Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Martin Behind The Scenes Tour

I had the opportunity a couple weeks ago to enjoy a 'Behind The Scenes' tour of the Martin Guitar Factory at Nazarath, Pennsykvania.
The tour was the highlight of the trip, but I had an alternative motive for the trip . . . to stock up on various parts needed in the learning/building journey I'm taking in the world of personal guitar construction.

This was a fantastic experience on many levels, not the least of which was the opportunity to meet the people I've been connected with for the past three years.  The Martin family of employees follow what I believe is essential in maintaining a truly successful business . . . they treat ccustomers like guests in their home.  Thank you all for such a wonderful time, especially Gail Ventin, the guru at Guitar Makers Connection.

This is the most expensive tour I've ever enjoyed.  Not because of the price, but because no one can leave the Martin factory without buying way more toys than you can imagine.  You cannot buy guitars -- that's left for dealers --, but there's plenty of really cool accessories, clothing, historical reading material, parts, supplies and geegaws to satisfy the most pationate in the guitar world.  And, the museum is so interesting -- 182 years of the finest guitars made.  Yes, we were really there.

Please excuse the photo quality, I was shooting through glass with existing light (they ask visitors not to use flash photography, because it distracts the workers on the factory floor), and we were crusing around in the midst of people creating a massive variety of instruments.

Vintage tools of the trade.

Hand-on work goes on throughout the factory, just like in the old days, but the tools and work stations are modernized. 

This lady is carving top braces.

This guy is gluing back panels together on a special tensioning device.

Here, the finishing touches are being hand placed on the heel of a classical neck. Necks are roughed out on a CNC machine and then hand finished.  Notice the really cool neck jig the guy is using.

A fingerboard getting special attention in the Custom Shop.

The ribs of a guitar in a mold, where heel and end blocks are glued into position, and the lining is glued in place and prepared to accepth the top and back.

Not all work is done by hand anymore. Robots have reeplaced some of the process.  This is the initial polishing segment.  The guitar body is held by suction cups on the robot arm and moved automatically through the process. Final polishing is always done by hand.

A small sampling of the hundreds of guitar bodies waiting for final assembly. 

The original Nazarath Martin factory, which is now the Guitar Makers Connection.

The new factory with more than 200,000 square feet of production space produces about 240 guitars a day to be enjoyed by people like me. You really need to take a tour to experience the full measure of the work that goes into the creation of some of the finest guitars in the world.

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