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175 Years Seeking Quality in USA: Martin Guitar Celebrates
Express-Times ^ | 2/17/08 | JD Malone

Posted on 02/19/2008 5:45:13 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta

In the past 175 years, C.F. Martin & Co. defined the shape, construction and sound of the acoustic guitar.

And the company still eyes each detail. Employees sweat the big things, like dwindling supplies of rare tone woods. They sweat the small stuff, like the exact orientation of each pick guard.

The company is taking the year to celebrate C.F. Martin Sr.'s arrival in New York City in 1833 where he set up his first shop on Hudson Street at what is now the mouth of the Holland Tunnel.

CEO Christian F. Martin IV said the anniversary is remarkable and has been possible because of C.F. Martin Sr.'s vision of building the best guitar possible. Martin said that spirit is one reason the company remains at the pinnacle of the industry his ancestor helped forge.

"I have so much respect for (C.F. Martin Sr.'s) goal to make the perfect guitar," Martin said. "He set the standard."

The company has planned a symphony of events, special models, books, albums and even horticulture and confections.

"We're going to plant a stand of Sitka spruce trees in Alaska," director of artist relations Dick Boak said.

Boak's plans for dreadnought-shaped Peeps made by Just Born didn't work out.

"Apparently it's not that easy to make a guitar-shaped Peep," he said.

Boak said the company spent a year developing the anniversary celebration. It wasn't easy.

"A lot of companies are better at marketing than they are at making instruments," Boak said. "We're better at making instruments, so it's a little difficult for us to figure out how to do this efficiently."

The celebration kicked off with an acoustic performance by Martin artist John Mayer at the National Association of Music Merchants annual trade show in January and winds down around October when the company plans to auction a collection of rare guitars at Christie's in New York to benefit the Martin Foundation.

Martin said the gem of the anniversary celebration would be if one of the presidential candidates accepted an invitation to visit the factory.

He said he hopes Sens. John McCain, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama can stop by and see how one of the country's oldest manufacturing operations has managed to remain in America in the same family.

"That's pretty amazing that the company has always been in the family," said Acoustic Guitar magazine senior editor Teja Gerken, who owns a custom OM Martin guitar. "They've really kept the tradition and history alive by doing that."

Martin said keeping the company in the family is something he's thought a lot about. His 3-year-old daughter, Claire Frances Martin, could be the next generation to lead the firm.

"Where will we be in life at our 200th (anniversary)? Will I be coming back from Florida? We're not immortal," Martin said.

"Hopefully she'll say, 'This company is a very precious thing,'" Martin said.

Martin said the company has aged well, and one thing is certain, the product his ancestor perfected is in demand.

"I was here for the 150th anniversary," Martin said. "Business is much better today."

Gerken said there has never been a time when Martin wasn't considered among the best. He added that build quality, high-end materials and attention to detail are the hallmarks of a Martin.

C.F. Martin Sr. had a motto: Non Multa Sed Multum. Not many but great. And it holds true 17 decades later, even on items as forgettable as the plastic pick guard.

"That one's close but not quite right," Boak said as he circled the company's museum.

Then he found it, a dark brown, unadorned, 4-string tenor guitar built in 1931. He opened the glass case and grabbed the instrument. Boak walked to the factory, tuning the little guitar along the way and sampling the Kingston Trio's "Tom Dooley."

Boak presented the guitar to the factory's quality team, pointing to the exact, upright orientation of its pick guard. He said the pick guards, hand placed, have been a little off center for some time. The team, led by director of quality Vince Gentilcore, fashioned a jig that they hope fool-proofs future assembly.

"They've always been able to take a step back and always look to improve what they have," Gerken said. "That's the kind of effort that will result in great guitars."

Reporter JD Malone can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at jdmalone@express-times.com.


TOPICS: News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: cfmartin; guitars; madeinusa; martin; music
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Martin said the gem of the anniversary celebration would be if one of the presidential candidates accepted an invitation to visit the factory.

He said he hopes Sens. John McCain, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama can stop by and see how one of the country's oldest manufacturing operations has managed to remain in America in the same family.

1 posted on 02/19/2008 5:45:16 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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http://www.martinguitar.com/history/


2 posted on 02/19/2008 5:48:48 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

A Martin guitar is one of the best lifetime friends you can have.


3 posted on 02/19/2008 5:51:49 AM PST by GBA ( God Bless America!)
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The best guitarists in the world have contributed to C.F. Martin & Company’s legacy.

Martin Guitar owners:
Trey Anastasio, Ian Anderson, Gene Autry, Kevin Bacon, Joan Baez, Beck, Joe Beck, Jimmy Buffett, James Cagney, David Carradine, Johnny Cash, Rosanne Cash, Harry Chapin, Tracy Chapman, Eric Clapton, Roy Clark, Kurt Cobain, Judy Collins, Shawn Colvin, Elvis Costello, Jim Croce, David Crosby, Sheryl Crow, Counting Crows, Ray Davies (Kinks), John Denver, Neil Diamond, Dion, Donovan, Bob Dylan, Kenny Edmonds (Babyface), Dan Fogelberg, Peter Frampton, Jerry Garcia, Vince Gill, David Gilmour, David Gray, Andy Griffith, Nanci Griffith, Arlo Guthrie, Woody Guthrie, Buddy Guy, Merle Haggard, Ben Harper, Emmylou Harris, George Harrison, Justin Hayward (Moody Blues), Jimi Hendrix, Steve Howe (Yes), Indigo Girls, Eric Johnson, George Jones, Mark Knopfler, Avril Lavigne, John Lennon, Gordon Lightfoot, Country Joe MacDonald, Bob Marley, George Martin, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, Paul McCartney, Reba McEntire, Roger McGuinn, Don McLean, Freddie Mercury, Steve Miller, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison, Graham Nash, Rick Nelson, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Page, Dolly Parton, Tom Petty, Joaquin Phoenix, Elvis Presley, Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Roy Rogers, Richie Sambora, Steven Segal, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Billy Squier, Richard Starkey, Stephen Stills, Sting, Andy Summers, Terry Sylvester (The Hollies), Tiny Tim, Travis Tritt, Keith Urban, Bob Weir (Grateful Dead), Hank Williams Sr., Nancy Wilson, Ron Wood, Dwight Yoakam, Thom York (Radiohead), Neil Young, Barry Zito

http://www.pennlive.com/expresstimes/stories/index.ssf?/base/news-15/1203224761202690.xml&coll=2


4 posted on 02/19/2008 5:53:06 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: GBA
A Martin guitar is one of the best lifetime friends you can have.

They are located in Nazareth, PA, which is the town next to me.

5 posted on 02/19/2008 5:54:44 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

Right out of the box I think a Taylor has better resonance than a Martin, but a 30+ year old Martin has a sound that is better than a newer Taylor, IMO.


6 posted on 02/19/2008 5:55:53 AM PST by Rb ver. 2.0 (Global warming is the new Marxism.)
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To: GBA; Dr. Scarpetta

Willie Nelson should be strung up for what he has done to that poor beat up Martin he abuses...and plays horribly.


7 posted on 02/19/2008 6:00:12 AM PST by Cuttnhorse
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

I own an HD-28 and an OOO-28H (which is pristine...)


8 posted on 02/19/2008 6:03:03 AM PST by Sub-Driver (Proud member of the Republican wing of the Republican Party)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

...I’ve been playing my flat top Martin D-18 since 1970....I’ve never heard any other brand sound as good playing Bluegrass....it’s just got the power you need to pound out the rhythm....hit your G spacer run on a Gibson and it sounds OK....but hit it on a Martin and it will thump you in the chest....Martin has always been the gold standard for hard playing....look at the old pictures of Elvis sometimes...he’s playing rock-a-billy on a flat top Martin!


9 posted on 02/19/2008 6:05:16 AM PST by STONEWALLS
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

And my husband. :-)


10 posted on 02/19/2008 6:06:16 AM PST by NotJustAnotherPrettyFace
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To: Sub-Driver

A friend of mine just bought a D-41. What a tone that thing has, and it plays like butter. Shweeeeeeet!


11 posted on 02/19/2008 6:06:18 AM PST by randog (What the...?!)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

Those composite ones they are making are durable as hell.


12 posted on 02/19/2008 6:07:44 AM PST by Senator Goldwater
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

My father-in-law found an old Martin-made violin in the house he bought in 1954. It’s not worth a lot. We display it as a work of art.


13 posted on 02/19/2008 6:07:51 AM PST by Soliton
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To: randog

My cousin’s husband is a luthier for them. Talk about a job to have!


14 posted on 02/19/2008 6:08:50 AM PST by Sub-Driver (Proud member of the Republican wing of the Republican Party)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

Looks as if they’ve done their marketing pretty well...


15 posted on 02/19/2008 6:12:10 AM PST by Eric in the Ozarks (ENERGY CRISIS made in Washington D. C.)
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To: Cuttnhorse
Willie's guitar is battle scarred from a lifetime hard playing. I think it's a testament to the quality of the product that he still uses it in it's dilapidated condition.

How many of us have ever worn a hole in the soundboard with our pinkie and fourth finger?


16 posted on 02/19/2008 6:12:32 AM PST by Rb ver. 2.0 (Global warming is the new Marxism.)
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To: LouAvul; doodad; chasio649; JackDanielsOldNo7; Bigh4u2; JerseyHighlander; Maceman; ...

*Ping


17 posted on 02/19/2008 6:12:52 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: GBA

“A Martin guitar is one of the best lifetime friends you can have.”

And that is one of the best-—and shortest-—poems I’ve ever read. Well put, GBA.


18 posted on 02/19/2008 6:14:25 AM PST by BunkDetector
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To: Rb ver. 2.0

No it isn’t...it’s a testament to abuse and neglect...what I’d expect from a third-rate entertainer and very poor guitarist.


19 posted on 02/19/2008 6:16:52 AM PST by Cuttnhorse
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

One of life’s great pleasures (for a guitar player) is to pick up a vintage Martin dreadnought and slowly finger pick your favorite song. Every note is perfect and the effect is sublime.


20 posted on 02/19/2008 6:18:12 AM PST by andy58-in-nh (Kill the terrorists, secure the borders, and give me back my freedom.)
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To: Senator Goldwater

“Those composite ones they are making are durable as hell.”

I got one of those for my brother as a birthday present. He loves it. I have a mahogany D-15 (I’m po) and its still the best acoustic I’ve ever owned.


21 posted on 02/19/2008 6:18:37 AM PST by L98Fiero (A fool who'll waste his life, God rest his guts.)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta


The HD 28

It's my dream car. It's the Rolls Royce of acoustics. I have heard no sweeter sound from any guitar. Just one note is ear candy.

Someday.
Someday, sigh.

22 posted on 02/19/2008 6:22:40 AM PST by bd476
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To: Cuttnhorse

LOL! I guess the great Rock acts of their day really got your craw smashing up vintage Fender and Gibsons on the stage.


23 posted on 02/19/2008 6:24:47 AM PST by Rb ver. 2.0 (Global warming is the new Marxism.)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

I hope I can afford one someday. Sometimes I make excuses to go to the guitar store just to play a few $2K Martin gems.


24 posted on 02/19/2008 6:25:13 AM PST by Hemingway's Ghost (Spirit of '75)
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To: bd476

“Someday.
Someday, sigh.”

My wife just said that sounds like me looking through a Musician’s Friend catalog. :)


25 posted on 02/19/2008 6:25:22 AM PST by L98Fiero (A fool who'll waste his life, God rest his guts.)
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To: Rb ver. 2.0

“How many of us have ever worn a hole in the soundboard with our pinkie and fourth finger?”

I believe that is a Classical guitar that someone played Flamenco on for years and wore it out. Flamenco guitars have a special plastic guard called a golpedor to protect against the golpe, or tap, that is integral to the music. Willie’s guitar has no golpedor. Tap enough and the thin spruce top will wear through. I think the guitar had the hole in it before Willie got it. (BTW, this is my 2000th reply on FR! Woo hoo!)


26 posted on 02/19/2008 6:26:16 AM PST by bk1000 (A clear conscience is a sure sign of a poor memory)
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To: andy58-in-nh

Martin 000-18

"This guitar was used in Elvis's first gigs in 1954 and recordings. It has a smaller, auditorium body size, similar to the 000-16. Legend has it that the guitar was resold to a Memphis vacuum cleaner salesman days later again for $79.50, later in ‘54.

1942 Martin D-18

Elvis traded his modest 000-18 for a Martin D-18, a classic model. The Martin D-18 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar is a traditional-style dreadnought that features a rosewood fingerboard and bridge with black binding and pickguard.

The D-18 was used for performing and recording until sometime between June 10 - 18 of 1955. On May 14, 1993 it was sold at auction by Christies in London to Michael Malone for $151,700 who then had it on loan in 1998 to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is currently on display at the corporate offices of DMX Music, Inc in Seattle, WA."

27 posted on 02/19/2008 6:27:19 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: L98Fiero

I have my eye on this Martin acoustic bass, but its a tad pricey at $1500.

But its certainly a fine piece.


28 posted on 02/19/2008 6:34:12 AM PST by Senator Goldwater
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To: L98Fiero
L98Fiero wrote: "My wife just said that sounds like me looking through a Musician’s Friend catalog. :)"

Yes, Musician's Friend sure knows what they're doing publishing those catalogues.

A few years ago I found a brand new HD 28 advertised on sale at Zzounds online, but the price was far too good to be true. There is an HD 28 at a local Guitar Center that I go visit every now and then.

29 posted on 02/19/2008 6:34:33 AM PST by bd476
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

I just bought a DCME cutaway with pickup, had a bone nut and saddle installed. Pure sweetness.


30 posted on 02/19/2008 6:39:05 AM PST by ko_kyi
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To: Rb ver. 2.0

Yes!! I swear at the TV every time I see one of these idiots smashing a guitar...can’t help but thinking how long it took me to afford my first good guitar. I have always admired and respected the art that goes into the instrument. I am lucky to have a Pimentel & Sons classical, which even sounds wonderful when practicing scales.


31 posted on 02/19/2008 6:39:35 AM PST by Cuttnhorse
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

I’ve had a Martin Shenandoah for about twenty years. Actually plays better now than it did new. Best guitar I have ever owned.


32 posted on 02/19/2008 6:39:38 AM PST by Jeff Head (Freedom is not free...never has been, never will be. (www.dragonsfuryseries.com))
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

$151.8K. Wow. I’d be scared to hold that guitar unless I was in a room full of soft cushions and bubble wrap.


33 posted on 02/19/2008 6:41:31 AM PST by andy58-in-nh (Kill the terrorists, secure the borders, and give me back my freedom.)
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To: GBA

I have had a D-28 for 40+ years and it was used when I got it.
Beautiful. Have not played for years. Carpal Tunnel. A treasure.


34 posted on 02/19/2008 6:42:57 AM PST by Boblo
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

I think that guitar in the picture is a Gibson J-200.


35 posted on 02/19/2008 6:46:25 AM PST by Walmartian
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

My Dad owns a 1940 00-17 it still kicking !


36 posted on 02/19/2008 6:48:12 AM PST by Veeram ("Any fool (Liberal) can criticize, condemn and complain and most fools do." ---Benjamin Franklin)
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To: Walmartian

Found the Elvis picture here:

http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/shop_image/uploads/Image/guitars/elvis/j200grace.jpg&imgrefurl=http://guitarplayer.wordpress.com/category/semi-acoustic-guitars/&h=516&w=339&sz=62&hl=en&start=1&tbnid=XJKxLakxBn9D8M:&tbnh=131&tbnw=86&prev=/images%3Fq%3DElvis%2BPresley%2Band%2BMartin%2BGuitar%26gbv%3D2%26hl%3Den%26sa%3DG


37 posted on 02/19/2008 6:48:55 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: Cuttnhorse
No it isn’t...it’s a testament to abuse and neglect...what I’d expect from a third-rate entertainer and very poor guitarist.

I take it your career in the music business never really got off the ground.

38 posted on 02/19/2008 6:54:53 AM PST by Drew68
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To: Drew68

Never tried to have a career in music...not necessary for enjoying accustic music and appreciating fine guitars and artists.


39 posted on 02/19/2008 7:00:52 AM PST by Cuttnhorse
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To: Dr. Scarpetta


A Martin guitar made about 1834, with a design influenced by Austrian guitar maker Johann Stauffer, with whom Christian Frederick Martin, Sr., worked in the 1820s. Photograph courtesy of C. F. Martin & Co.
40 posted on 02/19/2008 7:01:34 AM PST by Liberty Valance (Keep a simple manner for a happy life)
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

Didn’t Elvis also have a Martin with a leather sound board??


41 posted on 02/19/2008 7:02:20 AM PST by Cuttnhorse
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

That would be a “leather-covered” sound board.


42 posted on 02/19/2008 7:03:02 AM PST by Cuttnhorse
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

You know, I once pulled into Nazareth, and I was feeling about half past dead...


43 posted on 02/19/2008 7:04:03 AM PST by Clemenza (Ronald Reagan was a "Free Traitor", Like Me ;-))
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Bookmarking for later...


44 posted on 02/19/2008 7:05:07 AM PST by RosieCotton (A place for everything and everything in its place - 2008 Resolution #1)
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To: Walmartian
I think that guitar in the picture is a Gibson J-200.

It clearly is. Elvis was more identified playing Gibson acoustics than Martins.

45 posted on 02/19/2008 7:05:13 AM PST by Drew68
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

I see now. If you look further down in the page it describes the J-200. The text doesn’t apply to the picture. That’s a cool web page (bookmark). I’m getting a 1965 Rickenbacker 365 fireglo for the collection tomorrow.


46 posted on 02/19/2008 7:07:57 AM PST by Walmartian
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To: Walmartian

Walmart has a classic Rickenbacker department now?
Who knew? ;-)


47 posted on 02/19/2008 7:12:38 AM PST by BunkDetector
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To: Cuttnhorse; Rb ver. 2.0

>> what I’d expect from a third-rate entertainer and very poor guitarist <<

I can’t comment on Willie Nelson’s guitar playing. Never paid it any attention.

But gotta disagree with your calling him a “third-rate entertainer.” I’d say “extremely inconsistent entertainer” would be more accurate.

Of course, many of his performances have been dreadful, especially during the last 25 years. But earlier, his singing could be magnificent.

My favorites are his performances in the Western Swing genre, for example, his renditions of “San Antonio Rose” and “My Window Faces the South.” His phrasing, elocution and pitch on those recordings rank with the great jazz singers, almost as good — dare I say — as Sinatra.

Moreover, he ranks among the giants as a songwriter, maybe the only Nashvillian besides Christofferson who has contributed to the canon of the “Great American Songbook.”

My belief is that if Nelson had never written anything other than “Crazy,” his reputation would be secure. That composition — which some deem the greatest “country” song of all time — has more harmonic complexity than any other C & W hit I can recall. I tried to count the separate chords, but I gave up after ten. That number surely breaks the Nashville record!

(Moreover, “Crazy” even has a key change. Shades of Cole Porter! If you know of another country hit that uses this device, please let me know because I can’t think of any.)

So sure, Willie stinks on many scores — maybe even literally for all I know. But I’ll bet that 50 or 75 years from now, long after his other accomplishments and his misadventures have been forgotten, people will still be humming the melodies of “Hello Walls,” “Night Life,” “How Time Slips Away,” and above all, “Crazy.”


48 posted on 02/19/2008 7:18:07 AM PST by Hawthorn
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To: BunkDetector
I’ve always been a Tom Petty fan:) This guitar became available to me last week (ex++, ohsc). If I wanted I could turn around and sell it for a 1k profit but I think I’ll hold onto it.
49 posted on 02/19/2008 7:20:44 AM PST by Walmartian
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To: Dr. Scarpetta

I’m surprised that Martin didn’t include Chet Atkins in that list. Although “Mister Guitar” is more commonly associated with Gibson and Gretsch instruments, he definitely owned and played a number of Martin acoustics.


50 posted on 02/19/2008 7:26:18 AM PST by Charles Martel (The Tree of Liberty thirsts.)
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