Sir George Martin’s Martin Designed For The Studio<br>Legendary Beatles Producer Collaborates On Sensational Recording Model
Source: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 19 - Jul. 2005
M3M George Martin
As the most important producer in music history, Sir George Martin knows how to achieve excellence in the recording studio. In an illustrious career that has spanned five decades, he is probably best known as the man who signed the Beatles and produced most of their recordings, but his work has ranged from the comedy records of Peter Sellers to the power vocals of Celine Dion. Moreover, his recording innovations have transformed how records are made. So when George Martin detailed his preferences for a namesake Martin Signature Edition guitar to fellow musician and record producer John Kurgan, his specific goal was to create an instrument uniquely suited to the studio. The M3M George Martin Studio Edition is that guitar: an acoustic with sensational recorded sound.
The tailoring of this guitar for the studio shows in its distinctive body style and unique combination of premium solid tonewoods. The M body, with 0000 shape (16” at the lower bout) and 000 depth (4-1/16” at the end pin) produces full, balanced and unusually pure tone. The top is crafted from rare Italian alpine spruce, revered for its quick response and full resonance: forward-shifted scalloped top braces broaden the tonal palette.
The sides and back of genuine mahogany, preferred by many recording engineers for its clear bright trebles, show George Martin’s inimitable creativity. The four-piece back features a center wedge of rare quilted mahogany, separated from the wings by Style 35 white/black/white back strips. Two additional Style 35 back strips highlight a small wedge of unfigured mahogany below the neck heel. Together, the four back strips form a graceful M (for Martin) emblem.
During his entire career, George Martin has made his mark in unique and unexpected ways. A native of London, he began playing piano while still a child and formed his own band at age 15. After serving in the Fleet Air Arm – the flying division of the Royal Navy – during and after World War II, he studied composition, conducting, orchestration and music theory at Guildhall School of Music. In 1950, following a brief stint cataloging music for the BBC, he went to work at Parlophone Records, a minor label owned by EMI. He became head of the label in 1955.
With Parlophone’s limited budget, Martin focused on jazz performers like Cleo Laine and comedy acts like Beyond the Fringe (featuring Peter Cook and Dudley Moore) and Peter Sellers. In 1962 he met with Brian Epstein regarding a young Liverpool band Epstein managed. Although all other labels had passed on the Beatles, he brought them in for an audition and was impressed by the group’s music and personality. He signed the Beatles in the summer of 1962.
Unusual for the era, Martin worked closely with the Beatles in the studio, encouraging their songwriting, polishing their sound and helping them evolve in their musical thinking without changing their energy. His role grew as the Beatles’ music became ever more sophisticated; he began scoring passages for orchestration and used studio edits to blend various takes into a completed song.
He also expanded the envelope of studio capabilities by first linking two four-track tape machines to achieve eight-track recording for the landmark Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band album and reversing tape to achieve sounds the group wanted for certain songs. For the important role he played in their music, he frequently was acknowledged to be the fifth Beatle.
While producing all of the Beatles studio albums, Martin left Parlophone Records in 1965 to found Associated Independent Recording (AIR) and went on to work with a range of artists, from America to Jeff Beck. After the Beatles broke up in 1970, both Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr brought him in to produce solo projects. He also played an integral role in mastering Beatles material to compact disc in the late 1980s and early 1990s and later in preparing the Beatles Live at the BBC and Anthology releases.
He designed the original AIR Studios in London in 1969, Air Montserrat in 1979, and finally the current Air Studios in North London, converting an old church into a state-of-the-art recording facility that has become one of the busiest in the world. Queen Elizabeth II appointed him a Commander of the British Empire in 1988 and knighted him for service to his country in 1996. The following year he produced Candle in the Wind 97, Elton John’s tribute to Princess Diana, a song that sold more than 33 million copies and became the best-selling single in history. He capped his producing career in 1998 with In My Life, an all-star album of songs he selected. In 2001, EMI released Produced by George Martin, a six CD package spanning his entire studio output. He has received five Grammy awards for his work over the years and is a nonperforming member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
The M3M George Martin Studio Edition sports a generous 1-3/4” (at the nut) low profile neck of genuine mahogany. The headplate uses quilted and unfigured mahogany and fine line inlays to create the same “M” emblem as on the guitar’s back. The headstock comes equipped with gold Waverly tuners with butterbean knobs and bears the C. F. Martin & Co. pressure stamp on the back.
The black ebony fingerboard features a small “5” inlay at the fifth fret to commemorate George Martin’s role as the fifth Beatle, with Style 42 snowflake inlays marking the other positions. George Martin’s signature is inlaid between the 19th and 20th frets. Both the headstock and fingerboard are bound in grained ivoroid, with black/white inlay on the headstock and mitered black/white inlay on the fingerboard.
The body is bound in grained ivoroid, with fine herringbone purfling encircling the top and fine black/white/black lines bordering the sides, back and grained ivoroid endpiece. The Style 45 rosette highlights select abalone pearl, matched by the abalone pearl dots atop the ebony bridge pins and endpin. The nut and saddle are crafted from genuine bone. A polished and beveled tortoise-color pickguard adds to the vintage vibe of the aging-toned top. Polished gloss finish on body and headplate allows the beautiful natural color of the mahogany to shine, while a satin finish neck contributes to player comfort.
At Sir George’s request, the M3M George Martin Studio Edition comes with Martin SP coated light-gauge strings to, as he put it, reduce “collywobbles” (his word for string squeak), the bane of recording engineers everywhere. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of each M3M guitar with be donated in support of the Sir George Martin Music Foundation, which George Martin established to aid the island of Montserrat that was badly devastated by the Soufriere Hills Volcano eruption in 1997.
The M3M George Martin Studio Edition is delivered in a distinctive molded hardshell case with black hardware. Each guitar bears an interior label personally signed by George Martin and Martin Chairman C. F. Martin IV, and is numbered in sequence with the edition total. Left-hand instruments are available at no additional charge: Martin sound reinforcement electronics are an extra cost option. Orders for the M3M George Martin Studio Edition will be accepted until September 23, 2005, after which the total number of guitars and the names of participating Martin dealers will appear on the Martin website: www.martinguitar.com.