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more... GearGear HistoryJuly 2008Martin

175...and Counting: Martin's 175th Anniversary


Martin''s 175th Anniversary

Let’s talk about the anniversary guitars. The 1833 Custom Models have some very exotic and figured wood. How were these developed?
A small group of experienced co-workers got together and selected the most dramatic wood species we had available, and combined aesthetics to create outstanding guitars.

Is there a special stock of wood for runs like these?
We have a limited amount of exotic specialty woods we chose for these models, but there are still enough sets available for special orders from authorized dealers or consumers.

Martin''s 175th Anniversary What anniversary guitars can players look for other than the 1833 Custom Models?
There’s the DX 175th, which features a graphic on the top commemorating the anniversary; the 00 Stauffer 175th, limited to 50 with the Stauffer headstock; America’s Guitar, limited to 175; and the LX 175th, which is only available in person at the factory’s 1833 Shop.

The virtual custom shop has opened up a lot of opportunities for the average player – with the money, of course – to get a Martin built to spec. How did this idea come about?
About a year ago I began a discussion with our Information Systems Department on making custom options more accessible to the public. We receive so many requests for simple changes to our stock models and even the smallest option change takes up valuable time internally. We decided to take the most popular options and create a virtual design tool to allow people to create and price a base model with custom options.

Anniversary Festivities
Aside from commemorative guitars, Martin has other projects in the works. From books (release dates TBA) and an October 10th Christie’s auction with a to-be-determined lineup of prototypes and other sought-after models to a CD compilation called My Favorite Martin. Ed Golden discusses the CD:
“Grammy award-winning Solid Air Records is in the final assembly and mastering stages of the My Favorite Martin project. We have been overwhelmed by the generosity and enthusiasm of the great players who have shown their appreciation by submitting tracks recorded on their favorite Martin guitars for this project.

“Laurence Juber’s pristine solo guitar version of Eric Clapton’s “Layla,” appropriately initiates the CD. An incredible roster of artists follows with tracks from Nancy Wilson of Heart, bluegrass veteran Peter Rowan, as well as ukulele master Greg Hawkes and southpaw guitarist Elliot Easton (both of The Cars). The CD continues with tracks from the Joker himself – Steve Miller of the Steve Miller Band, Roger McGuinn of Byrds fame, acoustic flatpicking wizards Norman and Nancy Blake, California bluesman Kenny Sultan, plus a special cut from one of the all-time bluegrass greats – Tony Rice – playing one of the most iconic Martin guitars ever. In addition, Prairie Home Companion’s Pat Donohue adds a track and fingerstylist Jim Earp lends a classic version of Van Morrison’s “Moondance.”

“No Martin compilation would be complete without across-the-pond representation from legendary U.K. guitarists Martin Carthy and Yes guitarist Steve Howe, plus Belgian guitar virtuoso Jacques Stotzem. Don McLean, whose collection includes over 40 Martin guitars, contributes the perfect closing track.”
All of the songs on this CD were recorded on Martin instruments or signature models owned by the individual artists, and many of the tracks were written or recorded specially for the compilation.

Customers have been able to get custom orders from Martin for some time though, right? How does this change that?
We have been building customs designed by customers and dealers for more than 25 years. The web-based design application is simply a tool, similar to what BMW would use where you can design your own car. Using the design tool allows us to be more accurate and eliminates any interpretation we might have to otherwise do when reviewing all of the line options. There are more than 70 line items involved in building each custom guitar and each line item may have up to 30 or more different variations in it.
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