Monday, August 29, 2011

August 2011 Martin Repair Summit

For the first time in its history that I am aware, Martin Guitars put together a Repair Summit for its some odd 250 authorized warranty service people in North America. For the inaugural event Martin invited 60 of us, and I was lucky enough to receive an invitation.
It was a two day event that included tours, meetings, and training on various aspects of repairs. The first day started off with a tour of the on site Martin guitar museum. Our tour guide was Chris Martin himself. It was a pleasure to be able to stop at various areas throughout the museum and hear an interesting story attached to a piece of history that only Chris could share.
After the tour we continued with another guide into the actual factory. Although it was my fourth factory tour over the years I never get tired of seeing the process of guitars being built. During my time there I was also allowed an off limits tour of Martin's wood mill and holding room. The mill is where all of the incoming woods are processed and prepared for storage. This process can include sanding, cutting and drying. The wood is then moved into a large temperature and humidity controlled holding room.
A good deal of my time at the factory included training in the various repair departments. We were split up into small groups and spent time with Martin repair staff. Fretwork, neck resets, set up work, structure repairs, and finish work were some of the main types of repairs covered. We were able to see the work being done and ask any questions that we desired.
The Summit also included times that allowed us all to get to know some of the staff at Martin and each other. We were able to meet Martin's new Customer Service Manager and spend time chatting over meals. There were people from all over North America there, some from well known music stores and repair shops and some who had been doing Martin warranty work for over 20 years. Some of these folks are very well known in the repair and lutherie fields. It was such a blast.
Martin took great care of us all and were so accommodating. It was a large undertaking to host so many of us and they did a great job at it.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Summer of 2010 Guitarworks Martin Factory Visit

It's not every day that you get to visit the Martin Guitar Factory in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. It's tucked away in a little town in Pennsylvania farmland. Going on a Martin factory tour and through their recently opened museum is a major highlight for many fans. The staff guided factory tour takes you through the whole building, passing through almost every area of construction. Once in a while, even Chris Martin himself will do a tour when he has a rare free moment. There are no ropes, but there are yellow lines on the floor, helping to guide the observers along. Pictures are allowed and you can closely observe craftspeople at their jobs.
I'm told that every year there is a small handful of authorized Martin warranty technicians who visit the factory and get to work directly with the Martin Repair Department. This year I was lucky enough to be one. For two days, I was able to step right past those yellow lines and into the hustle and bustle of the Martin guitar factory. I spent most of my time with three of eight repair staff there. Milt, Tracey and Dave let me observe their craft and take notes and ask questions. For this particular visit I wanted to focus on structural and finish repairs. I was able to spend some of my time with Milt, the structural repair expert there of 41 years. He does everything from small crack repairs to neck resets. Repairs in process are lined up behind him by the dozens, and he carefully and methodically attends to each one. He's in no rush, but can work quickly and effectively to keep on track. The repair staff at Martin are some of the most friendly and generous people I've met in the business, openly sharing with me their tips and tricks from working on thousands of Martin guitars over decades in their careers.
You never know who might show up at the factory. Last week Peter Frampton came by to order two new guitars to replace ones that were destroyed in the terrible Nashville flood. Milt proudly showed me two necks he was working on that were going on these new guitars. Steve Howe stopped in earlier in the week and The Counting Crows were expected in the next day or so. These guys get to meet and connect with so many famous musicians on a regular basis that it would make your head spin. They just take it in stride.
At the end of my time at Martin I was able to meet Chris Martin in person and shake his hand. Everyone at Martin was so great to work with and I can't thank them enough for letting me into their world for a couple of days. A special thanks to Carmen and Rob in Martin Customer Service, and Lon and the Martin Repair Department for all of their kindness.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Martin Factory Trip

This blog is entirely dedicated to my trips to Martin Guitars in Pennsylvania. I've been a Martin Guitar Warranty Technician for over ten years. For some of you who know my history, I was born and raised in Pennsylvania less than two hours away from the Martin Factory. I've been there twice, last year to spend some time with the incredible Martin Repair Department Staff. I learned lots of great tips and had a great time just taking it all in. Every time I visit home, I try to take a day and spend it at Martin. These are pictures of my past two visits there.

Martin Guitar Factory Trip