Thank you Mr. [C.F.] Martin

I saw this on the Bluegrassblog.com this morning and thought I needed to share it here. Its a cool video posted by the C.F. Martin company of their factory in 1939, where they are building what appear to be D sized guitars. DROOOOL!

Based on the value of current Martin guitars from the era this recording was made, I’d say there is nothing shy of a small fortune shown in this video.

So here we are again confronted with the notions of things made in the USA. C.F.Martin being a great example of things still made in the USA.

I know this is toeing the thin line just this side of mawkishness, but I think the video above illustrates the ways things should be. There’s no rushing in the video. There’s not much automation. Things are standardized and jigged to make it easy to produce enough guitars to make money, but still enough hand work to make things enjoyable and not dull. The workers in this video are certainly craftsman of the highest order. However, we don’t see them pondering their existence in zen-like state of mind and or ruminating on the thickness of a plane shaving. They are just plain getting some good guitars built, some of the best ever built I should ad.

But to be honest, these guys are there to make money and put food on the table, while working with tools and their hands and being active. It doesn’t look easy, but it doesn’t look as taxing a days work in the mines either. Sure there are probably OSHA violations in there somewhere. But I think this an example of what we need to moving towards as a society and what I think much of the small makers are enjoying, be it the Bamboo rod builders, or custom luthiers business.

Jobs like these find a balance between craftsmanship and production. Between hand work and automation. Where things of quality are built to last a lifetime and that appreciate in value over time. Things that find their way into our grandchildren’s hands long after we are gone. That’s what we should producing more of and building on. Functional works of art.

I digress… see you on the blown out river or in the jam circle, maybe, if the water level drops a little bit more, and Uncle Gary brings the shine.

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3 thoughts on “Thank you Mr. [C.F.] Martin

  1. I’ve got a ’37 L7 Gibson at home and was privileged enough to make it to Kalamazoo to the Heritage guitar factory. With the exception of the clothes, things looked pretty much the same as your video.

    • Cool, I owned a Heritage Prospect for a while. They sill make great guitars. I didn’t know they did tours, I’ll have to look into that at some point. Thanks for the info.

  2. A tough battle to ride out, seeing as how a standard Martin is now $1,200 plus, while a Takamine with eerily similar sound (at least at the time of purchase) sells for $400.

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