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VO L U M E

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BUILT TO LAST

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Sustainability at Martin Guitar

C. F. Martin Senior

THE CABINET MAKER’S SON JAM IN PLACE Music in the Time of COVID-19

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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

8.

L I N E R N OT E S Letters from the Community

10.

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

1 8.

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

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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

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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

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O R I G I N S TO R I E S

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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

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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

46.

FROM THE WORKBENCH

4 8.

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

54.

SOMETHING OLD

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C . F. M A RT I N S E N I O R THE CABINET MAKER’S SON By Jason Ahner

60.

N EC K P R O F I L E S

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C H O O S I N G A S T R I N G G AU G E

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JAC K I E R E N N E R R E T I R E M E N T

6 8.

N O RT H S T R E E T A R C H I V E S

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IN MEMORIAM John Prine

7 2.

T H E 18 33 S H O P ®

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

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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 journaleditor@martinguitar.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 |

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A WORD FROM CHRIS

TAKE IT FROM THE TOP

Sustainable

adjective

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.

Sincerely,

C. F. Martin IV | Chairman & CEO C. F. Martin & Co., Inc. M A R T I N G U I TA R . C O M |

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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

David F.

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 |

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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 |

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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.

5

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 |

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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

guitar building.

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 |

17


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 |

19


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 |

21


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.

SIGNATURE

MARTIN


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 |

27


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 |

29


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 |

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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

00L Earth

Construction

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

Top Material

Sitka Spruce

Top Detail

FSC ®-Certified Wood

Bracing Pattern

X Brace

Brace Shape

Scalloped

Brace Material

FSC-Certified Sitka Spruce

Brace Size

1/4"

Back Material

Sapele

Back Detail

FSC-Certified Wood

Side Material

Sapele

Side Detail

FSC-Certified Wood

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

Neck Material

FSC-Certified Sipo

Neck Shape

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

respect

working

for

a

company

that

takes

environmental issues seriously,” said Teel. “This project illustrates the importance of our planet and is depicted

Neck Taper High Performance Taper Plek

Yes

responsibly harvested materials, we will ensure the next

Nut Material

Bone

generation of musicians and luthiers will have great tonewoods to choose from when designing, building, and

Headstock Shape

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

main

environmental

focus

was

on

the

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 |

35


With

its

advanced

asymmetrical

shape

and

attractive

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

and-play

And

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

Fishman®

electronics.

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

Greene,

Martin’s

Vice

President

of

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

a

short-scale

persuasive

guitar,

selling

a

point

for those who require a cutaway. And by having no heel, chord shapes

their

and note runs can be

technique and style.

achieved above the

A broader spectrum

12th position without

of

contorting the hand

guitarists

will

embrace this model’s comfy contours, which are

unique

from

all

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.

or

distorting

the

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 |

37


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

the SC-13E.

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

scoop,

it advances up the frets. The profile on Martin’s neck

granting

unfettered

access

to

the

entire

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

treasure chests.

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

versatility

and

it’s resting on the bridge or palm-muting the strings.

advanced

shape

unmatched and

ergonomic

cutting-edge

ease.

Its

technology

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.

learn

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

firsthand

how

it

lives up to its reputation.


BY DAVID SCHNEIDER


Photos by Keaton Yoo

M

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 |

41


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 |

43


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 |

45


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 |

47


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


“s

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.

w

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 |

49


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

A

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.

connected.

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

your livestreams?

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.

I

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

O

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.

as possible.

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.

O

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.


A

s

many

guitar

factories

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

for

instruments

they

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)

to

d irect i ons.

explore

W h at

their

Ma r t in

or

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.

W

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!

W

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.

W

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.

T

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,

some

artists

have

And even as vaccines are making their way across the

been

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

as well.

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

uncertain times.

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 |

55


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

225 YEARS

since

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.

1796

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.

1811

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


1825

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.

1826

The disagreements between the guilds are quiet for a

1832

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.

1833

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.

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1835

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.

1839

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


1873

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

GUITAR PLAYERS

FOR CENTURIES

TO COME.

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1 3 /4"

1 3 /4" NUT

LOW PROFILE STANDARD TAPER

1 2TH F R E T 2 1 /4 "

MODIFIED V STANDARD TAPER

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.

D JUNIOR

HIGH PERFORMANCE TAPER

VINTAGE DELUXE HIGH PERFORMANCE TAPER

KEY BARREL FINGERBOARD

LOW PROFILE VELOCITY HIGH PERFORMANCE TAPER

10 TH

FRET CROSS-SECTION

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:

EXTRA LIGHT

CUSTOM LIGHT

LIGHT

MEDIUM

HEAVY

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.

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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

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®

001

. .052

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

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®

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 |

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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

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67


MARTIN ARCHIVES

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.

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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,

composer,

recording

artist,

and

live

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


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THE 1833 SHOP

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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 |

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MARTIN | The Journal of Acoustic Guitars: Volume 11  

MARTIN | The Journal of Acoustic Guitars: Volume 11  

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