The test of time often proves that you are dealing with a qualified, if not exceptional company. The Martin Guitar Co. was started in New York way back in 1833 by C.F. Martin Sr. Being a native of Germany, based on some obscure information, the move to New York is somewhat comical in nature. Mr. Martin was a guitar maker, or luthier. His woodworking prowess caused much pressure from the Cabinet Makers Guild and The Violin Makers Guild to join their Unions(yes, they had unions that long ago). Within several years he fled to America to open The Martin Guitar Company in New York. However two years later the factory was moved to Nazareth, Pa. and has remained there and expanded as necessary ever since then.
The first thing that hits you as you enter the factory is a quote from Eric Clapton “If I could choose what to come back as, it would be a Martin OM-45.” Words like this brought to mind how much people love their Martin guitars. I specifically mean love them for the beauty, materials and love put into the building of each Martin Guitar. Simply put, because of the exquisite workmanship of Martin guitars and their unmatched tone and playability, they are the gold standard for aspiring acoustic guitarists. To have a Martin guitar, or even a custom Martin is one of the few rites in their lifetime with this amount of significance.
Martin openly puffs up their chest when it comes to their place in American music and all of the noted(no pun intended) musicians who have used and swear by their instruments. As the Martin Company celebrates their 175th year of business one gets the feeling that the tremendous heritage created will continue in greatness.
Some of the artists who use Martin guitars have CD and album covers displayed on one of the walls. Representing such artists as Elvis Presley, Jimmie Rogers, Paul Simon, Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams and Stephen Stills. Don’t forget Andy Griffith played a D-18 model! So many icons have played Martin guitars there are not enough wall space to honor fall of them.
During the factory tour, the various steps that include more than 3oo very precise procedures and a few weeks of time become very evident. This is no jery rig factory. It has a blend of the most modern hi-tech equipment with a big helping of old world craftsmanship. For some this part of the tour may be tedious, for people who like to know, this is an interesting and remarkable story of cutting, machining and assembling a guitar masterpiece.
The museum is what most folks come for. From some of the 19th century instuments that look awkward and bulky to the transition to modern styled guitars, the museum guides have the type of enthusiasm for Martin guitars that is infectious. The guide can also tell you in great detail very enthusiastically about every one of the 170 plus guitars on display.
Before I forget, it is very important to note that not only can you admire these beautiful guitars, but you are encouraged to pick one up and start to pluck a few notes. And, you are not limited to their least expensive models. Want to play an Eric Clapton custom guitar, them pick it up and go to town. they don’t mind. In fact if you listen closely, their are plenty of people strumming their favorite tunes in the players room.
Want a tour of The Martin guitar Museum? Hours include Monday – Friday 8 am to 5 pm and The Factory Tours are from 11 am to 2:30 pm. Call 610-759-2837 to make a date.
Note: If you dig The Three Stooges, the Stoogeum is in Philly. It is fantastic and worth every bit if not more than the cost of the tour, which is free.
If you love guitars like we do at Guitar players Center, than this is the type of relaxed, fun and informative trip to take. With the amount of experience and love put into the manufacturing process, it would be hard not wanting a Martin guitar after the tour.
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