- Richard Johnston
American firm of guitar manufacturers. It was founded in New York in 1833 by Christian Friedrich Martin (b Markneukirchen, Germany, 31 Jan 1796; d Nazareth, PA, 16 Feb 1873). He came from a family of cabinetmakers, but had already served 14 years in Vienna with the celebrated firm of guitarmaker Johann Stauffer. Martin left Germany to escape restrictions on guitar making imposed by the Violin Makers Guild. Once in New York he established a workshop and retail storefront at 196 Hudson Street. His business included wholesale and retail sales of a wide range of musical goods as well as the construction of guitars.
C.F. Martin moved his family to Pennsylvania in 1839. While in New York he had formed several partnerships, the most important being with guitarist and instructor John Coupa, who remained Martin’s primary distributor after he established a workshop at Cherry Hill just outside Nazareth. Although Martin’s first guitars were in Stauffer’s Austro-German style, by the early 1840s his work shows the influence of Spanish makers and soon his instruments evolved toward a unique, American style. By the 1850s Martins were characterized by a rectangular headstock and long rosewood body with narrow waist and small upper bout. Sizes ranged from 0 (13.5” wide) to size 3 (11.4”) plus smaller terz guitars. Larger models featured X-pattern soundboard bracing, a feature that would define steel string flattop guitars decades later....