Inventing the American Guitar

Inventing the American Guitar

The Pre–Civil War Innovations of C. F. Martin and His Contemporaries

edited by Robert Shaw and Peter Szego

Available October 2013

Website | C.F. Martin Website | Sample Pages

In time for C. F. Martin and Co.’s 180th anniversary this October, Hal Leonard Books is publishing Inventing the American Guitar (October 15, $50), the first book to describe the early history of American guitar design in detail. With essays by prominent writers and spectacular color photographs of almost fifty guitars, many of which are newly discovered, this book tells the story of how a European instrument was transformed into one with all of the design and construction features that define the iconic American flat-top guitar—all within a mere twenty years.

The person who dominates this history is C. F. Martin Sr., America’s first major guitar maker and the founder of the Martin Guitar Company, which continues to produce outstanding flat-top guitars today. After emigrating from his native Saxony to New York in 1833, Martin quickly established a guitar-making business, producing instruments modeled after those of his mentor, Johann Stauffer of Vienna. By the time he moved his family and business to rural Pennsylvania in 1839, Martin had absorbed and integrated the influence of Spanish guitars he had seen and heard in New York. In Pennsylvania, he evolved further, inventing a uniquely American guitar that was fully developed before the outbreak of the Civil War.

Inventing the American Guitar traces Martin’s evolution as a craftsman and entrepreneur and explores the influences and experiments that led to his creation of the American guitar that is recognized and played around the world today.

The book includes fold-out pages of schematic drawings of two early Martin guitars: the Austro-German Style Martin Guitar and the Spanish Style Martin Guitar. An additional forty-five two-page color profiles of important guitars, including detail photos, measurements, and bracing diagrams, fill this beautiful coffee table hardcover. Contributing essayists include David Gansz, an expert on early American guitar maker James Ashborn; Antiques Roadshow appraiser and Martin expert Richard Johnston; luthier and early Martin and Spanish guitar scholar David LaPlante; Arian Sheets, Curator of Stringed Instruments at the National Music Museum, University of South Dakota; and James Westbrook, a scholar of 19th-century European guitar making.

PETER SZEGO is a connoisseur, collector, and player of 19th-century American banjos and guitars who headed the team that created the book. He lives in Princeton, NJ and is available for interview.

Oct. 15, 2013
9781458405760
$50
Hardcover
308 pages
10.5″ x 11″
4-color, heavily illustrated throughout

Hal Leonard Books is an imprint of Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group

About Martin Guitar

C.F. Martin & Co. (www.martinguitar.com) has been creating the finest instruments in the world for 180 years.  It continues to innovate, introducing techniques and features that have become industry standards, including X-bracing, the 14-fret guitar and the “Dreadnought” size. One of the world’s leading acoustic instrument makers, Martin guitars are hand-made by skilled craftsmen and women, who use a combination of new design and techniques along with those introduced by the company founder.

The company is also known for producing high-quality, popular acoustic guitar strings.  These include the Martin SP® LIFESPAN™ line, the fastest-growing treated string in the industry, and the Martin SP line, which uses an industry leading core wire to hold tunings better.

Martin guitars and Martin strings are the instruments and strings of choice for musicians around the world, from the icons of rock, country, folk and bluegrass to those just beginning their careers.  They can be seen across all segments of pop culture, from television (Glee, Psych, Raising Hope and American Idol) to the movies, on Broadway and in books, online, and gracing the covers of popular magazines on newsstands everywhere. Connect with Martin and Martin Strings on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and via www.martinguitar.com and www.martinstrings.com.

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3 thoughts on “Inventing the American Guitar

  1. My D-18 needed the neck unglued and reset and then glued again. Knee replacement sounds simpler. Traded it even for a Taylor. OI!

  2. There’s a long-running debate about glued versus bolted neck joints. I think the bolted joint makes sense, but if Martin stopped gluing their neck joints I’m sure their sales would plummet.

  3. Neck resets for flattop guitars that are more than 30 years old is common. It’s a simple operation that makes a guitar far more playable. Taylors are no more immune from needing neck resets than Martins or Gibsons, and bolt-on necks have their own unique problems, especially in dry environments.

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