Martin Cherry Hill Customs

For sale only in walking distance from Cherry Hill

Modest in appearance but right at home among their flashier siblings, the Cherry Hill Customs at the Martin factory might be overlooked by some visitors. But they will be much admired by those who appreciate the natural beauty of wood on guitars with simple cosmetic appointments and pure, pretty tone.

The Martin Cherry Hill Customs Uncloaked

Martin Cherry Hill Customs at

The Martin Cherry Hill Customs – two Factory Special models – are intriguing for many reasons. The guitars do not appear on the Martin price list. They received no official launch or lead-up announcement in the Media, so not many people have heard of them, yet. Perhaps the most interesting fact is how these under-the-radar guitars can only be purchased in person at the Martin factory.

The Cherry Hill Customs are offered as a Dreadnought and 000 and may be summarily described as a custom D-18 and custom 000-18 built with backs and sides of cherry wood and with some extra-woody upgrades. They get flamed maple for the bindings and endpiece instead of plastic, and the Old Style 18 sound hole rosette and other body trim are made from wood fiber.

The soundboards follow Martin’s current specification which says standard-grade spruce tops can be made of Sitka spruce or its natural hybrid cousin Lutz spruce, depending upon current availability. The vintage toner used on the spruce top works very well with the unstained cherry.

Not just any cherry is used, but nicely figured cherry that’s grown right there in Pennsylvania. It is fitting that local tonewood is featured on these subtly beautiful musical instruments because they can only be purchased in Pennsylvania, and only at the Martin Guitar factory.

If a visiting dealer & distributor sees a Cherry Hill Custom instrument that appeals to their design sensibilities, they may purchase it for sale to their customers. But they can only request one of each model while they’re at the factory.  No phone in follow-up’s or replenishments are permitted.

These guitars are chiefly meant for those who make the pilgrimage to Nazareth for the factory tour or to see the rich history on display at the Martin Museum in the visitors’ center, and to offer them unique instruments a little different from typical Martins sold elsewhere and provide, as Martin’s Scott Sasser puts it,”… an engaging surprise for those enthusiasts that come to the factory.  Hopefully they see something nice and think to themselves. . . ‘hey that’s neat – I’ve never heard of that before. What’s that all about?’”

What the Cherry Hill Customs guitars are all about is Martin’s legacy and future. Named for the gently sloping rise that starts just a stone’s throw from the parking lot of C. F. Martin & Co., Cherry Hill is a place of special, romantic significance to the Martin family, their employees, and fans of Martin history.

Along the road that traverses Cherry Hill, there once stood the first humble home and workshop of luthier C. F. Martin Sr. when he moved to Pennsylvania in 1838. It is now a five-minute walk from the current home of the world-famous guitar manufacturing company and museum that bears his name.

The choice of Pennsylvania cherry evokes all of that history but also acknowledges Martin’s continuing commitment to responsible sourcing and utilization of sustainable natural materials, and their longstanding commitment to environmental conservation. In that respect, it shares similar goals with the American maple back and sides on the adventurous new GPC Inception model. But the Cherry Hill Custom design elements and aesthetics are more in line with the venerable Standard Series Martins.

While Martin has made some lovely models out of cherry, the Cherry Hill Customs are the first cherry models offered for sale with a full-size dovetail neck joint and high gloss finish. Other Standard Series specs include scalloped bracing (forward-shifted on the Dreadnought) and a select hardwood High Performance neck with a dovetail neck joint, Modified Low Oval profile, black ebony fingerboard, and the select abalone fret position markers of the classic D-18 and 000-18. These new Cherry Hill models also have some very attractive figuring in the undyed ebony bridges.

The inspiration for the models comes from Martin’s desire to enhance the Nazareth visitor experience with an exclusive opportunity to own an upscale yet approachable Martin model with some rarity baked in due to its limited availability. A few points of inspiration for these specific Cherry Hill Custom models comes from a collaboration with a close friend of Scott Sasser during his time as manager for the Custom Shop, and Scott’s longstanding realization that cherry remained an under-appreciated domestically sourced material. . . both aesthetically and tonally.

Pleased with these results along with other occasional customs delivered through Martins Custom Shop program, he kept a few design cues in his mind for future use. Fast forward to these woody Style 18-inspired cherry guitars, made from sustainable materials that will remain available to musical instrument makers, hopefully ever after.

These new Martins are not meant to be part of their ongoing catalog. They are designed to offer a local complement to the Martins available globally without being in direct competition with them. They are also not meant to be available for long. The models will be periodically evaluated and replaced as appropriate to keep the “Factory Special” offerings fresh.

Whether they keep the name Cherry Hill Customs for future models, or decide to keep it exclusive to these two models, there will be others. New Factory Special models that take advantage of the beauty and tonality of domestic American woods and sustainable woods from other parts of the world will be forthcoming from Martin Guitars, in the new Inception Series that has been heralded with much fanfare, and in the Cherry Hill Customs after their modest, almost shy debut at the picking parlor, in Martin’s welcome center lobby.

The Factory Special concept – where these Cherry Hill Customs reside – will be present in one form or another going forward at the Martin factory. Enhancing a guitarist’s trip to the visitor’s center without distracting from its other treasures, they will for some provide the ultimate souvenir from a trip within the walls at C. F. Martin & Co., est. 1833.

And that is one man’s word on…

Martin Cherry Hill Customs

(click photos to enlarge)


One thought on “Martin Cherry Hill Customs

  1. Those cherry guitars are beautiful. I like that the cherry is local and the bindings are wood.

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