Martin & Stradivarius
...American flat-top guitar in a mere 20 years. C.F. Martin, the immigrant from Markneukirchen, Germany who founded Martin Guitar in 1833, is the central figure of the book. Peter Szego, a co-editor of the book, argues that Martin, who was not only a sublime craftsman and canny entrepreneur but also a design and technology innovator of the first order, was responsible for many features accepted today as standard on stringed instruments. “At every step of the way, as others dropped by the wayside, C. F. Martin was an astute businessman responding to market demands and opportunities,” said Szego. “By the late 1840s, he was making a guitar that, except for its size, had all the main attributes of today’s Martin guitar.” In Szego’s view, Martin’s guitars deserve to stand next to a Stradivarius violin.
Inventing the American Guitar includes spectacular color photographs of almost 50 guitars, many of which are newly discovered. 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 45 two-page color profiles of important guitars, including detailed 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.
Beginning January 14, several of the guitars shown in the book will be featured, along with others, at the exhibition at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. Taken together, the book, the show and a booming resale market reflect how these vintage instruments are being elevated to the status of works of art.
The book is being distributed by Hal Leonard Publishing.
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