Over the last 2-3 years Martin has not introduced anything new that me or my Martin loving friends would be interested in. I’m worried for these reasons:
1. They are populating the management of the company with people who are not guitarists or from the instrument industry – Renner from Franke AG and Berkshire Hathaway, Nollman from Cambridge Sound and Boston Acoustic, Culpepper from a fortune 500 company, etc. This type of leadership leads to: higher operating costs (higher executive salaries), more pressure to meet corporate-style sales quotas or growth percentages, and ways to minimize costs and maximize profits (see below).
2. Martin seems to be trying to make models to cover all the bases in the market; the “performing artist” series to compete with Taylor, the 17 series and CEO series to compete with Gibson, the Mexico series to compete with Takamine, or Fender acoustics or who knows?
3. The increase of production in Mexico. The quickest way for a company to increase profits is to decrease labor costs. Martin was one of the first companies to take advantage of NAFTA and move their string manufacturing to Mexico. Now they are making (overpriced?) guitars in Mexico that further dilute the marquis brand name they have nurtured for 180 years.
A little background. I lusted for a Martin guitar in the late 60’s. I couldn’t afford one but worked towards owning one. It wasn’t until my 30’s that I was able to purchase one. I have also owned: Collings, Taylor, Santa Cruz, Bourgeois, Gibson, and a few custom builder’s guitars. I am not a Martin fanboy, but have always held the brand in high esteem, I just fear they are losing their way trying to be all things to everyone and not being true to what made them great. Quality not Quantity with our limited wood resources! I write this with hopes of hearing some other great points of view and dialogue.