete workforce—not to mention some helpful technology—dedicated to their well-being. I’ve sometimes envied that pampered existence, but without my hardscrabble childhood, I wouldn’t have the fine, tight grain for which I’m now known.
D-35 David Gilmour Custom Signature Artist Edition
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
Eventually, those of us that survived grew tall enough to crest the canopy and things got easier. We enjoyed a salutary climate, along with pH-neutral soil, and we had the most interesting visitors! Toucans, tapirs, jaguars … it was a vibrant community indeed. The main thing we worried about was hurricane season. Beyond that, you might have some British pirates or other buccaneers come lumbering by, but, except for the occasional drunkenly discharged musket ball, they were mostly harmless. That is, until they realized we were valuable. The logwood trees were the first to be cut. It started slowly because the technology was limited, and tropical terrains were not easily conquered by Europeans unaccustomed to the jungle. But there was money in it, so there was plenty of motivation. Before long, so much of it had been cut and shipped that the international market basically collapsed. That’s when trees, such as I, became the prized hogs of the forest. The huntsmen would arrive first. It was their job to find us, and once we were found, the crews of axmen would get started. They’d generally work in groups of two, often from spring-supported platforms several feet off the ground. I can still recall the day I was cut down like it was yesterday. It was during the rainy season, because that’s when it was easiest to float us down the river. The fall to the ground was disorienting, and I barely knew what was happening before being dragged to the water’s edge by a team of oxen.
And next thing I know, I’m
actually in the river, floating turbulently downstream, somehow separated from the others. It all happened so fast. But just as soon as it started, it was over. I’ve had centuries to reflect and wonder, and I have my theories,
42 | FROM RIVER TO RHYTHM
but I still don’t know exactly why I sank while others didn’t. Whatever the cause, there I was, stranded and isolated at the bottom of the Belize River, and there I would remain for over a century. Thankfully, my species is naturally resistant to wood rot, and the poorly oxygenated and mummified environment of the riverbed kept me in good physical condition. Passing the time was the hardest part, but you find ways. It wasn’t like I was completely alone. There were crocodiles and manatees and all kinds of other animals that were part of the river’s ecosystem. Not to mention plenty of boats and watercraft, and even the occasional human swimmer. I was therefore not surprised when, sometime not long ago, two sinewy divers were hovering around me in the riverbed. Now these guys can hold their breath for a long time, but it seemed strange that they would loiter at length in my unremarkable vicinity. I figured they were looking for a sunken boat or some other lost property. Then, suddenly but deliberately, they started digging holes on opposite sides of me until they met in the middle. Then they fished some kind of line through the tunnel they had formed with their digging. There was a brief pause. I heard the faint sounds of an air compressor humming above the water. That’s when I noticed there were some floppy orange bags connected to the tunnel-threaded line. They started to rapidly inflate. I began to feel lighter, almost weightless. I was floating! Slowly at first, and then more quickly as the bags continued to swell. Almost as quickly as I had found myself at the bottom of the river all those years ago, I was now at the top of the river, bobbing up and down in the bright sunlight of the 21st century. Pennsylvania is much different than Belize, and 2021 is certainly worlds apart from my pre-industrial upbringing, but I’m adjusting well. I guess you could say I’m the Rip Van Winkle of mahogany trees. I was resigned to my submergent fate for so long that it’s hard to imagine a different future, but it’s here: I’m going to be 300 guitars! Maybe more, maybe less, but something like that. And not just any guitar, but a Martin guitar. I didn’t know what a “Martin” was the first time I heard it, but I learned a few things hanging out in this cool spot at the factory called “the acclimating room.” I learned even more while drying out for a month or so in what they call “the kiln,” which I think of as my own personal sauna after being waterlogged for so long. The luthiers definitely throw around some terminology I still don’t understand, but I do know this: I’m going to spend the rest of my existence bringing joy to the masses through music.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
With a found i n g date of 1 833, C . F . Mar ti n & C o. is a litt le b it younger than I am, but don’t hold their youth against them—I can assure you that they know mahogany. They’ve built guitars with mahogany from many eras and many regions, so they can appreciate the distinctive sonic and visual characteristics that stem from my scrappy childhood in an old-growth forest, as well as those produced by my long aquatic slumber. I must say: After living invisibly as an algae-mottled bottom dweller, it feels pretty good to be all dried off and sitting at the top of the mahogany hierarchy. I even like my new nickname: sinker mahogany. Get it? Because I’m a mahogany tree that sank. You can call me that from now on. It’s got a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Speaking of sounds ringing luxuriantly, I was curious to know what would cause a company like Martin to scour the floors of faraway waters for wood.
How did they know that sinker mahogany has a
sumptuous, bass-rich sound that produces more volume than standard mahogany? Of course, they’d know that old-growth trees would have tight, straight grain that are the stuff of luthiers’ dreams, but how did they also know that sinker mahogany would have a “peppered” appearance from the absorption of mineral deposits in the grain’s pores without first cutting into one? Well, it turns out that Martin wasn’t just on some quixotic tone quest that led them to explore quirky sourcing alternatives. Rather, it was a direct result of their interest in sustainability that first exposed them to the concept. Mahogany has been substantially covered by the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) treaty since 2003, so the global supply is limited. Given Martin’s steadfast support of the Lacey Act, which essentially prohibits the trade of illegally sourced flora and fauna, the restricted supply of genuine mahogany poses a challenge if you want to use it to build new guitars, or anything else for that matter. The idea of searching for submerged logs had been floating (no pun intended) around the lumber industry for a while, but most of the companies that ventured in pursuit of the concept went severely bust in the process. Attempts have been made from Lake Ontario to Africa and beyond, but if the expeditions were actually successful in finding any usable wood, legal issues often strangled further progress in bringing the pieces to market. Whether it’s gold, oil, or mahogany, resource speculation is risky and frequently hazardous business.
Of all the lumber companies in the world, it was
crafted by a family-run company that genuinely cares about sustainability. It’s also a
incidentally a local sawmill in Oxford, Pennsylvania,
little ironic that my advanced age has become such an asset in a culture that otherwise
called Hearne Hardwoods that laid the groundwork
places a premium on youth! Considering that I started out as an old-growth tree that
for Martin’s first sinker mahogany guitars. The folks
was large enough to be worth harvesting BEFORE spending an extended epoch in a
at Hearne had been developing relationships with
low-oxygen, underwater environment, it’s easy to understand why renowned vintage
different Belizean communities over several years,
guitar aficionados like George Gruhn and Vince Gill are so excited about my recent
and they eventually established a supply chain that
revival. Exact dates are hard to know for sure since I don’t have a birth certificate,
respected local labor laws, customs, and environmental
but I’ve heard chatter that I could have been alive during the time of Christopher
requirements, while also having a good idea of where
Columbus and William Shakespeare. So, I guess that makes me kind of special, huh?
quality, submerged mahogany logs actually existed. The
I’m a new log from an old tree that’s going to be crafted into a new guitar with an old
initial thought was that sinker mahogany could simply
sound. After languishing at the bottom of the Belize River since before Mark Twain
be a substitute for “classic” mahogany; it just wouldn’t
was writing about the Mississippi River, I’m just happy to be above ground.
require cutting down any trees. However, once it was shipped, dried, and cut, it quickly became clear that a special tonewood had been discovered, and that’s when Martin got involved. Of course, while the mystery and magic of sinker mahogany is intriguing, and while the unique qualities are immediately apparent, Martin wouldn’t start buying wood simply because it looks gorgeous and sounds wonderful—they have to know that every partner and every link in the supply chain adheres to their high standards. Martin Sourcing Specialist Mike Dickinson accompanied the Hearne Hardwoods crew to Belize to personally observe and document the entire process, including the retrieval of new logs, before committing to any purchases. If you’ve ever met Mike, you know he’s serious about supply chain integrity. Now, having witnessed the colonial era firsthand, I’ve seen some of the darker sides of human nature, including the cruel treatment of laborers and the wanton environmental destruction of delicate ecosystems. I could have been plucked out of that river and been used for anything, so it feels like kismet that I should have a second life as an immaculate, hand-built instrument
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
W E A R E F A M I LY
FROM THE WORKBENCH
MERCEDES Mercedes has been working at Martin for 15 years and is currently in Binding and Prefit. Mercedes’s favorite thing about working at Martin is being a part of making something that can instantly lift someone’s mood and even change the world. Mercedes’s favorite Martin is the OME Cherry because it is crafted entirely from sustainable FSC®-certified woods.
J O DY Jody has been at Martin for 33 years. He has worked in six different departments during his tenure and currently works in the Custom Shop. His favorite thing about working in the Custom Shop is the opportunity to work on high-end instruments and to see the look on new owners’ faces when they first meet their guitar. Though he sees a lot of detailed custom work, his favorite instrument is the D-41 because of its traditional look and feel.
C O W B OY & D O N N A Donna and Rodger “Cowboy” both started working at Martin 21 years ago. Many couples have met while working at Martin, and that includes Donna and Cowboy. Donna works in Neck Fitting, and Cowboy, now retired, worked in Stringing and Inspection. They both take pride in knowing that the guitars they put their hands on went on to make their owners very happy. They also both named the guitars in the Modern Deluxe Series as their favorites because of their superior tone.
46 | FROM THE WORKBENCH
CHRIS Chris has been working at Martin for three years. He started in Binding and has moved on to Finishing. He enjoys Finishing because it is the point in the process where the guitars become beautiful. Chris’s favorite Martin is the D-35 because he is the proud owner of one. Chris cares about every guitar that he works on and loves seeing his workmanship on models used around the world.
R AC H E L Rachel has been working at Martin for four years and has been in Prefinish since the beginning. Rachel spends her time sanding bodies and necks, diamond shaping, reworking, and sizing. Rachel’s favorite thing about working at Martin is knowing the finished product will be the reason someone smiles. Rachel’s favorite Martin is the D-45 because of its beautiful pearl inlay around the body and the extra time and care it takes to finish. Rachel puts her heart into her work, the same as musicians put into their music, and she enjoys knowing they are tied together through music.
SUZANNE Suzanne has been working at Martin for seven years, beginning in Final Assembly and now in Final Inspection and Stringing. Her favorite part about her job is being the first one to hear a guitar’s sound after it has been strung for the first time. Her favorite guitar is an OM-28 because of the body size and sound.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
jam place IN
MUSIC IN THE TIME OF COVID-19
COVID-19 is everywhere and nowhere. In equal parts terrifying and tedious, the novel virus has redefined the world as millions have been infected but billions more fear it. The pandemic has radically transformed the musical landscape, making it unrecognizable from its former self. The endless array of summer festivals and club shows has receded into the social distance.
Even the 2020 Summer NAMM Show wasn’t spared, as the
organizers had to cancel the annual Nashville event due to the worldwide contagion. “We sincerely recognize the importance of this annual mid-year gathering for our industry,” NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond and NAMM Chair Chris Martin said in a statement. “However, the current circumstances make it impossible to hold the show or to undertake the many months of careful planning and preparation that are required to create a secure and organized event.” But it wasn’t just this show that had to be postponed. The 2021 Winter NAMM Show was also canceled for the first time since World War II. NAMM has successfully transitioned the 2021 Winter Show to a virtual experience." The pandemic has also affected musicians across the globe. Unable to tour, many musicians have turned to social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter to perform for their fans. Martin Guitar’s Jam in Place series has been an example of this kind of portal, garnering over 2.1 million views in 2020. Below is a first draft of history from artists who have performed on Jam in Place—ranging from bluegrass phenom Molly Tuttle to American Idol’s Scarypoolparty—about their experiences, musical and otherwise, during COVID-19.
BY CLIFF HALL
Illustration by Jane Beaird
ince the pandemic forced the entire music industry to shut down,” wrote singer/songwriter Anthony D’Amato, “Everyone’s
had to figure out new ways of reaching listeners.” From the actor Ed Helms’s variety show, Whiskey Sour Happy Hour, to Ben Folds casually tickling the ivories from his temporary home in Australia, many artists have embraced the web as the primary outlet to reach their fans and even make some new ones. In this spirit, how do hubs
Scarypoolparty | Photo by Nicole Busch
like Martin Guitar’s Jam in Place help you connect with your fan base?
AMYTHYST KIAH: Connecting online is the second-best platform that
SETH AVETT (of the Avett Brothers):
we have to stay connected. Live performance is a symbiotic relationship
Maybe someone gets hip to Martin guitars
between performer and audience, and it’s crucial to connect with any
because of my association with them or
form of art in this way. Although we all prefer to be in each other’s
somebody that’s a fan of Martin guitars
presence in person, I still get life from comments on a livestream or from
finds out about our music. So I guess it’s
my prerecorded performances after they’ve been aired. Technology can
just a really honest and obvious way for me
help us stay in the light, if we use it in healthy ways.
to connect with our fans. S C A R Y P O O L PA R T Y :
CAROLINE JONES: It’s much more spontaneous and, in some ways, I t helps you
more playful and connective than a concert. A livestream requires
understand that we’re all in it together.
perhaps being on your toes more and also more creativity because you
Playing that event is showing that we can be anywhere in the world and play music, and we all relate to it.
can’t do the same one twice. People won’t come back. ith one of the main revenue streams now unavailable, many artists have come to rely on web portals to grow and sustain their careers. Although many artists are forced to rely on their savings, as Seth Avett notes, trying
to use these platforms to take the place of live performance incomes is a tricky endeavor. How are you able to use social media platforms to support your career? CAROLINE JONES: Online digital platforms have been more of a way to expose folks to my music and gain fans. It’s all a challenge for everyone to monetize digital platforms when information and content have just become democratized and free. It’s the future, and I want to be on the leading edge of it. SIERRA FERRELL: Honestly, you just put it out there and hope for the best! You never know these days what’s going to go viral. I just do my thing. SCARYPOOLPARTY: I was writing music and established what made me happy. I got on American Idol, and … it pushes your career along a steady road where you’re trying to still figure out your artistry. More people are watching YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. For me, it was kind of scary. It’s not about the money at all. I’m just trying to support my mental health and make music that I like. ANTHONY D’AMATO: It’ll never replace the real thing, but it sure beats sitting around at home waiting for a vaccine.
Anthony D'Amato | Photo by Vivian Wang
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
ANTHONY D’AMATO: The most surprising feedback I get from fans has to be their requests. I’m always blown away by the obscure/older songs people want to hear, songs that I’d frankly forgotten I wrote. SETH AVETT: It doesn’t feel to me like we’ve lost any connection really at all. We have to be reminded of it by our own fortitude. And remember that this is temporary. Sometimes I do feel kind of disconnected from everyone. Molly Tuttle | Photo by Zach Pigg and Chelsea Rochelle
But in terms of music and the kind of beautiful back and forth we have with the people who
rtists like D’Amato are fortunate in that they have
support our music, I feel like we’re all full-on
a strong background in the technical side of music.
Knowing his way around the recording studio, he has
MICAH NELSON: Obviously, many people
been able to handle the transition to a web-based career well. For
miss the experience of getting together
other artists, there has been more of a learning curve. How’s it
with tons of other humans who share an
going, both doing tech (video and audio quality) and playing on
appreciation for live music, and so the virtual
concert is the next best thing to feeling that
MOLLY TUTTLE: It’s just kind of a weird gamble. The other day I did a livestream and had it all tested, and it was all fine. But when I went live, my audio was completely messed up. Then I ended up just doing it on my phone, which works a lot better. So you never really know what’s going to happen. SIERRA FERRELL: I’m finding out quickly I’m more artistic than internet savvy. Luckily, I have a few people around me to help.
sense of community with others around an artist’s work.
n July, fans of Jim Gaffigan applauded the end of his act in a very strange way: by flashing
their headlights and honking their horns in a
AMYTHYST KIAH: It has steadily improved. I have been using
parking lot. “Yes, stand-up comedy while you
what I’ve made in my virtual gigs to make equipment upgrades;
sit comfortably in your car,” tweeted Gaffigan
and I’ve gone down the rabbit hole of learning about lighting,
about the event. At one of his “Small Town
tripods, camera lenses, and video editing for prerecorded videos,
Drive-In” concerts, Alan Jackson’s fans did
and it’s actually become a lot more fun. I’m getting a bit of a taste
the same. Although some artists have come
of what life is like for professional YouTubers.
up with creative ways like these, not all have
been able to make this transition yet. Are you ne common thread that kept surfacing throughout
booking live concert dates yet?
these interviews was the importance of connection
MOLLY TUTTLE: I wasn’t sure about wanting
with listeners. Caroline Jones noticed this experience
to tour until there was a vaccine. And now
often became a virtual meet-and-greet in which people have the
you’re also like, “Do people even want to go to
opportunity to communicate with artists in a very unique way.
shows anymore?” too. I probably am not going
What feedback do you get from your fans? How does performing
to be going to shows for a while. There is a lot
for them online help them as well?
of stuff to consider, and I don’t want to put my
AMYTHYST KIAH: It absolutely helps; the comments are the
audience at risk at all.
equivalent of what people tell me in person when I meet them at
SETH AVETT: We’re trying to look at some
the merchandise table after shows. I know that watching concerts
creative ways of getting back out there and
through a screen all of the time is just strange for them as it is for
connecting with the fans quasi-in person.
me, so we share this sense that we are all in this together, trying to
We’re taking it a little bit at a time as much
navigate our way through society as it is currently.
50 | JAM IN PLACE
SETH AVETT: It feels like everything is heightened and our sensitivity is amplified. And I think that any music of merit can hit harder during a time of heightened sensitivity. The more isolated we feel, the deeper some songs feel. SIERRA FERRELL: A great escape. CAROLINE JONES: I think the same as always. Music is a profoundly powerful, magical force that touches the human heart in a way that nothing else can and allows people to connect with their realm of feeling and connect their souls. And that is just essential to the human experience. AMYTHYST KIAH: There is an opportunity to listen to new music that maybe you didn’t feel you had time for because you were so busy. Music, whether listening to it or creating it, is there to heal, reflect, speak out, or even escape for a little while. There’s room for all of it. MICAH NELSON: Medicine. Mental/emotional/ Seth Avett | Photo by Crackerfarm
spiritual health. Then again, that applies to BC
“the more isolated we feel, the deeper some songs feel.” ANTHONY D’AMATO: All the dates I had scheduled prior to the pandemic were unfortunately canceled. I’m not trying to rebook anything at the moment because it’s just too hard to know when or if things will be safe again, and I’d hate to have to just cancel everything all over again. So for now, I’m trying to channel all of my energy into writing and recording, so I’ll have lots of new things to release and share with people when the world finally does open back up for regular touring.
ne gift that this pandemic has given to most people is extra time. Some use this to cultivate activities like bread baking (see the very last
question), whereas others have been using these days for reflection. As art is one way to connect with the inner process, what is the role of music in the time of COVID-19?
Caroline Jones | Photo by Tyler Lord
(Before COVID-19) too and always will. Most of us would go insane and die if not for music.
ha d gone dark for a time be ca use of the outbreak,
so m e m usi ci a ns have been waiting to re ce ive
o rd e rs
h a d o rde re d b efore the pandemic hit. “ I a m pat i e nt l y awaiting the day that I w ill have my Sunburst 0 0 Custom, a p ro ject I know ha s been held up due to COVI D - 19, ” sa i d Amythyst Kiah. So, n atu ral l y duri ng t h is time, musicians h ave be e n p l ayi ng p rev iously purchased in st r u m e nts (o r sp ending time learning
Amythyst Kiah | Photo by JD Cohen Photography
n ew ones, such a s S ierra Ferrell, who h a s be e n wri t i ng new songs on the m an d ol i n)
d irect i ons.
W h at
Ma r t in
musical ot her
i n st r ume nts do you p l ay t hat b ri ng yo u t h e m ost comfor t i n t his sea so n of co ron aviru s? S ET H AV ET T : I have an HD-35 from 2 017 . I ’ ve p l aye d t hat and have played it every si ng l e d ay during the pandemic e n o u gh so t hat I p retty much have worn it o u t. MOLLY TUTTLE: I love the D-18. I think the D-18s are the most comforting instruments. The mahogany is grounding to me. It sounds so woody and so nice. That’s probably my favorite.
“music, whether listening to it or creating it, is there to heal, reflect, speak out, or even escape for a little while.” MICAH NELSON: When I was in Texas with my folks for two months hunkered down, there was a Martin steel-string guitar lying around that I ended up playing a lot. I honestly don’t even know what the model was. I never checked, but it sounded and played great! It brought me much comfort.
riting a great song is like catching lightning in a bottle. You can have all the time in the world, but some of the greatest songs (like Ray Charles’s “What’d I Say”) have been written in only 10 minutes. Given the ocean
of time before many artists, has this time inspired any new songs? If so, how and about what? MOLLY TUTTLE: Yes! I’ve been writing more than ever. It’s been really therapeutic to write songs during these unprecedented times. I’ve written some about feeling homesick and missing my family since I’ve been quarantined far away from them. I’ve also found myself listening to and writing more lighthearted, happy music this year, maybe to balance out the uncertainty. One thing I’ve enjoyed is doing co-writing over Zoom, which has been a super fun way to connect with songwriters all over the country.
Micah Nelson | Photo by Zach Pigg and Chelsea Rochelle
SIERRA FERRELL: It took me a few months to get in the swing; the first feelings were depression. Perhaps not depressed for me as much as for everyone. These days I’ve been really inspired! I seem to write about the sea a lot, broken love, and daydreams. AMYTHYST KIAH: Absolutely! My songs this time around are talking about situations larger than just myself, which is a departure from my current album I’m finishing. And the music has a dance rock feel. It very well may be a feel-good album with damning observations, but only time will tell!
hether it be hearing an encore at an outdoor amphitheater as the sun sets or being packed together like sardines at a secret show at a small club, there
are some things that online performances are not able to recreate. What’s the difference between playing live and online? Sierra Ferrell | Photo by Keni Omdahl
MOLLY TUTTLE: There are so many differences. There’s less of an adrenaline rush, which kind of helps me relax more and have more of a dialog. But then you don’t hear applause or get any real feedback from people. You turn it off, and you’re just sitting alone.
When we are in Texas at my folks’ ranch, we like to stargaze.
SETH AVETT: You’re in a room by yourself, and it’s a different kind of eye on you. Like an audience is really not there. It’s a trade-off. You’re able to sometimes connect to a more private moment that oddly will be seen by a bunch of people. Whenever we will be able to get back into a situation where we can work together, we’ll make a record. A lot of the joy and the fun in a record comes from us being together in a room. I don’t want to sacrifice that to make it come about faster.
MICAH NELSON: I was knitting a lot of hats for a while. My brother got a telescope and these great night vision goggles. SETH AVETT: I’m running a little more and alphabetizing my record collection, if that counts. In the new wilderness of the music world, it sure does.
here are some online sources, however, that are trying to bring order to the chaos. Billboard Magazine, NPR, and GRAMMY.COM all have updating links to keep music fans abreast of the
latest online concert offerings. ithout the recording studio as an option,
And even as vaccines are making their way across the
world, we are all using this time to redefine our lives and our
content to explore new avenues. Not
priorities as we live through an event that hasn’t happened
all are lofty goals, however, as once
in a century. The critical key is to not only adjust to the ever-
mundane activities have taken on a new life. What
changing rules to stay healthy and safe, but to try to thrive
new activities/hobbies has this extra time inspired
you to foster?
“I think that I and many others are able to stop and
MOLLY TUTTLE: I’ve been really into learning about
reflect on our life’s purpose and be able to speak out about
all the tarot cards and their history. And I have given
the things that matter most to us,” said Kiah about these
readings to friends. It’s a good way to stay connected
with people and check in with people emotionally.
SOMETHING OLD Photos courtesy of the C. F. Martin Archives
FROM THE MARTIN MUSEUM
B A B E R U T H - A N D LO U G E H R I G - S I G N E D 0 0 -1 8 S E R I A L # 2 6 6 7 9, 1 9 2 6 When Al Smith was running against Herbert Hoover in the 1928 presidential election, this 00-18 was used as a promotional item and was signed by many of Smith’s famous supporters. The most notable signatures on the top of the guitar are from Baseball Hall of Fame members and New York Yankees legends Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig. You can find both of their autographs to the right of the bridge.
DITSON STYLE 111 DREADNOUGHT SERIAL #37858, 1929 Developed in collaboration with Harry Hunt of the Oliver Ditson Company in 1916, Martin produced a series of unique wide-waisted guitars in three sizes and three different styles. The 111, 222, and 333 were the largest and became what we know today as the Martin Dreadnought.
54 | SOMETHING OLD
J O A N B A E Z P E R F O R M A N C E G U I TA R PRE-SERIAL #, CA. 1880 For a period of about three years between 1966 and 1968, Joan Baez used this 0-40 Martin guitar both personally and in her professional performances around the world. In addition, she recorded her 1967 album, Joan, with this guitar. Her handwritten set list includes several of Bob Dylan’s protest songs of the era. The guitar was originally loaned to Joan by her friend Joan Saxe of Sebastopol, California. It was acquired through Freeman’s auction house in 2015 and included several important pieces of Baez-related ephemera.
H A N K W I L L I A M S D -1 8 SERIAL #98611, 1947 It is likely that Hank Williams personally purchased this Martin D-18 from Art’s Music Shop in Montgomery, Alabama, in March of 1947. The grain of the top is distinctive, showing up in many promotional photos of Hank. Already having attained a degree of fame with the Drifting Cowboys, Hank performed with this guitar in his subsequent shows on the Louisiana Hayride and later during his famed years in Nashville. Hank eventually traded this guitar with his musician friend Curley Williams of the Georgia Peach Pickers, who performed with it until his passing in 1970. The guitar then passed to Curley’s daughter, Morelle Williams Henry, a longtime singer in the band. Martin acquired the guitar at a Christie’s auction in December of 2009.
WAY L O N J E N N I N G S D -2 8 SERIAL #95013, 1946 This D-28 was used extensively by Waylon on the road and at home. It has classic Style 28 herringbone inlay on its spruce top and Brazilian rosewood back and sides. This was the 42nd D-28 built in 1946, and construction on it was completed on May 25 of that year.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
C. F. MARTIN
SENIOR THE CABINET MAKER’S SON BY J A S O N A H N E R I n t he yea r t hat m a r k s
Photos courtesy of the C. F. Martin Archives
the birth of Martin’s founding fathe r, we celebrate his life and the events that brought us Martin guitars as we know and love them today.
A BABY IS BORN in a s mall tow n i n S a xo ny. H i s f a t h e r, a c a b i n e t m a k e r by t ra d e, i s a l s o k n o w n t o d a b b l e i n g u i t a r building. The guitar’s roots date back thousands of years, but the i n struments that the cabinet maker is building are more modern for their time. His guitars feature six strings arranged in single c ou rses, w h i c h h ad o n l y c o m e i n t o c re a t i o n arou n d 20 years earlier. He i s late r note d , in the area’s guild articles, to be the first craftsman to build a guitar in this fashion.
The son becomes a teenager, and the father notices that he is more interested in the guitar than the furniture that is being turned out of the family shop. He contacts the local violin makers’ guild to inquire if they have an interest in building guitars and if his son could a p p re nt i ce under them. The violin makers dismiss his request and tell him that the guitar is a pa ss i n g fad and they’d prefer to stick with instruments in the violin family that have been around for hundreds of years. I t is decided that the son mu s t c o m p l e te h i s t ra i n i ng e l s e w h e re,
THE SON LEAVES FOR VIENNA, AUSTRIA. and
56 | C. F. MARTIN SENIOR, THE CABINET MAKER’S SON
THE SON RETURNS TO SAXONY,
accompanied by his wife and their infant son.
He goes to work building guitars, but there is constant conflict with the violin makers, who feel they are the only ones who have the right to build stringed inst r u m e nts of any kind. Th ey claim the cabinet makers should carry on building furniture and leave guitar building to those who have the proper training and have completed a masterpiece, which is required to be certified as a member of their guild. The court proceedings determine that the cabinet makers can continue to build guitars. In large part, the court’s decision was based on the testimony of a local merchant who remarks that the guitars built by the young man were of the upmost quality.
The disagreements between the guilds are quiet for a
The young craftsman grows weary from the disputes
while, but the violin makers, who now saw potential in
with the violin makers. He knows there is a market
the sales of guitars, wanted to monopolize the market.
for his guitars far larger than what can be offered
Again, they complain to the authorities about the
in his town. He yearns for more freedom and more
cabinet makers infringing on what they thought was
opportunities. His father passes away, and, with this,
their sole interest—any instrument in the violin family,
he knows what he must do. Many people from his
which they now say includes the guitar. Once again,
town left for America to seek independence from
THE COURTS DECIDE IN FAVOR OF THE CABINET MAKER and decree that guitar manufacturing
the restrictions of the guild system, and he must do
is not included in the violin makers’ guild articles and
THE SON AND HIS FAMILY DEPART FOR NEW YORK CITY. the same.
the cabinet makers could proceed.
HE SETTLES IN WITH HIS FAMILY AT 196 HUDSON STREET IN LOWER MANHATTAN. He starts work right away building guitars and operating what will become a very successful music store. He sells a wide assortment of musical instruments that he imports from his connections in Germany. Even though his store becomes quite prosperous, it is the guitar that still fascinates him. In America, it is very popular, and, through the repairs he is doing, he sees guitars from other countries, most notably from Spain. He notices how favored the Spanish guitars are and the design differences between them and the guitars he learned to build. He finds some of the Spanish guitar elements appealing, yet he also prefers some of the methods he has been using for years.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
While the guitars he builds are evolving, he and his family are feeling more and more uncomfortable in their
new surroundings. They talk about retur ning to Germany but are concerned with the impact that it will have on his craft and about returning to the oppression they faced in Saxony. In the meantime, a friend of his
HIS WIFE FALLS IN LOVE WITH A SMALL PENNSYLVANIA TOWN AND ENCOURAGES HER HUSBAND TO SELL HIS SHOP IN NEW YORK AND SETTLE IN THE AREA. What she sees moves to Pennsylvania, and they arrange for his wife to visit.
reminds her of the town they left behind, and she tells him that most of the people speak German and the rolling countryside is a great relief from the hectic big city.
HIS SHOP IS SOLD, AND THE FAMILY MOVES TO CHERRY HILL, just north of the Moravian settlement of Nazareth. While he won’t have the same volume of business he had in New York, he can now concentrate on what interests him the most, the guitar. He experiments with different ideas and takes full advantage of the experience he gained repairing various guitars while in Manhattan. His focal point becomes blending the well-received Spanish guitars along with his own designs. He creates different styles of bridges and makes improvements to the bracing. With these changes, he discovers the new style in which he believes a guitar should
HE INVENTS WHAT BECOMES KNOWN AS AMERICA’S GUITAR. be built.
58 | C. F. MARTIN SENIOR, THE CABINET MAKER’S SON
On February 16, 1873, after 40 years of innovation in guitar building that would go on to become standards in the industry,
THE ONCE YOUNG MAN PASSES ON. What started
out as a struggle against restrictive guilds and endless opposition ends in triumph. He leaves behind a legacy that endures for six generations of his family. The design elements he created will continue to be used by the company he founded, and imitated by countless other builders, and the man’s name,
C. F. MARTIN, WILL LIVE ON IN THE HANDS OF
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
1 3 /4"
1 3 /4" NUT
LOW PROFILE STANDARD TAPER
1 2TH F R E T 2 1 /4 "
MODIFIED V STANDARD TAPER
2 1 /8 "
HIGH PERFORMANCE TAPER
PERFORMING ARTIST HIGH PERFORMANCE TAPER
MODIFIED LOW OVAL HIGH PERFORMANCE TAPER
SOME MODELS INCLUDE STANDARD TAPER. PLEASE VISIT THE MARTIN WEBSITE FOR SPECS.
HIGH PERFORMANCE TAPER
VINTAGE DELUXE HIGH PERFORMANCE TAPER
KEY BARREL FINGERBOARD
LOW PROFILE VELOCITY HIGH PERFORMANCE TAPER
This graphic shows Martin's most commonly used neck profiles. The neck profile contributes to t h e co mfort and playability of the g uitar, which varies from player to player. To decide which neck profile is best for you, we encourage you to visit a Martin Dealer to give them a try.
CHOOSING A STRING GAUGE String gauge is an important part of your playing experience and getting the best possible sound out of your guitar. We’ve compiled some helpful information about acoustic guitar string gauges to assist you in making an informed decision about what strings are best for you.
WHAT DOES STRING GAUGE EVEN MEAN? Gauge refers to the diameter of a string. Gauges are described in thousandths of an inch and can be found listed on the back of a string pack. Overall, string gauges are classified as:
For purposes of this article, we’ll refer to anything from Extra Light to Light as “lighter,” and anything from Medium to Heavy as “heavier.” While we want this article to be a comprehensive overview of string gauges for acoustic guitars, it is important to note that Martin does not recommend Heavy gauge strings for any Martin guitars. We recommend using only Extra Light through Medium gauge strings on our guitars. Heavy strings can cause too much tension on the top, which may cause irreversible damage.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A STRING GAUGE WHAT IS YOUR EXPERIENCE LEVEL?
WHAT IS THE BODY SIZE OF YOUR GUITAR?
If you’re just starting out, it’s not unusual that your fingers
While string gauge is very much a matter of personal
will have to toughen up a little. Lighter gauge strings will
preference based on tone and feel, most manufacturers
be more forgiving on your fingers as you’re learning, but
recommend string gauge based on guitar body size. This
as your dexterity and hand strength improve, you may
is primarily due to the amount of tension exerted on the
find you prefer strings with different qualities.
guitar top by the strings. In general, the larger the body,
LIGHTER • Easier to fret (important for beginners) and to bend • Better resonance under a lighter touch, common when first starting out
HEAVIER • Bigger sound, provide more volume and resonance • Better tuning stability, stay in tune longer
WHAT STYLE OF MUSIC DO YOU PLAY?
the more tension it can withstand.
LIGHTER • Exert less tension and are typically recommended for smaller bodied guitars such as 0, 00, 000, and OM, plus all cutaway models
HEAVIER • Exert more tension and are typically recommended for larger body sizes such as D, Jumbo, and Grand Jumbo
WHAT SOUND ARE YOU GOING FOR?
Certain techniques and styles of playing will demand
Are you playing for yourself in your living room? Or do
different attributes from your strings and can impact
you need your sound to reach the back of an auditorium?
which gauge you should choose.
You’ll want to be sure to choose the right string gauge
LIGHTER • Good choice for rock, folk, country, and blues style playing with a lighter attack (plucking) • Allow for easier bending of notes
HEAVIER • Good choice for bluegrass and genres that require tuning down • Good choice for rock, country, and blues style playing with a harder attack
that will help you and your guitar sound the best.
LIGHTER • Offer appropriate volume and range for playing in an intimate setting
HEAVIER • Produce more volume and sustain • Great choice if you’re accompanied by other players
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
EXPERIMENTING WITH STRING GAUGE
If you found yourself aligned with most of the qualities of “lighter” strings outlined here, choosing a
string labeled “Light” is a good starting point. If you’re finding finger-fatigue is an issue, or you wish it was easier to bend notes, try Extra Light or Custom Light gauge strings.
If most of the qualities prescribed to “heavier” strings appealed to you, start with strings that are labeled “Medium.” While Martin does not recommend using Heavy gauge strings on Martin guitars, for amplification, sustain, drop/down tuning, or tuning stability reasons.
we want to paint a complete picture of string gauge options. Some guitarists use Heavy gauge strings
One thing to keep in mind when trying out a new string gauge is to make sure your guitar is set up correctly for the gauge you’re playing. Things like fret buzz can be a symptom of needing to visit a
luthier to have your guitar adjusted.
MARTIN STRINGS: WE MAKE OUR OWN
Martin Guitar makes our own line of acoustic guitar strings in Extra Light through Medium gauges from a variety of material options to suit every player. All of Martin’s guitars come strung with Martin
You can visit martinguitar.com/strings to browse our entire collection of guitar strings, including
our popular Authentic Acoustic strings.
WHATEVER STRINGS YOU CHOOSE, CHANGE THEM OFTEN Even the very best guitar strings won’t last forever. As you play your instrument and the strings are exposed to various environmental elements, you will notice the sound of your guitar will gradually lose brilliance. At this point, you will want to replace the strings. We recommend replacing the entire set, as replacing only one string causes an unbalanced sound.
64 | CHOOSING A STRING GAUGE
strings, but they will give any brand of acoustic guitar the tone it deserves.
HOW TO CHANGE YOUR STRINGS Below you will find Martin’s preferred string changing method. This is how we string all of the guitars that leave our factory. We believe this method provides the most stable and consistent playing experience for the life of the strings.
There is something very special
that happens when you change the
strings on your guitar for the first time. It’s truly the moment that this guitar
becomes yours.You breathe new life
into it. It’s a love that will last a lifetime.
To watch a video on how to change strings, click here. youtu.be/LS6cDJ4dsIo
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
H A P PY R E T I R E M E N T, J AC K I E !
IT’S TIME FOR AN ADVENTURE After serving five years as President of C. F. Martin & Co., last year Jackie Renner announced her plans to retire effective October 1, 2021. During her tenure, Jackie guided the company’s strategic planning, global operations, and key initiatives with grace and inspiring determination. We sat down with Jackie to discuss her time at Martin and what lies ahead for her. What was your favorite thing about working at Martin? The fact that Martin has long embraced social and environmental responsibility at the core of its culture has been very important to me. Yes, profitability is important. But you can have both. The care of our employees, the environment, our business partners, and the communities in which we operate is demonstrated by my colleagues every day. Their creativity, craftsmanship, and passion for music and our industry have made Martin a great place to work. What accomplishments are you most proud of? When I joined Martin in 2015, I wanted to help strengthen the company and reinforce its legacy. As I retire, despite the pandemic, I believe we are stronger. I want to thank our entire leadership team and all our colleagues for that. We have expanded our Mexican operations twice since I joined the company and will open a new central distribution center this year. We introduced the patented SC-13E guitar in 2020, which was received enthusiastically by consumers. We continued to build the Martin brand and expand our international presence. And we became the first company in the musical instruments industry to become B Corp ® certified, reinforcing our commitment to all our stakeholders. Do you have any special retirement plans? Last year, when I set a 2021 retirement date, my immediate plans looked different than they are today. My husband and I planned some significant international travel this fall. Now, I think those plans will wait for 2022. Longer term, I intend to remain engaged in causes near to my heart. Any final thoughts you’d like to share? While I look forward to the next chapter in my life’s journey, due to the pandemic, I will miss not having seen our business partners in Anaheim at NAMM. I will have to use virtual meetings to thank them for their partnership and their friendship over these years. I hope I will be able to say goodbye to all my Martin colleagues in the U.S. and Mexico in person. I hope everyone I have had the privilege to work with will remain healthy in the coming year and beyond. I hope music will remain important to everyone. All of us at Martin want to thank Jackie for her hard work, dedicated leadership, and unwavering commitment to the brand. We wish her all the best for a wonderful and welldeserved retirement.
66 | JACKIE RENNER RETIREMENT
Photo by Andrew Tomasino
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
NORTH STREET ARCHIVES
1968 D35-S In 1965, with Martin’s supply of Brazilian rosewood running low, the company came up with the idea of building a Dreadnought model with a three-piece back. Utilizing the smaller pieces of this highly prized tonewood that were available saved who knows how many pieces of Photos courtesy of the C. F. Martin Archives
wood and allowed them to be used for their intended purpose, the back of a Martin guitar. The D-35 would come to be the choice of players like Judy Collins, Johnny Cash, Seth Avett, and David Gilmour.
68 | NORTH STREET ARCHIVES
IVORY TO IVOROID Possibly C. F. Martin & Co.’s first act of sustainability was discontinuing the use of elephant ivory for binding and bridges. In 1918, this notice was sent in catalogs to the company’s dealers. The material that Martin chose for binding was ivory-grained celluloid plastic called ivoroid, and models that once had ivory bridges installed on them were switched to bridges made of ebony.
ECOLOGICAL POLICY Martin Guitar was a trailblazer in the guitar industry when they formalized their ecological policy in 1990. The policy embraced the responsible use of traditional tonewoods in guitar building and encouraged the introduction of sustainable and alternative wood species. Martin was also one of the original participants in the founding of the Woodworkers Alliance for Rainforest Protection. As part of educating the guitar-playing community, Martin released this ecological pamphlet on Responsible Guitar Building.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
T H E U N F O R G E T TA B L E
IN MEMORIAM J O H N P R I N E | 1 9 4 6 –2 0 2 0 John Prine is a two-time Grammy-winning singersongwriter,
performer, whose career dates back to the early 1970s. He is known for his unique blend of country and folk music and is considered to be one of the most influential songwriters of his generation. His lyrics touched on the melancholy complexities of life, love, and current events and often included social commentary that was peppered with humor. He was a master of recognizing talent in younger artists, like Jason Isbell, Margo Price, and Kelsey Waldon, which continued to connect him with new generations of fans across the folk, country, and Americana genres. We, at Martin, were honored that John was a longtime brand ambassador who played a 1960s D-28 for most of his career. We had the pleasure of working with John to develop a custom signature edition that was launched in 2017 to commemorate his 70th birthday. When he came to the factory to design the guitar, he made it clear that he wanted to keep the guitar very true to his original D-28. He wanted the experience of the folks who bought it to be similar to his own. We look back fondly on those moments with John and are grateful to have been an integral part of his tremendous career. Rest in peace, John.
Photo courtesy of the C. F. Martin Archives
70 | IN MEMORIAM
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |
THE 1833 SHOP
Martin offers a variety of eco-friendly products, so you can show your Martin pride while doing something great for the future of our planet.
V E G A N S U E D E M I N I M A L I S T WA L L E T S Low-profile, classy billfold to carry just the essentials on gigs or out with friends. Crafted from vegan leather, this wallet says “Martin” with timeless, functional style. Fits 7-10 cards and has a slot for cash in the back. The best part is, they are made from vegan suede, which is good for the planet!
N A L G E N E ® WAT E R B O T T L E Quench your thirst and minimize your
ECO DENIM STRAP
carbon footprint using our latest water
From the oldest maker of denim in the U.S., we offer this
bottle from Nalgene.
sustainable cotton denim strap with eco-friendly ink and 100% vegetable tanned leather. Super comfortable for you, and great for the earth!
* I T E M S M AY C H A N G E A N D A R E S U B J E C T T O AVA I L A B I L I T Y. P L E A S E V I S I T T H E 1 8 3 3 S H O P T O V I E W T H E M O S T C U R R E N T E C O - F R I E N D LY M A R T I N B R A N D E D P R O D U C T S : W W W . M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M / 1 8 3 3 - S H O P
72 | THE 1833 SHOP ®
R E C YC L E D A L U M I N U M S I G N S Display your Martin Pride with a touch of nostalgic flare. This vintage-styled metal sign is made from 100% recycled aluminum and suitable for indoor or outdoor use.
EARTH BAG It doesn’t matter if you are hitting the gym after work, heading off to a gig, or enjoying a sunny day at the beach. This drawstring bag is without doubt suitable for every occasion. Made from recycled plastic bottles and recycled billboards. No two bags are ever the same.
M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |