Thomas Humphry came from Minnesota as a young luthier and set up shop in New York City making classical guitars in the 1970’s. Wanting to improve on the sustain and projecting power of the classical he began experimenting with his own designs, which featured certain changes to the standard designs. In 1985 he began selling his “Millenium” series and it became so popular with classical guitarists that he stopped making the standard designs 2 years later.
The Millennium is an alluring instrument with a deep body that tapers gracefully toward the neck. This unique shape combines with Humphry’s special style of internal lattice bracing to give the Millenium a strong body with a resonant ring. A raised fretboard allows access to higher notes than are available on traditional classical designs. In addition, this guitar features a bolt on neck where most classicals have necks that are glued to the body in the early stages of construction. This important feature really sets the Millenium apart by giving its neck the advantages that heretofore were only possessed by electric guitars,
The advantages of a bolt on neck are: greater resistance to warping, ease of correction, and ability to be replaced if need be. A bolt-on system requires holes to be drilled in both the neck and body. The holes need to be recessed in the neck block, with inserts or bolts added to the neck heel. Unlike a glued dovetail neck that is tapped in place, a bolt-on neck is placed onto the body with hand spun nuts and bolts. Then the bolts are tightened with a wrench and the angles are checked. If the angles of neck and body convergence are correct, the neck is dissassembled, and hand-fitting then ensues.
Glued on necks are much less labor intensive.That’s why cheaper classical guitars usually have dovetailed or otherwise glued on necks and not bolt on necks. A glued neck is “tapped” in place. If the neck angles check, it is tapped out, and the hand-fitting is done. The limitation of a glued neck is that it does not allow for a great deal of adjustment after settling occurs.
All guitars will “warp” or “settle” over time, starting in their first couple of weeks of life and continuing on afterwards at periodic intervals (depending on their environment and care). After a glued neck is fixed to a body and settling has occurred, adjustment can only be done by changing the saddle height. With a bolted neck however, neck angles themselves can be quickly and significantly adjusted, thereby maintaining the ideal saddle height. Therefore, throughout the life of the guitar, maintaining the proper balance between the strings and fretboard is much easier with a bolt on versus a glued neck.
Because of the craftmanship required to make these classicals, demand quickly out paced supply and guitarists who wanted to purchase them found their names on a waiting list a few years long. So that’s about where the C.F. Martin Guitar Company enters the story.
In 1997 Humphrey licensed his design to the C. F. Martin Guitar Co., in Nazareth Pennsylvannia and the “Martin Millenium” was born. The Millenium could be manufactured quicker and in greater numbers, thereby making the price more affordable for the average buyer. The first two guitars the CTSH and C-1R models, were labeled as having been designed by Humphrey and handcrafted by Martin. These models were made available between 1998-2002. In 2002 these guitars won the Acoustic Guitar Magazine 2002 Gold Players’ Choice Award for best nylon-string guitars.
These guitars retailed back at their inception between $3,800.00 to $4,200.00. Many guitars including certain vintage models, will plummet in value in a poor market such as our current one.The Martin Millennium guitars have held their value for in the current market which is a sign of its quality. The Martin Millennium guitars are a “Classic Collectable” because of their superior craftmanship, ease of playablility, great tone, and lasting value.
For classical enthusiasts check out http://www.classical-guitar-world.com.