View Full Version : Martin lxm tenor guitar

Oct-12-2008, 9:14am
I'am looking at the this guitar,i was wondering about the hpl textured finish and how it effects the sound-tone-volume-?- does anybody have one or know much about one,being a mando player can it be tune gdae without a problem ,it's seem seemed to be a good deal for $449.00

Ken Olmstead
Oct-12-2008, 11:13am
I have played similarly constructed LXM Little Martin guitar and thought it was very impressive for what it was. At that price I would imagine it is a heck of a value. I think the only new competitor is the Gold Tone in that price range and it has laminated mahogony back and sides but has a solid spruce top: http://www.goldtone.com/products/details/w/instrument/99/TG-18-Tenor-Guitar

Oct-12-2008, 8:12pm
I don't want to sound like a hidebound traditionalist (yes I do!), but there's damned little wood in that Martin LXM. Most of it, other than the fingerboard and bridge, is really Formica or a close relative.

Here's an all-plywood Gold Tone (http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/TG10TEN.htm) tenor for about half the price of the Martin.

Here's the Gold Tone TG-18 at Elderly (http://elderly.com/new_instruments/items/TG18.htm) for the same price as the non-wood Martin. A caution, though: Musician's Friend used to carry the TG-18, but they're now listing it as "discontinued," and Elderly says, "On order, arrival date unknown," so Gold Tone may not be offering it any more.

However, given the choice, I'd buy the plywood Gold Tone and save the $$$. Or look used. I'm a profound skeptic regarding these "Formica" Martins.

Oct-13-2008, 1:05pm
I've been looking at these for awhile, but I haven't handled a four string yet. The synthetic / composite body design doesn't bother me too much as long as it isn't done in a day glow version. It may be a bit too different for some but the concept is a valid one. Merrill did aluminum mandolins almost a hundred years ago (don't want to play one of those in a lightening storm), Ovation has done it for almost forty years and a few other companies have explored it off shore. These things are built like an armored personel carrier! Consequently, they are a good deal for a traveling musican.

It is a Martin so it should be reasonibly well set up and you shouldn't have to chase an intonation problem or high action with all the laminae in the neck. For some unknown reason, Tenors seem to be more abused than other guitar instruments and Martin is trying something which is interesting ... using less than optimal material (recycled in some cases) and attempting to make it sound like a tenor guitar. Why not ? (I would still get the best case I could for it.)

Oct-13-2008, 2:01pm
Anyone who lives near water knows the issues with humidity and wood, especially newer wood. Those who have played Rainsong guitars and Composite Acoustics know the the quality of sound that the composites are capable of. I have yet to play a MIX mandolin but assume them to be a quality instrument. Now that Composite Acoustic is marketing their great Cargo parlor models for under $1000, I assume mandolins will be available as well as tenor guitars in the near future for similar prices. Be patient, I predict the durability of composites will create more demand and as manufacturing gears up the price point will come down. I love wood but it does get tiresome having it maintained.

Ken Olmstead
Oct-13-2008, 4:22pm
I can tell you that the "Little Martin" I played with similar construction really sounds quite good and natural. That guitar played like a dream. Allen makes some valid points but for someone who is not quite the traditionalist he is, this would be a nice first tenor with no issues to sort out. However, he is quite right to point out that the used market may offer som real gems in this price range!

Oct-14-2008, 12:13am
Couple things:
1] I own a Merrill aluminum bowl-back, but only the bowl is aluminum. The top, which is the primary vibrating surface, is spruce. Same with Ovations; the top's wood, the back and sides or bowl or whatever you call it, is plastic. On the Martin, the top's "composition," as well as the back, sides, neck -- everything but the fingerboard and bridge.
2] I'm not trying to compare with the new carbon-fiber instruments (Rainsong, MIX etc.). Carbon fiber is not what the Martins are made from. Carbon-fiber instruments sound quite good (not my cup of tea, but I can appreciate them). They're also at least as expensive as comparable wood instruments.
3] The point I tried to make in my posting is that laminated-wood tenor guitars are available, much cheaper than the Martin composites. Here's a quote from a discussion on the Acoustic Guitar Forum regarding Martin's composites:
The high-pressure laminate itself should be pretty indestructible. I think the issue is really how the various bits and pieces are held together. That would be the weakest link. It may be that HPL is joined with different and stronger adhesives. If some components are not (i.e., if they use more conventional glues) then I would think that they are subject to the same vagaries as pieces of wood similarly joined. I'd be very surprised to see a top made of HPL crack but I have no idea how the glue joints would fare under extreme conditions.

Martin's HPL has been described (even by Martin) as essentially Formica. A friend in college worked at the Formica factory and it's essentially multiple layers of brown craft paper, a top decal, and epoxy, all subjected to pressure. There's really no grain structure and thus, no reason why it should crack unless bent, hit, or otherwise subjected to extreme trauma. Also, it has little if any moisture content, so environmental humidity shouldn't affect the material itself. Joints, as I said above, may be another matter.

Again, this is opinion, and we're all welcome to ours. But were I looking for a "starter" tenor, I might go for a lower-priced Asian plywood import. You do pay a premium for the "Martin" on the headstock, and if you can find a solid wood top for the price of Formica -- well, think about it...

Ken Olmstead
Oct-14-2008, 11:10am
Allen - I hope that you did not take my "traditionalist" comment as a "slam" of any kind. Actually, I would have thought you might have taken it as a compliment! :grin: If it comes accross as derogatory I apologize, I meant no ill will.

I also tend to lean toward real wood and traditional construction but I was stunned at how good my friends "Little Martin" sounded and played. I did not expect much when he handed me this dreadful looking purple mini guitar, but it was an impressive travel guitar with a larger sound that its size. I have ZERO experience with the Martin Tenor, just that experience squeched my notion of what this type of construction could sound like.

Oct-14-2008, 11:22am
I've tried a couple of Martin's HPL toped guitars when shopping for my grandson and though they ring and sustain pretty much like wood, to me, the tone is different than wood. I ended up buying a different instrument.

Oct-14-2008, 2:30pm
Allen - I hope that you did not take my "traditionalist" comment as a "slam" of any kind. Actually, I would have thought you might have taken it as a compliment! If it comes accross as derogatory I apologize, I meant no ill will.

No offense taken, Ken. I have a prejudice toward traditionally-constructed instruments, but I own everything from a chrome-plated brass Chinese ukulele, to a '20's vintage aluminum string bass. So I'm not entirely anti-innovation when it comes to instrument construction.

I have a bit of a pet peeve with Martin's recent policies, which may be reflected in my attitude in this thread. I love Martin guitars (and ukes), own a D-18, a D-41, and my "main axe," a 1940 00-28G converted to a 00-42. But Martin, which had maybe a dozen models of guitar when I first started playing 'em, has gone crazy (IMHO) with 40+ models, some of which are made from strange substances and decorated like roadside billboards. And I know from personal contact that they are requiring their dealers to take some of the non-wooden models as a condition of getting the "regular" models. I know I'm old and crabby, but a Formica Martin guitar with Felix the Cat displayed on the top, just doesn't fit with the history and craftsmanship that produced the herringbone D-28.

So if I've been intolerant of the "new wave" of non-wooden Martins, just chalk it up to someone who loves playing a Martin that's older than I am -- if only by three years.

Oct-14-2008, 3:01pm
Change is always difficult and never without controversy. The "experimental" models of established, reputable companies if they sound good should be respected for what they are. A company without an established history that is producing a similar instrument or one in the same approximate price point will either thrive on the sucess of their product or fade away. An investment, even if it is to some rather insignificant, in a product from a well established company will likely retain more of its original value. Name recognition is a powerful thing. If its dollars that matter go with the name, if you can afford the risk go with the product that best fits your criteria, that is solid wood top,tone, shape, etc regardless of who manufactures it.

Oct-14-2008, 3:49pm
Non Multa Sed Multum

Oct-14-2008, 3:55pm
There was a previous discussion here on the LX tenor about a year ago when they first appeared.
We also shouldn't talk about "Little Martins" without making the distinction between the LX versions, which are nearly all HPL, and the LX1 version which has HPL body and neck, but a solid spruce top, for about $50 more. I've heard both versions of the 6-string Little Martins, and I don't think the formica top compares to the spruce top.

IMO, these guitars are really overpriced at nearly - although I like this size a lot for a tenor guitar, and love the idea of a modern Martin 4-string. No one could understand in the previous go-round why Martin would introduce an all-HPL tenor, but not a solid topped LX1 tenor.

If you had the right tools and a ruthless mind, you could buy a used 6-string LX1 (w/ solid spruce top) for $250 on ebay most any week, and cut the neck down to 4-string width. Or maybe even a 5 string.

By the way, there are two solid-top Gold Tone tenors on ebay right now - both are 2nds with hairline neck cracks, but are up for only $150.

Oct-14-2008, 9:57pm
i don't think them on e-bay are solid top

Oct-16-2008, 12:49am
I ended up ordering the spruce top goldtone tg-18-THANKS TO ALL!!!!