Saturday, August 29, 2009

Little Martin Hits the Road!

My Little Martin LX1E is the perfect travel companion. Here it is on the front porch of our cabin in the forest. On the neck is Planet Waves' NS Capo.

If you are getting ready to head off to college or guitar classes this fall, allow me to let you in on a little secret. The Little Martin LX1E is a great 3/4 sized guitar with a solid spruce top and a pickup. We took it along on vacation and its small size really was a plus when it came to packing. In fact, it will fit in a bus or plane's overhead compartment so you won't need to check it. This can save you time and give you peace of mind for the trip.

Rugged Little Guitar

If you are going to be traveling to areas of high humidity or fluctuating temperature extremes, the Little Martin will be right at home. While my other two Martins have solid wood backs and sides, the Little Martin has HPL on all but the soundboard. This high pressure laminate does not react to humidity and temperature changes the way my solid wood guitars do. It stays in tune longer because it is not affected by the wood's swelling or contracting. The well padded gig-bag, (see tent photo here), is also a plus. Very lightweight but quite protective, it sports the official C.F. Martin logo. The outer pouch has two heavy zipper pulls and is large enough to accommodate sheet music or standard sized song books. The bag also has backpack straps and a handle so you can carry it two ways.

Now after having played full sized Martin Dreadnoughts, I would have to say that I am quite spoiled when it comes to tone. The Little Martin is not a full sized guitar obviously but it does have good projection acoustically. I've played it in the company of multiple Martin D-18's, D-28's and D-42's and was not in the least embarrassed. It is after all still a Martin, only smaller. Many other Martin owners even asked if they could play it! If it sounded bad, trust me, they would have had nothing to do with it. In fact when we visited the Martin Museum, we noticed quite a few "parlor" guitars that were not much bigger than the Little Martin. Where it really shines, however is when you plug it into a good clean amp. I play it in the studio over my Tech21 Trademark 60 amp and it is hard to imagine all that full, rich sound is coming from a 3/4 sized guitar! Played through the clean channel of this solid state 60 watt amp, the pickup and preamp help reproduce the rich, woody tones Martins are known for. On the road, I perform and tour with a vintage Crate amp and this guitar can definitely keep up.

On Board Pick Up-The Fishman Mini Q

What I really like is the position of the pickup and 1/4 inch jack on the Little Martin LX1E. The Fishman Mini Q system is an under saddle piezo with the pre-amp battery compartment mounted on the side just under the strap button. Down in the lower bout of the guitar, it is out of the way making it less likely you will hit the dials during a song. I have a Fishman Ellipse Matrix Blend on my Martin D-16GT so I am well acquainted with more complex preamps and pickups. The Fishman Mini Q gets the job done with a minimal amount of fuss having only tone and volume controls to adjust. The battery is easy to change as it pops out of the compartment without having to remove the strings. This is such a fantastic value as this guitar can be used for performance as well as travel.

I use SpectraFlex braided guitar cables with a silent plug feature, (see their banners), and get wonderful tone with this guitar. It comes with Medium Martin strings but on a guitar this size, you may be able to get away with Lights. I use the smaller and more compact NS Capo by Planet Waves because it fits more proportionately. The new Planet Waves Headstock Tuner is also best to use on this guitar. Other tuners often do not register the low E and other bass strings at all. The 1/4 jack means that you can also plug it into a tuner like the BOSS TU-2. Choices!

The Wrap

The Little Martin LX1E is a lot of guitar for the money. The list is $499.99 but street is around $350.00. It is the guitar that you won't mind taking out on rainy days or throwing into the back of a sun warmed car. The solid spruce top is a real plus as 90% of the guitar's tone is generated from the soundboard. Well made and sturdy this is the guitar I use in my music ministry. People love to touch your instruments and I believe instruments should touch people. The smaller size also allows me to use it while visiting in hospital rooms when a big body guitar would be awkward. It is perfect for young people and women because its smaller scale makes it easier to fret as well as hold. Made with pride in North America by the world's oldest and most respected luthiers it will be accompanying me to guitar class this September. See the complete Litttle Martin Series at:

C.F. Martin Guitar Online

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This fall we will be offering more FREE Guitar Gear Give-Aways plus our picks of Best Guitar Gear for 2010! Also, hot reviews of equipment from Audio-Technica, T.C. Helicon, Monster Cable, Planet Waves and MUCH, MUCH MORE. Be sure to check back!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Martin Owner's Club Day 2009

Thom Bresh, son of Country Hall of Fame guitarist, Merle Travis, performs at the 4th annual Martin Owner's Club Day in Nazareth, PA. Podcast is on Dr. M's Radio Show:

The 4th Annual Martin Owner's Club Day once again offered its members fantastic food, fun, gifts and entertainment. Some of the best guitarists in the world play Martins and to help celebrate this event, Thom Bresh, son of the legendary Country Hall of Famer, Merle Travis, put in amazing performance. Also on stage was blues and rag master, Kenny Sultan from California with his signature Martin. Owner's Club Day is a picnic and fair hosted at the Martin Factory in Nazareth Pennsylvania. Martin guitar owners come from all over the world and it is not uncommon to hear many different languages spoken at this event. The day began with a continental breakfast of scrumptious muffins and pastries, coffee and tea. Then a catered lunch was served by a company who specializes in Ox and Pig Roasts. All the picnic favorites were there including baked beans, macaroni and cheese plus a really delicious pulled pork barbecue. There was an open mic performance where Martin Club members signed up to get on stage. There was a lot of talent on hand!

During the day there were guitar workshops, guided factory tours and trips through the museum which houses guitars owned by Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Gene Autry and many, many others. Some, such as the one owned by Roy Rogers have gone on auction at Christies for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Kenny Sultan came on stage after the open mic session and lit it up! He explained simple chords and using a one string baseline for his blues style. Everyone enjoyed his playing as was evidenced by the applause and whistles. Next Thom Bresh took the stage and amazed everyone with his "Travis" picking style with some licks he himself invented. Bresh is a true comedian and did really good impressions of other country artists such as the hard to imitate, Willie Nelson. He also did a very smooth version of Nine Pound Hammer that his father, Merle Travis wrote. He explained that the part in the song that goes, "Roll on Buddy", is actually a call to his mule! Bresh has a new DVD out called Breshman which can be accessed at his photo in the banner ad section to your left.

Kenny Sultan, master of Blues and Rag music performing on stage at Martin's Owner's Club Day

This event is a wonderful expression of Martin's enduring commitment to their customers. Each member received a
"swag bag" of Martin goodies such as picks, a polishing cloth, strings, decals and patches. Additionally last year we also received a free subscription to Premier Guitar magazine and special discounts on newly released LX guitars. This year Martin guitar artist, Robert F. Goetzl had a prototype available featuring his artwork on a new LX guitar featuring factory illustrations showing the stages of crafting a Martin Guitar. One of the highlights of the day is Chris Martin's member address after which he graciously autographed guitars and other souveniers.

Martin Factory Tour

During Martin Owner's Club Day, many members take in the guided tours through the Martin factory. The Martin Factory Tours have been rated one of the BEST factory tours in the U.S.A. It is about an hour long and takes you through the various stages of creating a Martin Guitar. You are also able to stop by the Custom Shop during this tour and see some incredible restoration and inlay work being done. Each guitar takes between 2-3 months to make.

The hour long tour is very educational, showing the intricate steps in the construction of their guitars. For example did you know that Martin invented the Dreadnought guitar? It is the most copied acoustic body in the world but Martin created it first. Also X-Bracing which is used as the industry standard to support the guitar's soundboard was also invented by C.F. Martin. After 176 years, I think they know what they are doing! Membership in the Martin Owners Club is a real value. As a member, you receive the Sounding Board which is a full color magazine of all things Martin plus their yearly catalog and price lists. You also get a Martin full color calendar plus free strings and other specially made Owner's Club merchandise. Want to be a part of the "club"? Get details on how to join at: Martin Guitar

Hanging with the Martin Guitars in front of the Visitor's Center!

Congratulations to John M., winner of our C.F. Martin and Planet Waves Guitar Gear Give-Away. John won sets of Martin light and medium SP strings, Martin Banjo Strings and the legendary Planet Waves NS Capo! Next Give-Away will feature the new Planet Waves Headstock Tuner among the other cool prizes.