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Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar

07 Dec 02 - 07:11 PM (#843243)
Subject: Tech: The Aluminun Martin Guitar
From: DonMeixner

I was showing jewelry at a craft fair to day where one of the musicians was playing a Martin Guitar made of aluminum. It had a Baltic Birch Plywood neck and and aluminum body. The sound was unremarkable either accoustically or amplified. Any I dea why such a guitar might be a good idea/


07 Dec 02 - 07:29 PM (#843252)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminun Martin Guitar
From: Ebbie

You can pound the dents out? :)

07 Dec 02 - 07:43 PM (#843257)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminun Martin Guitar
From: Ned Ludd

No not really!

07 Dec 02 - 07:58 PM (#843260)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminun Martin Guitar
From: Haruo

You might be able to get a half a buck out of it at a recycler's.


07 Dec 02 - 07:58 PM (#843261)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminun Martin Guitar
From: Amos

Scratches come out more easily, and the varnish doesn't crack.

Not really, except for novelty!


07 Dec 02 - 09:59 PM (#843308)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminun Martin Guitar
From: Mark Clark

It's Martin's new Special Edition “Alternative” series. Check the links below. I always thought my Martin need something extra and now I know what's been missing … a whammy bar.

I actually owned a Martin holowbody double cutaway electric model back in the '60s. I bought it at Lyon & Healy in Chicago. My brother wound up with the guitar and it got burned up when his place burned down. I got to meet C.F. IV some years back and we had a nice conversation about that guitar.

      - Mark

07 Dec 02 - 11:13 PM (#843335)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminun Martin Guitar
From: Bee-dubya-ell

I am no longer surprised by anything that Chris Martin and crew come up with. Their increased experimentation over the past few years has resulted in some real winners, like the re-issued 15 series, but also in a lot of weird stuff and eye-candy that I would certainly never consider buying. The sad thing is that IMHO their emphasis on marginal guitars like the Alternative Series has led to a perceived decline in the quality and desirability of their Standard Series guitars like the D-18 and D-28. There was a time when, if someone had given me enough money to buy a new D-28 and told me to go out and buy any guitar I wanted with it, a new D-28 was exactly what I would have come home with. If someone gave me enough money to buy a new D-28 today, I'd come home with a Breedlove, or a Taylor, or a Lowden, or a Bourgeois, etc.

I'm not Martin-bashing here. I own a D-28 (that I bought used at an excellent price), and two 15 series guitars. I just would not consider buying a new higher end Martin if I had the money to buy another quality guitar.


07 Dec 02 - 11:24 PM (#843339)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: GUEST,.gargoyle

Are you SURE it was not titanium?

They look similar, and their weight is similar...but one responds like steel, and the other like a hollow can left over from a meal.

Titanium has not yet met its full potential.


07 Dec 02 - 11:51 PM (#843347)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: DonMeixner

Nope Garg, I use the stuff for a living. It is Aluminium. Don't ask how the bridge was bonded to the top. I am clueless. The top was finished with a circular sander. The swirls were very, very obvious. It also had a sound hole cover.

Aluminum is not new in the guitar world. Remember about 25 years ago Applause had an aluminum neck with cast in place frets?

Well, experiment away. Where else does innovation come from.


08 Dec 02 - 12:53 AM (#843359)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Big Mick

I will take my Larrivee over most Martins in the same price range. I don't know what possesses these guys sometimes. I would love a vintage Martin, but lately.............I am just not impressed.


08 Dec 02 - 03:43 PM (#843419)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Don Firth

Hmm. Sounds to me like Martin has fallen on hard times.

My first really good guitar was a Martin 00-18 back in 1953 (my first guitar was a Regal, which I bought new for $9.95). I traded the 00-18 in on a 00-28-G when I started taking classic guitar lessons in 1955. Since I was banging around at the university, I also had a 00-18-G which I used as a second guitar. Very nice instruments. A few years later, someone introduced me to Spanish hand-made classics like Fernandez and Ramirez, and as good as the Martins were, these were a quantum jump in all-around quality and tone—and projection. But I've noticed that even there, things have gotten weird. At one time, if someone asked, "What is the best classic guitar?" it was a toss-up between a José Ramirez and an Ignacio Fleta. "What's the best American-made classic?" Unless you wanted to spend a bundle on a Manuel Velasquez (made in New York), the answer was "Martin 00-18-G." No longer. As far as I know, Fleta's aren't made anymore, and there are so many different models and levels of quality made under the Ramirez label now that I have no idea what the answer would be. In any discussion of classic guitars, Martin is no longer mentioned . When you lose sight of quality and go for the market, it's like Gresham's Law.

Most Martins I've seen made in recent years have been fairly consistently good, but—well—they just ain't makin' 'em like they used to. Were I to buy a steel-string nowadays, it would probably be a Taylor. Possibly a Larrivee

Just my opinion. . . .

Don Firth

08 Dec 02 - 04:04 PM (#843428)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Willie-O

Well... won't rust, will it?

Aluminum makes a fair beer can or engine block, but this kind of thing just puzzles me. Good to know they're still willing to try something crazy, though, as long as they keep making the good stuff too!


08 Dec 02 - 05:35 PM (#843484)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: DonMeixner

Actually, There is one similar in the current Elderly catalog.

08 Dec 02 - 06:35 PM (#843525)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Amos

Ya know, I find it discouraging that they can even imagine doing a Martin guitar body in aluminum. Maybe I am just old fashioned or something, but the thing that makes me want to be a life-long owner of my Martin is the feel of the wood humming in my hands. I cannot imagine having a speck of feeling of that kind for an aluminum guitar.

It would be like -- oh, I dunno -- switching to Windows!!! :>)


08 Dec 02 - 08:24 PM (#843576)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Midchuck

I think Martin has gotten to be a big enough operation and generated enough competition that they are beginning to need gimmicks. The best new "vintage Martins" are Collinges, Santa Cruzes, Bourgeoises, (is that a word?), Merrills, Husses and Daltonses, etc. ad damn near infinitum.

And, as has been pointed out, they have to fight Taylor and Larrivee, and maybe Tacoma, for the mid-range acoustic market.

Their two gimmicks seem to be outrageously priced "personality signature" models, and guitars made out of alternative materials - which, I suspect, gets the manufacturing cost down a lot more than the reduction in retail price.

It's kinda sad, 'cause they did the development and set the standard, in steel-string acoustics, but now they have a fight on their hands with people whose ideas came from them. Sort of like Ford has with GM et. al.


08 Dec 02 - 11:13 PM (#843652)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Rick Fielding

Yah, I've seen one. Completely mediocre, but there are now so many 'collectors' out there that several thousand will be grabbed up simply for that purpose. Their "hand painted" Cowboy model is very similar. An average instrument with a rather (perspectively) poor painting on it.

They did a lot to bring the good name of the company back after the seventies-eighties fiascos, but with stuff like this, they could go right back into the dumper. A friend of mine has a new small bodied Martin, and is thinking about getting a "split saddle" put in, to compensate for the slightly out of tune (at the 12th fret) bass string. She says that nobody else who's played her guitar has even NOTICED the discrepancy. Other companies have perfect intonation these days, but many Martins still don't. Better be careful Chris...



08 Dec 02 - 11:34 PM (#843671)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: catspaw49

I'm with the group of you who can't quite figure out what Chris IV is up to. I mean really........A couple of experiments/improvals/whatever that became winners, a list of signature stuff, some good, some pretty average, and a group of wacky and gimmicky things that are just trash. So what is going on in Nazareth?

I can't help but admire the trials of alternative materials and construction to come up with a great guitar out of non-exotic (and eventually non-existent) woods, but at the same time Chris seems bent on selling the mistakes as well. The ax sucks? Paint a bunch of them and there will be a market to buy "cowboy guitars" with the Martin name.....even if it is a POS! I fear that as Rick pointed out, all of this sideline business will take back all the work it took to overcome the 70's debacle. Truly, Chris IV brought the name back to respect so now is he willing to trash it again? Seems like a weird way to run a business, but maybe the very fact the collector market is so big now, Chris is going for the bucks and that's all.

I have thought about this a lot lately as the same thing is happening in other fields where the collector market has become a driving force.


09 Dec 02 - 02:19 AM (#843706)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Bee-dubya-ell

However, Martin is definitely not the first to make aluminum-bodied instruments. Some company did once make aluminum violin family instruments for school use. A friend has one of their cellos and it sounds pretty darned good. Maybe an aluminum acoustic bass guitar wouldn't be a bad idea. Or perhaps an aluminum reso. But an aluminum flat-top? I think I'll pass.


09 Dec 02 - 02:38 AM (#843711)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Ebbie

Not an alumin(i)um jobbee but I love my Martin. The other night I was sitting across from a singer/player about 6 feet away and I became aware that my guitar was pulsing with his playing and his voice. It even reacted when his voice rose or fell. The body felt alive and I could feel it even up the neck and on the strings.

09 Dec 02 - 09:45 AM (#843822)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Deckman

Ebbie ... I can match your story. I have two vintage Martins hanging securly on our bedroom wall. Often I will notice that they both start to dance on the wall in sypathetic vibrations from just my voice. It's kinda like living with a huge tuning fork! CHEERS, Bob

09 Dec 02 - 11:08 AM (#843846)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Art Thieme

I cannot see why a company like Martin Guitars which has made such beautiful instruments for so many years might create something like an aluminium guitar. It's almost a grotesque-----a sad parody of all the work that has gone before. When Martin made a guitar for the Bicentenial celebration of the USA in 1976 I thought it a rather tacky move, but I accepted it in the long run. I never thought of buying one though. Apparently very few other people bought them either. When I won a D-76 Martin in a raffle after spending $3.00 on two tickets, I was happy about it because the guitar I'd been playing was less than I wanted it to be for a record I was recording at that time. But this aluminum thingie is another step down the wrong road in a nation where folks accept Eisenhower's sterile fast food roads over the grace and pace of a Route 66 and $2.00 bottles of tap water over what was in my lifetime a great drink right from the water taps of Chicago tenaments.

The Martin D-76 was a good guitar even though it was an attempt to market the American Eagle instead of superior craftsmanship, but an aluminum Martin rivals, and is not much more charismatic then the old Gene Autry guitars of my youth ---ones made of plastic.

Just my opinion.

Art Thieme

09 Dec 02 - 11:36 AM (#843872)
Subject: RE: Tech: The Aluminum Martin Guitar
From: Art Thieme

I posted what I really feel about the idea of this guitar BEFORE I read this heavy metal-lite thread. I wanted to say what I felt off the top of my head before seeing what others thought. I'm glad to see that we see things pretty much similarly.

And I had no idea they had put out a "cowboy guitar"--complete with a western painted top. This makes me glad I altered my D-76 and turned it into a 9-string guitar. Martin's Mike Longworth always shook his head in amazement whenever he saw it. I did it because my hands were going numb and I wanted to obtain more sound from strumming since I was picking a bit less then (1980s) ---- sort of the way Bob Gibson played his 12-string combined with Merle Travis style picking. Later, when I got worse and couldn't lift a Dred naught, I went back to a 6-string model 000-18. ----------------And those old Autry/Hoppy/Leonard Slye guitars were fun to find for $3.00 in a Goodwill resale shop just like my Martin was fun to win in that raffle at the Old Town Folklore Center.

Martin will always be my favorite guitar. It just was the best. Probably still is. In my mind it always will be the best. If I ever went deaf, I'd want to keep playing a Martin guitar. The wood vibrates so you can "hear it" even when you can't !!


Art Thieme