Little Martin LX1 Mini

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MTGuru
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Little Martin LX1 Mini

Post by MTGuru »

Is anyone else here playing a Little Martin LX1/LXM or one of the other mini guitars (Baby Taylor, GS Mini, etc.)?

I just picked up an LX1 for a good price, both out of curiosity and to try out for a student of mine with small hands. The 23" scale is around 2 frets short, but the neck width and string spacing are standard. And the body is small single-O sized. So it's a bit like playing a parlor guitar capoed at the 2nd fret, and it feels fast and agile. A strap helps to manage the size, and it comes with a strap button on the heel (as well as an endpin, of course). The bridge is actually full sized, so it takes standard Martin saddles and pins.

Build quality is top notch, with interesting materials. Only the top is "natural" - solid spruce, and a nice piece of wood. The rest is "manufactured" - plastic back and sides, laminated birch neck, melamine fingerboard and bridge (both faux rosewood), Tusq saddle. Bracing is modified X like my M-36. It feels heavy for its size, around 3.5 pounds, and solid. The included black gig bag is well-padded and very nice.

The sound is also interesting. Not the "typical" Martin sound, but similar to the small Taylors - including the GS Mini at twice the price. There's a strong body resonance on the D string, instead of around G/A (A string) on most full sized guitars. This gives it a punchy midrange that actually reminds me a lot of a cittern or zouk. The overall tone is enjoyable once you get used to it. And it's very "alive" with surprising volume for its size.

Makes me think that the LX1E acoustic-electric would also make a handy gig guitar if it can be EQ'd to sound like a larger instrument.

Idiosyncratically, the lack of a pickguard drives me crazy, since I tend to anchor. But an aftermarket pickguard is available.

I haven't yet played out with it, so it will be interesting to try it for trad backup. And I'm still fooling with strings and saddles. Right now it has .012 lights, and I've lowered the saddle considerably for up-the-neck playing. But I may throw on a set of .010 extra lights and use it mostly for handy practice and knockaround. You can't quite keep it on your desk next to your whistle, but it's close.

Anyway, I'd be curious to hear of others' experiences.
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Re: Little Martin LX1 Mini

Post by Feadoggie »

I think the Little Martin is a lot of fun. The high pressure laminate models have been made in some fun colors too. The factory has had good deals on them on a couple of occasions. I've thought of buying a Cowboy model to capture the Hopalong Cassidy vibe of my youth.

When George Gruhn and Tacoma made the Papoose that got a lot of attention. But it was a 19" scale (or thereabouts) and high tuned. Still fun.

The Little Martin has better volume. The 23" scale isn't too strange either. I agree with your description of its voice. Nice package for the price IMO. I think it could work as a little gig rig. I like it as a fingerpicking guitar.

I got hooked on the Martin Backpackers when they first became available. I've had a few of them since then and keep a couple around for odd tunings and such. And yes I take one along when I go camping. But they are rather quiet. The 24" scale feels fine. I have gigged using an under saddle piezo.

I have played a couple Baby Taylors. A minister friend has a very nice one. It is another neat little guitar. I have played contemporary church music on it a few times. Other Babys I have played didn't strike me as quite as nice though. YMMV.

Have fun with it.

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Re: Little Martin LX1 Mini

Post by krabben »

I have a mahogny baby taylor that I play a lot. It is always with me where I don't risk to bring my more expensive guitar. Great little guitar in every way, even the intonation is surprisingly good across the neck. At the moment I have it strung with .010s one whole tone higher than standard tuning. In just think it sounds a lot better. I might try some .012s and tune it to standard later though.
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Re: Little Martin LX1 Mini

Post by AngelicBeaver »

I have a Mahogany stained Luna Muse. It's a 3/4 size guitar. I can't play very well, but it's such a pretty guitar. It has waxing and waning moons for the fret spots. So pretty...
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Re: Little Martin LX1 Mini

Post by MTGuru »

A brief follow-up ...

MTGuru wrote:I haven't yet played out with it, so it will be interesting to try it for trad backup. And I'm still fooling with strings and saddles. Right now it has .012 lights, and I've lowered the saddle considerably for up-the-neck playing. But I may throw on a set of .010 extra lights and use it mostly for handy practice and knockaround. You can't quite keep it on your desk next to your whistle, but it's close.

After a few months of neglect, I finally got around to substituting a set of extra light D'Addario EJ15s (.010 to .047). And the difference in feel is pretty dramatic. There's a little loss of volume, but not much. And now the guitar almost plays itself. Buttery, almost an electric feel. Perfect for noodling and working things out. I'm very pleased.

The lower cut saddle still seems OK so far, no buzz-fest. I'm waiting a day for the neck to settle back before possibly cranking the truss rod a hair flatter. For this particular setup, the action might as well be as low as it will allow.

I have used it a few times now for backup, and it works OK. But since my default style depends heavily on exploiting the bottom range of the instrument, the LX isn't going to substitute for the M-36 anytime soon. :-)

I'll be at the NAMM Show again this weekend, so I'll keep an eye out for the Luna and any other minis to check out.
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Re: Little Martin LX1 Mini

Post by MTGuru »

BTW, here's the proper way to play a mini. In this case (I think), a Larivée parlor sized guitar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db6fU929IV0
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Re: Little Martin LX1 Mini

Post by brewerpaul »

MTGuru wrote:BTW, here's the proper way to play a mini. In this case (I think), a Larivée parlor sized guitar:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Db6fU929IV0

Can he play Rocket Man?
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Re: Little Martin LX1 Mini

Post by MTGuru »

Here's singer Ed Sheeran and his Martin LX last night on the Letterman show:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rd3BhWTwuSM
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