The Martin Guitar Blog
June 21st celebrates not only the summer solstice but national Make Music Day!
As a proud sponsor of Make Music Day, Martin Guitar hosted an all day jam session in the visitor's lobby. Martin Guitar employees performed from 8AM to 5PM. Visitors to the Martin factory were encouraged to join in and the local Nazareth Acoustic Eagles even performed for us. You can catch our Director of Marketing Chris Thomas perform here.
A number of Martin Guitar dealers also participated with free guitar lessons, open mics, and more!
Find a round up of the 2017 Make Music Day here. And don't forget to make your calendar for June 21, 2018 to celebrate the next Make Music Day at Martin Guitar!
The popular 15-Series has two fantastic new additions! Discover the D-15M Streetmaster and 000-15M Streetmaster.
Built to the same specifications as the D-15M and 000-15M models but with a beautifully distressed satin finish. The StreetMaster is perfect for your next gig, whether it be at the historic Ryman Theater or a day of busking in the big city. Enjoy the look and feel of a well-worn instrument with the lifetime warranty and the superb playability of a brand new guitar. The 15 Series StreetMaster models come with a gig bag making them ready to hit the streets!
You can learn more about the new D-15M Streetmaster and 000-15M Streetmaster here.
The gorgeous finish of the GPCPA4 Shaded will make heads turn no matter what venue you decide to play in.
The acoustic-electric guitar is crafted with the finest Sitka Spruce top and Sapele back and sides. The warm shaded top gives a vintage feel while the artist profile neck and Fishman F1 electronics are perfect for the modern performer's plug and play needs. The guitar is strung with SP Lifespan strings that along with the tone woods provide a great response and sound.
You can explore the GPCPA4 Shaded here. Don't forget between now and June 18th you can save up to $200 instantly on PA4 Series guitars during the eXceptional sales event happening at an authorized Martin dealer within the USA.
We'll bring the Martin Dreadnoughts, you bring the jam session!
Martin Guitar will be in Nashville, Tennessee this weekend for CMA Music Festival. You can find us on 2nd and Broadway where we will be jamming all weekend, giving away cool gear, plus the chance to win a Martin guitar! Come visit us between 10AM-6PM Thursday, June 8th through Sunday, June 11th. You can find a full list of festivals Martin Guitar will be attending here.
Also don't forget to catch performances from Martin Ambassadors Dierks Bentley, Thomas Rhett, Sam Hunt, Brandy Clark, and Hunter Hayes during the weekend. For a full list of 2017 CMA Music Festival performers, click here.
A truly eXceptional event is happening at an authorized Martin dealer near you!
Starting May 28th, 2017 through June 28th, 2017, you can head to an authorized Martin dealer in the USA to save up to $200 instantly on select Martin guitars including the PA4 models, D Jr, models, LX models, and X-Series models.
Dealer participation may affect discount amount.
American Songwriter caught up with Martin Ambassador Taylor Goldsmith and his band Dawes for the C.F. Martin & Co. Presents: Dawes.
The band performed two acoustic tunes off of their latest album, "We're All Gonna Die." The performances of "Roll With The Punches" and "Roll Tide" took place at the Ryman Auditorium before the band's two night stand on April 28th and 29th.
Martin Ambassador Taylor Goldsmith's Martin guitar of choice is the OM-28E Retro. You can purchase the OM-28E Retro by finding your nearest authorized Martin dealer, finding a certified online Martin dealer, or exploring the buy from factory program.
When you want everyone to know that Martin is yours, you can do so by adding some personality of your own to it. Just like a favorite tattoo or the quirky clothes you wear, you can do the same for your guitar.
You may not know this but you can add almost anything you want to personalize your instrument in the Martin Custom Shop. From something as simple as having your name inlaid into the fingerboard, quoting a favorite verse, to full blown artists’ renderings inlaid with gems and gold. If you dream it, we can make it.
How is this all possible? We have to ask the inlay specialists. There are two employees working in the Martin Custom Shop, Sean Brandle and Brent Williams, who specialize in producing the inlay work. Whether creating their own artwork from scratch or recreating works given to them, these guys can do some amazing things when it comes to inlaying guitars.
Sean and Brent have both been working at Martin Guitar for six years. Sean was formerly a graphic designer before he started working with the Martin team. While at Martin, Sean first learned rim assembly operations and then moved into the Custom Shop where he was able to get his creative juices flowing. Sean has designed several art pieces of his own that are being made right now. Brent also learned other operations throughout the facility, including rim assembly and pearl inlay, before transferring into the Custom Shop. One of the reasons these guys love their jobs is because every day is different.
Each guitar they work on is like creating a piece of art. One of our esteemed dealers said, “They are making the museum pieces of the future." I have to agree, some of the work they are doing is really amazing! Sean and Brent said the most rewarding part of their job is when a customer comes to the factory to pick up their guitar. They get to see their vision come to life and witness the extreme gratitude the customer has. It’s not every day you get to meet the artist that created your piece.
Sean and Brent have been working with many new materials to inlay guitars. The most traditional inlay has been mother of pearl. But Brent’s favorite material to work with is wood. He uses many species of wood to create his scenes. He discovered a special sand shading technique that he applies to each piece that really brings his projects to life. Other inlays that are used include reconstituted stone, blue and green paua pearl, rare coins, and even a request for the owners’ ashes to be turned to diamonds. Below is a fingerboard inlaid with many exotic woods to create a desert scene.
Many people have asked Sean and Brent how these amazing pieces are made. They can’t give away all of the secrets, but they said some are done the old way by hand with a coping saw and a pencil grinder, a small type of dremel tool. While some are now using today’s technology with finely tuned CNC equipment to assist in making very intricate cuts. Sean and Brent’s vision for the future is to help design products that will become cherished customs. Some other pieces that they have worked on recently include this:
Custom Eagle Inlay
Ace of Spades Fingerboard Inlay
Custom Lion Head
Custom Ornamental Bridge
Ready to get started on your own piece of art? Contact your local authorized Martin dealer to begin the custom guitar making process.
Steve Hess is a twenty-three year veteran who has had guitars around his entire life. Steve is a third generation employee of Martin Guitar, having his father and grandfather both retire after many years of service. Steve has worked with guitars throughout his life. Steve spent six years at Martin learning the fine art of customer repair work. He then moved into the Quality Assurance department and has held several management roles. Steve is currently the manufacturing manager of the Custom Shop. He enjoys travel, meeting new people, and getting to share the Martin brand with guitar enthusiasts. Steve said one of his favorite things is when a person asks where he works and can proudly say, “Martin Guitar!" People are instantly blown away and jealous.
In 1994, the crew of the Columbia Space Shuttle STS-62 boldly went where no guitar has gone before with the launch of a miniature Backpacker “Space Guitar” which was sent to orbit around the earth.
Now in 2017, Martin Guitar is celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Martin Backpacker! Available only in 2017, the limited edition Backpacker is constructed with sapele top, back, and sides. The Martin Backpacker is strung with Martin Acoustic strings and is the perfect for summer travel.
Explore the 25th Anniversary Martin Backpacker here. You can also purchase it by finding your nearest authorized Martin dealer, finding a certified online Martin dealer, or exploring the buy from factory program.
The 2017 CMT Music Award nominees have been announced and three Martin Ambassadors are nominated!
Nominations include: Dierks Bentley and Elle King’s “Different For Girls” for Video of the Year and Collaborative Video of the Year, Thomas Rhett’s “Star Of The Show” for Video of the Year and Male Video of the Year, and Thomas Rhett along with Nick Jonas and Danielle Bradberry for CMT Performance of the Year.
The CMT Music Award show will air on June 7th.
Martin Ambassador Dierks Bentley's Martin guitar of choice is the D-28, while Elle King opts for the OMCPA5 Black, and Thomas Rhett reaches for his Custom Martin guitar.You can purchase these guitars by finding your nearest authorized Martin dealer, finding a certified online Martin dealer, or exploring the buy from factory program.
We found the slope shoulder guitar you've been searching for!
The 00LX1AE is a new release from Martin Guitar and is constructed with a Sitka spruce top and mahogany patterned high-pressure laminate back and sides. The build of this guitar allows for major tolerance to fluctuating temperatures so you and the guitar can travel with ease. A faux tortoise pick guard and Richlite fingerboard and bridge complete the look of the 00LX1AE. Its Fishman Sonitone electronics and SP Lifespan strings make it perfect for your upcoming gig.
I was recently watching one of the “reality” TV shows, where people go to offbeat location to do odd things. This led to me remarking out loud, “I have been there, I did that, but I had clothes on." This comment of course got a lot of odd looks, and I had to get out my cell phone and play show and tell. While most people like hearing the stories of me almost getting blown up, being held hostage, or having bugs lay larvae under my skin, generally speaking most people ask “Why would you do that?" When this question is posed to the reality “stars," they usually have something to prove to themselves, their families or friends. (Yes I find that really stupid too).
My answer is always one word, guitars!
Next time you are undecided about paying that extra .5% for the guitar of your dreams, think of the process…. and my near death experiences. And now on with the show.
Hello from somewhere in the world. Today we are after River Monsters a.k.a Sinker Mahogany. Shhhh Be vewy vewy quiet, we’re hunting logs.
I think we have spotted one of the rascally creatures!
The one that did not get away!
Now we are off to the sawmill where we see if this is a guitar quality log. Fingers crossed. Absolutely beautiful, but not quite what I am looking for. This will make someone a nice table. Fortunately for you, there is no smellavision. When you cut Sinker Mahogany, it smells like 100 skunks got angry, all at the same time.
I see guitar parts!
In a few months, these will be great sounding guitars. Speaking of sound, I have noticed that Sinker mahogany has a tendency to have deeper bass response than standard Mahogany. I believe this if from all the sediment the wood picks up sitting under the water for 300 years. If you look really close, you can see little black specks in the pores. In house, we call this pepper. Add finish and ….
Michael Dickinson is a 26-year veteran of Martin Guitar. Michael has worked in numerous departments, such as the Sawmill and Customer Service, and is the current buyer of exotic, alternative, and sustainable woods. Ask Michael is a bi-monthly column that will appear on the Martin Guitar blog.
Please note, Michael will not be responding to every comment left on the blog.
The new Martin DST guitar will quickly become a new favorite of yours.
The new guitar features forward shifted braces, an ebony fingerboard and bridge, along with a bone nut and saddle. The satin finish, solid wood guitar is crafted in Nazareth, Pennsylvania and includes a tortoise colored head plate, binding, and heel cap. The classic Dreadnought is equipped with Martin SP strings for ultimate resonance and tone. Get an even closer look at the Martin DST guitar here.
"The Great Comet of 1812" leads the 2017 Tony Awards with 12 nominations!
The musical, which is based on a 70-page melodrama at the center of Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, swept house with its amazing 12 Tony nominations. These nominations include: Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Original Score, as well as Actor in a Leading Role (Josh Groban) and Actress in a Leading Role (Denée Benton). The 2017 Tony Awards will air on Sunday, June 11th at 8PM(EST) on CBS.
Martin Guitar and Martin Strings are the official acoustic guitar and string sponsors of "The Great Comet of 1812." You can purchase tickets to see the magnificent musical here.
We couldn't have been more excited when we unveiled the third Ed Sheeran Signature Edition!
Built upon the LX1E Little Martin body, a favorite of Ed's, the new guitar continues with the mathematical themed album cover art. The guitar features a solid Sitka spruce top with Ed's album art and a blue soundhole rosette to match. The Ed Sheeran ÷ Signature Edition is gig ready! It features a custom interior label, Fishman Sonitone electronics, and a gig bag.
Ready to complete your Ed Sheeran Signature Edition collection? Find a Martin dealer near you to preorder. The guitar will officially be released in August 2017.
Strings can be one of the most overlooked pieces of gear by many guitarists. In essence, strings are the input source of the energy that goes into your instrument. Many players will choose a string type based on the recommendation of a friend, teacher, or guitar shop salesman. As you develop your ear and become a more fluent player, you will begin to learn the subtle nuances that the strings alone bring to your particular style of play. Once that occurs, one will find that there are an infinite number of choices out there in the marketplace and one type does not fit all instruments and playing styles. This can be confusing so it is best to ask yourself some questions to help narrow down the choices. I outlined two specific questions you should ask yourself to get started.
What gauge strings should I put on my guitar? This question can be answered though an evaluation of the style of music you play, how much physical strength you have in your hands, and the type of instrument you play. The string gauge will impact the stiffness of the string. I typically recommend that beginner guitar players start with an extra light or custom light set because the strings are not as stiff and easier to press down to get a note. Once a player gets more experience and the strength increases in their hands, it is good to move up in gauge to produce a louder, fuller tone. However, you may find that a lighter gauge string works better for your style of playing. If you tend to bend notes often, you may find that a medium gauge strings does not work as well as a light or custom light gauge.
The gauge of the strings has a direct impact on the amount of tension that is exerted on the top and neck of the guitar. All modern Martin guitars can handle up to a medium gauge set of strings. However, some instruments may be a little more fragile due to the construction. Some may require a lighter gauge to reduce neck bow and keep the top from lifting. Both of which will have a negative impact on the action and playability. Also, some instruments just seem to respond better acoustically to certain string tensions than others. This requires a little experimenting to find the right fit for your particular instrument. You may find yourself using different gauge strings on different guitars if you own several.
Do I like a bright or mellow attack? String attack can be defined as the actual sound of the string at the time your pick of fingertips strike the string. This characteristic is often overlooked but it is what makes a plucked instrument such as a guitar sound plucked as opposed to bowed. Lead players will often prefer a harder or brighter attack so they can cut through a mix of several instruments. Solo players may prefer a slightly rolled off or mellow attack as it may better suite the style of music they play. Plus, they are not competing with other instruments for volume.
String materials can influence attack. Probably the best place to start is to compare phosphor bronze wrapped strings to 80/20 wrapped strings. 80/20 is often preferred by bluegrass pickers due to its bright attack. Phosphor Bronze sounds bright out of the box but mellows a little quicker than 80/20. This characteristic tends to be a plus when recording since you get a little less sizzle on the high end and can sound a little more pleasing.
The string construction can also influence the attack of the string. For instance, our “SP Flexible Core” line of strings has a thinner core than the SP and traditional counterparts. The difference in the density of the materials and mass distribution will have an effect on the initial pluck of the string. We also have silk and steel strings that utilize a silver-plated copper wrap wire on a round core wire with nylon strands sandwiched in between which make of a very soft attack favored by finger style and folk players.
What you will find in the long run is that your choice of strings is a product of your specific taste. Over time, you may find that your taste in sound or physical requirements may change or perhaps you may need a new sound to inspire you. Strings are a great place to start because they are relatively inexpensive and a temporary piece of gear that will not last as long as your favorite axe.
-Bert Germick, R&D Technican
I own a bunch of Martins (000-15M, 000-28 Eric Clapton, LX1) and I love them all for different reasons. For years I’ve been toying with the idea of my perfect Custom Martin. This is going to be it for me… the last guitar I buy for a while so I really want to go for the gold and make it the ultimate guitar.
I’ve decided on an OM-Honduran Rosewood. I’m going for tone over glitz so I’m putting my money into hide glue and Golden Era bracing rather than pearl inlay. This will be a no-frills, killer sounding guitar! I’m stuck on the top though. I love the sound of Adirondack but it usually has wider top grain. I’ve always read that you want super tight grain on the top. Should I go with Sitka because the grain is tighter?
This question is asked more than you’d think! In short, it’s all about the stiffness baby! The sound quality you like so much about Adi (Adirondack) is probably the stiffness of the wood more than anything. And stiffness has a lot more to do with the internal structure of the wood than the actual width of the grain lines. People like to dissect it and try to find a formula for the perfect top. I’m not a botanist so all I can tell you is this…. Are tight grain Adi tops often stiff? Yes. Are wider grain Adi tops often stiff? Yes. Adi is one of the stiffest spruces out there. I’ve flexed some wide grain Adi tops that really surprised me with how stiff they were.
With that said, a player who really likes to dig in and bang on the guitar might like a stiffer top because he/she can drive it without things getting muddy. Less stiff tops like an Engelmann can really lend themselves to a softer player, finger picker, maybe a classical player. With that said, a stiffer top could be just fine for that same player. It depends on what your ear likes. I have yet to say, “wow, that’s a stinker” about a particular species of spruce. They’re all pretty great in their own way.
Anyway, let’s get back to Adi. My advice to you on your custom build is get the Adi! Dive in the deep end, my friend! It will work so well with the Honduran. I would go with ¼” Golden Era bracing. And YES on the hide glue… but that’s a whole other blog. Contact your local Martin dealer to get this thing started!
Emily has worked at Martin Guitar for 10 years. She has been cross-trained in every aspect of guitar building and currently serves as the Martin Guitar Custom Shop Administrator. Dear Emily is an advice column that will appear bi-monthly on the Martin Guitar Blog.
Martin Ambassador Thomas Rhett is flying high in 2017! He is becoming a father of two bundles of joy this summer, is racking up major award wins, and is now the owner of a 1940 D-18!
To celebrate his ACM win for Male Vocalist of the Year, Thomas Rhett's father, Rhett Akins, surprised him with a D-18 from 1940. Not only did Rhett surprise Thomas with the guitar, but he also picked himself up a D-18 from 1941. That is some serious father-son bonding right there!
Wishing for a D-18 like Thomas Rhett received? Check out the D-18 Authentic 1939 that was designed to exactly mirror a guitar from that time period.
Our team has the pleasure of working with clients from all corners of the world from all stations of life. From pro musicians, to studio hounds, to blue-collar enthusiasts. It doesn’t seem to matter if their venue is the big hall downtown or the living room. There seems to be a critical window when we see interest in a Custom Shop creation begin to gain momentum.
We collaborate on designs for dealers wishing to differentiate themselves from the market at large. Favorite features among their staff and regionally popular influences often drive their motivation. We work closely with others who wish to incorporate interesting bits of our diverse design history into their instrument. We may even take a walk through our expertly curated museum to gain inspiration for in-house designed creations.
Then there’s the most important design of all- yours.
Despite the countless combinations of materials, construction, shape and size we’re still presented with special requests that have never shown up in the hands of any player. Sure the occasional Brazilian Rosewood with pearl dripping off every corner gets commissioned, but the bread-&-butter of our work are what we refer to as “player preferences”. A simple change or two that can affect the comfort / playability or offer a desired shift of the instruments sonic potential. It’s surprising that most of our clients have a base level of familiarity to begin with (I.e. 000-18) and they know what they’d do to make it their one-of-a-kind like a wider neck and braces that might help to open up the top for finger-style. Now more than ever our work comes from someone excited to learn that they can get simply what they want.
Thankfully you don’t have to be a Martin hi2storian or have nerd-like ninja-knowledge of our construction strategy to make that simple change. This is the best time in history to get anything you’d rather have. It happens every day- your prescription for glasses is just a little different from mine. It’s possible to trace your feet to have custom shoes or orthotics made. Pick some material, provide a few key measurements and PRESTO- I’m wearing clothes that fit my awkward frame like a super model. Your house, your car, your computer, your phone, your dinner tonight . . . you’re making choices every day that customize the world around you. You’re the dreamer. . . You’re the designer . . . someone else might be hammering out the details back in the shop, but you’re calling the shots.
From the first guitar you ever picked up to the one you just put down, there’s a good chance the voices in your head are describing your custom. Check with your Martin authorized dealer. They know that “one-of-a-kind” is what we do.
The inspiration always comes down to passion and enthusiasm. And we build “one-of-a-kind” . . . one at a time . . . all the time.
Scott Sasser is a gear-o-holic. When he’s not buried in spreadsheets & collaborating with our clients on special products & programs as Custom Shop Director, he unwinds by building custom audiophile headphones and restoring vintage drums. . . or just trying to leave it all behind on a motorcycle. With a musician’s background and a specialized MI history, 2017 marks Scott’s 9th anniversary with Martin Guitar. If the iPod’s playing, there is a good chance he’s listening to Elbow or Nada Surf.
It's the moment NEEDTOBREATHE fans have been waiting for! The Martin Ambassadors have released new music along with a new music video.
People.com unveiled the new track "HARD LOVE" which features Andra Day. You can check out the new song and music video here.
As part of the release of the "HARD LOVE" song, the Martin Ambassadors are releasing a video series on their website that captures stories, relationships, triumphs, and challenges that shape how their fans think about hard love. You can view the Hard Love video series here.
The 00-15E Retro is the first 00-14 fret instrument in the Retro Series.
The acoustic-electric guitar features a solid mahogany top, back, and sides. The top is visually distinctive thanks to the 15-style burst. The 00-15E Retro comes equipped with Fishman F1 Aura+ electronics and is strung with SP Lifespan strings.
What makes the 00-15E Retro even better is the fact that MAP price has recently been reduced to $1,999! You can learn even more about the 00-15E Retro here.