The History of    C. F. Martin

The Martin Company, esablished 1833, is the oldest and most reknown name amongst the American producer of instruments. Its name has already been spread around for more than 50 years when Orville Gibson started in 1890 with Mandolines and it was more than 100 years before Leo Fender started to screw pickups to solid body guitar prototypes.

Unlike many of the big names in the guitar business, Martin never became a big company. Martin grew from a one-man to a small company in a small town. Even in the 60ties when there was a real demand for acoustic guitars less than 20% of the numbers that Gibson had produced left the Martin production. At a guitar exhibition in 1993 the dealers and shop owners had been told that they are sold out for one year ahead. While this was the result Martin did not want to sacrifice quality for quantity the dealers however ordered in spite of this. An evidence for Martin's quality.

Nowadays, as Martin also takes great responsability for the environment - save the forests - there is a big effort to substitute solid wood with laminated wood and alternative materials. Therefore, C.F. Martin Co. will be focussing on the basic roots, making acoustic flat-top guitars.

Martin’s steadfast adherence to high standards of musical excellence, mixed with experienced management, has largely accounted for the company’s remarkable longevity. Marketing methods and product mix have changed at Martin over the years, but the company attitude towards guitar building has never varied. In the preface to the 1904 catalog, Frank Henry Martin explained to potential customers, "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?" Almost eighty years have passed since Frank Henry Martin authored this statement of policy, but it still is an accurate expression of Martin’s ongoing commitment to quality


Dieter Staron

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