Instrumental music that honors the traditions of American roots and Western culture

My Martin New Yorker

May 14, 2012

My main acoustic guitar is a 1961 Martin New Yorker 00-21NY. I tell people that it was my great grampa’s and that he gave it to my grampa who gave it to my dad and then my dad sold it to me. That’s not true. I bought it in 1987 from Steve Einhorn at Artichoke Music in Portland, Oregon. It was in mint condition at that time. It has Brazilian rosewood back and sides … still.

The guitar got its name because of, and in homage to, the folk revival in the late ’50s and early ’60s that centered around clubs in Manhattan like the Cafe Wha? and the Gaslight where there were air shafts up to the apartments and the windows would open into the air shafts, so when people would applaud, the neighbors would get disturbed and call the police. So then the audience couldn’t applaud; they had to snap their fingers instead.

Many people mistake it from a distance for a classic guitar with nylon strings because of the slotted head stock. Actually it was designed to be both a steel or nylon string guitar, but I have never seen one strung up with nylon. I think I will try it someday. But since I hate to change strings, that might be a while.

My recordings and performances in the ’80s were done either with my Ramirez or Traphegan classic guitars which both had wide necks. Fingerpicking a standard width neck was almost impossible for me. So when was I told about the Martin New Yorker steel string guitar with a classic width neck I was thrilled. This was the beginning of my chronic Guitar Acquisition Syndrome.