b. Christian Frederick Martin, 31 January 1796, Saxony, Germany. Martin established his guitar factory in 1833 at 196 Hudson Street, New York. By the time the company relocated to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, six years later, the organization was already on its way to becoming as synonymous to handmade acoustic guitars as Stradivarius was to violins. Its continued success was due to a refusal to change, cheapen or speed up the method in which the instrument was produced. During the folk boom of the early 60s, demand was such that the factory was taking 36 months to fulfil orders. The most famous of Martin’s many styles of guitar is the Dreadnought. First manufactured in 1931, this guitar set the standard which is copied by most other manufacturers. Today, it remains a popular instrument for bluegrass, folk, blues and rock artists. The Dreadnought is renowned for its booming bass sound, and for some, an uncomfortably high string action. However, such action provides a beautiful tone and arguably the finest in pure acoustic guitars. In addition to regular guitars, Martin has also been a leading maker of ukuleles and mandolins, applying similar painstaking standards to each instrument. During the acoustic rock boom of the 70s, the guitar to be seen with was a D45, with its beautiful pearl inlay. On the first D45, made in 1933, one of the Martin craftsmen inlaid Gene Autry’s name onto the fingerboard. This luxury is now particularly popular with US country singers. In recent years the company has adapted to changing demands by integrating an electro-acoustic device to amplify sound, competing with companies like Ovation, which pioneered this method. People will always pay more for the finest piece of craftsmanship, and Martin continues to lead the field as the Rolls Royce of acoustic guitars. Their longstanding historian and pearl inlay specialist Mike Longworth died in January 2003. Dick Boak has since taken over the mantle.
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