Monday, June 26, 2006

Martin Guitar Factory Tour

100_1939.JPG Even if you don't play guitar, you will enjoy the Martin Guitar Factory tour. It was worth the hour and a half drive especially combined with a picnic and playtime at a nearby park. I recommend the whole experience. We joined with some other homeschoolers for a group tour. They will only take 15 people in each time slot however, so if you have more than that be prepared to split your group. Reserved group tours are in the morning and are $3 per person. If you live close by or don't have a group you can risk a wait and go in the afternoon for free. First come, first toured.

Before or after your tour, be sure to take a look in the museum. 100_1913.JPG Facinating stuff here. The millionth guitar they've made with precious stones and all kinds if inlaid pearl, a backpack guitar that went into space with an astronaut, guitars played by lots of famous musicians and some of the first instruments that this family owned business made back in the 1800's.

The tour lasts about 45 min - 1 hour. We learned about the different woods that are used to make guitars and how they affect the sound. We saw the laser cutting machine that cuts the backs and fronts of the guitars very quickly. A surprising amount of the work is done by hand or by people with machines. So there is hand sanding as well as individuals operating electric sanders. All of the finish work of attaching the neck to the body, the frets, tuners, strings is done by hand. Of course all of the inlaid work in also done by hand. The job of applying the 5 coats or so of protective finish is done in a clean room by a robot. They also use a robot buffer for some of the guitars. The whole thing is assembly line, even the really expensive guitars. (And by really expensive guitars I mean $50,000 - $100,000). These high-end guitars can take 2 years in process to complete. There is not a factory store with "seconds". Any guitar that has a problem that can not be made right to the highest quality standards is busted up and thrown out! One of the guides told us that the day before our tour two musicians came to pick up their instruments and serenaded everyone who came in the lobby for a few hours. There are instruments hanging in the lobby for anyone to play. Once you hear one you'll understand why someone will pay $800 for their lowest end all wood guitar.

Almost forgot to mention that at the end of the tour you get a little keepsake - the hole from the front of the guitar. It's about the size of a CD and it has laser cut into it CFMartin Factory Tour and the year. Very cool.
Filed under:


Post a Comment

<< Home