by Derek Ferrar
photo courtesy C.F. Martin & Co.
If you’ve ever played acoustic guitar, then you no doubt know that C.F. Martin has long been one of the most respected names in the business. And you may also know that classic novelty guitars painted with cowboy or Hawaiian scenes have become hot items on the collectors’ market.
Now, the two are making beautiful music together in the form of Martin’s Hawaiian X, a limited-edition guitar emblazoned with a wiki-wacky Island beach scene by renowned illustrator, musician and undergound cartoonist Robert Armstrong (Mickey Rat). "We have a long tradition of making Hawaiian guitars dating back to the 1920s and ’30s," says Martin spokesman Dick Boak, "and we’ve had a lot of success with the three cowboy-themed X models we’ve already put out, so going with a Hawaiian theme was a natural."
The idea evolved after Martin patented a laminating process that made it possible to build photographic images directly into the guitar body. "Part of the whole concept of the X series," Boak says, "is to help educate players about more ecological materials to replace the rainforest hardwoods that have traditionally been used for making guitars." Instead, X series guitars are constructed from layers of paper bonded together under high pressure and heat, with the top layer printed with a photographic image.
Martin is issuing just 500 of the first Hawaiian X models, with more Hawaiian-themed guitars to follow. The instruments list for a little over a thousand dollars, with a tone and feel that is "great for the price," says one expert at Honolulu’s Island Guitars. For more information, contact Martin at (610) 759-2837, or mguitar.com.