Since 1833, Martin Guitars – America’s oldest and most successful acoustic guitar maker – have set the standard by which other acoustics are measured. Their longevity is not difficult to explain. Martin’s instruments have been played by everyone from Elvis Presley to Coldplay, from Johnny Cash to Kurt Cobain, and from Laura Marling to Lewis Capaldi. Their designs past and present have had a massive influence on virtually every other acoustic guitar maker in existence, and have been at the epicentre of countless era-defining moments of musical history. In many ways, the illustrious history of Martin Guitars is the history of the acoustic guitar as we know it today.
The story of Martin Guitars starts in 1833 when C. F. Martin Snr. (the great-great-great-great-grandfather of the current Chairman and CEO Chris Martin IV), began applying his furniture making skills to the crafting of acoustic guitars. Martin Guitars quickly established an enviable reputation for quality and tone, however, constant development coupled with an unquenchable desire for excellence drove the company forward, designing both new body shapes and manufacturing techniques in the process.
Two Martin advancements in particular revolutionised the acoustic guitar market forever; the use of X bracing and the Dreadnought. First developed in the mid 1850s, X-Bracing facilitated the progression from gut strung instruments to steel strung, as it provided the strength and stability required to prevent the increased string tension from pulling the guitar apart, while still allowing the guitar’s top to resonate freely. Although first used nearly 150 years ago, X-Bracing has never been bettered and is still used around the world today for entry level instruments as well as top of the range handmade custom pieces.
The Dreadnought is the most popular and copied shape of acoustic guitar of all time. First launched in the early 1900s and named after a British battleship, the Dreadnought has become the staple core of acoustic guitars. It could be said that the Dreadnought has been the driving force behind every genre of popular music. Be it rock’n’roll, country, rag-time or bluegrass, the dreadnought’s bass-rich tonal clout and punch has made it a favourite with musicians all over the world. Its influence is such that virtually every luthier, workshop and manufacturer in existence that produces acoustic guitars offers a Dreadnought shape – such is the enduring appeal of Martin’s original design more than 100 years ago.
Martin’s current range of more than 120 instruments represents the very best in 21st century cutting edge manufacturing techniques, while retaining immaculate craftsmanship and the warmth and appeal of vintage instruments. There is perhaps no better example of this than the new SC-13E that won best in show at NAMM 2020 and saw Martin continue their proud tradition of pushing the envelope of acoustic guitar design. Whatever your musical tastes or aspirations, whether your budget is major or minor, Martin has a model for you. When purchasing a Martin, you become an owner not just of a quality acoustic guitar, but a piece of guitar history.