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  • C. F. Martin , father of the 'American' guitar and the Martin Guitar Co., is the subject of a Met Museum exhibit.

    C. F. Martin , father of the ‘American’ guitar and the Martin Guitar Co., is the subject of a Met Museum exhibit.

    C. F. Martin, an 18th Century German immigrant has as much to do with rock and roll as Chuck Berry and The Beatles. He invented the guitar as it’s known today. His designs, first developed 180 years ago, make up a new exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

    Martin guitars are world renown today for the quality of their construction and sound reproduction. Their origins date back to 1833 when he arrived in New York City.

    Christian Frederick Martin was born in 1796. His father was a cabinet maker in Markneukirchen, Saxony, and Martin learned to build guitars in the style of Johann Georg Stauffer in Vienna.

    C.F. Martin Classic Guitars from the 19th Century (Click Photos to Enlarge!)

    One of his early and most significant innovations was to incorporate design elements from Andalusian Spanish guitars with the Viennese school of instrument building, giving birth to the uniquely “American” guitar.

    Later, Martin moved to Nazareth, Pa., and founded the Martin Guitar Company. It has been in business continuously for more than 180 years.

    The Met exhibit will include 35 rare guitars that trace the early evolution of the instrument in America. Drawn from the Met’s collection, the Martin Company and private collectors, it’s the largest assembly of guitars ever exhibited.

    The collection ranges from the earliest known guitar signed by Martin, guitars exhibiting his famed X-braced construction, and several extraordinary decorated examples of his work. Other guitars by rival makers will also be on display.

    Martin’s rock and roll lineage is reflected in a 1939 Martin Guitar played by Eric Clapton on MTV’s Unplugged series in 1992, according to the museum.

    Jayson Kerr Dobney, Associate Curator in the Department of Musical Instruments at The Metropolitan Museum of Art organized the installation, which is open to the public starting Jan. 14 and will run through Dec. 7, 2014.

    Exhibition Dates: January 14–December 7, 2014
    Exhibition Location: The André Mertens Galleries for Musical Instruments, Gallery 684
    More information online at: MetropolitanMuseum.