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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Martin Guitars: A GREAT Company

I just discovered that the guitar that I bought, well actually my father bought, for me in 1967 is still under warranty 43 years later. Now this is a true and lasting value from a great American company. need to do the math...OK.

My father bought a guitar for me to replace the Gibson that I had been playing for several years. The Gibson was stolen in 1966 and I was very bummed out. You could say those words with a straight face in 1966. Bummed out. I had been playing for some time and had taken lessons in a store in the San Jose general area from a guy who was about 8 years or so older than me at the time, he also gave my Dad some lessons too. He turned out to be someone famous. One day in San Francisco, I was at a concert and saw him playing with a group. Jefferson Airplane. You might have heard of him Jorma Kaukonen. So cool. I hadn't had lessons in quite a few years by then but I still remembered him as Jerry that kind of cute but much much older than me guy who could play the guitar pretty good and tried to teach me a few chords. who made that name up?

Sooooo anyway. Back to the guitar. I had just turned 17. (I told you DON'T do the math.) Since I was playing in front of larger crowds by this time, doing USO shows as well as gigs in auditoriums and other large venues we decided to step up to a bigger box guitar. A Martin D-18. Dreadnought. I loved that guitar. What a sound! I continued to play and sing for some years and performed in coffee houses and cocktail lounges in the Bay Area and other places, sometimes in a group or as a solo act doing blues, soft rock and folk gigs. I even took my guitar to Ireland and England for a summer with a girl friend who had a boyfriend there and we sang and played our way around the country. I was into Irish music at that particular time.

After a few more years and having moved around a lot, college, working, marriage, a family. I gradually gave up playing so much and eventually I put the Martin in the case and just brought it out occaisonally and then rarely.

Over time the tension on the strings of any guitar will cause the neck to bend a bit and lift the strings from the frets so that the action is not as low as it should be. It makes it hard to play on the upper frets and bar cords become troublesome. Especially for hands that are .....well....seasoned. My Martin was no different.

The neck has to be reset completely. Possibly the bridge lowered. In addition over time the pick guard lifted a bit and created a crack. Plus the neck arch makes it very difficult to tune. The cost to repair would be huge. I was very "bummed out".

Through some conversations on the net....I discovered that the Martin Company has a lifetime warranty if you are the original owner. GET OUT!! Really??? Yes, really.

How fantastic is that? How cool is this? All I had to do was prove that I was the original owner. Each Martin has its own serial number. However, it wasn't registered when bought and has never been registered.

"Do I have the original receipts?" they asked.
"You have to be joking!" I said.

"Do you have any photos of you playing it when new?"
"Why.... yes I do!"

Age 17 at Fort Ord...I think.

The upshot is: I now have a warranty and on my way to visit family for Christmas, I'm taking the Martin to a repair shop in Palo Alto to be fixed. FREE!!!

So exciting to be able to play again. I can't wait.

Is Martin a great company or what?

Me at age 14 playing the Gibson


  1. Jorma is Finnish for George. Kaukonen is Finnish for something else (Kauko or Kauka means "far away" and the nen on the end of it means -more or less- someone who is- whatever the first part means) The J is pronounce like a Y in English. Now wasn't that more than you wanted to know? (Well you asked who came up with the name. His father was probably named Jorma as well.)

  2. What a great story! I especially liked the white dress with the fur fringe on the bottom - takes me back to my early college years.

    Martin is a great company, one that knows the value of standing behind its products and keeping its customers happy. Good for them.

    My father was one of the first people in our area to buy a Toyota in the early 1970s. It was a little station wagon that he bought from a dealer, really just a guy with a repair shop who was trying to stay in alive because his primary business - selling Checker cabs - was dying.

    Dad drove the whee out of that Toyota. He took it in for its 60K service and asked that they check the engine to find the source of a strange noise.

    The dealer called him and said that they found the noise, it was serious, and that Toyota was going to give him a new motor. This was some 48,000 miles after the warranty had expired. The dealer said: "Toyota stands behind its cars."

    There's been a Toyota in our family ever since.

  3. I especially liked the white dress with the fur fringe on the bottom - takes me back to my early college years.

    Thanks. :-D

    You should see us in the floor length Zebra pattern, bead spangled numbers we used to wear.

    I didn't post those because I don't know if my friend would like having her former self splattered all over the internet.

  4. Martins are excellent instruments. I know several people who own a Martin. No slouches in that bunch.