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Mossy Long
Feb-12-2009, 2:35pm
I'm trying to find a 21-23" scale tenor guitar to travel with. I've been watching ebay, some of the major vintage dealers, and gbase, but I'm not finding anything "affordable" that wouldn't require major work or be a worry for overseas travel. I would prefer to carry the instrument on in a gig bag (or gate-check as a last resort), so overall length is a bit of an issue.

Has anyone played one of the Martin LXMs? There aren't any locally. It seems like it would be perfect for the job, but I'm just skeptical about the HPL top as far as tone goes.

I'm in the US, but I'm also interested in the Ozark tenors available in the UK. They have gone scarce at the moment, but the price is comparable to the Martin even with the exchange rate and shipping. (As a side note, I didn't care too much for the one Gold Tone I played).

Any advice? I really (really!) can't afford more than $5-600. Should I spring for the Martin or Ozark or wait for a decent old Regal or something that?

Thanks,
Mossy

allenhopkins
Feb-12-2009, 4:33pm
If you want one to travel with, I wouldn't go for a "vintage" one, since they tend to be more fragile. The Martins with the Formica tops have gotten decent overall reviews, from what I've heard. There are Soares'y tenors, made in Portugal (I think), that come up on eBay now and again at quite reasonable prices. Lark In the Morning sells a laminate top tenor for somewhat less than $500.

The advantage of waiting for an older Harmony, Regal etc. is that you can sometimes get an amazing bargain; I saw a post from someone who picked one up in a thrift store for eight dollars! Disadvantage is that they often need work, and that many are quite lightly built -- good for sound, not so good for traveling.

Martin Jonas
Feb-12-2009, 5:20pm
Well, I have the Ozark and I think it's a lovely instrument. Compared to most tenors, it has a shorter scale and quite a small body -- the catalogue photos don't show that properly, but it's really a lot smaller than most. A really cute instrument.

I don't know about it having become scarce: http://www.eaglemusicshop.com/details3.asp/ProductID/5462/sid/386/name/ozark-tenor-guitar.htm still list it as available, and they do ship to the US. With the Pound now being much more reasonable to the dollar than it was half a year ago, that should be a decent deal.

I haven't played the Martin for comparison. The Ozark has a solid top, and looks to me to be pretty well-made. I wouldn't think it's particularly fragile, but it may well be that the Martin's formica top is sturdier.

Martin

Bernie Daniel
Feb-14-2009, 10:24am
Eddy Sheehy: There's a baby Soare's Y... I think Barbara Schultz has one... My Soare's Y is full-bodied and would be a pain to lug onto a plane....


I think Barbara has the full-sized one? Maybe I am incorrect about that and confusing her with a women on YouTube who posts using her cut away full size Soarres'y?

In any case I also have a Baby Soares'y tenor and it does have the 21" scale. It is reasonalbly well made -- not fancy in any way but solid.

It is easy to play but it has --IMO -- very weak projection. But if you just want a travelling axe maybe it is an option for you. I kind of like mine as I can play it late at night when others are asleep and not cause a problem.

allenhopkins
Feb-14-2009, 1:46pm
Couple current eBay offerings:

Soares'y "baby" tenor (21" scale) (http://cgi.ebay.com/Soaresy-4-String-Baby-Tenor-Guitar-Ukulele-21-Scale_W0QQitemZ150326275791QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_D efaultDomain_0?hash=item150326275791&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C 240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50)

Soares'y "Gypsy Jumbo" tenor (23" scale). (http://cgi.ebay.com/Soaresy-Gypsy-Jumbo-Tenor-Guitar-23-Scale_W0QQitemZ150326285435QQcmdZViewItemQQptZLH_D efaultDomain_0?hash=item150326285435&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A1205%7C66%3A2%7C65%3A12%7C39%3A1%7C 240%3A1318%7C301%3A0%7C293%3A1%7C294%3A50)

Barbara Shultz
Feb-15-2009, 11:45am
There's a baby Soare's Y... I think Barbara Schultz has one... My Soare's Y is full-bodied and would be a pain to lug onto a plane....

I believe mine is the baby, but I got the 8 string version... had him string it with strings (and adjust the nut to match) so it would be strung like an OM. I got mine so that I could take it with me when I travel (by car), to practice my OM tunes, without risking my Petersen OM to the risks of travel!

For that purpose, it's great! My only complaint about the Soare's Y is the smell! Probably, if I kept it out of a case, it would fade faster...

Barb

Mossy Long
Feb-17-2009, 11:45am
Thank you very much, everyone,

It sounds to me like the Martin may be my best bet - I'll be playing it in sessions so will definitely need some volume and projection. I'm still skeptical of the HPL top, but I'll let you know how I get on.

Mossy

Martin Jonas
Feb-18-2009, 10:39am
For what it's worth (and without being able to compare to the Martin), the Ozark is loud, and has excellent projection.

Martin

acousticphd
Feb-18-2009, 12:52pm
Thank you very much, everyone,

It sounds to me like the Martin may be my best bet - I'll be playing it in sessions so will definitely need some volume and projection. I'm still skeptical of the HPL top, but I'll let you know how I get on

Don't do it!
I played the 6-string LXM for a few moments this weekend at GC. They play well and sound OK, but are grossly overpriced, in my opinion. I would like to see players send Martin the message to quit offering these guitars only in formica. For the six-string mini, the solid-top version (LX1) costs only ~$50 more than the countertop top. There is no reason - none - why Martin coudn't offer the solid spruce top, which they are already making for the 6-string LX1, on the new 4-string tenor. Except that for some reason, they want to sell us formica instead. Maybe they do figure people who buy these really plan to take them rafting or to Mt McKinley.

John Flynn
Feb-18-2009, 1:36pm
I looked at the Soares'y website and saw this line that cracked me up:

"Please understand that we do not make perfect looking, factory built guitars - ours are the old-fashioned handmade types. Think of them as made by elves in a dimly lit cave."

This is not intended as a slam, I'm sure they are great values for the money, I just liked the image: "...made by elves in a dimly lit cave." What a marketing line! :))

BTW, where can you buy them? I see a lot of discussion about them online, but so far I haven't found them for sale in the US.

allenhopkins
Feb-18-2009, 4:23pm
BTW, where can you buy them? I see a lot of discussion about them online, but so far I haven't found them for sale in the US.

I've only seen them on eBay. And they seem to appear in "spurts," several at once and then none (none on there as of today, e.g.). Maybe a shipment comes in from wherever that "dimly lit cave" is, they're sold off, and then they await another shipment.

Barbara Shultz
Feb-18-2009, 10:47pm
I looked at the Soares'y website and saw this line that cracked me up:

"Please understand that we do not make perfect looking, factory built guitars - ours are the old-fashioned handmade types. Think of them as made by elves in a dimly lit cave."

This is not intended as a slam, I'm sure they are great values for the money, I just liked the image: "...made by elves in a dimly lit cave." What a marketing line! :))

BTW, where can you buy them? I see a lot of discussion about them online, but so far I haven't found them for sale in the US.

I belong to the tenor guitar yahoo group, and Mike Soares is active on it. I can't remember if the purchase of mine originated on eBay, and through contacting with him on the yahoo group.

Anyway, you can contact him at
soaresyguitars@hotmail.com
and see what he has available!

Barbara

mandroid
Feb-18-2009, 11:17pm
Perhaps this, Sturdy materials and expert construction http://www.elderly.com/new_instruments/items/LXMTEN.htm

first string
Feb-19-2009, 3:12pm
I may have missed it, but has anyone mentioned the Gold Tone? I've heard very good things about that guitar as far as affordable imports go.

Dolamon
Mar-18-2009, 11:20am
A slightly off the wall alternative for a traveling tenor guitar. Recently I've become a strong advocate of the bigger bodied ukulele's and just noticed two things ... Tenor Ukes will normally fit in a good Mandolin Gig bag (Colorado cases is the test example) and Aquila Strings is offering a string set for Tenor which approximates 'standard' tenor guitar tuning. http://www.juststrings.com/aqu-atgt.html

Unlike most Uke strings, Aquila are (almost) ferociously high tension items, which also last a long time and really project. What needs to be done is to reverse the lower strings in the set and then adjust the tension for a good Gdae tuning. It does work - is very travel worthy and can be silly inexpensive if you get a laminated instrument. Personally I prefer solid mahogany for the body of the instrument and find it to be a very rich sound with a lot of overtones. The 15 series of Martins from the late twenties to current days kind of bear this out.

I have currently have a solid body Kentucky 200, a solid MidMo mandola, three or four solid uke body Baritones and the solid tenor from KALA which are all solid Mahogany. One of the problems with Mahogany instruments is it normally isn't too attractive, or traditional looking but the sound more than makes up for the unfamiliar looks ... and it is inexpensive compared to the more aesthetically pleasing versions.

It's just a thought - if you really want a small tenor - 17 inch scale and most likely louder than either a Gold Tone or an old Gibson ... this is an interesting alternative.

My other tenor guitars are a Regal, a wood bodied National resonator, an old Kay and a spectacular Spira made from Tasmanian Blackwood.

Mossy Long
Apr-22-2009, 10:19am
Thanks again everyone. I ended up getting the Martin LXM and I'm quite happy with it. I tend to be old-fashioned about materials, so I was apprehensive about the HPL top, but have to say I have been pleasantly surprised by the full tone. I really don't know how they do it. It also plays great, stays in tune, and is a good size for travelling, so I'm a happy camper.

It does sound better to my ears in CGDA tuning than in GDAE. That bass string just gets a little muddy. But I typically tune ADAD and after some string gauge experimentation, I think it sounds really good, especially considering the small size of the instrument.

Finances allowing, I would have preferred to have a TenorTone, but overall I am very happy with the Martin. I think I'll start saving now and eventually put the Martin in CGDA and order a TenorTone for ADAD! :)

Mossy

marcusmd
May-04-2009, 4:10pm
Hey Mossy,

One more comment. I have a Little Martin and it is beautiful and very rich.
as a newbie I cannot think of a better little baby.

I have just picked up an Epiphone Mandobird - which you could tune as a TG. Much smaller and sounds nice in all styles.

Have seen a bloke on Utube tune it as a uke as well if you are heading to Hawaii for a louau of sushi

Surf clear, small and warm in Sydney this morning!

M

Off to look at Barb's website