Martin Premiers Documentary At TriBeCa Screening Room
...actor Jeff Daniels, and largely produced in house by Amani Duncan, Martin’s senior v.p. of marketing and Dick Boak, the company’s archivist, the film traces how the big-bodied guitar evolved from an accompaniment instrument to a position of prominence as the primary musical tool of a gallery of greats, ranging from Hank Williams to Jon Mayer.
On camera, Martin artists, including Stephen Stills, David Crosby, Graham Nash, Vince Gill, Steve Miller, Del McCoury, and Seth Avett, explain how the Dreadnought became an integral part of their music and creative process. “If it doesn’t sound good on a Dreadnought, it’s probably not a good song,” said Avett. Crosby remarked, “The Dreadnought has a strong pure voice. It’s an American company everyone should be proud of.”
Chris Martin, Martin’s CEO and the sixth generation of his family to head the company, told the film audience that his grandfather, a history buff, named the big guitar after the battleship “Dreadnought,” then the pride of the British navy.“It was the biggest, baddest awe inspiring ship,” said Martin, “and he was building the biggest, baddest, awe inspiring guitar.”
The Dreadnought was originally developed in conjunction with the Ditson Company, a leading retailer, as a bass guitar for fretted instrument ensembles. Sales were modest at first—a dozen or so instruments a year— until the advent of radio performances in the early 1930s. Country musicians who performed at the Grand Ole Opry found that the Dreadnought’s resonance projected over the airwaves better than anything else. With stars like Gene Autry and Hank Williams prominently pictured with their Dreadnoughts, the guitar quickly became a top seller. Since then, it has been the guitar of choice for successive generations of musicians—Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, and Jon Mayer, to name just a few.
Ballad of the Dreadnought, with engaging historical footage, musical interludes, and interviews, would be of interest to any guitar enthusiast. The film can be viewed in its entirety on the Martin Guitar website.
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