Nazareth, PA - The Martin Guitar Design Workshop is a five-day course where students are challenged to push the envelope of current guitar design under the watchful tutelage of industry experts. Now in its 8th year, the kickoff for the weeklong Martin Guitar Design Workshop begins the same day as the annual pilgrimage of the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum (UMGF) to the Martin campus. Monday brings the final day of the Martin Event weekend (beginning Friday with the Martin Owners Club event, Saturday with the Martin on Main community event and culminating with the UMGF event on Monday).
Chris Martin welcomed this year's students with a personal tour of the Martin Museum, and an in-depth factory tour, including the sawmill, the wood acclimating room and the machine room. Instructors Tim Teel, Martin Director of Instrument Design, Dale Unger, master builder and owner of American Archtop Guitars and Matt Artinger, master builder and owner of Artinger Custom Guitars Ltd. then met with the students to convey basic instrument design principles. It was also here where students were given this year's theme: Acoustic/Electric. Note: this is the first year that students were challenged to add an electronics component, real or conceptual into their guitar design. After a catered lunch with the UMGF and Martin employees under the big tent, the group headed to their classroom at the Northampton Community College Campus for an afternoon of preliminary design sketches.
Construction occurs between Day 2 and the morning of Day 5. It is interesting to note that Martin craftsperson Brian Pritchard participated in this year's course and shared his extensive guitarbuilding knowledge with fellow students.
Martin judges from diverse disciplines arrived Day 5 for a special celebratory lunch and prizes were awarded based on design, quality and presentation. All participants received a Martin Backpacker guitar. The Grand Prize was awarded to Ted Zimmerman. Ted's chambered instrument integrated electronic fingerboard sensors in a complete package acoustic/electric instrument. He won a 16 Series walnut prototype guitar.
The Participant's Choice Award was chosen by fellow students and awarded to Stephen Ura. Stephen's guitar was a cutaway player's guitar, with sound ports directed toward player and an electronics system for amplification. He won a Martin DX 175th guitar.
The Instructor's Choice Award was chosen by class instructors and was awarded to George Kline. George's guitar had an oval soundhole, oval bridge and knee rest. He won a Martin LX White Little Martin guitar.
Tim Teel commented that this year's group made friends quickly, helped each other, shared designs and formulated a very non-competitive atmosphere.