Welcome back to Have Geeklets, Will Travel, a summer travel series that will help you think up cool travel plans that will appeal to both kids and adults. From geocaching expeditions in your backyard to factory tours in far-flung states, we’ll be providing ideas all summer long to get you out of your house and on the road for great adventures.
The Martin Guitars factory is like paradise for musical geeks. Our family took a tour of the 180-year-old guitar business, seeing the process of how their guitars start as blocks of wood and turn into instruments played by the likes of Eric Clapton. There are 300 steps, some completed by people and others completed by robots, that go into making a guitar, and you’ll marvel just as much at the skilled labor as you will at the numerous machines that dot the tour path.
We started our tour with a visit to the museum, which holds about 200 guitars, the earliest dating back to the 1830s when Martin started his company. The kids immediately took down guitars from the Play Me Wall, and played a few Beatles songs (very apt since Paul McCartney and John Lennon both had Martins, and they wrote some of the White Album on them).
We then headed into the hour long tour with our guide wearing a set of headphones to better hear him over the din of the machines. We learned about how they obtain wood, the process of cutting down all the pieces of the guitar, and how those parts come together. We got to see luthiers in action, chiseling down braces. We got to see the sides of a guitar get carefully pulled into that curved shape. And everywhere we turned, there were people, sitting at their desks, bringing guitars into life. It can take anywhere from four months to two years to build a single guitar.
We left the tour with a disc of wood cut out for the sound hole, with a greater appreciation for the instrument as well as a strong desire to get one of those cool sanding robots with their suction cup hands.
You can visit the Martin Guitars factory in Nazareth, PA from 11:00 am to 2:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For those who don’t live nearby, check out this multi-part virtual tour on YouTube.