Martin Factory Tour

Last week I had an opportunity to drive to Nazareth, Pennsylvania and visit Martin Guitar factory – Mecca for any acoustic guitar enthusiast. I didn’t know what to expect, but everything is very well organized, starting from the reception. They signed is up for the next available tour and let us roam through the museum, factory store and guitar rooms. There are two locations where you can play guitars – in the lobby where they have a couple of cheaper guitars, and more importantly, behind the store there’s a hidden room with higher end guitars where you can play by yourself. I tried a couple of models I didn’t get to try before, like Clapton Sig, D-28 Authentic, D-28, HD-35, GPCPA4 and few more. The one I liked the best was definitely the Clapton. What a great sounding and looking guitar!

Back to the tour. Everyone is given a headset and guide takes the group through the factory, showing some of the most important stages in guitar construction and discussing history and process. Tour moves right next to desks of workers who do their job which is great because it gives nice insight into production, but also is a bit awkward because these people are doing their job with us watching and taking pics like in the Zoo, so I didn’t take as many pics of workers as I should have. At the end, they gave us laser engraved sound hole cutouts that would normally go to scrap. It’s a nice gesture and nice souvenir. Piece of wood that made it to be one of the greatest guitars in the world!

There’s also a paid private tour once a day at 9AM that takes you to the mill and other places not covered by the free tour. I wish I knew about it earlier :(. Factory store offers nice gifts, books, shirts and similar items. Museum has a bunch of guitars, starting from early CF Martin guitars to newer guitars, like the one millionth Martin. Very nice to see. There’s also a separate store where you can buy kits and scrap wood for projects, but I didn’t get to visit it because I lack self control :).

If you’re able to, take the drive and visit the factory. You won’t be disappointed.


CF Martin Guitars Built by the Man Himself

Wanted to share a couple of photos I took at the awesome Metropolitan Museum exhibition of early CF Martin models from the 19th century, most of which built by CF Martin himself. It’s amazing to witness a huge piece of history that lead to acoustic guitars as we know them now. For each of them you can read when it was built, which materials and techniques were used, what kind of bracing, and in some cases even who they were built for. As you go from 1830s forward, you can clearly see how Martin’s style matured and evolved from both Austrian and Spanish styles.

Some of the materials used are so unusual and some even illegal now. There’s a guitar which neck is almost completely made out of ivory. The other features a neck that’s carved out of ebony-ivory chessboard that is so out of this world. In lots of cases the bridges were also made out of ivory.

As far I could see, only one guitar was dated from the 20th century – a 1939 pre-war 000-18 that Clapton played on Layla unplugged. Awesome piece of (relatively) modern history. All of the guitars are pretty small for today’s standards, the biggest being about the size of smaller parlor guitar. The 000-18 looks like a giant next to them.


New stereo day!

After years of investing time and money into guitar-related gear I realized that although I had more gear than Jimi Hendrix, I was still listening to music through crappy TV or (even worse) laptop speakers. So I did a little research and bought a stereo system consisting of Monitor Audio BX5 floorstander speakers and Yamaha RX-V375 receiver.


It’s been 2-3 weeks since buying them and first impressions are settled. I love the new system! Speakers are just awesome. Great build quality, attention to detail, and of course sound. Has plenty of bass, so ground will shake when watching the movie. But it’s still not overbearing, so vocals and instruments are crystal clear. And they look fantastic, even better without the grills installed.


As far as the receiver goes, it’s good enough for what I need. Didn’t compare it with more expensive models, but I can’t find any flaws in the sound. More expensive models up to twice the price of the V375 only offer more features (LAN, 3D, more channels) that I don’t need, so paying more for them didn’t make sense. I hooked it up with Samsung smart TV, which I use as a hub for all multimedia sources and one HDMI cable takes the audio and remote signals to Yamaha and picture back to the TV. Very elegant.


New camera day!

Finally got myself a new camera – Canon SX200 IS. Hopefully my closeup shots won’t look as bad as they used to be 🙂 I took few quick pix to see how it performs in macro mode.


  • About

    The idea behind this site is to share my experience with Do It Yourself approach to guitars, amplifiers and pedals. Whether you want to save a couple of bucks by performing a mod or upgrade yourself instead of paying a tech, or want to build your own piece of gear from scratch, I'm sure you will find something interesting here. Also, this is the home of DIY Layout Creator, a free piece of software for drawing circuit layouts and schematics, written with DIY enthusiasts in mind.