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The FeLiX Limited Edition Little Martin

felixSource: Sounding Board Newsletter Vol 16 - Jan. 2004

Just when you thought you’d seen and heard it all, look what Martin pulls out of its magic bag of tricks:

The FeLiX Limited Edition starring Felix The Cat himself!

It’s a very special version of Martin’s new Little Martin travel size guitar featuring custom Felix The Cat graphics created by artist Don Oriolo, the son of Felix The Cat originator Joe Oriolo.

The result is a great sounding -- and great looking -- guitar ideally sized for travel, practice or student use.

For decades, Felix The Cat has remained one of the most recognized and endearing cartoon characters in the world. In fact, a Felix The Cat doll was the first image to ever be broadcast on a television screen. Felix and his magic bag of tricks are loved by young and old, everywhere in the world. In 2004, he’ll be the star of his own full-length motion picture.

Joe Oriolo was one of Hollywood’s legendary animators and cartoonists. He created Casper The Friendly Ghost and was heavily involved in the making of the Mighty Hercules and Chiquita Banana cartoons. In addition, he was one of the main animators of Popeye and Betty Boop.

As a child, Don Oriolo demonstrated unusual artistic inclinations. His father was an immense motivating factor in his development as an artist. Don began drawing very early on, and by the age of seven he was playing piano and his favorite instrument, the guitar. By the age of sixteen Oriolo recorded his first record album. He was greatly inspired by the worldfamous composer and arranger for Felix, Popeye, Little Lulu and Casper the Friendly Ghost, Winston Sharples, who became Don’s mentor. Later on, Oriolo became head of the music publishing company RSO, 20th Century Fox, and Polygram.

Oriolo continued his father’s legacy by writing and producing a number of motion pictures and TV series: “Felix the Cat, The Movie” in 1987, which was distributed exclusively in the US by the Walt Disney company. In 1996, the TV series “The Twisted Tales of Felix the Cat” broadcast by CBS in the USA. In 2001 the animated motion picture “Squishees.” In 2002, the TV series of “Baby Felix and Friends.” And last but not the least, the just completed motion picture length animated movie entitled “Felix Saves Christmas” for release in 2004.

Today Don is both a highly regarded graphic artist and top musical arranger. He has written, produced and arranged for Gloria Gaynor, Lisa Lisa, Cult Jam, and Doctor Hook, among others. Don continues to do all of the musical scoring for the Felix The Cat cartoons and live shows. He is also an avid Martin guitar enthusiast.

The Limited Edition “FeLiX” Little Martin combines a compact “0” tenor-shaped body and an adjustable, modified low oval 14-fret neck with a 23” scale. The back and sides are constructed from highly durable, jet black HPL textured material.

The top of the guitar, adorned with colorful red, white and black Felix graphics, is also constructed of HPL material reinforced with Sitka spruce cross braces. The fingerboard and saddle are crafted of black Micarta®, an environmentally and tonally suitable alternative to ebony. The solid headstock is fitted with Gotoh nickel-plated, small-button enclosed tuning machines and veneered with red HPL material featuring a Felix The Cat graphic below the C. F. Martin script logo.

The Limited Edition “FeLiX” model comes with a high quality black travel guitar gig bag, embroidered with a gold Martin logo. It’s a wonderful, wonderful cat guitar, tales ahead of any travel-sized guitar, and personally endorsed by that fabulous feline, Felix The Cat.

Think of it as the ideal guitar for very hip cats.

One in a million

by John Foyston

The bill of materials for the millionth Martin guitar sounds like the swag from a pretty good heist or an inventory of a lesser pharaoh's tomb.

Rare Brazilian rosewood; straight-grained Adirondack spruce; ebony; mother-of-pearl; abalone; fossilized ivory; diamonds; rubies; sapphires; emeralds; aquamarine; copper; platinum; silver and gold -- white and yellow. All that's missing, it seems, is frankincense and myrrh.

But the millionth Martin is a big deal. It took the family-owned company 171 years to reach serial number 1,000,000, so the Martin folks weren't about to let that milestone go unheralded. And herald they did, as 50 or so local guitarists and guitar fanciers might attest after seeing Martin Million earlier this week at an invitation-only showing at Pioneer Music in downtown Portland.

"I'd seen pictures and I thought it was really going to be garish," says Jim Bolland, who bought his first Martin when he was 20 and has since owned seven or eight of them. "But seeing it in person makes you realize that it's a piece of art, and why not? After all, it's C.F. Martin & Co., and they've been around so long and weathered so many storms that they can pull it off."

True enough. This would be hubris or worse had almost any other guitar company attempted it. But somehow Martin has earned this, even though the millionth Martin flies in the face of the sober-sided aesthetic that has typified most of its guitars since 1833.

Most Martins are plain to the point of severity. Their beauty comes from within: They are shapely, handsome and well-built with fine woods. The new ones sound good, and the good old ones can be magical. Thanks to superb functionality, they have no more need of filigree or gewgaws than a wrench.

So to see Martin Million rise slowly from its carbon-fiber sarcophagus in the white-cotton-gloved hands of one of its handlers is a bit like learning that the Shakers had decided to make a Barcalounger with Magic Fingers massage.

Because the Martin folks -- and California inlay artist Larry Robinson -- have built one of the more decorated guitars ever. Martin Million is a dazzling baroque confection of inlay and filigree that will never be sold, will rarely be played and is officially valued by the company as "priceless."

When not occupying pride of place in the Martin museum in Nazareth, Pa., the guitar is accompanied by factory guys such as national sales manager Bruce Mariano and district manager Larry Barnwell. They drove the guitar down from Port Angeles, Wash., for its Portland debut, and Mariano will fly it out to Texas for a guitar show. As always, the guitar will have its own seat.

"We will not allow it to fly in the belly of an airplane," Mariano told the crowd, "so we buy it a ticket. Does it fly first class? No, because I don't fly first class."

As Barnwell held the guitar, Mariano gave the crowd a guided tour of the inlays that represent two years of mind-boggling handwork. Guitar inlay is beginning to be mechanized with laser cutters and computer-controlled routers, but this guitar was decorated in a way the first Christian Frederick Martin would've been familiar with six generations ago.

Each leaf, each petal and tendril of the inlays that twine over every surface began as a piece of mother-of-pearl or abalone or sea snail shell painstakingly cut to shape with a jeweler's saw. Each cherub, each angel; the eagle on the headstock and the vase from which the vine-of-life snakes up the fingerboard are made of many pieces chosen to provide color, shading and dimensionality to the inlay.

And every stunning picture tells a story, says Mariano. "On the back, there's a portrait of C.F. Martin in fossilized ivory (which is legal to use); above that, angels hold instruments important to Martin's history -- a ukulele, a concert guitar, and the two angels flanking the vase hold a mandolin and a Dreadnought guitar."

Up near the heel of the neck, (which is inlaid with a lyre) two cherubim hold the guitar that started it all, a Stauffer guitar from the German shop where Martin apprenticed when he was 15. On the front, the pickguard is inlaid with the tools of the trade: drawknife, mallet, jeweler's saw and the inverted top of a Martin guitar showing the X-bracing invented by C.F. Martin and credited with revolutionizing acoustic guitars.

"If Martin has a coat of arms," says Mariano, "that's it."

Though Robinson did the inlay, the guitar itself was built in the Martin factory and is testament to the company's craftsmanship, Mariano says.

After the presentation, the Martin guys took the guitar into the audition room, where an armchair was set up under a photographer's light. After checking that no belt buckles, zippers or snaps would scratch the guitar, they allowed people to hold it for portraits.

"It's a little bit fancy for my blood," said guitarist Geoff Clarkson, who played with the Countrypolitans, "but I'm blown away by the craftsmanship. My fiancee, Carrie, and I are going to get a picture of us and the guitar and put it on our wedding announcements."

"'You'll have to put the beer bottle down, though," said K.C. Wait, who owns the shop.

"But I was going to play a little bottleneck," Clarkson joked back.

Mark Hanson, who publishes nationally known guitar instruction books, was allowed to tickle a few runs and chords out of the guitar and said that it played extremely well.

Except that any guitar with 5 pounds of abalone set into it is unlikely ever to develop a truly magical voice. But this guitar isn't about playing, which is almost a first in Martin's history. But not the last. Should you have a hankering for something similar -- and about $100,000 to satisfy that jones -- Martin has reserved the 50 serial numbers from 1,000,001 for the D-100 Deluxe model.

The guitars have simplified, laser-cut, versions of Robinson's inlay but are still the fanciest Martin production guitars ever. And they apparently fill a niche, because Barnwell said that 15 of the 50 D-100Ds are sold already.

Alex Truax might be a future owner. At 14, he's already bought a nearly $5,000 Martin partly with money earned from gigs with a bluegrass band. And the sight of Martin Million and a D-100D set him to thinking.

"Wow, what a cool guitar," he told his dad, Ed Truax. "We could sell the house . . ."

John Foyston: 503-221-8368; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Publisher: The Oregonian

?004 OregonLive.com. All Rights Reserved

Navojoa Plant Celebrates 15th Anniversary

Employees at C. F. Martin's facility in Navojoa, Mexico, proudly celebrated the 15th Anniversary of the plant's operation with a special dinner banquet in March of 2004.

The Navojoa facility was initiated in 1989 as a maquiladora collaboration and partnership with The MoMex Corporation of St. Louis and the Bours family of Navojoa to supplement string manufacturing with the production of the Darco string line. Since then the operation has expanded to undertake the manufacture of Martin and Darco strings, the new LXM "Little Martin" guitars, and the SO and HSO ukuleles, as well as the popular Backpacker guitar and mandolin models.

The plant, located close to Mexico's west coast about 350 miles south of the US border, employs nearly 200 enthusiastic coworkers. Their efforts have enabled many price competitive products to come to the marketplace that would most likely not exist with higher US manufacturing rates. The establishment of the Navojoa facility has not resulted in the sacrifice of any US jobs.

C. F. Martin & Co. is extremely proud of the significant contributions made by our Navojoa coworkers. The dedication and commitment of this "family" of people has helped to maintain Martin's longstanding and deserved position as the leader in its field. Martin holds the coveted position of being the largest maker of quality acoustic guitars in the United States, the oldest (171 years), the most revered maker of musical instruments in the world, and a sixth generation family-operated business with unprecedented longevity and strength.

nava15

This guitar is one in a million

Source: Newhouse News Service

by John Foyston

The bill of materials for the millionth Martin guitar sounds like the swag from a pretty good heist or an inventory of a lesser pharaoh's tomb.

Rare Brazilian rosewood, straight-grained Adirondack spruce, ebony, mother-of-pearl, abalone, fossilized ivory, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, aquamarine, copper, platinum, silver and gold -- white and yellow.

The millionth Martin is a big deal. It took the family-owned C.F. Martin & Co. 171 years to reach serial number 1,000,000, so they weren't about to let that milestone go unheralded.

Ironically, the millionth Martin flies in the face of the sober-sided aesthetic that has typified most of the company's guitars since 1833.

Most Martins are plain to the point of severity. Their beauty comes from within: They are shapely, handsome and well-built with fine woods. The new ones sound good, and the good old ones can be magical. Thanks to superb functionality, they have no more need of filigree or gewgaws than a wrench.

So to see Martin Million rise slowly from its carbon-fiber sarcophagus in the white-cotton-gloved hands of one of its handlers is a bit like learning that the Shakers had decided to make a Barcalounger with Magic Fingers massage.

Because the Martin folks -- and California inlay artist Larry Robinson -- have built one of the more decorated guitars ever. Martin Million is a dazzling baroque confection of inlay and filigree that will never be sold, will rarely be played and is officially valued by the company as "priceless."

When not occupying pride of place in the Martin museum in Nazareth, Pa., the guitar is accompanied by factory guys such as national sales manager Bruce Mariano, who recently accompanied the guitar to a music store in Portland, Ore. Later Mariano was to fly it out to Texas for a guitar show. As always, the guitar would have its own seat.

"We will not allow it to fly in the belly of an airplane," Mariano said, "so we buy it a ticket. Does it fly first class? No, because I don't fly first class."

As Martin district manager Larry Barnwell held the guitar, Mariano gave the music store crowd a guided tour of the inlays that represent two years of mind-boggling handwork. Guitar inlay is beginning to be mechanized with laser cutters and computer-controlled routers, but this guitar was decorated in a way the first Christian Frederick Martin would've been familiar with six generations ago.

Each leaf, each petal and tendril of the inlays that twine over every surface began as a piece of mother-of-pearl or abalone or sea snail shell painstakingly cut to shape with a jeweler's saw. Each cherub, each angel, the eagle on the headstock and the vase from which the vine-of-life snakes up the fingerboard are made of many pieces chosen to provide color, shading and dimensionality to the inlay.

And every stunning picture tells a story, says Mariano. "On the back, there's a portrait of C.F. Martin in fossilized ivory (which is legal to use); above that, angels hold instruments important to Martin's history -- a ukulele, a concert guitar, and the two angels flanking the vase hold a mandolin and a Dreadnought guitar."

Up near the heel of the neck (which is inlaid with a lyre), two cherubim hold the guitar that started it all, a Stauffer guitar from the German shop where Martin apprenticed when he was 15. On the front, the pickguard is inlaid with the tools of the trade: drawknife, mallet, jeweler's saw and the inverted top of a Martin guitar showing the X-bracing invented by C.F. Martin and credited with revolutionizing acoustic guitars.

"If Martin has a coat of arms," says Mariano, "that's it."

Though Robinson did the inlay, the guitar itself was built in the Martin factory and is testament to the company's craftsmanship, Mariano says.

Mark Hanson, who publishes nationally known guitar instruction books, was allowed to tickle a few runs and chords out of the guitar and said that it played extremely well.

Except that any guitar with 5 pounds of abalone set into it is unlikely ever to develop a truly magical voice. But this guitar isn't about playing, which is almost a first in Martin's history. But not the last. Should you have a hankering for something similar -- and about $100,000 to satisfy that jones -- Martin has reserved the 50 serial numbers from 1,000,001 for the D-100 Deluxe model.

The guitars have simplified, laser-cut, versions of Robinson's inlay but are still the fanciest Martin production guitars ever. And they apparently fill a niche, because Barnwell said 15 of the 50 D-100Ds are sold already.

Publisher: The Star-Ledger

Copyright 2004 The Star-Ledger

Humming Byrd

by Robert Philpot

Could Roger McGuinn have picked a better song than Bob Dylan's My Back Pages to open his show Friday night at McNair Studio? The chorus -- "I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now" -- perfectly set a nostalgic mood, especially when the crowd started singing along. Most people in the intimate crowd probably went back nearly 40 years with McGuinn to the early days of the Byrds.

My Back Pages could have been the title of the 75-minute show, during which an unaccompanied McGuinn told the stories behind most of the songs, recalling how a banjo player visiting his high school turned him onto folk music, how he fell in thrall to artists such as Leadbelly and the Clancy Brothers.

McGuinn threw in plenty of Byrds songs, too. The only big hit missing was Eight Miles High.

What was missing was a band and harmonies; he compensated by getting a lot of music out of a seven-string acoustic Martin guitar he designed and a standard six-string and even an electric, using a pickup to get that "jingle-jangle" sound on Mr. Tambourine Man and Turn! Turn! Turn!

The harmony came courtesy of the audience, sometimes without encouragement from McGuinn, sometimes with it. ("You need David Crosby for those harmonies," someone said, referring to McGuinn's former band mate. McGuinn smiled and replied, "You can sing David Crosby's part" during the intro to Mr. Tambourine Man.) Singalongs at concerts can be annoying, but in a space as small as McNair Studio, they give the show a folksy campfire feel.

It wasn't all nostalgia. McGuinn performed several songs from his new album, Limited Edition, which is due out in early April. The album -- performed with a band -- is a mix of traditional songs, new material co-written with McGuinn's wife, Camilla, and one very touching cover of George Harrison's If I Needed Someone. But it was Echoes Live -- a virtuosic instrumental inspired, McGuinn says, by John Coltrane, Ravi Shankar and Andres Segovia -- that got the most applause Friday night.

Roger McGuinn
8 tonight, McNair Studio
301 E. Fifth St., Fort Worth
Tickets are $40. Call (817) 212-4280.

Publisher: Star-Telegram

 
 
 
 
 
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