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!


Ana said...

Everyone camping out should have a guitar with them--for such a small size, I was surprised it had such amazing throw sound wise.

Dr. "M" says.... said...

Thanks Ana! I was in the Martin gift shop during Owner's Club Day where two "tweens" were just strumming away on these Little Martins. They may have been attracted to the bright colors, (one was purple), but the SOUND was what kept them playing. It's a tough little guitar!