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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
As business picks up, the demands upon increased guitar production require more space. Significantly more warehousing space is added to the Sycamore Street plant.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Following the D-45S Gene Autry Limited Edition project template, Martin issues a highly successful and ongoing series of Eric Clapton Signature Editions. Throughout the 90s and into the Millennium, Martin has honored more than 100 artists with their own signature guitars based on their input and playing preferences. 19,500 square feet is added to the factory to accommodate Martin string production. Also, with increased production, Martin combines more computer-driven machinery with traditional hand-crafting methods. State-of-the-art meets state-of-the heart.
The Vintage Series, which pays tribute to legendary Martin guitars of the pre-World War II period, is inaugurated with the HD-28V. The series replicates many of the original features of these extraordinary instruments from Martin’s “Golden Era.”
These instruments reflect Martin’s continuing commitment to building high-quality instruments that are affordable, durable and environmentally friendly.
The X Series Martin DXM, introduced in 1998, utilizes mostly composite materials including HPL (high pressure laminates) for the back, top and sides.
The Company completes yet another new addition to the factory, almost doubling its size. Martin employee numbers surge over the 600 level.