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 - 2017
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Take it From the Top - Volume 7
Two million guitars and 100 years of ukulele production. Quite a testament to the enduring appeal of both of these instruments.
The origins of the ukulele go back to the island of Madeira off the coast of Portugal. You might wonder how this quaint and somewhat quirky instrument ended up being such an important part of Hawaiian music.
The economic opportunities on Madeira were bleak in the 1800s. What did young men on Madeira know how to do? Sail ships. There was work on sailing vessels in the South Pacific. When the ships stopped at Hawaiian ports for provisions and R&R, the sailors left behind the instrument that became the instrument we know as the ukulele.
In 1898, Hawaii became a U.S. territory, and by the early 20th century, tourists were enjoying the culture, the food, the climate and the music.
The Pan-Pacific Exposition was held in San Francisco in 1915. One of the exhibits exposed the visitors to the fascination of all things Hawaiian, especially the music. This kick started a craze for Hawaiian music that swept across the nation. It also gave us the incentive to feature, for the first time, Martin ukes in our 1917 catalog. The demand was so strong that we put two additions on our factory at North Street in Nazareth. In 1926, we manufactured over 14,000 ukes. The demand dropped off during the Great Depression, came back briefly in the 1950s, and wasn’t helped at all by Tiny Tim.
About ten years ago, interest in the uke improved, and today, it is quite popular again around the world.
It is a charming, fun and easy-to-learn how to play instrument that has been referred to as the gateway to the guitar.
The Hawaiian music craze was also the impetus for us to develop the Dreadnought guitar, which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year.
Since our inception in 1833, our primary focus has been flat top acoustic guitars. We initially built them for gut strings and transitioned to steel strings in the 1920s. The adaptation of the 14-fret neck in the ’30s made Martin guitars easier to play. They soon became the “go-to” guitar for country, bluegrass, folk and folk-rock.
Today, Martin guitars are more popular worldwide than they have ever been.
As my friend Brian Majeski said in a recent editorial in Music Trades magazine: “If you accept that music making is deeply ingrained in human nature, then a strong case can be made that the guitar is a pretty essential component of civilization. With the exception of the human voice, there is nothing more musically expressive than fingers on frets and a vibrating string. In addition to their sonic beauty, guitars are visually striking as well. This probably explains why they continue to figure prominently in so many music genres.”
C. F. Martin IV
Chairman & CEO
C. F. Martin & Co., Inc.