It was a normal Saturday around our home. Rick and I had various household chores and errands to tend to which was normal in the 80s and 90s. One specific errand Rick had was to buy a new set of strings for his Yamaki 6-string acoustic guitar. Off he went to Steve’s Music Store in Ottawa and I knew he would be there a while. I have never met a musician who simply walked in and walked out of a music store. And Rick was no exception. He could be there for hours. Checking out recording equipment, gadgets and yes —guitars. Rick would browse, strum, pluck and play any instrument that caught his attention. That’s when he met Christian Frederick Martin.
The chord was struck on August 15, 1987, when Rick brought Martin home. You see Martin wasn’t your typical acquaintance. He had a wooden disposition. He had a head, a body and a perfectly O-shaped mouth that vocalized the most beautiful sound when he was played by a devoted musician. You guessed it – Martin is a guitar. Though not a flesh and blood, he is a permanent member of our musical family. We adopted a 2 year old boy born in 1985 in a craftsman’s workshop.
Rick met Martin mid-morning, came home late-afternoon, with strings, a story and a decision to make. That’s when he told me about Martin. “Oh, you should hear Martin’s harmonics and with his cut-away so he can reach the higher notes on the fretboard!” Rick said with elation. But, he said with a fretted tone, “I wasn’t planning on buying a guitar.” Steve’s Music had a special sale on Martin guitars which was rare. The regular price without case $2,950 and it was on sale for $2,039 with case – a saving just shy of $1000. I could see Rick was number-crunching his budget in his head. “Your 30th Birthday is a few weeks from now, I would love to contribute!” He looked at me and plucked me off the floor. Martin was purchased, gingerly carried and securely placed on the back seat with the seatbelt.
The Monique & Rick duet never sounded better than Martin was with us on stage, in the studio, and on-the-road. Rick does have other guitars but Martin holds the place of honour above all. He would take care of Martin, cleaning, polishing and restringing whenever it needed. Rick chastised himself when he noticed that Martin’s back was showing unusual wear-and-tear caused by the rivets on Rick’s jeans. He eventually installed a clear pick protector on the back to prevent any further damage.
After Rick’s stroke in December 2005, Martin wasn’t getting the love and attention he deserved. I did store him with the strings loosened and enclosed a clay humidifier in the case. I was horrified when I discovered in 2019 that major repairs where needed. The decorative trim holding the top and sides together had unglued. I located Brian Dubbeldam The Guitarfixer and brought Martin to his shop for fixing. Brian looked over Martin and confirmed that he could fix it and pointed out other things that needed attention. He said “Martin has seen a lot of action. His fretboard needs to be refretted and the cutaway needs stabilizing. But overall Martin is in fine shape.’ I was relieved.
Saturday, January 25, 2020, after 15 years of silence, I witnessed ‘the Rick & Martin reunion’. Just as they had done, Rick’s boyish grin was back and Christian Frederick Martin’s voice resonated with beautiful music once more when the first chord was struck.