C. F. Martin and American Archtop Guitars Unveil A True Player's Archtop Collaboration
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 16 - Jan. 2004
by Dale Unger
As a teen living in Nazareth, I became fiercely inspired by meeting many of Martin’s finest craftsmen. My desire to learn how to make guitars became a reality after my introduction to Dick Boak. In the ensuing years Dick and I renovated the ”Church of Art” in the center of Nazareth, and we built many unique experimental instruments. In addition to being Dick’s residence, the “Church of Art” was a guitar studio, concert hall and art gallery. It was a great inspiration to me while I was perfecting my craft as a luthier. This is where I constructed my first guitar in the mid ‘70s. Though he doesn’t reside there any more, Dick still owns the “Church,” and I presently teach my archtop design and construction classes there.
Dick introduced me to Chris Martin in the late ‘70s. Our mutual passion for the guitar helped us establish a strong and lasting friendship. In 1993 I was introduced to another great influence in my life, Robert Benedetto. After several years of close and intensive work with Bob, my passion and understanding for archtop guitars matured.
As fate would have it, I decided in 1995 that the time was right to venture out on my own. My desire was to create a “guitar for the player.” This was the beginning of American Archtop Guitars of which I am the sole proprietor.
I approached Chris Martin in 2001 with my vision for blending Martin’s extraordinary craftsmanship and process with my particular archtop guitar designs. Chris embraced the notion of our collaboration and after great deliberation we ventured forward. With the support of Chris and the cooperative efforts of Dick Boak, Tim Teel and all of the employees at Martin, I was able to reach what I consider to be a major pinnacle in my career – the introduction of the Martin American Archtop Guitar. It’s fair and honest to say that Martin’s past offerings in the archtop arena were not very well received. While the company’s ability to craft great flattop guitars has always been unmatched, the archtop guitar is a distinctly different entity. My thorough understanding of the instrument and its tradition is what I have brought to the table, and, of course, what better company could there possibly be to execute such a design than Martin.
Accordingly, Martin and I are very proud to introduce two unprecedented Fhole archtop guitars. Both models are offered with either a natural or complete sunburst finish in the following options: The CF-1 model is a full 3” thickness body with a Kent Armstrong floating humbucking neck pickup, featuring an X-braced 3-ply top of spruce, obeche, and spruce, with solid flamed maple sides and a veneered flamed maple arched back.
The CF-2 incorporates a thinner 2 1/2” thickness body utilizing parallel top bracing to accept two built-in Seymour Duncan humbucking pickups with volume and tone controls and a pickup selecting switch. Please take the time to try these special guitars. You won’t be sorry!