CF Martin & Art
Christian Friedrich Martin was “a sublime craftsman and canny entrepreneur,” as well as “a design and technology innovator of the first order,” reports Larry Rohter in The New York Times (10/15/13). Martin – in case you don’t recognize the name – invented the modern American guitar back in the 1840s. A new coffee table book, aptly titled Inventing The American Guitar, tells his story, shedding new light that surprised even Chris Martin, the founder’s great-great-great grandson and current chairman and chief executive officer of CF Martin & Company.
Along with most others, Chris believed that “the period between World Wars I and II” was “the company’s golden era of innovation.” But Chris says this new book has forced him to re-think that, and piqued his interest in “those earliest years.” Martin initially landed in New York City from Germany, bringing with him “German shop training” and the traditional “Austro-German system of lateral bracing to reinforce and support the guitar soundboard.” He soon discovered “Spanish-style fan bracing,” and modified that “into the X-bracing style that is the hallmark of Martin and other modern guitars.”
The resulting guitar was “bigger, louder and more resonant than before that time,” which is what his customers wanted. But Martin also became known for painstaking detail, and his work is now also viewed as that of an artist. “We’re seeing the appreciation of these things as objects … the craftsmanship is stunning, and the detail is quite pleasing to people attuned to that sort of thing,” says Arian Sheets of the University of South Dakota. As such, the Metropolitan Museum of Art will open “a year-long exhibition of Martin guitars,” beginning in January, 2014.