Friday, February 10, 2006

My Sojourn in Nazareth

In John 1:46, the Apostle Philip says to Nathanael, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" In Israel, it was our Savior who constituted the good, but in Nazareth, Pennsylvania a lot of good comes out of the work done by the 700 craftsmen who labor to produce 285 guitars each day at the C.F. Martin Guitar Factory, which I visited yesterday, much to my delight.

I wanted to be a guitarist since I was a toddler, and I've owned a number of instruments over the years, from a 1961 Gibson Melody Maker, a 1970's Fender Stratocaster, to a Cordoba CWES. But nothing has made happier than owning a Martin (I currently own a DM12), and getting a chance to see how they are made was too good to pass up. My wife Deb took a few "snaps" (as my British friends say) of our trip.

Attached to the factory is a welcoming center, which was built only recently, and has a gift shop, a wonderful museum, and best of all, guitars hanging from the walls which you can play as long as you like. There is a sound room where some of the more expensive models can be played, some of which cost up to $35,000. In the museum are guitars which cost up to $100,000. The most interesting are the very earliest models, which are all quite small. They are sometimes called "parlor" guitars, as they were used for home entertainment.

Here is a picture of me playing a lovely 000-16SGT. It's perfectly suited for small folk like me, as it has a 12-fret neck, slope-shouldered body, and concert-style shape. I do love the old-fashioned slotted headstock.

The real moment of joy came when I was able to play an OM-21, which felt so perfect in my hands that I became verklempt. I decided at that moment that I would begin saving for this guitar - the very one I am pointing to with such glee.

The factory tour itself was interesting in that it combined the modern and the ancient. Robots polished some of the finish, while master craftsmen were hunched over strips of abalone shell inlays, making meticulous cuts with small knives. It was a wonderful day, and if you are a music lover, guitarist, or just enjoy craftmenship, I highly recommend a sojourn in Nazareth (PA).


Blogger homo unius libri said...

My buddy, the guitar geek. Glad you enjoyed yourself...

12:38 PM  

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