Christian Frederick Martin IV, known as “Chris,” is the executive chairman of the world-renowned C. F. Martin & Co. and the sixth generation of Martin family members to run the business. Martin acoustic guitars are prized worldwide for their exceptional tone, design, craftsmanship, and attention to detail. The iconic company’s contributions in music history are unparalleled, and Chris Martin is a key figure in its long and illustrious history.  Under Chris Martin’s direction, the company has maintained its integrity and industry-wide respect while growing and prospering to unprecedented manufacturing and sales levels.

Born and raised in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, Chris’s familiarity with the family business was limited to occasional visits with his grandfather, Christian Frederick Martin III, and to summer jobs working at the factory. While in Los Angeles, where he attended UCLA, Chris apprenticed at Westwood Music, building a classical guitar and familiarizing himself with the retail end of the business. After just a year, he moved back to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, to work in the guitar factory, where he learned more about the design and construction of the Martin guitar and became familiar with many of the different operations. He eventually became more involved in the company, first as assistant to the President, then as vice president of marketing. When C. F. Martin III passed away in 1986 at the age of 91, Chris Martin became the company’s 30-year-old Chairman.

After taking over a family business that had been in existence for over 189 years, Chris implemented new strategies to invigorate the brand, refocusing the company on its primary strengths: steel-stringed acoustic guitars and strings. Chris’s decade-long efforts to turn the company around has helped them achieve impressive business milestones and reestablished the company’s reputation worldwide for building the highest quality guitars. Martin has also maintained its long history of collaborative relationships with artists and brand ambassadors, always a key component to its success, and has continued to attract artists from all over the world and musical landscape.  The current Americana and singer/songwriter explosion has also generated renewed interest in acoustic guitars and widened Martin’s fan base immensely.  Over the past two years, Martin Guitar has also experienced the acoustic guitar boom virtually, with a rapidly growing online community of musicians and players engaging with the brand.

“The current acoustic guitar boom–and for that matter, ukulele boom–these are exciting moments I have had the joy of experiencing several times throughout my career with Martin,” says Chris.  “This is the third time in my history with the company that the acoustic guitar has been the go-to instrument for the pop world. We are well positioned and ready to take the lead on being the guitar of choice for singer/songwriters looking for the best instruments to help express their creativity.”

Chris’s commitment and dedication extends beyond the factory floor. He is recognized as one of the leading philanthropists in the Lehigh Valley, working to serve the local community on various levels. Martin Guitar also works diligently to support key issues that affect the broader guitar industry and make the company stand out as a leader, including in environmental sustainability.

Chris is very enthusiastic about the company’s future, especially when it comes to his family’s legacy. Chris’s daughter, Claire Frances Martin (“C. F. Martin!”), is the seventh generation of the Martin family in America, and of course there are high hopes that one day she will wish to be involved in managing the company that bears her name.