I’ve always wanted to write a story about a guitar-playing cowboy in the old West and I think I know what story I’m putting it in. The new series I just sold would be perfect. I wonder why this angle has been overlooked by authors.
Who knew Martin guitars went back to 1833 in America? This blew my mind.
But actually the story began in 1796 in Germany when Christian Frederick Martin Sr. was born. He grew up in the cabinet making business but apprenticed under guitar maker, Johann Stauffer.
C.F. Martin immigrated to America in 1833 and quickly set up shop in New York City. His business had a slow start. He made each guitar by hand himself. The problem was finding musicians to play them. His wife convinced him to move to Nazareth, Pennsylvania which he did in 1838. By 1873, business was thriving and he employed over a dozen craftsmen.
In the latter 1800s, Frank Henry Martin took over the business at age 22 after the unexpected death of his father, C.F. Martin Jr.
Frank is responsible for the family creed:
“How to build a guitar to give this tone is not a secret. It takes care and patience. Care in selecting the materials, laying out the proportions, and attending to the details which add to the player’s comfort. Patience in giving the necessary time to finish every part. A good guitar cannot be built for the price of a poor one, but who regrets the extra cost for a good guitar?”
This is surely the reason for the company’s amazing longevity.
Sixth generation, Chris Martin heads the company today. He employs hundreds of craftsmen, 600 in 2007. His guitars cost thousands of dollars. In 2004, they rolled out their millionth guitar. It had 40 inlaid rubies and diamonds on it and was worth one million dollars.
**A side note: Willie Nelson bought his Martin in 1969 and named it Trigger. It’s the only guitar he’s owned since. It was the only thing the IRS left him keep when they took all his possessions. They said the beat up thing wasn’t worth anything. He trusts only one man to look after it, onstage and off. He gets it reconditioned twice a year by a Martin repairman so he can keep entertaining the huge crowds who come to hear him. In case, you’ve never seen it, the guitar above–yeah, the one with the big second hole– is Trigger.
My songwriter sister, Jan Sikes, is faithfully guarding her husband Rick Sikes’ Martin after he passed away. He was a country/western singer.
Do you have any association with a Martin, either play it yourself or know someone who does?
I wonder how many Martins will be under the tree around the world this Christmas??
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