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Think exquisite craftsmanship in mass produced goods is a thing of the past? Think again. It’s alive and well in Nazareth, PA.

Guitar maker CF Martin & company was started in 1833 by Christian Frederick Martin Sr. 174 years later, the company is still privately owned by the Martin family & run by Christian Frederick Martin IV. Most of their guitars are still hand built, by actual craftsmen – craftsmen who don’t work piece rate, but make an hourly wage. It’s not a small operation either, as about 900 people work at the Nazareth plant and office.

Quality craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap. Their Standard Series D-45 in koa lists for $9,599. If that’s too steep, you can get the same model in rosewood for only 9,299.

It's quite amazing seeing these guitars built from start to finish. For anyone interested, here are some pictures that I took last Friday when we toured the plant. Friends from out of town wanted to go. It was the second time my wife and I have taken the tour. There’s a slide show mode if you have a fast connection.

http://inspectorjoe.photosite.com/martin

http://www.martinguitar.com

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I bought a Gibson electric guitar for $275 dollars in 1974 and I have been told it is worh around $4K now. It is surprising how much vintage instruments are now worth. Probably because the new imported "American" guitars are not as good.

It is pretty cool to see my 14 year old son Dan play my guitar now. I just hope his dreams of being a "Rock Star" are not shattered by reality like mine were.[:-weepn]

FYI-This is his Myspace Site with his songs:

www.myspace.com/Flukeoloco

Signed,

The Proud Dad

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Damn, Dude!!!

Listened to all four. He's fourteen??? When I look back at a lifetime, one of the best times of my life was long hair and drums playing gigs around East Brunswick, NJ. Hendrix, Cream, Doors, Traffic... and of course, inagodadavida baby!!!

Thanks for the listen!!

Originally posted by Steven Hockstein

I bought a Gibson electric guitar for $275 dollars in 1974 and I have been told it is worh around $4K now. It is surprising how much vintage instruments are now worth. Probably because the new imported "American" guitars are not as good.

It is pretty cool to see my 14 year old son Dan play my guitar now. I just hope his dreams of being a "Rock Star" are not shattered by reality like mine were.[:-weepn]

FYI-This is his Myspace Site with his songs:

www.myspace.com/Flukeoloco

Signed,

The Proud Dad

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Originally posted by Steven Hockstein

. . . It is pretty cool to see my 14 year old son Dan play my guitar now.

Damn, the boy's got his mojo goin'. I really enjoyed his music. Don't tell him though. People our age aren't supposed to appreciate the music of people his age.

I just hope his dreams of being a "Rock Star" are not shattered by reality like mine were.[:-weepn]

Well, maybe your mojo wasn't goin'.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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That's amazingly polished sound for young kids just getting it going. You gotta appreciate a time when the tools to make your stuff sound that good are within reach of so many, not to mention being able to post it where anyone who's interested can check it out. Here's hoping they're able to avoid that depressing reality problem as long as they want.

Brian G.

Music To My Ears [:-headpho

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Originally posted by Inspectorjoe

Think exquisite craftsmanship in mass produced goods is a thing of the past? Think again. It’s alive and well in Nazareth, PA.

Guitar maker CF Martin & company was started in 1833 by Christian Frederick Martin Sr. 174 years later, the company is still privately owned by the Martin family & run by Christian Frederick Martin IV. Most of their guitars are still hand built, by actual craftsmen – craftsmen who don’t work piece rate, but make an hourly wage. It’s not a small operation either, as about 900 people work at the Nazareth plant and office.

Quality craftsmanship doesn’t come cheap. Their Standard Series D-45 in koa lists for $9,599. If that’s too steep, you can get the same model in rosewood for only 9,299.

It's quite amazing seeing these guitars built from start to finish. For anyone interested, here are some pictures that I took last Friday when we toured the plant. Friends from out of town wanted to go. It was the second time my wife and I have taken the tour. There’s a slide show mode if you have a fast connection.

http://inspectorjoe.photosite.com/martin

http://www.martinguitar.com

Thanks for posting the photos. Took some time to look more carefully. I can understand why they cost so much. Good example of something in which you actually get what you pay for!

Looks like a nice place to work if you have the ability. Were they just smiling for the photos or do they seem happy in real life?

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Hmmm,

The light just went on. Last week I did a maintenance overview in a pretty high-end area of Seattle. Big house, really nice hydronic fan-pump heat setup, boiler and indirect fired water heating unit. Really a pleasure to do that mechanical room compared to most of the $2,000 gas furnaces and leaky ducting crammed into overstuffed alcoves that I look at.

Anyway, the guy's house is festooned with guitars. They were everywhere, displayed on fancy little stands attached high on the walls, and here and there everywhere in the house. He had a workshop in his garage with half a dozen in various stages of disassembly and bins full of parts, etc.. He didn't attend, so I initially thought he was a guitar maker. Asked his mother, who was temporarily residing there until she moved into the house I'd inspected for her down the street. Nope, not a guitar maker. Just a guy who's had a lifelong love of guitars and collects them. Based on the care he's lavishing on them and the way they're displayed, I'd guessed that they were probably expensive trophies of some sort.

Now I'm wondering what my Hoffner Beatle bass would go for today, if I'd kept it. It was identical to McCartney's and numbered in the 600's. During a particularly lean patch back in the early 70's when I was drinking up my Friday paycheck by Saturday morning, it and my Traynor amp found their way to a local pawn shop so I could pay the electric bill. Quit drinking in '73 and went back to retrieve it. Time was up and the pawn broker had sold it to someone. Never picked up an axe again.

Nah, don't tell me, I don't think I really want to know, or I'll end up sick to my stomach.

Dem were da days!

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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I had a 1960s Martin 12 string that I sold about 30 years ago.

It sounds like both you and Mike have similar regrets, Bill. I have a regret too, although it's not about a guitar, but a camera.

The owner of Orr's Department Stores willed me his photographic and darkroom equipment, which included a early 1940's Speed Graphic along with several thousand negatives taken with it from 1941 through the mid 60's. The Speed Graphic was in perfect working condition and included roll and sheet film backs and a Kalart rangefinder.

The rangefinder was incredible, allowing you to focus in total darkness. It sent out two light beams. You turned a knob until the two beams merged into one, and you were in focus.

I played around with it, using both roll and sheet film and was amazed at the sharpness of the lens. One afternoon I took some prints that were taken in Center Square Easton in 1944 and shot the same scenes again (in 1989). That was pretty cool. After playing around with it, I figured that I'd never really use it, so I sold it for $125 back around 1992. Damn!

It is pretty cool to see my 14 year old son Dan play my guitar now. I just hope his dreams of being a "Rock Star" are not shattered by reality like mine were.

Wow, Steven! Your son is going places. The Maid just blew me away.

Thanks for posting the photos. Took some time to look more carefully. I can understand why they cost so much. Good example of something in which you actually get what you pay for!

Those prices are in the upper range. There are a number of models that list for under $5,000. On the other hand, a Limited Edition (50) D-100 Deluxe in Brazilian Rosewood will set you back $109,999.

http://www.martinguitar.com/catalog/PDF/MartinPriceList.pdf

Looks like a nice place to work if you have the ability. Were they just smiling for the photos or do they seem happy in real life?

They seemed genuinely happy, especially considering that they have to do their jobs with a parade of gawkers in their faces, blinding them with camera flashes. I tried to be as unobtrusive as possible when taking pictures, but really, no one seemed to mind in the least. I got lots of spontaneous smiles.

Funny story: Currently, the tours are led by production workers. When we first took the tour last year, there was only one tour per day, led by a salaried employee. The tour had stopped at a brand new automatic buffing machine. While the guide was extolling the virtues of it, Chris Martin walked up and joined the group. I knew who he was, but my wife didn't. My wife then asked the tour guide: "Doesn't this machine put people out of work?" The poor guy, knowing the company owner was standing there listening, had a deer-in-the-headlights look on his face. He stammered out a few lines, and then Chris took over, answering that it freed people up to do other work, or something to that effect.

In the same vein as Martin Guitar, there's another Pennsylvania company with a long, long history. DG Yuengling and Sons touts itself as America's Oldest Brewery. It was started in 1829 by David G. Yuengling. Today, it is owned and run by his great, great grandson, Dick Yuengling Junior. They've been brewing beer in their Pottsville plant since 1831.

Back before refigeration, they stored the beer in caves cut into the hillside behind the plant. When we toured the plant in the mid 90's, the caves were closed up, but I see on the web site, they are now open for touring. While the caves weren't open during our tour, we did have an unexpected bonus. On our way out, we ran into Dick Yuengling, who was standing outside. He said that he was waiting for his daugters and that they were going to a Phillies game. We talked for close to ten minutes. He's a heck of a nice guy.

http://www.yuengling.com/index.htm

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