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Has Martin gone mad? (Plastic guitars?)

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Subject: Has Martin gone mad?
From: ddw
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 11:40 AM

If this has been covered before, my apologies. I've done a search in the forum for references to plastic guitars and plastic Martins and several combinations with no luck.

Have you seen the new Martin lines of plastic guitars? I was in my favorite music store the other day and saw two of the ugliest instruments I've ever seen. They were full-sized jumbo styles (large, but with a narrow waist, as opposed to a dreadnaught style) and their faces were painted — one with a Hawaiian scene and the other with a cowboy motif. The artwork was garishly colored and about sophisticated enough to have been done by a 10-year-old. They were asking $1,295 Cdn!

I know Martin came out with Backpackers and, more recently, Little Martins. The latter, as far as I can tell, have nary a splinter of wood in them unless you count what appears to be a laminated, then machined neck. They come in faux woodgrains, black and there's FeLiX model. Check this

Now I've never been a big fan of Martins, but that's because of the style of music I play, not because they were bad guitars. For bluegrass the D-series can't be beat and some of the smaller models are pretty good for other types as well. But this makes me wonder where the company is going. Are they after what used to be Ovation's market niche?

Any thoughts on this?

david


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Peace
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 12:06 PM

I don't know that this heralds the fall of civilization as we know it, but that is one uuggllyy 'guitar'. However, there may be some cat lovers who . . . .


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: ddw
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 12:30 PM

Brucie,

If you think that one's ugly, you should see the full-sized ones I'm talking about! I'm gonna do some poking and see if I can find pictures of them.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 12:56 PM

Martin does not do the painting themselves. They have to be requested as a special item and then the work is jobbed out.

A recent interview with Chris Martin IV indicates that Martin has become aware of dwindling wood products. This is my addition. There is a world-wide market for illegally harvested rare woods. Mahogany being one. These trees are cut by poor people and sold to drug dealers who already have a delivery system set up.

It seems as Martin is becoming aware of the shortage problem and is trying different methods to work with what will be available in the future now.

I agree that the painted guitars look horrible, but apparently they are selling.

The (nest-less) eagle that walks. Julie


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: ddw
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 12:58 PM

Here's a link to the Hawaiian and here's one to the cowboy

This strikes me as being — for the owners of real Martin guitars — almost like what Mercedes tried to pull on years ago when they introduced the 180-series compacts into North America. A friend who worked for a Mercedes dealer said the company wanted to sell them for about $17,000, but the dealers objected because it would damage the car's image. The company acquiesced and sold them for $31,000 to keep the dealers happy.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: ddw
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 01:03 PM

Thanks for the info WE. I can see the materials thing, but not the paintings. I wonder if their next innovation will be to put a crank on the side that you can turn to have it play Home On The Range?

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Peace
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 01:12 PM

Jerry Merrick (Sp?) once wrote a song that had the line "Everything today's made out of plastic." I think Richie Havens recorded it on one of his earlier albums. Jerry, you were right.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: rangeroger
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 01:19 PM

I think it is interesting that the Model specifications for the Felix model give no indication of what the top material is. Just the top is a special Felix illustration.

Extremely ugly pieces of shit.

rr


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Alaska Mike
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 01:28 PM

I happened to have visited the Martin Guitar plant in Nazareth, Penn last October and got to take the tour. Our guide showed us all the steps that go into manufacturing the fine instruments made there. He told us about these new models and showed us several examples at the end of the tour.

While I was playing one, the guide explained that these are supposed to appeal to the younger, less experienced musician. They are less expensive and come in many "cool" colors and designs. Apparently there is a big market in ugly, plastic, crappy sounding guitars.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 02:06 PM

Maybe the FeLiX is an attempt to cultivate a future guitar market? Also, we're experienced OLDER guitar players. What sounds like crap to us won't sound like that to new guitar players. We were'nt aware of what was crap and what wasn't when we first started playing. The newbies will continue to play (or not) and will devlop an ear with time.

Face it folks, the day of fine woods is almost gone. Woodworkers, carvers, and other fine instrument makers will tell you that.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 02:12 PM

Yes, they've gone mad. For many years, just the fact that a guitar was made by Martin automatically meant the it was a quality instrument. Well, the Martin label no longer carries that connotation. They still make great guitars, but the cheap and funky ones have weakened the power of the Martin name. While Martins still carry the reputation of being the guitar of choice of many great players, they now must also carry the stigma of being made by the folks who make the "Felix the Cat" guitar.

In a market where Taylor has made substantial inroads into what was once almost exclusively Martin territory, Martin's reputation was the one thing that Taylor couldn't duplicate. So, Martin has done Taylor a big favor and come out with all these substandard guitars and shot their own mystique in the foot. Bob Taylor's probably pleased every time Chris Martin and crew come out with some new bit of weirdness.

Bruce (Who has 3 Martins & 0 Taylors)


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 02:19 PM

That's a relief - this is only about a brand of guitars...I thought it might be news that Martin Carthy had abandoned folk music, or something serious like that.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: breezy
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 02:37 PM

I too looked in wondering which Martin was the subject.





Perhaps he'll trade in his Martin for one of these being discussed so as to appeal to a younger audience!!   the under 55 s!!!

Martin Carthy plays Felix


Been to Stortfolk lately, or hows it in Harlow with the once a month venue?

I've got Les Sullivan in St Albans 20th Feb at The Whitart


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Lanfranc
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 02:39 PM

I recently purchased a Martin 000C-16GTE, despite the designation, which sounds more like a boy racer Japanese car than a guitar. It plays like a dream and sounds great, whether acoustic or electric (the designation is 000 (size) C (cutaway) 16 (model) GT (gloss top) E (Electrics - Fishman stereo).

When I first played it I thought that the bridge and fingerboard were ebony. No, like the FeLiX, it's black plastic!!! Well, Micarta (TM), anyway, which, I gather, is a rather superior form of plastic.

I always liked the line that, if a tree could choose what to be when it was cut down, it would choose to be a guitar. However, with fine woods becoming rarer, more expensive and decidedly non-ecologically acceptable, I cannot help but salute Martin's quest for alternatives.

The Micarta fingerboard is one thing, the FeLiX guitar something else entirely. It's not a new idea though, Maccaferri did something similar back in the 50s and 60s, albeit without the yukky graphics!

Isn't there the Garrison guitar with plastic strutting for the table?

Things move on, but as the owner of 4 Martins, I hope that the future is more 000C-16GTE than FeLiX!!

Alan


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,Ed
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 02:57 PM

So trees aren't ecologically acceptable but plastic is?

I'm getting confused here...


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Peace
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 03:18 PM

I have upper dentures. There is something to be said for the functionality of plastic over wood. However, I wouldn't want my D-28 to hear that.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: ddw
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 03:49 PM

Rangeroger — the FeLiX model is one of the Little Martin line. All are definitely plastic; one is faux woodgrain, one is flat black (face included) and the other is Felix.

Speaking of the growing scarcity of old wood, has anybody heard about the company Timeless Timber in Ashland, WI that is retrieving logs that have been petrifying in the depths of Lake Superior for up to 300 years and turning the highly-compacted wood into musical instruments? A friend of mine toured their operation about a year ago and brought back some literature on them. Really interesting concept and apparently the instruments have incredible vibrance of tone.

They don't mention any instruments, but you can check it out here

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,DrWord sans cookie
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 04:13 PM

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarggggg!


some of the detail shots made me shudder.


a bit bulky, but potentially useful as an emergency paddle.


cheers

Dennis @ -40 degrees for a week.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,DrWord sans cookie
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 04:21 PM

"Maple is the traditional wood for instruments of the violin family."

This ^ from the timelesstimber.com link ddw provided.


It's the first sample in the species shown. Thanx 4 the link. I know they are mining the bottom of the Ottawa River for waterlogged old growth timber as well. [The river which flows through Canada's capital].


cheers
dennis


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Mooh
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 04:42 PM

Much would have been helped if someone had planted trees to replace those which were used, or if trees were a priority for us now. Wood is more easily replaced than what plastic is made of isn't it?

Anyway, I thought the Martin guitars in question were fun, even if I can't imagine myself owning one, and you can't beat fun for a good time.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 05:36 PM

Exactly Mooh. As I SAID before, I think that Martin is trying to develop a guitar buying future with the young folks. We're older folks and mostly have all the gear we need. Plus, the guitars are affordable. A big factor if the youngster decides guitar playing is not for them. If they stick in, they will move up to more expensive models as their ear devlops. Who among us started playing knowing the differences in sound?

I'd a sight rather see Martin come out with a cheaper guitar made in the U.S. than get one made in other countries that don't pay a good wage.

Fender figured this out with their cheaper Squirer line. The young folks get an electric lead or bass, a small amplifier, chord, gig bag, and a few other goodies for around two hundred dollars.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 05:41 PM

Much would have been helped if someone had planted trees to replace those which were used

So why wasn't that person you. Too busy?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Mudlark
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 06:24 PM

I don't know about Mooh, but I personally have planted many trees on various homesteads, at least 50. But I can hardly compensate for the wholesale destruction of forests carried out by the huge corporations that buy up vast tracts of land, then clearcut...and don't replant.

Not just 'someone' should be planting trees, the corporations that cut them should be. "Sustainable" aint just a river in Egypt...


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: SINSULL
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 06:58 PM

I there an opportunity here? Maybe buy some land and plant trees that will be of value to woodcutters and instrument manufacturers 20 - 30 years from now/ Cash for our grandchildrens' education and wood for quality instruments? Any comments?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 08:27 PM

A bit of thread creep and I think our erstwhile Guest is trolling.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 08:38 PM

Yes Martin HAS gone mad. :-)

I was in Nazareth last summer, did the factory tour, met Chris Martin and Dick Boak, and sat for a brief presentation in their saw mill, by Chris Martin where he outlined the company's business philosophy for the 21st century.

On the one hand Chris is to be commended for turning the company around from its near bankruptcy in the early 80s.

He had correctly determined at that point in time, that the things that got Martin into deep doggy doo, were the fact that his Daddy had attempted to build the company into a big music conglomerate with a lot of diversification and too rapidly during the recession of the early 80s. (ie. The acquisition of Darco String Manufacturing [now Martin Strings of course][the only good move he made!]; the acq. of Fibes drums [bad move]; the acq. of Levin Guitars in Sweden [bad move since the company was bankrupt when Frank Martin purchased it, and through later-discovered technicalities, found they couldn't import Levin Guitars without heavy import duties], buying outdated and antiquated computer software designed for vetinary clinics that they hoped they could modify [bad move] ...and there were many other misteps as well.

When his Daddy was ousted in the 80's by the board of directors and Chris IV was made president, he decided to get back to doing what Martin did best - that is building really good guitars, and to just focus on that, and guitar strings and accessories...and things began to turn around.

Problem was, that over time, Chris developed such a paranoia of the company ever boarding on insolvency again, that he went not just one step in the opposite direction but 3 to the point of obsession...and began to expand the Martin guitar line up, with over time, such a dizzying array of models, and materials used (not to mention the "custom shop") that by doing so, he inadvertently cheapened the Martin brand name and confused customers with so many models, nobody could figure out the difference between one and another (as if it was easy before?)

He was very proud of stating during our saw mill presentation, that his #1 absolute top priority was keep ALL of the employees in the Martin family (in Nazareth) employed - NO MATTER WHAT!

He cited many large corporations using downsizing and massive layoffs and cuts in workforces, in order to balance profits and financial forecasts for stock holders. He said that in his mind this was no way to run a business in this day and age and that employees DO matter. So he gets brownie points for this, obviously ... but at what cost? By continuously releasing new models of all materials, designs and at all cost levels.

Martin's biggest enemy or thorn in their side, has always been their own history - especially when you consider that they are one of the oldest privately owned companies in the U.S. (est. 1833).

Many a Martin affectionado knows that between 1930 and 1944, they made some of their best instruments - commonly known as their Golden Era. The majority of these instruments are what made and established Martin's legendary reputation. (They also made a lot of really great straight braced instruments from the latter 40s through to the 60's.)

That reputation, to many traditonalits, should be preserved at all costs - save bankruptcy. Chris may have gone totally over the deep end however and really diminished the prestige of the Martin brand name (i.m.o.) because,

(a) he felt compelled to enter the low end of the Market, and get a piece of that market share (because Taylor was killing them there, not to mention Larivee, Guild and Gibson too) ... but of course by doing this, it would not only ensure continuous cash cows and cash flow, but also, keep his family / employees working (the job security thing.)

(b) Started out with a limited number of sigature editions, and then went crazy over time .... to the point that NOW, practically anyone who's ever farted on a Martin guitar will get a signature model released ... and the signature models in quite a few instances were based on guitar models that the actual signator, never even owned or played! (ie. the new Norman Blake model; the Ernest Tubbs D-35; the Kitty Wells Honky Tonk Angel model; the on again and now off again Lucinda Williams Model, and many more. But hey, they sell well to the dealers anyway ... and that's the name of the game.

(c) Once upon a time the D-45 was THE flagship guitar in the Martin line - in fact 45 anything. It was a real prestige thing, if you could afford to actually own and play one. Today, the D-45 is just another guitar in their line-up eclipsed now by the D-50, the Peacock, and the soon to be released in limited numbers, D-100. They also released (in the what-were-they-thinking-department a limited edition release of the D-50K (koa sides and back) with a list of 50K each. (This model has not yet sold out. Wonder why? Perhaps because koa is NOT Brazilian.)

(d) They're making guitars out of high pressure laminate (plastics) and other strange materials. They use counter top material for nuts (corian) and more plastics (micarta) for fingerboard and saddle material. CF's predacessors especially his grandfather and great grand father would be rolling in their graves, if they could see what their progeny has done to the brand name and the models and some of the crap that is being turned out in Nazareth to the tune of 50,000 instruments a year.

(e) Cowboy Guitars? Anyone played these overpriced pieces of shit? God they're awful to play, awful sounding and hideous to look at. That picture of Chris Martin dressing as a cowboy smiling? (He's smiling because he's laughing all the way to the bank at the suckers that will buy ANYTHING these days, if it has the Martin logo on it!

I am convinced that at this point, the Martin guitar have become whores to the allmighty dollar above all else.

There are still some really great new Martins to be had (yup they ARE overpriced), so you buy them privately and used, because since they revamped (in the last couple of years) what the so-called lifetime warranty covers, it's not worth shit or worth paying for in a new guitar, in that all it covers these days is a neck reset to the original owner , which you might need in 10-20 years and that's pretty much all it covers these days.

I do love the Martins I own.
Don't get me wrong.

But...

... 'last time I checked, Rolls Royce didn't make an economy model and they're still in business.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 08:50 PM

Here's a question: Exatly how iFelix the Cat guitar going to draw the attention of the "younger" masses? Does any one under 35 remember even seeing a Felix cartoon?

Now may be a Sponge Bob guitar. . .



Aren't wonderful guitars made out of tree types that are much more renewable than mahogany, etc.?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Jan 04 - 09:00 PM

last time I checked, Rolls Royce didn't make an economy model and they're still in business

Not as such. They were bought in a hostile bid by BMW in 1998.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,Strollin' Johnny
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 07:03 AM

Sod it GUEST! You beat me to it! Yep they're krautkars now.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,Mooh
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 08:28 AM

My Dear Guest/Troll/Asshole...You asked why I haven't planted trees. You think I haven't when I was bold enough to propose the statement? I've saved trees, relocated trees, spent a summer in part planting trees, introduced them to my workplaces, bought them for loved ones and friends, and contributed to tree charities. I regularly relocate seedlings along a roadside near Geogian Bay to save them from the snow removal folks.

Just in case you were being judgemental.

We now return to our regular programming.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: C-flat
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 09:08 AM

I have a plastic Maccaferri which has a wonderfully distinctive tone. I only use it occassionally but it is a perfectly valid instrument for certain styles.
C-flat.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Mooh
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 09:33 AM

Sure, I prefer the sound of my solid wood guitars, but there's a certain ineffable vibe to a cheap guitar which suits some styles/songs/tunes/arrangements or whatever.

To every guitar, turn, turn, turn.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 10:06 AM

Very good post, JP.

I really question the idea that a kid who buys a cheapo learner level Martin is going to be enticed into buying a D-28 after he gets his chops together. Suckering someone into buying a piece of crap does not produce brand loyalty. It seems to me that he's more likely to reject Martin's high-end guitars because his perception of their product line has been tainted. The kid who learns to play on a cheap Martin is probably gonna buy a Taylor when he gets ready for a real guitar.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: ddw
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 11:56 AM

SINSULL — Good idea, except that the wood for really top quality guitars is often ages 100 or 200 years before it's cut and shaped. That's what is running (or has run) out and a 20- or 30-year plan isn't going to fill the gap.

JP and BWL — you guys hit (JP in great detail) exactly what I was thinking when I saw these things. If some young guy buys a "cowboy" Martin and his friends laugh at him, he's gonna look for a different headstock when he goes for the real thing. They've really cheapened their whole image and I think their hight-end sales will suffer in another few years; most of us old geezers have our main guitars now and youngsters will think Martins are jokes.

In a way it's sad. As I said earlier, I'm not a big fan of Martins because of the style of music I play, but they used to be good guitars. Now I'd almost root for them to get in deep trouble just because I think C.F. IV is a greedy bastard who is willing to sacrifice quality for a few extra bucks.

The way of the world......

david


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: clansfolk
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 12:38 PM

Well what makes wood so good???????

If these modern laminates had been available first maybe guitarist wouldn't have been so shocked????

I have a little Martin Backpacker - I also have a D15 and a D41+ (custom) - plus several other guitars including the forementioned Garrison.

The top on the little martin is nearly as thin as some plectrums but stronger than a full sized wooden guitar top... the neck is made of the same material as many gun stocks and does its job very well - when compared to other travel guitars.... Martin all wood (we sent it into space) - forget it Tacaoma all wood - tinny tuned higher than standard pitch more Terz style - forget it Taylor mainly wood - nice but not as nice sounding as the Martin Baby!

Wood might be natural - but don't close your eyes and ears to other possiblities - I don't think Laminates as we have them today will replace all wood guitars - but they may be on the bottom rung of the future.

and lets face it if rockets were made of real wood tey wouldn't be very good!

ps the build quality of these guitars are Very Good and far better than a lot of guitars found in music shops at the same and a higher price range.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: ddw
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 02:41 PM

…but they may be on the bottom rung of the future.

and lets face it if rockets were made of real wood tey wouldn't be very good!

1) Maybe they're the bottom rung of the present

2) Rockets are supposed to sound good!

Sorry, Clansfolk — What's go good about wood is that it has warmth, vibrance and visual beauty that will probably never be reproduced by plastic, IMO. Ovation has been churning out its Thalidamide helicopters for years and I've never heard one of them that's improved with age.

As for giving other materials a chance — I've got a nickel-plated brass National that I love... Go figure, huh?

cheers

david


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Peace
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 05:51 PM

Regardless, y'all, even the worst Martin has to beat the Stella I learned on.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: ddw
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 06:00 PM

An awful lot of great blues got played on Stellas. That was the standard "studio guitar" that was furnished to the Delta players when they went in to record.

cheers,
david


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Willie-O
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 06:20 PM

If they want to make good guitars and be environmentally aware--and they have made at least one "Smartwood" model using this concept--they should look more at domestically grown lumber that they can be more involved in the supply and reforestation cycle of. I don't know what the Sitka spruce supply is like these days, but I'm sure Martin does. They are making some nice guitars with walnut sides and back, anyone tried them?

Maintaining forest ecosystems involves a helluva lot more than planting seedlings after a harvest.

I don't mind the lower-budget models with laminated sides/back, but this latest round of painted crap really has me wondering...I sure hope they decide to pull back on the reins at some point, soon.

W-O


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 06:36 PM

Yeah, those painted-up Martins are such an ugly sight that there are really no words adequate to describe it. There are so many fine guitars out there now that Martin has no means of hanging onto any kind of exclusivity, but I can't see why they are doing some of the stuff they're doing now. It's tacky.

- LH


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 07:53 PM

They are making some nice guitars with walnut sides and back...

Like this one!

Note that it appears to be made of, for lack of a better term, "furniture grade" walnut instead of the much more expensive highly figured walnuts like Claro. Fancy walnuts are highly prized as gunstock material by high-end firearms makers, and they have bid the prices on the really good stuff up so high that guitars made from premium walnut are often more expensive than those made from tropical woods.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,Martin owner
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 07:54 PM

The argument re. the looks of instruments is age old - everyone is different and the fact that Martin are making "painted" guitars and selling them tends to imply there is a market.

The new "little" Martin is an excellent sounding guitar when compared with like and comes out on top... it doesn't matter what its made of or why it was made of the material it was only that it sounds good.

Re Ovations - don't tell me they don't mature! I have a 60's balladeer that sound superb, likewise a long neck both the tops made of good quality wood - and most guitarist will tell you the back and sides make little effect on the tone - and Ovation certainly haven't gone out of business selling "plastic" guitars!

Martins are also the most copied acoustic guitar. followed by Ovation - this must tell us something about the sales research dept.

I have never bought a guitar on name alone and never would - I play a guitar and then make my decision - even if the guitar is the same model there can be vast differences in sound and playability, I don't care if it has "Tanglewood", "Encore" or "Yamaha" (and boy have they made some crap guitars) on the headstock as long as it sounds good and plays well!

Don't judge a book by it's cover or what the pages are made of it's quality of content that counts.

Then to all you wooden guitarists with electric pick-ups - remember the sound the audience hears is down to the pick-up, the mixer, the amp and the speakers not the wood in your guitar - listened to a Variax recently? and then stick all your effects boxes in between and forget your $5000.00 Martin.

Too many people quote their guitars as a status symbol "Oh I have a Martin" and Martin tend to be at the top of this when it comes to acoustic guitars - too often I have heard comments like "I've only got a Tanglewood" and the like, it's not what you've got it's what you do with it that matters!

Terms like "Hand made", "Vintage" and "unique" are used instead of "good" - there's plenty of unique, handmade, vintage crap out there....... like what you like but don't diss something on those grounds alone.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Walking Eagle
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 08:03 PM

I,too, have played many fine guitars. Each has their good and bad points. The thing that sold me on Martin is that they had lefties in stock and ready to ship to the store. It's a six week wait with Gibson and Yamaha.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Mooh
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 08:53 PM

I do know that if my average student started with any Martin, I wouldn't fix so many guitars and the instrument would serve them better than what most start with these days.

As for whether the first brand dictates future buying, lots of folks start with a crapola Yamaha and end up with a good Yamaha around here 'cause that's what's available, or they just have a soft spot for their first regardless of brand. Not in my case, I never again got a Suzuki acoustic or a Kent electric!

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: open mike
Date: 01 Feb 04 - 10:15 PM

decorated instrument thread
the guy who apparently designs the hawaiian and cowboy guitars
is bob armstong-you can see a link to his web site here. he is
a cartoonist and, BTW, an incredible musical saw player..


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Midchuck
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 07:43 AM

Check out CA Guitars. (stands for "Composite Acoustic.") They're making guitars entirely out of synthetics, and the buzz is that the tone quality, while not up to that of the very top-end Martins or more expensive guitars from small shops, is fully comparable to, say, a middle-line Martin. And you can throw one in your car trunk without even bothering to put it in the case, or leave it outdoors with the rain falling on it when you camp out, or take it to the beach and let your kid use it for a shovel in the sand...no problem. Some very well-respected country and Bluegrass musicians are using them for touring instruments, because they get as good sound as they really need in a touring situation, with no worries.

If good-but-not-great instruments can be made from synthetics, that means we can save the dwindling supply of tonewoods for great ones, nicht var?

(Usual disclaimers)

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: ddw
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 11:55 AM

Midchuck — a friend of mine has one of those guitars. I'm not sure it's a CA, but it's something like that — flat black, all composites or one sort or another. I only saw it once. It has an OK tone, but I couldn't figure out why someone with a top-of-the-line Larivee would buy one till he explained it's his sailboat guitar. He says he can live with the relatively flat sound as a sawoff to not putting the Larivee in danger. And, he says, if he's ever becalmed he can use it for a paddle.

The thing I was getting at in this thread wasn't so much that composites, plastics, etc. can't be OK guitars — I was questioning the wisdom of an industry-standard brand marketing them under it's own name. I think a much smarter move by Martin would have been to make and sell them under a separate company with a different name. That would have given them all the benefits (saving wood, going for the young market, etc.) while protecting brand image and integrity.

cheers,

david


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 01:05 PM

Gee, some of the naysayin here makes me want to not play anymore!

Justapicker you sound like one spoiled with too many fine guitars! If Martin did not experiment then you could not own any great Martin guitars. The idea that because they don't make every one as good as the famed HD range for example is just plain selfish greedy GAS, and bitchin about it proves a person is too far gone for much other than a wallop on the head with a plastic Martin Cowboy model.

Having played almost a whole life on acoustics and that included several fine models - Martins as well- I never found one that I did not like to play on, nor one that I would not get another job to buy. But then I neve did have to buy a box anyways. All my guitars were given to me including the one I almost pawned my fine antique Banjo to get.

Mine has a laminate back and sides. However besides the odd Gibson Mandoline, antique Martin or Vega instrument I have tried this box has the most 'in yer face' direct and true response I ever did find, and you better believe me I looked for years and years

In fact, I used regularly go into stores to try out acoustics, I still do. One day while doing my thing I asked the missus - she plays too - to pass me a buff finished box which hung to the side of me. I was looking at the back of the box. Anyways not bothering to inspect the peghead I tested the tuning which was BTW spot on, and when I walloped a G modal chord the sound was so loud and penetrating I could feel my inards wobble. Talk about an electric - that is what it sounds like sometimes.

Later after I declared myself certifiable for the thing the missus bought it as a gift. In my humble life long semi pro non Martin owning life - opinion is that this little box has no equal and that the other   
other Martins I have heard accomplished players on are the same.

It is as much about how you LIKE to sound as anything else, and here I add that as a musician who happens to be good on guitar, one Martin is more than enough for me.


I don't care what Martin makes guitars out of, when they all sound as good as mine.

Price - for the real musician is irrelevant. I would have paid 8 grand
for my DM as easily as 8 hundred BECAUSE its the right guitar for me.

Mr Chris Martin - good on yer little mahogany laminator ! and Thanks

sorefingers


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 01:08 PM

Hehehehehehe....All of the Martins I own were based on experimentations they did during the 1930's.

Many (but not all) of the Martins made today are crap.
Live with it or see if they'll add to the 60 signature models they currently offer, with a Guest-Sorefingers Model.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 01:40 PM

Taste is the enemy of art.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 02:18 PM

And bad taste is the friend of modern marketing.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Willie-O
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 02:43 PM

David makes a good point. They seemed to be doing OK when they developed the Sigma line, which was manufactured offshore to their specs, but had to pass strict quality control directly from Martin. Some nice guitars those. If a Sigma didn't pass QC for cosmetic reasons, they had a third "economy brand" name which they used. (Anyone remember what it was?) Whereas if a branded Martin didn't pass QC, they ran it through a bandsaw. (I think that was the source of the half-model demos you would see in some places--although you would think that an odd usage of something they didn't want anyone to see their name on.) That's how Dick Boak explained the system to me in 1979.

You can experiment with a lot of components and materials, but even Ovations have wood tops.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,sorefingers
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 08:47 PM

Mr Justapicker, you have the worst kind of GAS I ever did see! Not only don't you want other folks to have a decent box, you think those made by Martin should be cheaper to YOU and to h*** with everybody else.

Out of interest and fairness to Martin and the many other new materials makers today, I am bound to report that laminated wood material is realwood, but that some other brands are using experimental fiber instead of wood-which I have to add is so danged loud you have to be real gentle with a pick!

It's not that rosewood isn't nice to listen to, but it ain't the loudest tone material anymore.Get used to it. Martin did and guess what, they moved on!

IMO there is not a guitar on the market today that is even close to the DM for value and that kick ass rowdy sound.

Happy folksinging!


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Peace
Date: 02 Feb 04 - 09:33 PM

I know it's gotta sound good, but it's gotta look good, too.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: clansfolk
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 05:44 AM

"but even Ovations have wood tops"

Ovation Adamas CVT - woven graphite top!


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Steve-o
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 01:14 PM

As ususal, Justa has done the homework, presented the facts, and come to the sensible conclusion. Chris Martin has gone mad- for a guy running a privately-owned company he is acting like all other CEOs of Wall Street-owned companines. Why is it necessary to have a piece of ALL of the market? There are already guitars at the "low end" (price-wise) that are WOOD, highly playable, good-sounding, and attractive to look at. Go check out a few Seagulls or Blueridges- a few hundred bucks, and they ain't plastic! There are lots of "alternative" woods out there, folks, many of them used to make these guitars, and they ALL make better sounds than plastic. Kids entering the guitar market should not be entering with a Martin, even a cheapo Martin- that's bullshit. They should be getting a $150 Seagull or Yamaha, learning to play, then working their way up to the "holy grail" of guitars. That's what I did, and I am the better for it. And BTW, I work for Disney....I know something about milking and watering down the brand in the name of greater and greater profits. It sucks.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Justa Picker
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 02:13 PM

Thanks Steve.
I am glad you got my points.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Mooh
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 03:06 PM

Steve-o...Why shouldn't kids start with a cheap Martin? If they're playable, sound as good as the competition, are decently made, and don't offend their eyes, what's the difference? I see alot of crapola guitars in kids hands, if Martin can outdo the competition, I don't see why they can't have a piece of that market. Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST, Claymore
Date: 03 Feb 04 - 04:57 PM

Just as they say in football that "On any given day in the NFL one team can beat another", the same can be said for guitars. In forty years I have had many, and although I have heard many bad Martins, my favorite is a tight grained dark Koa model, the SPD16-K2, which I string with heavy gauge strings (14-59s) in violation of the Martin coda, without a hint of bridge lift and it has incredible tone. I do a lot of sound jobs for folk and acoustic shows, and in many years I have heard only two or three guitars whose tone could match it, a Martin HJ-28, one old Gibson, and a relatively new Taylor (models forgotten).

Whatever Mr. Martin does with his company, it is our job to compare and buy only those individual models that please us. And that is true for any guitar or guitar brand. And if a young student buys one of the hopped up jobs and doesn't like the sound later, we can call that the Claymore IQ test...


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Midchuck
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 09:50 AM

I hope this is not the real beginning of the end. Always before, when Martin sold something built outside of the US, they put some other label on it, like the Sigmas and the Shenandoahs...

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: clansfolk
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 11:36 AM

Steve-o - I don't think the Martin Company set out to make expensive guitars just the best they could...... in various ranges (Including Ukes) - this they succeeded in doing even when they had to make cheaper guitars in the 20s/30's they kept up a standard and a range - it is only because they made desirable guitars they stayed in business and (some) people attributed a status symbol to the name - like most businesses when you find your product is desirable and you can charge more the price goes up - the Top Liners at festivals tend to do a lot less appearances and get paid a lot more than the "lesser" Artist - this doesn't make them better than others just more desirable - for whatever reason.

If martin make cheap guitars - that are good value that's great and if they drop the price of their more traditional models that's better still I'd rather boast of having a good guitar as appose to an expensive guitar!

The Wood against "Plastic" argument holds no water (well the plastic one hold it better than the wood) - and falls into the same brigade as the Real Fur lovers and the activists - why wear real fur if imitation looks as good?

as said earlier Don't Judge a Book by its cover - and why can't Martin make what they want - Fylde Guitars used to make snooker cues - and good ones to boot!


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Steve-o
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 12:23 PM

Martin CAN, of course, make exactly what they want, including models that will capture some of the "low end" market- they can also "outsource" assembly to Mexico- both of which will water down the brand. Words like "legendary" and "unique" will soon no longer apply to their brand name, they will no longer be considered the "state of the art", and they will be just another homogenized big company like so many others. This saddens me, and although I know it's the way of the world, I still don't think it's OK. Change is NOT always good, and some traditions do not HAVE to die in the name of "progress". But they didn't ask me for my opinion, anyway. The whole thing is moot for me, since I will die with my hands wrapped around my funky, beat-up, wonderful 1946 D-28 (to paraphrase one of my favorite Norman Blake songs). BTW, thanks to ddw for providing one of our most interesting music-related threads of late.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 01:43 PM

Am I just confused, or is the main thrust of tis that Martin is using plastic (based on non-renewable resources) to replace a renewable resource like wood? And that this is good?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: clansfolk
Date: 04 Feb 04 - 03:02 PM

Dick - the way I have read the threads is that:-

Martin make a guitar out of a material that is not wood...

They have some of these guitars painted.....

Some people like them and the sound - some don't

Some see the reason for making "Plastic Guitars" is to save trees

Some think it is to make money (which is Martins business)

Some think the Name "Martin" is important - because it means "good" or "the Best" or maybe even "I've got a lot of money"

Many (like myself) judge every instrument in its own right and not what it was made from, where it came from, and how much it is worth.

- sounds a bit like how I "judge" people

wouldn't it be a boring world if we were all the same?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,chainslinger
Date: 17 Jul 04 - 08:26 AM

o g lets see goes from my home to my truck to the bar stays in tune durnk chick spills beer on it wipe it off drunk guitar player (thats me ) kicks it over not so bad did ya ever play in a smokey bar? well for us non smokers when you get home ya smell like smoke and so does your priceless guitar "read as penis"and like someone said when it goes through an amp it ain't the wood and the stratabond that martin uses is not plastic its thin slices of wood melded together for sterngth purfect guitar to take in your caR TO USE IN A BAR TO HOWL AT THE STARS.........og i did all that and i bet your still wainting for your penis"read as my preacious probably paid to much(insert brand name)guitar hell i ain't mad at ya


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Skipjack K8
Date: 17 Jul 04 - 09:34 AM

jOhn, is that you?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 05:56 PM

I see a potential market for these plastic, metal and composite guitars among our local scuba diving and surfing communities. Never before have we had the opportunity for underwater folk music! And, in a pinch, it could serve as a life preserver for small boats. I can see it now: The first ever Coast Guard-Approved guitars.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,highlandman
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 08:51 PM

Since someone brought up boats, here's an analagous bit of history.
Back in the 1950's wasn't it, when the great debate was raging between the "fiberglass is the way of the future and will soon be better than wood" crowd and the "if God wanted boats to be made of plastic he'd have given us plastic trees" crowd.
Half a century later, after the fiberglass people have had phenomenal success building quality, functional, and sometimes not bad looking vessels, history shows they were both right.
Fiberglass and its newer cousins, carbon fiber and kevlar, are fabulous materials and have shown the ability to outperform natural stuff in most situations,
BUT
there is still something about a wood boat, despite the difficulty in getting the materials, the godawful expense, the maintenance, and the weight, that makes a nautical heart go pittapat.
I suppose in 50 years we might be in the same boat (groan) with guitars, huh?
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Don Firth
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 09:05 PM

I've never had my hands on one of these, or even seen or heard one in person, but I've heard that folks who have them seem to like them. I dunno. . . .

Twang!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Deckman
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 09:22 PM

I was reading through all these postings, and it reminded me of that wonderful line from Woody Gutherie's song: Talking Columbia Blues ... "What's next (sic) "PLASTIC BEDROOMS!" Bob


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 09:30 PM

I find it nauseating. There you have it. Mike Longworth became a friend via the Winfield, KS Festival. This crap dilutes his memory and his legacy at Martin every time another travesty like this is shipped to a music store. Guess it just presses my buttons---and begs for a heartfelt disappointed spewing polemic.

I once made a "panjo"---a banjo neck on a bedpan I'd brought home after using it for 2 months in the hospital. I gave it to Cathy Fink and she played it during her hospital stay a while back. All the doctors and nurses thought it was pretty hilarious. (I have a photo of Pete Seeger playing it on my folk photos website at htttp://rudegnu.com/art_thieme.html)

Hilarious? Yes it pretty much was/is that!! But so are these monstrosity instrument creations of Martin & Co. I did what I did as a joke. But friends, Martin must be serious, right?. This is bad dream-nightmare stuff----like Edith Piaf and John McCormick and Roscoe Holcomb donning striped Ivy League shirts and doing a revival in black-face of folk nostalgia singing Tom Dooley and other Kingston Trio and Brothers Four hits with Carmen
Miranda fruit bowl headdresses on their heads.

That Felix thing, and the like, being part of Martin's catalogue, doesn't negate the years of great guitars from this company, but it demeans and dilutes every good and honest feeling and emotion I ever had about the Martin guitars I owned over the years. And I resent that!!!-------

---- Well, what the hell. The more things change, the more they get different. It's the way of the world. But the existence of these charicature guitars is one of those things I really wish I'd been totally ignorant of before I shuffle off this mortal coil completely.

It's not just the changes I see as I look around now. It's the serious dumbing down that's everywhere. And the amazing mind-boggling acceptance of shit -- and calling it diamonds. Then the old mantra is again heard in the land-------- Forgive them lord. They know not what they do! What new religion is gonna come out of this to divide us even further---if that is possible??

And please forgive my little diatribe tonight. I usually know better than to get so touchy-Felix. ;-)

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 09:33 PM

.. actually..

"Switch" guitars

..moulded from "Vibracell" foam and coated with some kind of hardened plastic finish

are by general consensus very good players and sonic performers..

kinda like tuppaware cloned good tone-wood mahogony

but at a fraction of the usual price..


http://www.switchmusic.com/vibracell_page/vibracell_01.html

Btw.. as a contented owner of 4 Switch guitars.. i'll positively vouch for 'em


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 10:11 PM

My God, Art. Touchy-felix ??? Priceless!


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: katlaughing
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 10:36 PM

Good to know how you feel about them, Art!:-)

IF they are so sure these things sound so good why couldn't I find any sound samples?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 11:24 PM

Actually plastic gutars have been around quite awhile...Macaferri (sp) being one their pioneers. From what I've read, when well made they're actually supposed to play and sound quite well...it's just they have a stigma about them. I recall reading a story that Segovia was given one (a plastic one) from Macaferri (sp)and he actually was quite impressed with it, but then disappointed Macaferri (sp) by not agreeing to play it in public as he thought it would possibly be perceived as a toy instrument. That was probably 50 years ago. Since then, synthetics and perceptions of synthetics has changed...the leader being Rainsong guitars with their graphite bodies. It's interesting, though, that many early 60's Fenders had Gibson SG's had super high gloss finishes that when sitting on music store walls almost gave the impression of being plastic coated (not that they were.) Those sure took off...


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Rusty Dobro
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 04:47 AM

I started out in about 1956 with a blue, plastic four-string guitar painted up to celebrate 'Britain's answer to Elvis', Tommy Steele. I can honestly say I've never played another instrument quite like it. If only Martin had seen that one......


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: M.Ted
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 09:02 AM

I've played the Maccaferri plastic guitars--they had a good neck and played like a real instrument, but the sound was *not* good--

As to the Martins, it has been pointed out that one recurrent of the characters painted on the guitars looks a lot like Chris Martin--


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 09:20 AM

What amazes me is that Entry Level Martins in Virginia are starting at $400 , and starting at £600 in UK ! Why ?? Or is this another example of Rip Off Britain ??


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Wesley S
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 11:11 AM

"Rip off Britian" ?? No we're just trying to get some of our Tea taxes back.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: mandotim
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 02:11 PM

Hey Don; I play a Rainsong WS1000. I've got loads of guitars, some of which are very expensive, but this is the one that goes out most often. All carbon fibre (unlike some Ovations and others.) Very resonant (no need to trade weight for stiffness with carbon) and very loud. The tone is a little more trebly than a Dread or a Jumbo, but as much bass as a well-aged Martin OOO-28V I played back-to-back with it recently. It's very light (no neck block, tail block, braces or truss rod), and it never goes out of tune in response to heat, cold, humidity or whatever. The lack of weight makes it a great gigging guitar; no more aching shoulders! Add in some terrific Fishman Prefix Blender electrics, and you have a practical, almost indestructible guitar with good acoustic tone and volume, and it sounds good plugged in too. I was a bit sceptical when I bought it, as I'm a bit of a traditionalist about wooden instruments, but I'm convinced having owned it for a year or so. I believe Peter Mix, a former director of the sadly missed Rigel Mandolins is now making carbon fibre A-style mandolins. Can't wait to try one of those.
Tim


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Wesley S
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 02:53 PM

Some of the first Rainsongs I played were not very good. The last time i played one they had vastly improved their tone quality. If I lived on a boat it would be the way to go.

And Tim - I was able to play one of those mandolins a few weeks back. Just like the Rainsong guitars - it will never replace wood. But the tone quality was not bad at all. If I played in bars or outside a lot it would be worth considering.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: mandotim
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 04:39 PM

Wesley; the early Rainsongs were made differently. The top was essentially a slab of carbon fibre, the same thickness throughout. The newer ones (like mine) have a graduated top that is effectively 'tuned' like a carved top for mandolins or archtop guitars. Rather than carving, they layer the carbon sheets, laying the weave (the carbon equivalent of grain) in different directions, so that the top resonates differently in different areas. A friend who works on vibration engineering in the aircraft industry reckons this is how they get the tonal separation that characterises the Rainsong sound.
Another use; they're a good weapon if the crowd turns nasty!
Tim ;)


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 12:50 AM

Plastic shmastic. No one in their right mind buys a Martin less than 30 years old, anyhow. That's the point of Martin.

They make a guitar that will survive and improve for generations. If the plastic one make it that long and still sound good then I say "more power to them".

In the meantime, look at the instruments that Martin made before 1980 and buy what you like.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: mandotim
Date: 15 Jun 07 - 07:36 AM

Personally, I wouldn't give good money for a 70's Martin. It was a bad era for the company, too many build quality and design issues. Tone was rubbish on all but the very high-end Martins, and having listened to a few, they haven't improved much without major surgery on the tops and braces. Sorted by the mid-80s though.
Tim


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: M.Ted
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 02:03 AM

I've heard all the stories about 70's Martins--but I've had a chance to play a fair number of them, and they are fine instruments.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 04:17 AM

I'd really like a Rainsong Dread - but the price, the price!


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: kendall
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 06:36 AM

No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public. (H.L. Menken)


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Mooh
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 08:44 AM

Has Martin gone mad?

Take a look through the literature, Martin Guitars by Jim Washburn and Richard Johnston, or Martin Guitar Masterpieces by Dick Boak, and you'll see that in every age Martin has produced unusual instruments for their time. It is not always the staid company that their image implies.

I'm still of the mind that however you hook folks into music, even with cartoon guitars, it's better than most of the alternatives.

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 11:08 AM

".. 'last time I checked, Rolls Royce didn't make an economy model and they're still in business. "
--Actually they went bankrupt in the '70's and they were split off from Bentley and both divisions sold. I think Toyota owns the Rolls Royce car division. Volkswagen owns Bently. Or the other way around. THe RR aircraft engine business is still British.

Back to guitars: I own a Martin DXM. The neck and the bridge is wood. I think. Everything else is man-made. And I love it. It is what it is. It will never mellow with age. It will not increase in value (I suspect). But it is rough as a hockey puck and I can bring it into crowded rooms without fear of dings or dents. It is eay to play and does hasve an acceptable tone. And I could afford it.

Thanks you Martin compnay for decanting my guitar.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Betsy
Date: 16 Jun 07 - 07:41 PM

I have a DCX1E cutaway - one of these lamimated Martin guitars - it knocks the socks off my 1994 HD 28 - I adore it ,if I had to choose ( and the HD has been fitted with Fishman preamp etc.) there's only one winner !!!!
Luthiers hate them, but when I am playing it - next to my belly - I lobve it. Will they last as long as conventional wood made guitars - time will tell.
Joe ( Offer ) I thought we were not going to have any nore anonymous "Guests" - much as I agree with the one obove.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Midchuck
Date: 17 Jun 07 - 07:05 AM

For what it's worth, I have a Martin 000-X1. Standard OM or 14-fret 000 size, solid spruce top, linoleum back and sides covered with wood-grain contact paper, "Stratobond" (plywood) neck.

I'd say it's as good a player's guitar, in feel and tone, as anything on the market that retails under a grand US.

I took it to Old Songs a year or two ago, because KT was in the lower 48 without a guitar, and had asked Kendall if he'd loan her one for the festival, but he had no spare 6-string and knew I tend to accumulate them so he asked me.

Kendall and KT both seemed to find that guitar eminently acceptable for festival purposes.

I don't play it much myself, but only because I really like a 1 3/4" at nut or wider neck, and this is the Martin "standard" 1 11/16. I plan to keep it indefinitely as a loaner or emergency backup instrument for adverse conditions such as bad-weather festivals with drunks.

I do think the wood-grain contact paper on the back and sides cheapens it. They should have just painted them plain brown.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 17 Jun 07 - 08:32 PM

What I don't understand is the use of pickups on a fine guitar. The maker spends a lot of time perfecting the natural sound of the instrument and then someone slaps a pickup on it and it sounds comparitively poor. Yes, you can tell the difference. To me the best solution is a fine condensor mic if you want to amplify for larger venues or record.

As to plastic guitars, well you can take 'em to the beach and serenade the waves.

The Rainsongs aren't bad and if they can withstand the elements outdoors, why not?

Martin has depreciated its business by treating their customers like crap. It's no mystery why they would put out plastic guitars to finance their bad attitude. The prices on those suckers are ridiculous.

I agree with Art that the public has become inured to musical values and will accept the pablum they are given in the same way the accept watered-down information by the media.

Music has been American Idolized.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 11:48 AM

I am not an "nore anonymous "Guests" " I just don't post that often and the site is a bear to re-log onto. When it recognizes me I am Philj200.

Despite the nay-sayers, (according to The Guitar Museum, New HydePark, NY) Martin began their line of composite guitars in response to requests by working musicians for rugged instruments that could stand up to the rigors of the road and still sound acceptable.

That is exactly why I purchased my DXM. My old Gibson was too valuable to expose to crowded open-mikes and bad roads. Does the DXM sound as good as a vintage D-28? Of course not. And it doesn't cost as much either.

I paid a fair price for an American-made instrument. I have no problem with the knowledge that no trees died to make my guitar.

By the way, no one is forcing people to buy composite guitars. That's sort of a big point.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Philj200
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 12:05 PM

Actually, seeing all the spelling errors in my earlier "guest" post, I should have kept my head down.

Martin is not a charitable foundation dedicated to upholding the ideals of people who might buy one or instruments in a lifetime from them... and maybe another one or two used for which they receive not a penny.

And if you were ("you" being the critics) them, you would not keep the factory open for long if you tried to satisfy everyone.

My DXM shrugs off real-time use. I don't have to treat it like the crown jewels. It is well-made, the neck is as accurate as any of my guitars and more so than some. The action out of the box is fast and easy. The volume production was good enough for acoustic jams. I added a Mini-Western pick-up and had not the sligthest trepidation to boring out the base-plug and running the cables through the instrument. The pick-up works fine. If anyone quibbles that it's not the "best" possible choice, they can send me better ones.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 18 Jun 07 - 06:45 PM

More than three years ago, Midchuck mentioned CA (Composite Acoustics) guitars. Since then they've retooled, built a new factory, recovered from Hurricane Katrina, begun shipping all new models and introduced new models.

These CA guitars are great. They stand up against top-drawer wooden instruments. The new GX-Performer is truly a wonderful guitar. The small Midwest guitar shop where I work has sold more GX-Performers (new in January) than any single model of any make of guitar in the last five years. People play these and just can't put them down.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Philj200
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 12:37 PM

Don't you just love it when someone says that nothing is worth anything if they personnally don't like it. (Or can't afford it) (Or haven't tried it.) (Or woke up with a thorn in their paw.)
    (C.F. Martin's from the 70's.) What are these pundits credentials to make such sweeping statements?

Analogy(s) coming: (place your tongues in your cheek)
   Any banjo pickers who use anything other than animal skin on their pots are committing crimes against all that's holy. No one can make good music on a plastic skin. No one. (Recreated snippets from the 40's and 50's). Good thing that crazy fad died out and everyone stuck with natural hide.

And let's get back to turtle hunting for the only kind of flatpicks an honest folkie will use.

And while we're at it, search the alley for a stray cat. Nylon and metal strings are abominations too.

And you had better be sure that the finish on your guitar is made with the crushed shells of beetles (no, not Ringo) and not of johnny-come-lately polywhosis crap).


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: mandotim
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 02:30 PM

Philj200: I'm always wary of things like 'common knowledge' or 'received wisdom', so I'm basing my punditry on two things. My own experience of playing Martin guitars (over 50 now) of all types and ages, and some fairly extensive research I did when asked to 'sort out' a 70's Martin belonging to a good friend who despaired of the damn thing. The results seem to be that 70's Martins, especially the Dreadnaughts, were noticeably inferior in tone, volume and build quality when compared to Martins from other eras. The literature suggests that some of the main problems included;
- poorly graduated tops, often left far too thick to compensate for the poor quality tonewoods in use at that time
- Innacurate and badly fixed top and back bracing
- Ill-fitting neck joints
- Uneven finish coatings, often applied too thickly, thus affecting tone
- Pickguards that shrink over time, often causing soundboard cracks
- Inaccurate and badly fitted bindings
- Poor quality machine heads (i.e. cheap ones)
- Badly set-up nuts and bridges
- Necks prone to warping, probably because of poor wood selection.

Martin sorted out pretty well all of these problems by the mid-1980s, and my evidence suggests that the company has improved its standards steadily since then, probably in response to makers like Taylor and Takamine, who raised the bar for mid-price guitars from the 1980s on.

Finally, just to gently challenge your rather sweeping first paragraph; I like most of the Martins I've played, and I've owned more of them than I care to think about; I've bought them even when I couldn't really afford them too. I've just never found a good one from the 70's. I don't have a thorn in my paw either.

And your credentials are?
Respectfully,
Tim


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Philj200
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 03:29 PM

Tim gives a cogent and adult response. For which I am appreciative.      

Until presented with evidence to the contrary, I accept his point of view about Martin guitars from the 70's or until people who Martin guitars from that period raise their hand.

However, we were also talking in detail about composite guitars. Mine was made (or injected into a mold) in 2005. And it is exactly what I expected and paid for. If it was made of paper machie (sp?) and did the job, that would by fine with me.
   BTW: Mandolin bodies were made of paper machie in the 19th century, (albeit not very good Italianate ones). I just turned down a repair job because the neck separation from the body was caused by the paper shell beginning to disintergrate. And to fix it would mean rebuilding a cheap mandolin body. The price of such a repair was far more than the value of the instrument. I advised the owner to retire the instrument to his mantle.

Further, Tim said, "Finally, just to gently challenge your rather sweeping first paragraph;"
    That paragraph said, "Don't you just love it when someone says that nothing is worth anything if they personnally don't like it.
    By Tim's statement, he seems qualified. But he did say, "Tone was rubbish on all but the very high-end Martins, and having listened to a few,"
Tone was rubbish on all
Having listened to a few
    Which was it? By listening to a few, you passed judgement on all. Maybe you're right. By is is also a sweeping statement, don't you think.
    As I recall it wasn't a very good time for Gibson either.

I wish Tim continued success with his guitars. He might end up with a Martin from the 70's he likes some day. I would recommendd he listen before checking it's pedigree. I check the price first myself.I don't want to shop for instruments I can't afford.
   BTW: I have a Takamine 12-string that is a fine instrument, for the price. I also have a 1949 J200 that is an exceptional instrument, at any price.
   My qualifications, (since you asked):
Been playing most stringed (and fretted) instruments since 1959. I've worked as a sideman, accompaniest and soloist. I've taught (and continue to teach) guitar, banjo and harmonica. I've had compositions purchased for commercial purposes. I've worked for luthiers and continue to repair and setup instruments on the side. I've built instruments from scratch and from collected parts. And I know and have jammed with people that many consider legends. Will that do?
   And I value wood as well. But I don't close my mind to progress.

I wish Tim continues luck with avoiding thorns.
Respectfully,
Phil(j200)


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Philj200
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 03:35 PM

Damn, I wish there was a way to edit posts here. And fix typos and spelling errors. Please assume I went back and tidied up.

Tim, you played 50 Martin guitars. Not own 50 Martin guitars? In the time frame you gave, that's likely, I must have played a huge number as well. Never occurred to me to count.

If you own 50 Martin guitars than I think you should give serious consideration to adopting me.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Wesley S
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 04:30 PM

Proof of CF Martins "madness" - a Woody Guthrie model guitar that sold for over $3,000.


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Subject: Martin Gurthrie model
From: Philj200
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 05:09 PM

I wonder if the Guthrie family (whom I believe owns the rights to a lot of his work, and I would bet his name) (his daugther Sara is the person who adminsters his estate?) gets royalties. Martin certainly didn't use his name without permission. Mad, is conjecture. But they're not stupid.

Royalties. A word in plural or singular not usualy associated with the senior Mister Gurthie's politics. But certainly with his place in American folkmusic.

Madness on Martin's part. Or marketing. I wonder who contacted who first. Now we wait to see who buys one and reviews it here or EZFolk or someplace.

Too rich (another non-Guthrie word) for my blood.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: open mike
Date: 19 Jun 07 - 06:38 PM

the painted guitars are by Bob Armstong who also plays musical the saw.
http://www.geocities.com/artandnoveltyhut/instruments1.html
how about a duet..with both instruments participating...??
oh, no, i did not mean THAT way...


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: mandotim
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 11:52 AM

Hi Phil; hell no, I don't own 50 Martins (I wish!). I've owned seven, but played a lot more. I don't have any at the moment, so you might want to reconsider the request for adoption!
Credentials more than accepted; it's always nice to talk to someone who has good experience, especially when it's different to mine; otherwise, how do we learn anything?
btw I also have a Takamine, it was my gigging guitar for years before I got the Rainsong; it's a very early Japan-made EN20, made in the late 70s, just after the famous lawsuit with Martin, funnily enough. Cost less than a Martin at the time, but wasn't cheap. I played it back-to-back with a D28 and a 000-18 at the time, and it blew them both away. Still does.
Nice to hear from you.
Tim


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Philj200
Date: 20 Jun 07 - 02:24 PM

Back at 'ya Tim. How else indeed. And where else but on the 'net.

My Martin DXM is the first Martin I've ever owned. I've always coveted a good Martin but life happens between buying the guitar you want and the one you can afford...after the rent and the babysitter and the car payment and ...

I just got the Takamine a few months ago. Friend of mine took up the bagpipes, joined a Cletic marching band and put his guitars under his bed. He wanted $350 for the Tak with hardcase. I couldn't say no. It was cherry.

Jump back to 1963: Roger Sprung banjo picker, teacher and instrument dealer (among other parts of a full and fulfilled life) sold me my J200 damaged but playable for (better sit down) (have a hyperventilation bag handy) (Prozac?)... for $175, with a Gibson arch-top hard case for another $25.

Long, long story in that involving a hurricane and Bob Dylan... for another time. I went ot a luthier to see about the damaged and worked out that I would fix it mself in his place and under his guidance for a reduced rate. That turned into a job. Until the scondrel disappeared one night leaving a stack of IOUs all over the westside of Manhattan, a bunch of guitars that were not his, and about a month of back pay still due me. Son of a female dog had me down on the lease as co-owner! That was a surprise. But a nasty mess to disprove.

But the repairs on the J200 held up... for about forty years.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Philj200
Date: 23 Jun 07 - 10:05 AM

Where'd'ya go, TIm?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Greg B
Date: 23 Jun 07 - 07:06 PM

I saw a Martin made with no wood---
Fie, man, fie!
I saw a Martin made with no wood
Who's the fool now?
I saw a Martin made with no wood,
and thought it was no earthly good
Thou hast well drunketh man,
Who's the fool now?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Philj200
Date: 24 Jun 07 - 08:05 AM

Did you write that with a goose-quill pen?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,stu
Date: 11 Sep 07 - 08:55 PM

all they've done in the last 35 odd years is devalued their name...I used to feel proud to say "Ive got a MArtin" then it was "Ive got a pre 1970 Martin"...now its "Ive got some nice old Gibsons and a real Martin"


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,muley1
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 01:05 PM

Why did Martin drop the Sigma guitar line?


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Stringsinger
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 01:11 PM

Yeah, but how do they sound?

Frank


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Jeri
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 01:17 PM

What, Frank? Sigmas? There's a whole humongous thread about Sigmas, mostly posted to by Google surf-ins who want to know how much their guitar's worth.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 01:22 PM

I have heard a story that Martin bought Levin to close them down and ran Sigma to cover the close down period ! How true , I DONT know !


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 Mar 08 - 01:46 PM

Did you notice that there was a Levin Goliath on ebay not long ago? I dropped out of the bidding quite early.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: olddude
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 07:56 AM

Have a d-28 from the 60's that I am in love with. I would not touch one of the new one's for any price. Hate the sound hate the plastic. All of the Martins I have seen made today, no way , not for this old picker. There are too many decent guitars out there with far more sound quality and construction quality I think for a much better price. I would not buy a Martin today never


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Mooh
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 08:24 AM

Well, they haven't jumped on the Rockstar/GuitarHero bandwagon yet, have they?

Peace, Mooh.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: Willie-O
Date: 10 Apr 08 - 11:06 PM

70's Martins may well have had more quality control issues than other decades. I know cause I've owned one for 28 years. This does not make them undesirable though, my experience is that most of the problems are repairable. My '73 O-18 never had proper intonation until I took it to a "regulation specialist" who did an amazing job on all the problems. He had to re-rout the saddle slot--the way it came out of the factory was just plain wrong. Also repaired the cracks (which are of course not particular to the 70's), installed a slightly larger pickguard (hides the repaired cracks) and god knows what else. All I know is that it (the overhaul) was the best $300 I ever spent, that was 15 years ago, and I have had a fine guitar ever since with none of the problems re-occurring. It is not that loud, but that's its small and the action is very low (it is coming up on the obligatory neck reset but I'm not going to do it until necessary because it is such a joy to play now.) BTW the restoration was done by Rufus Stewart, he now has a shop in Victoria BC but is "semi-retiring" according to his website.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST,Silas
Date: 10 May 08 - 07:51 AM

Well, well well..........

A few months ago I bought a new limited edition Felix martin. I bought it as an investment really, however, on playing it I was astonished how well it sounded, I mean REALLY sounded. It leaves my Baby taylor sounding like a plank with strings on - honestly! The thing is made most entirely from HPL (High pressure laminate)the neck is 'stratabond' which looks like a maple ply and is much better looking than it sounds. The guitar is exremely well made, well up to martin standards and I am delighted with it - so impressed am I that I went out and bought a DX1R which is also HPL except the front is spruce.

I have a 60s D28 - this 'plastic' Martin leaves it standing - unbelievable but true nevertheless.


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Subject: RE: Has Martin gone mad?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 May 08 - 02:15 PM

Martin is a product of the guitar market. If it sells those atrocities, then it's not mad but
successful from a business standpoint.

They still make great guitars although I prefer their older ones.


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