Martin guitars have cemented their place in history.
In many ways, the Martin guitar revolutionized music.
Big names of today who play a Martin guitar include John Mayer, Willie Nelson, and Eric Clapton.
Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, and Hank Williams also all played the Martin guitar.
The average Martin guitar sells for anywhere from $2,000 to $50,000.
That doesn’t include Martin guitars that once belonged to a famous artist either.
Here are 10 reasons Martin guitars are expensive.
Why Are Martin Guitars So Expensive? (Top 10 Reasons)
One of the reasons Martin guitars are expensive is because of their focus on sustainable sourcing.
Like most other instruments, a good portion of a guitar is made of wood.
The best wood tends to come from the Amazon rainforest.
However, deforestation of the rainforest is a serious threat.
Not only does it damage the habitats of the local wildlife living there, but it also impacts the environment as a whole.
With fewer trees in the world, there’s less natural filtration of carbon dioxide.
Martin has always been aware of its role in practicing sustainable sourcing.
They were among the first companies to start implementing a more sustainable process.
In 1990, Martin developed their own ecological policy.
They started sourcing their wood from better places long before it became trendy.
They even gained FSC certification with Preferred By Nature.
PBN is an organization recognized by the Rainforest Alliance.
It has one of the highest standards for sourcing wood from the Amazon.
This means that Martin can’t sell a guitar unless it meets their ecological standards.
If they do, then they risk losing their certification.
This makes buying Martin guitars more expensive because the company takes on more costs to do things the right way.
It’s cheaper to pollute the world and ruin its forests in pursuit of profit.
It’s more expensive to pursue a profit while also protecting the environment.
When you buy a Martin guitar, you’re not only getting a great guitar, but you’re also supporting a company that’s helping make the world a greener place.
Martin guitars are expensive because of their sustainable manufacturing practices.
Some musical instruments go through factories.
These companies prefer to mass-produce their instruments and get them in the hands of as many people as they can.
Martin prefers handmade musical instruments instead.
Every guitar that leaves their shop in Pennslyvania comes from a worker and not a robot.
They have a strong leaning toward traditional practices to make an acoustic guitar.
They believe that this gives the guitar some soul and makes it different from the guitar that came before it and will come after it.
Since they handmake their guitars, you can expect a high price tag.
Handmade products take more time to create.
Humans aren’t as fast as robots.
They also make mistakes that will need correction.
Humans also need unique tools to make the job a bit easier or safer for them.
Martin has to pay these skilled laborers a higher amount than they would robots.
Making a guitar isn’t easy either.
It takes a careful understanding of the craft to make each piece.
Then it all has to come together to create a guitar that adheres to the Martin standard.
Besides time, this also means a lot of materials go into the production of a guitar.
Since mistakes are more likely to occur, they often have to invest in more materials than they need to make up for the mistakes.
Handcrafted products naturally have a higher price tag than products that come off a factory line.
Martin is expensive because each guitar is carefully handcrafted to its standards.
It takes more time and materials to make the guitar in this way, which means its production cost is higher.
To make a profit, Martin has to sell their guitars at a high price.
3. American Workers
Martin makes its guitars in the United States.
They have a shop in Pennsylvania where they employ people to make each one.
Because they hire American employees, they have to pay them American wages to compete with the American cost of living.
They also have to provide benefits to attract skilled laborers to their shop.
This is different from other guitar companies that employ their workers in a different country.
Due to how currency exchanges work, they may not have to pay their workers as much as if they were in America.
Since they have reduced labor costs, this brings down the price of the guitar.
Martin prefers to employ Americans since they’re a family-run business.
They have a strong belief in supporting their community, and making sure they’re able to employ part of that community is one of their most treasured values.
Unfortunately, that means the price of a Martin guitar is going to be higher than one that’s made outside of the United States.
Martin guitars are expensive because they’re made by Americans.
4. Custom Builds
In some cases, you can find a store that lets you build your own Martin guitar.
The company partners with a few different stores and teaches them how to make their guitars.
They also give them the materials they need.
These stores then host guitar-building classes for those who can afford it.
The goal is to create your very own custom Martin guitar.
You’ll use the techniques that the craft masters use and use actual Martin guitar materials.
Most stores prefer that you understand the history and styles of Martin guitars before you enter the class.
This helps them steer you down the right road for the type of guitar that you want to make.
A custom-built guitar is going to be more expensive than one that sells at retail.
That’s because it’s fit for your specific needs and preferences.
Maybe you’re looking for a particular sound or need the neck to be a certain length.
All of these details add to the expense of the guitar.
The same goes for the final details like the paint or art on the guitar.
If you do it yourself, then you can usually get away with a cheaper price.
In most cases, the company will have a licensed artist who can paint something unique on your guitar.
Custom-built guitars are some of the most expensive types of Martin guitars on the market.
However, you leave with a guitar that’s made especially for you.
When you buy a Martin guitar, you’re not only buying a guitar, you’re also buying its legacy.
Martin guitars have been around since the mid-1800s.
It was in 1833 that the first Martin guitar was released to the general public.
It found a place in army encampments during the Civil War.
It then made its way into the hands of famous country singers and folk singers.
The legendary names associated with Martin guitars add to its price.
People want to feel what it’s like to play guitar similar to what Johnny Cash played.
They want to channel The King when they play.
Some might even believe that, by playing the right instrument, they can achieve the same level of success.
Along with its history, you also buy the Martin reputation for quality instruments.
They wouldn’t be as much of a success as they are today if their guitars didn’t play well.
Nor would musical artists still play them today if they had lost their touch.
This kind of history and reputation allows Martin to sell their guitars at high prices.
They have put in the work and time to make a name for themselves.
Martin guitars are expensive because you’re paying for its history and reputation for quality products.
6. Scalloped Bracing
One of the best things that Martin has a reputation for is its use of scalloped bracing.
Bracings are vital for any guitar.
They hold the guitar together and ensure it doesn’t break while you’re playing it.
If bracings start to give out, then it can make your guitar sound odd.
The traditional way to brace a guitar is something that most guitar companies follow.
Martin does this as well, but they also use their own version of bracing called scalloped bracing.
This type of bracing is a bit more complex than regular bracing, but it’s far more effective and helps give the guitar that reliable Martin sound.
Guitar makers make bracings with strips of wood, which isn’t expensive in itself.
However, Martin invests in high-quality materials, and that includes their bracings.
Since the cost of materials is high and they add another step of labor in the production of their bracings, it makes sense that these add to the total cost of the guitar.
Martin guitars are expensive because they use a special type of bracing made of high-quality wood.
7. Abalone Multi-Stripe Binding
Another feature that sets Martin guitars apart and makes them more expensive is their use of abalone multi-stripe binding.
They use this type of binding on their most expensive guitars.
That’s because the materials and processing are extremely difficult and expensive.
Only experienced guitar makers can successfully perform this type of binding on the guitar.
That means Martin has to pay those guitar makers their value.
Otherwise, they may just jump ship and take their skills to a competitor.
Martin wants to keep these skilled professionals since it enables them to sell guitars featuring some of the best bindings in the guitar world.
If you choose to buy a guitar with regular binding, then you’ll have a cheaper guitar.
However, Martin guitars are expensive because some of them use abalone multi-strip bindings.
8. High-Quality Sound
Musicians buy Martin guitars for their sound quality.
There’s something about this type of guitar that gives a sound few other guitar makers can duplicate.
Part of the reason is Martin’s focus on acoustic guitars.
Acoustic guitars solely get their sound from the wood they’re made from.
Electric guitars are similar, but they can also receive some enhancement from electric currents.
Because of that, Martin takes great care in choosing what wood to use and how to shape their guitars.
Part of the process that gives them their high-quality sound is called torrefaction.
This process involves removing all of the water that exists in the wood.
This dehydration is a complex process that is easy to get wrong.
Martin has become an expert at it over the past almost two centuries.
They also understand how wood grain affects the quality of sound.
Because of that, they’ve been able to design a few different types of guitars over the years.
Since Martin focuses mostly on acoustic guitars, they’ve become one of the leading experts on how they should sound and how to get the sound that they want out of them.
Martin guitars are expensive because their quality of sound is difficult to match anywhere else.
9. Built To Last
There’s no question that a Martin guitar lasts for a lifetime.
Between the craftsmanship and the materials, they make their guitars last.
Unless you’re a collector, you likely will only buy one or two Martin guitars.
You don’t need to buy another because your guitars shouldn’t ever break or wear out.
Even the strings last for a long time.
When you buy a Martin guitar, you’re basically buying one for life.
Because of that, the cost of it actually ends up being worth it.
If you ever decide to perform with the guitar to earn money, then you might even earn back the money you paid for the guitar.
Martin is also aware that not everyone is going to come back for another guitar.
They’re satisfied with their first.
Because of that, they set their prices based on the knowledge that most customers are going to buy only one rather than multiple.
They need to get the most profit possible from that single purchase to cover the costs of the materials and production.
As such, they sell them at high prices.
Martin guitars are expensive because they’re built to last a lifetime.
Finally, Martin guitars are expensive because they’re collector’s items.
The most valuable Martin is the D-45 from before World War II.
It used several different rich kinds of wood like rosewood, ebony, and Adirondack spruce.
They started producing this type of guitar in 1933.
The first 12-fret D-45 was actually made for Gene Autry.
Then they released it to the general public.
Many consider the 12-fret D-45 as the pinnacle Martin build.
They were only able to produce them for a few years before World War II broke out.
Like other manufacturers, Martin had to help the war effort.
It was only when the war ended that they were able to get back to making guitars.
By then, they had a different design in mind, and they left the 1933 D-45 model behind.
Acoustic guitars also sound better the more that they’re played.
They open up.
The particular use of Brazilian rosewood in 1933 gave the guitars a more incredible sound the more that people play them.
The sound and its limited release are some of the reasons this particular set of guitars is valuable.
However, Martin guitars, in general, tend to be collector’s items.
They even release limited editions now and then to make collectors’ dreams come true.
Collectibles are expensive because they sell for higher values later.
The ability to resell them at higher values means more people want to get their hands on them.
If collectors are able to have a complete collection of a certain model or type of guitar, then their collection is worth even more.
It’s a way to make money for those who are passionate about guitars or collecting.
Martin guitars are expensive because they’re collectible.
How To Save Money On A Martin Guitar
If you want to own a Martin guitar yourself but you’re wary of putting down $10,000, then you’re not alone.
The good news is that there are a few ways you can get your hands on a more affordable Martin guitar.
Here are some ways you can save money on a Martin guitar.
1. Look For Cheaper Models
Martin does sell some cheaper guitars, although “cheap” may be a relative term for them.
They have guitars they label as traveler’s guitars.
They retail for around $300 to $400.
For some musicians new to the industry, that might still be a steep price to pay.
However, if you want the chance to play on a Martin guitar, then it’s a reasonable price to pay.
Their traveler guitars aren’t built in America.
They have a factory in Mexico that makes most of these guitars.
That allows them to sell the guitars at a lower price.
2. Buy Parts And Build Your Own
Martin doesn’t throw away scrap parts.
If a guitar doesn’t work or if something breaks, then they’ll sell those materials to builders.
You can buy materials from them and then try and build your own Martin guitar.
The results may vary, but you can get the same materials that they use by buying their spare or scrap parts from them.
At the very least, this gives you a chance to potentially make a Martin guitar for a fraction of the cost.
If you want to play a top-tier Martin guitar but can’t afford the price, then you can always rent one.
Many musical instrument shops have a rental policy.
Those who own Martin guitars might even rent them out to musicians.
They may have strict rules about their rental policy when it comes to Martin guitars, but you’ll be able to play one all the same.
Martin guitars are expensive because the company has been in operation since 1833.
They added to the development of acoustic guitars, which has helped them become what they are today.
Thanks to their reputation and history, Martin guitars are often the pinnacle of this instrument for professional musicians.