Magazine article Insight on the News

Good Vibes, with Strings Attached

Magazine article Insight on the News

Good Vibes, with Strings Attached

Article excerpt

Visitors don't have to own a Martin guitar to enjoy a tour of the company's factory.

Set in a historic town about 45 minutes north of Philadelphia close to the New Jersey border, the Martin guitar factory has become a mecca for players and music lovers alike. "We have more than 10,000 visitors a year," says Lon Werner, spokesman for C.F. Martin & Co. "And that number is growing every year." Being listed as the best factory tour in the country in the book Watch It Made in the USA also helps, he says.

On a recent warm afternoon, the company's small waiting room was packed with visitors, who sought breathing room in the equally cramped museum and gift shop. Martin offers only one tour each day, in part to limit disruption of its workers.

The wait is pleasant, though. A bearded guitarist serenades visitors perusing the Martin photo gallery -- a pictorial history through six generations of the family-owned and -- operated company founded by Christian Frederick Martin in 1833. The current chief executive officer is Christian Frederick Martin IV.

Visitors often are surprised when the guitarist puts down his instrument and picks up a portable microphone. George Molchany has worked at Martin Guitar for nearly a decade. A musician by talent and inclination, he decided to trade in the itinerant life of a working musician for the security of a regular paycheck.

"A number of years ago, I took a tour of the factory here" he says. "I decided then that if I worked anywhere in the world, it would be here." Indeed, a walk through the factory not only gives guests an appreciation for the countless hours invested in each handmade instrument but also the sense of family among the 550 employees, many of whom have worked here all their lives.

Making a guitar requires many skills and contrasting talents. …

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