My modest collection of good guitars has recently been enriched by a real beauty, this 1975 guitar by Andres Martin of Madrid. It’s an instrument of the finest quality, a cedar-top with a back of a stunning mellow African mahogany. The workmanship and detail are exquisite, tasteful and understated. But I wouldn’t care if it was the ugliest guitar in the world, because the sound is sublime. It’s an old-school 660 scale length so it’s taking a little time to adapt to, but I play it daily. It has a pure, loud, clean sound with huge sustain and long, complex harmonic resonances. Coupled with that it has the deep, strong focused bass of the classic Segovia Ramirez 1A – a real Madrid sound. It’s light as a feather and every inch of it rings when played.
Andres Martin was apprenticed in the mid 1930s and died in 1977, so this was a late instrument from a long-experienced maker. He studied with Marcelo Barbero, and met and learned from Domingo Esteso and Santos Hernandez. In the same year as this one, 1975, Martin built an almost identical guitar for Spanish composer Pablo Guerrero.
I bought this guitar from a very nice man who acquired it new (for what, at the time, was a small fortune) in 1977 and treasured it for 45 years, but unfortunately can’t play any longer. It was a regular purchase, but also a bit like an adoption: he really wanted it to go to someone who would play it and appreciate it. When we were emailing back and forth, I pointed him to my videos and website and he was convinced. He couldn’t be more right, I absolutely love this thing. I reassured him that, when my time's up, it will go to a music conservatoire for the use of serious students.
This sort of talk might sound silly to some people but if you have ever had something of this nature in your hands you will know that it's not just an object or a possession, it's got a presence like a living thing.
Massive thanks to Brian Baker. I’ll start making videos with it soon.