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Chris Martin IV steps down as CEO of C.F. Martin & Co Guitars

Christian Fredrick Martin IV
(Image credit: Terry Wyatt/Getty Images for NAMM)

Christian Frederick Martin IV will officially step down from his role as CEO of C.F. Martin & Co to assume the role of Executive Chairman, it has been announced.

The shake-up comes after Martin spent 35 years as the company’s Chief Executive Officer, and will mark the first time the iconic brand has been helmed by someone outside the Martin family.

Martin is set to be succeeded by Thomas Ripsam – an experienced growth strategist and self-professed avid guitar player who took a sabbatical in 2019 to research the acoustic guitar construction process in depth.

Said Martin, “First, I want to thank everyone in the music products business for their support during my 35-year career as CEO of my family’s business. What a ride!

“I complete my term as NAMM Chairman this July at the show in Nashville, and I have been thinking about retiring for several years, so this feels like the right time.

“I look forward to transitioning to the role of Executive Chairman of Martin Guitar where I will continue to be a cheerleader for the Martin brand,” he continued. “I am excited to work with Thomas as he gets to know all of us and shares the love we all have for the guitar.”

Speaking for the first time as the brand’s newly appointed CEO, Ripsam said, “I had admired Martin guitars since I was a teenager. My first real acoustic was a Martin guitar and it has been a close companion to me ever since.

“Martin has always been an iconic fretted instrument builder and I have a deep appreciation for the company’s continued focus on quality, craftsmanship and innovation, as well as its unique culture and history.

“I am honored and humbled to join the Martin family and to carry on the legacy of Chris Martin and his predecessors.”

Matt Owen

Matt is a News Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.