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Draplin Design Co., North America


Exhibited no sadness upon leaving Allentown. The place was pretty rough. I got out on that interstate good and quick, then shot north on a little country road up to Nazareth, the proud home of Martin guitars. Rolled into town, found the original factory, took a couple snaps and got directions to the current factory.

The Martin guitar factory tour. Heard about this one years ago and upon the purchase of my D-35 last year on my 32nd birthday, put “visiting Martin” high on my “Things To Do Before I Die A Sad, Lonely Death” list. Always adding shit to it.

The tour was great. They drag you throughout the whole factory, showing the craftsmen and craftswomen at their respective posts making, cutting, refining, tuning, fitting, shaping, sanding and polishing all the beautiful pieces that go into a Martin guitar.

187. “The original Martin factory.”
188. “Rosewood backs for D-35s.”
189. “Signatures model signatures.”
190. “Freshly burnt serial numbers.”
191. “Ready for assembly.”

You get this amazing sense of heritage and tradition from the place. Martin goes back six generations, making them one of the oldest family businesses in the nation. The workers take the product very seriously. You aren’t supposed to interact with the workers while the tour is going on. Our company guide was explaining something and the guy at that station sorta got her attention to correct her statement. She laughed and apologized to us and him and we kept going. I love their respect for the age-old Martin process.

192. “The bandage are protective measures. Really.”
193. “D-14 Dreadnoughts waiting their turn.”
194. “D-18 necks.”
195. “Proud employees.”
196. “Installing the frets, with an eagle eye.”

My D-35 was one of the bigger purchases in my life. It was hard to throw down that sort of scratch, but, this visit reinforces my investment on so many levels. First off, Martin employs a good chunk of the town, with good people and families who’ve been there for generations. Second, EVERY step of the process is considered and valued. Nothing is automated. Every little piece of each guitar is carefully produced. Third, and finally, you just get the feeling that the company really cares about you, and yer guitar.

197. “The tools behind the tradition.”
198. “Good wood.”
199. “Serial-numbered necks, awaiting assembly.”
200. “Razorpoint refining before the varnishing.”
201. “Beauties.”

We finished up the tour, strolled the museum, played some different models and hit the giftshop to stock up on strings and shit. I’ve had my guitar for a year now, and have a couple dings on the edges and stuff. Slowly breaking him in. I inquired whether or not they had a repair shop open to the public for a tuneup. I mean, of all places to go, this would be it, right? The receptionist made a call then said, “Go grab yer guitar, Lon will be right out.”

I ran outside, grabbed the D-35 and then came in to meet Lon who was nice enough to check and tune my string action, adjust the neck rod a hair or two and give the thing a quick polish. He strummed it a couple times and said, “You’ve got a good guitar here.” Wow. So great. Tell me, anywhere in America, where you can find this kind of service and care?

202. “Robotic polishing.”
203. “Craftspeople’s notes.”
204. “Lon took great care of my guitar.”

Glowing, I walked back to the rig and saw C.F. Martin himself, CEO and 6th generation owner walking his little girl in her stroller. He gave a nice wave and big smile. A fitting send off, if any.

- - - -

Got back out on the road, got my bearing and checked the map. Only 72 miles to the city. No sweat. Jersey whipped by and was green and beautiful. Then, the city starts and shit goes from pretty to congested and wild and graffiti’d and dirty. And fast. Got into the city, found Jess’ apartment on the Lower East Side off Rivington and Ludlow. Doubleparked long enough to load in, then found a parking garage to stow Big S away for the night.

That night we went out and saw a band called “The Glass.” Jess’ friends. Sounded good. I took Chief’s route and drank Vodka Tonics. That liquor pig sure can suck those down. Not bad. We did a little bar hopping, ending up at Lit, watching all the girls dance. Kinda sweaty in there. Ben Cooley showed up and we had a couple good laughs. Got in sorta late and enjoyed a couch with clean sheets and a soft pillow courtesy of Jessica. Awesome. Just what I needed.

The city is wild. Her neighborhood is crawling with young kids, with the latest styles and haircuts and shoes and shit. Hard to keep up with it all. Lots of activity, everywhere, on every corner. Made me thankful for the quiet and calm of Portland.

205. “Holland Tunnel.”
206. “Driving in the city. Phew.”
207. “Jessica’s backyard.”

There Are 2 Comments

I was considering the purchase of a Taylor over a Martin, but you just sealed the deal for me. You should get a cut when I buy my Martin.

Posted by: Jonathon on 09/11/06 at 1:27 AM

Hey, I live in Nazareth! Interesting post. Hope you enjoyed your time here!

Posted by: Jarrett Fuller on 09/14/06 at 12:46 PM
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