Martin Keith of Martin Keith Guitars began working for Joe Veillette in 2000 after years of modifying his own instruments. He has been building for seventeen years and counting, just outside Woodstock, NY - his hometown.
"As a busy bass player, I have always been aware of the difference that details, even small ones, can make in the feel, sound, and function of an instrument. These differences can be as basic as a the weight, the points of body contact, or the neck shape – they can also be more subtle, and even the small differences can affect how an instrument inspires the player.
Why do you build instruments?
In the best cases, all the aspects of an instrument can work together in a way that lets the player think and move freely, and play without effort. This line of instruments represents my constant efforts towards that goal.
Instrument building is an ever evolving discipline, and the possibilities are constantly redefined by new materials and technologies, and new demands from progressive musicians. These new methods and new needs will always drive instrument builders in new directions, and this exploration is the greatest joy of my craft."
I can't imagine anything else I would want to do as much.
How many instrument do you build per year? Anywhere from 6 to 12.
What do you believe are the most important factors in tone (ie, electronics, woods, touch of the player, etc..)? All of it equally - I talk at great length with each client to see what they like and don't like, how they play, what amp they use, etc. etc. Sometimes we trade over 100 emails during the course of a build. Lucky for me I type quickly! The various models represent different design priorities, both tonal and physical. Every effort is made to match pickups, body woods, fingerboards, strings, and electronics towards the specific goal – towards a unity of purpose.
What are your favorite materials to work with? Whatever will best suit the client's needs. My personal favorites are wenge for necks, fingerboards, and bridges, along with genuine mahogany for bodies.
Do you play bass or guitar? Both, though primarily bass as a working player.
When did you start using Nordstrand Pickups? Probably a year or two after Carey started making them. I learned of Nordstrand from the source, Carey himself!
Do you have a favorite Nordstrand Pickup, Why? It all depends on the instrument, and I have yet to try the newest ones. The MM-style pickups are really killer, though, and my clients have always liked the Big Splits.
Who are some of the top players that you have built instruments for that use Nordstrand Pickups in their basses? My good pal Nicholas D'Amato has been an early and enthusiastic user - he is bassist and MD for jazz vocalist Lizz Wright. Andy Dow (NYC/Boston bassist) just got his first MK bass with Nordstrands also.
Find out more about Martin Keith Guitars on their website.