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Martin Journal

Martin Journal

The official printed publication of Martin Guitar

MARTIN® - The Journal of Acoustic Guitars is published by C.F. Martin & Co. in January and July of each year. Written exclusively for acoustic guitar enthusiasts, players, dealers, owners and potential buyers, it includes new product announcements, special edition instruments, developments in the string making area, company news, technical information, and more.

Current issue: Volume 7 - Summer 2017


Find previous issues here: MARTIN® - The Journal of Acoustic Guitars Archive

Take it From the Top - Volume 7

Sustainable: adj. (ca. 1727) of, relating to, or being a method of harvesting or using a resource so that resource is not depleted or permanently damaged.

People often ask me why guitars are made out of certain materials. My initial response is because they work well, better than other materials. Then they ask me who selected them.

While Martin guitars have used traditional materials forever, we cannot claim to have started the trend. By the time C. F. Sr. started making guitars in the early 1800s, rosewood, mahogany, ebony, and spruce were already highly regarded by both builders and players. Imagine the challenge of procuring high-quality exotic timbers two hundred years ago 

Along with the tonewoods, other exotic materials were popular. Tortoise shell, elephant ivory, and abalone pearl were used extensively on well-made guitars.

Today all these exotic materials are regulated.

My family’s business has tried hard to take a leadership role in the ever-evolving availability of traditional components while being open to considering and embracing viable alternatives.

When the Lacey Act was amended a few years ago to include wood, we had a three-year window to comply. This gradual phase-in allowed us to develop the proper procedures and controls so we could be in compliance.

When CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) implemented its new regulation of rosewoods, the timeline was much, much shorter. This has caused significant disruptions in the marketplace. We are working diligently to integrate the cumbersome documentation requirements into our export business. The intent of CITES regarding rosewood may have been well intentioned, but onerous documentation required is, in my opinion, penalizing many for the bad behavior of a few.

Fortunately, we are Forest Stewardship Council® certified (license code FSC® C008304) by the Rainforest Alliance, who helps us with sustainability of our stock of exotic wood.

I’d like to ask you personally to be open to the use of alternative materials.

I love tradition as much as anyone. I believe it’s possible that the new woods we are introducing today can become the accepted and traditional woods of tomorrow.

C. F. Martin IV
Chairman & CEO
C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.


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