Hey there and welcome friends! We're about to embark on a journey through Martin's storied history. The incredibly knowledgeable Jason Ahner, who manages our Museum and Archives, is going to take you through some really cool artifacts. You'll get to see the very first Martin Guitar ever made, and even catch a glimpse of the guitar that Kurt Cobain strummed on MTV Unplugged. There's so much to see and explore, we're stoked you're here! Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.
Lobby near factory entrance
Hank Williams 1947 D-18 – Hiram “Hank” Williams is as synonymous with country music as the guitar itself. In a career that spanned less than a decade, he wrote some of the most memorable country songs of all time and influenced countless other musicians. Hank was very fond of Martin guitars and owned several of them. This D-18 was purchased by Hank in 1947 from Art’s Music Shop in Montgomery, Alabama. The guitar was featured in at least one of Hank’s promotional photos. Hank ended up giving the guitar to his bandmate Curley Williams, who used it for several decades. The guitar eventually sold at Christie’s “Country Music Sale” auction, where Martin Guitar acquired it.
Case C 1888-1929
Case D 1930-1945
Case G 1964-1985
Case H 1986-2005
Kurt Cobain 1953 D-18 – Before Nirvana hit it big, Kurt Cobain was a struggling musician who befriended Mary Lou Lord, a Salem, Massachusetts, indie-folk artist. Seeing that Kurt didn’t have much money and that he needed an acoustic guitar for Nirvana’s upcoming tour to support their album Nevermind, Mary Lou let Kurt have her 1953 D-18 that they both affectionately referred to as "Grandpa." She knew Kurt loved the guitar as much as she did, and, at the time, he needed it more than she did. Eventually Grandpa was returned to Mary Lou, but Kurt’s love of Martin D-18s didn’t end there. He went on to purchase a 1959 D-18E that was used on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged special.
Case I Veterans Memorial
John DeGrote 1933 OM-45 – Only 40 OM-45s were built from the time they were introduced in 1930 until they were discontinued in 1933. The low production total makes any pre-war OM-45 very rare, but this guitar has an extraordinary story to go with it. John DeGrote purchased this OM-45 in 1933 and took it with him when he served in the United States Army. Eventually, DeGrote landed at Normandy Beach with his OM-45 and traveled all over Europe with it in his radio dispatch truck during WWII.