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  • The Martin Archives (Book)

    By Phil O'Keefe |

    The Martin Archives

    A Scrapbook of Treasures from the World's Foremost Acoustic Guitar Maker



    by Phil O'Keefe





    C.F. Martin and Company have been one of the world's most famous and popular guitar manufacturers for ages. In the minds of many players and members of the public at large, mention "acoustic guitar" and the image that comes to mind is that of a flattop dreadnought - a guitar design that originated with Martin. In fact, Martin is the oldest guitar manufacturer in the USA, with the origins of the company dating back to 1833. In the book The Martin Archives, the authors take us along for a rare behind the scenes look at the company's storied history.




    What You Need To Know

    • The Martin Archives was written by Jim Washburn along with Martin archivist Dick Boak, and it draws heavily on the 700,000 items in the rich Martin historical archives, including items that were stored in Martin's attics and vaults for decades and only recently rediscovered.  


    • The book's foreword was written by Graham Nash.


    • True to the subtitle, The Martin Archives is laid out in scrapbook form, with multiple historical photos, records and other documents laid out liberally throughout the book. Many of the pictures are in color.


    • The text covers the history of Martin from Christian Frederick's apprenticeship under Johann Georg Stauffer in Vienna Austria to his arrival in the US, where he opened a combination music store and production shop in New York. It also goes on to cover the move to Nazareth Pennsylvania in 1838 and Martin's long history there. In fact, as you'll discover in the book, the company remains family owned and operated up to the present day; the current CEO is C.F. Martin IV, the founder's great-great-great grandson, and the company is still based in Nazareth.   


    • The Martin Archives covers not only the Martin guitar models and the history of the company and the Martin family, but like any good scrapbook it covers the times - the Martin era, as well as the "family friends" - the people who used the instruments Martin built. If it feels like you're reading a music-centric book on American history, that's in no small part due to the fact that Martin has been around for so much of American history.


    • Also in keeping with the "scrapbook" concept, The Martin Archives contains several envelopes and pockets that are filled with reproductions of historical catalogs, post cards, hang tags, cancelled checks, letters from musicians and much more.


    • No definitive listing of every single Martin model ever made and their serial numbers is included.


    • The type is fairly small, which means that they can put a lot of information into a relatively modest page count, but it can be a bit difficult to read if you have the eyesight of a middle-aged person.


    • There is so much presented to the reader that it can come across as a bit visually overwhelming at times, but this is due to the sheer wealth of information in the Martin archives. A book of this size can't get into everything that happened over the nearly 200 years Martin has been in business, but it's amazing how much they have managed to cover.





    With nearly two centuries of history and over two million guitars built, Martin holds a unique place in the musical instrument world. If you're interested in the history of guitar making in the United States, this book is a must-have. Likewise, if you're a fan of Martin guitars, this would make an excellent coffee table or music room book for you. Don't let the price tag and relatively low page count put you off - there is a ton of information here that's sure to keep Martin aficionados happily occupied for hours on end, and the extra goodies in the various envelopes and pouches add even more value to this very well-assembled and historically rich package. -HC-





    The Martin Archives ($45.00 MSRP)


    The publisher's product web page



    The Martin Archives

    Backwing / Hal Leonard Books

    ISBN: 9781495013041

    Hardcover 12" x 9"

    104 pages

    November 15 2016



    You can purchase The Martin Archives from:




    Directly from Backwing    






    Have questions or comments about this review or The Martin Archives? Then please click here to join the discussion!









    Phil O'Keefe is a multi-instrumentalist, recording engineer / producer and the Senior Editor of Harmony Central. He has engineered, produced and performed on countless recording sessions in a diverse range of styles, with artists such as Alien Ant Farm, Jules Day, Voodoo Glow Skulls, John McGill, Michael Knott and Alexa's Wish. He is a former featured monthly columnist for EQ magazine, and his articles and product reviews have also appeared in Keyboard, Electronic Musician and Guitar Player magazines.  

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