Made in America: Martin Guitars

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The company’s founder and namesake came to America from central Europe in 1833. After spending the first six years in Manhattan, New York he moved with his wife to the Lehigh Valley, home to a growing population of German immigrants. One-hundred eighty-six years later, guitars bearing his name are still being made in the town where he settled. 

Acoustic guitars have undergone a series of significant evolutions over the years and Martin Guitar Co. has remained on the cutting edge. The 1850s saw one of C.F. Martin’s most significant design innovations, which is still in use today: the “X” bracing system. This system provides unparalleled support for the body of the guitar while still allowing for the resonance necessary to create beautiful acoustic guitar tones. 

Martin Guitars have since been played by the likes of Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and millions of guitarists worldwide, making Martin a brand name in its industry. 

C.F. Martin’s great-great-great-grandson, Chris Martin IV, currently is the company’s CEO. He has pioneered a number of innovations to modernize portions of the manufacturing process, while still preserving many of the traditional methods of guitar building. 

After six generations of family ownership, the company produced its one-millionth guitar in 2004. It took just another 12 years to produce its second million. 

This increase in production has not come at the expense of attention to detail though. On this episode of Made in America, host Tyler Kern takes a firsthand look at Martin’s intensive guitar-making process from start to finish. 

Kern will also discover that Nazareth’s musical connection runs deeper than just Martin Guitars as well. 

At the Moravian Historical Society in Nazareth, PA, musical historians Tom Winter and John Watson provide a deeper look at Nazareth and its broader music history, which includes the oldest upright piano built in North America. 

The tradition of exceptional craftsmanship that exists within the Nazareth community is personified by the quality produced by Martin Guitar Co. 

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