The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #152510   Message #3568105
Posted By: Don Firth
18-Oct-13 - 03:46 PM
Thread Name: 'Inventing the American Guitar' - Martin
Subject: RE: 'Inventing the American Guitar' - Martin
I've owned three Martins.

A steel-string 00-18 was my first really nice guitar. I paid $95.00 plus $15.00 for a fiberboard case. But this was back in 1953. I was trading up from my very first guitar, a $9.95 "Regal" plywood guitar that was on pitch, had a decent action, and played okay (I got lucky), but had the tonal qualities of an apple crate.

About six months after I got the 00-18, I started taking classical guitar lessons. My teacher said that the 00-18 wouldn't do, so I traded it in on a Martin 00-28-G, really nice American-made classic. The teacher owned a music store and he took the 00-18 in trade for what I had paid for it. The list price of the classic at the time was $175.00 (plus $45.00 for a hard-shell case).

After a couple of years, I got a bit apprehensive about the OO-28-G maybe getting stolen or being at a song fest and having some drunk trip and spill his beer through the soundhole, so I got a Martin 00-18-G. Same size as the "28," but with back and sides made of mahogany rather than Brazilian rosewood, and listing for $95.00. Good tone, good workhorse classic.

Then the Seattle Classic Guitar Society got organized, and I had a chance to see and try some of the European-made classics, and WOW! A top of the line Martin was like driving a Chrysler or Cadillac, but playing a Spanish-made Fernandez or Ramirez, or a French-made Boucher, was like driving a BMW or Rolls-Royce! Or a Fernadez flamenco guitar. Like taking the wheel of a Ferrari or Jaguar XK!


That's when I defected from Martins.

I now own an Arcangel Fernandez flamenco guitar, a classic made by one of Fernadez' apprentices as a "beater," and my best classic, a Japanese-made classic imported under his label by José Oribé of San Diege.
The "Oribe" looks and sounds so much like a José Ramirez (Segovia's guitar of choice) that some of the Seattle Classic Guitar Society members who own Ramirez guitars assume automatically that it IS one! Not bad for $350.00!!

The Japanese make some very nice guitars, especially if they come from a Spanish-trained Japanese luthier like Masaru Kohno.

I also have a couple of Go-guitars (travel guitars), one nylon-string and one steel-string, made by Sam Radding of San Diego.

C. F. Martin and Company make some very nice guitars. But as far as their classics are concerned, there are much better ones out there, and if you shop carefully they're not all that expensive.

By the way, my favorite steel-string guitars for song accompaniment are the smaller bodied "parlor" guitars. Not as big, "boomy," and bass-heavy as a Martin D-28, but much better balanced volume and a lot more mellow.

Your mileage may vary. Discussing the merits of various guitars is sort of like arguing religion.

Don Firth