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gardo

Martin Guitars

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My wife and I went out on an adventure today and somehow found ourselves at the CF Martin factory. We arrived just in time for a tour so of course we took it

They have are a lot of highly skilled people there but for the most part (except for the custom shop) the craftsmanship of men like Freeman Keller has been replaced by cnc guided lasers and robotic finishing and even buffing machines 

Made me kind of sad to walk through the museum and see the rusted tools of a bygone era

The human touch is still a vital part of the process and overall quality and cost effectiveness are better than ever but seeing this In the museum being replaced by this automated neck fitting machine,I can’t help wonder what we’ve lostE66716D2-A44A-44ED-9B16-0BBCC2F5C5F2.thumb.jpeg.d560fb1f8e824a79dc58c57305c2e7ac.jpegB9D87C27-31C9-43EC-AE3C-1C08C3204AAB.thumb.jpeg.5034970810a2ba57497509e3e1bcf7e0.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

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Amen to that.  Of course, some would say that the more precise you can make it, the better its longevity and sound.  But I don’t really know.  I’ve a ‘37 Martin that is more comfortable than any newer ones I’ve played.  But then there’s bias, which, admittedly, plays a part.

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"... somehow found ourselves at the CF Martin factory." Gave me a chuckle... "somehow"... was there a star shining in the sky above Nazareth? Similar to going out with wife and "somehow" ending up at shoestore.

Nice pics. I reckon CNC good for basic neck joints, etc... but best to have a human playing with tops, bracing, etc

I don't think folks like Freeman have anything to worry about

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I have no idea how many guitars they make in Nazareth per year, but I guess they had to automate to keep up with demand (and cut costs, of course. What would capitalism be without cutting costs and increasing profits via automation)... Nevertheless, I've had a couple of bad ones and mediocre ones come my way. In contrast, Taylors all seem pretty much the same. I find something sterile about their sound, and the feel also seems, I dunno, exactly the same across instruments, but not in my favourite way. It is what it is, I guess.

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10 hours ago, Emory said:

"... somehow found ourselves at the CF Martin factory." Gave me a chuckle... "somehow"... was there a star shining in the sky above Nazareth? Similar to going out with wife and "somehow" ending up at shoestore.

Nice pics. I reckon CNC good for basic neck joints, etc... but best to have a human playing with tops, bracing, etc

I don't think folks like Freeman have anything to worry about

Lol. I agree. The only way I’ve “found myself” near Nazareth was through careful planning and even then I still had to go it alone. The only way I could get my wife to go along would be if it were suddenly freezing anywhere there was a beach and/or there was a winery somewhere along the way; my wife is a “guitar widow.”

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4 hours ago, Glenn F said:

I have no idea how many guitars they make in Nazareth per year, but I guess they had to automate to keep up with demand (and cut costs, of course. What would capitalism be without cutting costs and increasing profits via automation)... Nevertheless, I've had a couple of bad ones and mediocre ones come my way. In contrast, Taylors all seem pretty much the same. I find something sterile about their sound, and the feel also seems, I dunno, exactly the same across instruments, but not in my favourite way. It is what it is, I guess.

I think they said the goal is 215 per day.  They're working a lot of overtime to keep up ,in fact they're even  taking applications for factory workers.

They do hand shape the necks, so there may still be something special about a certain guitar. 

You can actually buy a guitar at the factory.  if you don't see what you're looking for a sales rep will go find it for you;. But they will not undercut their dealers . There is no price benefit but the selection is incredible.

If I had a couple grand in my pocket I would go back to buy

 

Edited by gardo

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The CNC machine ensures that the parts are uniform. Meaning less variation, humans produce more variation which is sometimes good but many times bad. It depends on the person, his mental state, the weather and anything that would make the person not as precise or alert. Redoing parts can be expensive. So I'm not worried about the cutting shaping of parts being done by machine. Having each glued, inspected for quality and finished by a craftsman is way more important. CNC machines can produce parts within tolerances many people can't see. But that uniformity is important to have every guitar as good as the last one produced.

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A trip to Nazareth would come for me only after a lotto win. Then, I'd be a kid in a candy store.

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Is there something mystical about a guitar or are they truly just lifeless objects ?  

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Beauty is in the eye of the beerholder.

everyone is different. Some people view instruments from a strictly utilitarian perspective, some see them as works of art. Personally, I really love nice acoustic guitars. I don't have the money for a Collings or a Lowden, but what I do have makes me smile everytime I play them. Having a bunch of nice guitars, I'd have a hard time really enjoying an inexpensive to mid.-priced guitar like a Yamaha: unless I was in the position where that was all that was available.

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3 hours ago, gardo said:

Is there something mystical about a guitar or are they truly just lifeless objects ?  

Just lifeless objects.  Like a Renoir or Picasso.

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10 hours ago, Glenn F said:

 In contrast, Taylors all seem pretty much the same. I find something sterile about their sound, and the feel also seems, I dunno, exactly the same across instruments, but not in my favourite way.

Thank you for saying what I've said about Taylors for years...they are consistent, but uninspiring; well made, but lacking panache...

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11 hours ago, kwakatak said:

Lol. I agree. The only way I’ve “found myself” near Nazareth was through careful planning and even then I still had to go it alone. The only way I could get my wife to go along would be if it were suddenly freezing anywhere there was a beach and/or there was a winery somewhere along the way; my wife is a “guitar widow.”

We had some hotel points to use and the beach was more than our points covered. .  Allentown was in the price range so "Honey ,we're going to Allentown" There actually is a winery nearby but we didn't go. Woke up in the morning deciding what to do and my wife suggested that since the area has a lot of industry we might tour a manufacturing site to see how things are made. Perfect time to mention that Martin is only a thirty minute drive.  

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2 hours ago, daddymack said:

Thank you for saying what I've said about Taylors for years...they are consistent, but uninspiring; well made, but lacking panache...

Well, to be fair, I still own one of their models: a 2015-- 320, hog/sapele. I made a mistake of selling my D-15, and then they pretty much doubled in price, here. I tried this out and found that I pretty much preferred it to the D-15. That was a weird guitar, really. Sometimes it sounded fantastic, like a Martin should sound, and other times it sounded muffled. The 320 is consistent in tone, has a really nice bass, and I tend to use it for drop D or DADGAD. I am thinking of selling it for another Eastman, but I doubt I will. It's the sitka topped Taylors that I find uninspiring.

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On ‎9‎/‎12‎/‎2019 at 6:44 AM, Glenn F said:

I have no idea how many guitars they make in Nazareth per year, but I guess they had to automate to keep up with demand (and cut costs, of course. What would capitalism be without cutting costs and increasing profits via automation)... Nevertheless, I've had a couple of bad ones and mediocre ones come my way. In contrast, Taylors all seem pretty much the same. I find something sterile about their sound, and the feel also seems, I dunno, exactly the same across instruments, but not in my favourite way. It is what it is, I guess.

I had a Taylor for a while.  It was easy to play, looked pretty and sounded nice but something just wasn't there.  I wound up trading it in towards a Martin 000-15M and there was that "something" that was missing - projection, warmth and a great bottom end. 

Edited by Nabisco

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2 hours ago, Nabisco said:

I had a Taylor for a while.  It was easy to play, looked pretty and sounded nice but something just wasn't there.  I wound up trading it in towards a Martin 000-15M and there was that "something" that was missing - projection, warmth and a great bottom end. 

I've been told that Taylors are an acquired taste  . Never played them long enough to find out

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I was just playing my D-28, and I think I can hear the phenomenon called 'opening up.' Sounds louder and more lush that it was, seemingly. I was thinking of trying out an Eastman E20D and selling this, but....ehhhh.....no.

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I have an Epiphone Materbilt with a tinted”aged” finish 

It looks great but the new guitar sound just doesn’t match the old guitar look 

Not to say it sounds bad by any means but hopefully  it will open up with time 

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Martin's legacy is craftsmanship. Early on it was one of the makers contracted by Lyon & Healy, the latter being a luthier of some reputation, and I often wonder which of the vintage Lyon & Healy guitars still in existence were produced by Martin before L&H started building their own under the brand Washburn (George Washburn Lyon) in Chicago. My point, regarding the vintage tools in that Martin museum, were any of them employed in the making of L&H guitars? Does the tour provide any insights into that? Very interesting legacy.

 

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That’s interesting to hear 

The museum tour was self guided and I didn’t read anything about that on the plaques 

I was to busy drooling over the historic Dreadnaughts 

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Lasers, CNCs, and robots still require craftsmanship.    Electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, software development, and skilled operators.    One day you'll look back fondly on that tour.    "Ah, those were the days when men made and ran the machines."

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Nope. Not at all Gitnoob. Not at all.

Going back in my time well before the internet I built museum quality scale wood models of sailing vessels from reproduced plans, detail sheets and building standards employed during the time of tall ships. For instance, the main mast diameter was a function of the ship's beam. You had to have these references, or the general knowledge of a shipwright, to successfully proceed with the hobby. All the work was done by hand, including the fashioning of all manner of wood shapes, with basic hand tools. No machines (saws, planers, sanders, drills, etc.) were involved. Sanding was accomplished by scraping. Lot's of clamping and learning about wood species and their respective characteristics was essential to each constituent part of a build along with the knowledge of hand sharpening of tools, tool & jig fabrication, fabricating various scale diameter ropes, hand fashioning all metal fitments, on and on.

The joy was hardly the finished product. It was embodied in its making. When I think of all the folks making acoustic guitars, and reflect back on the hobby mentioned above with the network of craftsman and artisans I met, the making of the guitars is hardly a comparable craft by contrast. But, if that's all you can claim to know then you will naturally consider yourself a craftsman if you've developed it to the extent of your abilities. And, I must admit, there are some visually stunning examples of acoustic guitars out there from the private builders, though aesthetics being the primary bait, most of them I can say do not suit my ear; .

Machines are great for rendering a significant savings in time and involvement only if saving time and involvement presides over the ROI of pursuing craftsmanship, which is what has been sacrificed to machines by Martin, their ilk and many private builders. And, following your suggestion, we should hail the machine for replacing real musical instruments, coalescing the new real lest we not be old news cast-offs of a bygone era.

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