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Martin Guitar - The Name That Means Quality

by Daniel Wright

Already in business for more than one hundred and seventy years, the Martin Guitar Company sells acoustic guitars that are considered among the best musical instruments in the world. The company has continuously managed to thrive in the ever-changing music industry. From the creations of C. F. Martin, Sr. of the 1830's to the latest developments introduced by C. F. Martin IV, the family-run business has achieved remarkable feats, reflecting six generations of guitar making. C. F. Martin is definitely an indisputable leader in the music industry.

The story behind one of America's most famous guitars began on January 31, 1796, in Markneukirchen, Germany, with the birth of Christian Frederick Martin, Sr. Born into a long line of cabinet makers, Christian Frederick took up the family craft at the early age of 15, when he left his hometown and traveled to Vienna to apprentice with Johann Stauffer, a renowned guitar maker.

The accepted practices of business during the early days of Martin guitar making were much different from those of today, they were those of a simpler time. In that time it was common to barter in retail trade, and C. F. Martin's personal records show many entries where he traded musical merchandise for something else such as clothing, or a case of wine. The Lower East Side of New York City, with its teeming masses, was a much different world than the pastoral Saxony where Martin spent his childhood.

In the ensuing years, the company experienced several exciting commercial and technological breakthroughs. Historical records show C.F. Martin and company selling guitars through high profile retailers in New York City, and through other busy ports of call. Additionally, guitars showed up along many cities serviced by waterways, as this was prior to the railroads crossing the continent.

The lengthy history behind Martin's guitars is a fascinating one. Martin's shipping records date back to the mid-nineteenth century, where it looks like business was booming. They provide records of the many sales transactions involving shipment of guitars to clients in Boston, Albany, Philadelphia, Petersburg, Nashville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, and New Orleans. Due to high customer demand, the company even published an ad in 1850 stating that "C.F. Martin Guitar Maker" was going to enlarge its factory.

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 Guitar over the years, but the company attitude towards guitar building has never varied. Frank Henry Martin explained to potential customers, "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. showcases dozens of Martin Guitars as well as and hundreds of other acoustic guitars. New musical instruments added every day.

Filed in Hobby, Music

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