The Twelfth Fret ~ Since 1977 ~

Martin Guitar Factory Tour

Martin Factory Tour - The Twelfth Fret

Recently I was flown down to the Martin Guitar Factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania for a two day dealer-tour of the factory and Custom Shop. It is fascinating to see over 500 people building some of the world’s finest guitars in such a quiet, clean and organized fashion. The constant attention to detail and quality is what strikes me the most.  Martin Guitar seems to understand that though some degree of automation is needed, a constant hands-on component is essential to maintain quality and consistency.

Martin museum is well worth a long visit, even if you are not a guitar player.  

Fifth-generation Chris Martin puts great emphasis on the fascinating history of Martin and we are reminded of the significant role that Martin Guitars have in American history and culture.  

There are daily factory tours offered to the public which are well worth taking.  The original Martin factory and 1833 shop is nearby; built in stages during the 19th century and preserved as a historic monument. When visiting, you see original workbenches where countless guitars were built for over 100 years.

As a luthier, I loved the wood mill, the kilns and the Custom Shop inlay department and the hands-on nature of the tour; I was right on the factory floor and able to chat with the luthiers as they worked.  They seemed very accustomed to interruptions and happy to exchange a friendly smile. 

News Flash!   A new development was announced the week of my visit which will interest any passionate Martin Guitar players.  The Martin Custom Shop is now open, by appointment, for personalized orders. One can now visit the Martin Custom Shop wood-storage facility and personally choose the woods for your guitar!   We only need to make the short flight to Newark Airport, then Martin picks us up, and takes us to the Custom Shop and gets us back to the airport when done. The Custom Shop Master Luthier helps us choose the top, back and sides plus bracing patterns and write up all the myriad details needed for a completely personalized Martin Custom Shop guitar.  

I’ve gone through this process myself countless times and it is great fun.  Now the opportunity for my clients to participate directly in this process is beyond the pale.  Martin guitar has really hit a home run with this plan and I can’t wait to make my first trip back to the factory!







The Twelfth Fret

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