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  • 1971
    Frank Herbert Martin becomes president.
    1971

    1971

    C. F. Martin III was content to remain Chairman of the Board and allow his son Frank Herbert Martin a chance to run the business. Frank made two great contributions to the company: he convinced his father to build the new factory and he made an acquisition the Darco String Company that would become Martin Strings.
  • 1975
    Martin completes construction of The Sawmill.
    1975

    1975

    Martin made a major commitment by building a 10,000 SF state-of the-art sawmill in order to custom-cut imported logs for musical veneer. With it came expert sawyer Bill Hall, who occasionally had his hands full with oversized logs. Within a few years, rosewood and mahogany log importation ceased and The Sawmill shifted its focus toward the architectural millwork and exotic woodworking marketplace.

  • 1975
    Sycamore Street expands.
    1975

    1975

    This first of many expansions, 26,600 SF was added to the Sycamore Street facility in 1975 to accommodate new office space, wet spray booths and machine room.

  • 1976
    1976

    1976

    The HD-28, a replica Martin’s revered Herringbone D-28 of the 1930s, rejoins the product line – scalloped braces, small bridge plate, and booming “herringbone” sound. Bluegrass pickers worldwide rejoice.

    The D-76 and V-76 bicentennial guitar and banjo respectively, commemorate America’s 200th birthday. Both feature pearl eagle headstocks and star-shaped fretboard inlays.


  • 1977
    Martin On Strike
    1977

    1977

    The local Lime & Gypsum Workers of America unionizes the Martin workforce causing a divisive strike and virtual shutdown of factory. Frank Herbert Martin was perhaps more interested in race cars, while his son Chris was busy mentoring with C. F. Martin III. Only a trickle of Martin guitars are produced during this tumultuous period, but eventually the workers resign from the union and return to work. The Company endures and remains non-unionized to this day.
  • 1979
    The Martin Custom Shop opens.
    1979

    1979

    When Martin opened the Custom Shop, players could finally design the guitars of their dreams. In 1980 Neiman-Marcus in their Christmas catalog featured their own gold and pearl-laden D-45 Custom, three times the price of the standard version. Though he much preferred the simplicity of the D-21, C. F. Martin III was proud of the finished product.
  • 1982
    Frank Herbert Martin resigns at the early at the age of 49.
    1982

    1982

    Martin loses a president and Florida gains a great golfer. C. F. Martin III resumes sole leadership with a young Chris Martin preparing for his future leadership role.
  • 1984
    Martin offers Limited Edition "Guitars Of The Month."
    1984

    1984

    Martin starts offering “Limited Edition” and “Special Edition” programs as “Guitars of the Month” to an eager reception. Many innovation an collectible instruments emerge, often inspired by popular vintage instruments from Martin's pre-WWII "Golden Era" period or Chris Martin's experimentation with more contemporary designs.
  • 1985
    Two more factory expansions add 10,000 SF.
    1985

    1985

    As business picks up, the demands upon increased guitar production require more space. Significantly more warehousing space is added to the Sycamore Street plant.
  • 1986
    C. F. Martin III passes away.
    1986

    1986

    For many, C. Frederick “Fred” Martin III will always be the beloved patriarch and wise steward of the family business he dearly loved and served all of his life. He came to work nearly every single day and made a point of walking the floor regularly to see how the workers were getting along.

    Chris Martin — C.F. IV — takes leadership. Under Chris’s direction, the Company will embark on a new era of computer-assisted production, experimentation in tone woods, body styles, trims and virtually unlimited custom options. Some of Martin’s most spectacular new offerings, beginning with the 1987 D-45LE, re-affirm the Company’s position as the premier steel-string acoustic guitar maker in the world.

  • 1990
    Martin completes its' 500,000th guitar.
    1990

    1990

    Martin Guitar celebrates the completion of its 500,000th instrument, an HD-28 signed by all employees, and now proudly on display on the factory's tour path.
  • 1991
    The compact Backpacker travel guitar is introduced.
    1991

    1991

    Part guitar, part stick, Martin's Backpacker guitar, based upon the designs of Robert McNally, gives instant relief for campers and vacationers suffering from “guitar separation anxiety.” In 1994, the crew of the Columbia Space Shuttle STS-62 “boldly goes where no guitar has gone before” with the launch of a miniature Backpacker “Space Guitar” into orbit around the earth.
  • 1993
    Frank Herbert Martin dies as Martin's innovative and economical D-1 is unveiled.
    1993

    1993

    Frank Herbert Martin dies. Under Frank’s leadership, Martin tried diversified with the acquisition of Fibes Drums, Manos Woods, Vega Banjos, and the Levin Guitar Company of Sweden. Though most of his acquisitions were less than successful, the success of the Martin/Darco String Company has justified Frank's efforts, as did his persistence in building the new Sycamore Street factory.

    This year also sees the unveiling of the revolutionary Martin D-1 featuring new A-frame bracing, scalloped back braces, 3-piece laminated sides (for greater durability), unique body and neck joint, and lots more. This sets the stage for a new series of state-of-the-art Martin guitars.

  • 1994
    Artist Signature Models emerge to claim Martin's legacy.
    1994

    1994

    With Chris Martin’s prompting and Dick Boak’s artistry, Martin’s highly acclaimed “Signature Series” is launched with the reissue of Gene Autry’s original trail-blazing 12-fret 1933 D-45S – the very first D-45 ever made. The project provides a successful template upon which future artist collaborations will be based.
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