Even if you don't play guitar, taking the one-hour factory tour of the C.F. Martin Guitars facility in Nazareth may inspire you to order an entry-level Martin sign up for lessons when you get home. It's an incredibly well-designed tour that takes you through the entire process of building a guitar, starting from wood selection to the finished product being personally tested by an accomplished guitar player before the instrument is sent off to its new owner.
The tour guide takes you around the factory floor during the work day and shows off plenty of samples so you can see how all the guitar parts eventually come together. Friendly staff members also answered questions about their work for curious tour members.
The Martin museum, which is just off the entrance lobby, is also a great look at the history of the guitar in America and shows off dozens of classic models, many from established rock and country stars. There's a nice gift shop, of course, but the highlight for serious guitar players is the Pickin' Parlor, a small room in the back with a wall full of high-end Martin models that the company invites you to pick up and play.
Martin Guitars is only a couple-hours drive from NYC or Philly, and a great day trip if you're staying in the Pocono Mountains on vacation. I'd have paid money for this tour, but everything is free except for the items for sale in the 1833 Gift Shop. One quick tip I got from the nice reception lady on the phone: Get there *early* to sign up for the tour, especially in the summer months. The public tours run from 11:00AM to 2:30PM Monday through Friday (no weekends). It's first-come, first-serve and they only take 15 people at a time -- and you totally DO NOT WANT TO MISS OUT on this memorable experience. The Martin Guitar staff couldn't have been nicer and it was one of the best tours I've ever had.
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