Most of us acoustic guitarists dream of owning a Martin D-28 or a D-45. If only. But that would require us to have ten times more money than the cost of buying a Martin LX1. But in the real world, most of us don’t have that kind of disposable cash. However, what a lot more of us do have, is enough to buy a Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar.
This is a small-bodied guitar, it’s essentially the same size as a travel or parlor guitar, with a great sound and superb quality on offer. Plus, its size and construction do have some specific benefits over its full-sized counterparts.
So, let’s go through our Martin LX1 Little Martin Review to take a closer look and find out if this could be the next guitar for you…
This is a ¾ sized guitar. This size of guitar has become increasingly popular over the last ten years. Though commonly seen as a child-sized guitar, it is now more commonly seen in the hands of adults.
Without a doubt, one of the clear advantages of a guitar of this size is that it fits easily in the lap for even the smallest of players. Also, when you take it out of the house for those campfire sing-alongs (unless you’re Ed Sheeran who takes his to Wembley Stadium), it’s easy to carry. We can’t really see Ed worrying too much about its portable qualities, but you get the point.
The Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar is constructed with a Sitka spruce solid top. This is a popular tonewood for acoustic guitars and indeed a popular choice for guitar tops throughout the Martin range. If you check out Martin’s higher-end guitars, such as the D-45, you’ll see they predominantly have solid Sitka spruce tops. A clear indication of the high regard Sikta spruce holds amongst guitar builders.
The neck of the Martin LX1 is made from rust stratabond. The fretboard is made from either solid Morado or East Indian rosewood. And the back and sides of the Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar are made from HPL patterned mahogany. High-Pressure Laminate patterned mahogany to be precise.
However, if this combination of woods is not quite what you’re looking for, you should check out the rest of the Martin LX range. There are another two guitars with different wood choices.
The good news is that because this is predominantly a laminate guitar, it does have the advantage of being much less susceptible to large fluctuations in temperature and humidity. This makes the guitar more robust, and when coupled with its size, makes it a great choice for travelers or traveling musicians
The guitar has a satin finish, which gives it a bit of a basic feel. And the top of the guitar features its modified X series X top bracing.
Specifications & Hardware
As you’d expect, the guitar has a 23” shortened scale. The nut width is a standard 1 11/16. And the Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar has a tusq saddle and nut.
Martin uses their own chrome-plated tuners. The cool thing is that not only do they do a great job in keeping stable tuning, but they also look great. These are actually reduced in size and do feel a little strange, but they really fit nicely with the overall aesthetic of the guitar. We’re never going to be able to look at full-sized tuning knobs on a ¾ sized guitar the same again.
The fact is that the Martin LX1 does look quite plain. There’s an unbound top with a simple black binding to the back. To the front, no pickguard and a simple lined black soundhole. This is all fine. None of us are ones for having fancy flowers splashed all over our guitars. Plain is good. But why Martin? Why no fretboard marker inlays?
We accept that there are markers on the neck. However, a lot of guys and girls buying this kind of guitar are going to be new or less experienced players. Sure, not all, but why make it any harder to play than it needs to be? For us, this is a step too far down the road of austerity and minimalism.
There are no electronics on this model, but they are available on the E version. And it comes with a good quality gig bag included.
When we consider this is a relatively inexpensive guitar, that it’s a ¾ sized guitar, and that it’s constructed from HPL back and sides, the sound is amazing. Take away all of those factors, and this is still a really good sounding guitar. The choice of the Sitka spruce top, when combined with the modified X series top bracing, helps to produce a high level of resonance. There’s also plenty of sustain to accompany it too.
Happily, the actual degree of volume and projection from this small guitar is pretty good. OK, so you’re obviously not going to get the same projection or volume that you’d expect from a full-sized dreadnought. Never the less, it’s still more than sufficient, in most circumstances.
Unfortunately, the bass is not as strong as larger guitars, but it’s punchy and sits well with the clear mids and trebles. Though the guitar sounds bright, it doesn’t sound overly harsh. Together with a pleasing amount of warmth and richness, this is a well-balanced sounding guitar.
The Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar is versatile. It sounds great in the hands of a sole singer-songwriter, even at Wembley. And when accompanying a group of musicians, it’s still more than capable of cutting through the mix.
The great thing about the Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar is that it is easy to play.
It has a nice low-profile neck. The fret ends, and frets feel smooth. What’s more, it has a nice action right out of the box. This is all good and what we’d hope to find in a Martin. The LX1 may be made in Mexico, but his little guitar keeps their reputation for building well-made and playable guitars very much in-tact.
As well as its excellent construction, the compact size of this guitar helps to make it more easily playable than a larger guitar. Children and smaller adults can sometimes find the size and physicality of a larger guitar both daunting and more difficult to play.
There’s no doubt that traditionally, these ¾ sized guitars have mainly been the go-to choice of child beginners. However, this is no longer the case. The explosion of female guitarists in recent years has seen their popularity soar. The fact is that now 50% of all guitars are purchased by women. And many of them are looking for exactly this kind of guitar for exactly those reasons of playability and comfort.
If you’re not 100% decided on whether the Martin LX1 is for you, please check out our in-depth Martin DRS2 review, our Taylor Big Baby review, our Taylor GS Mini review, and the Taylor 110 Dreadnought review.
It may also be worth taking a look at our reviews of the Best Acoustic Guitar under 500 dollars, the Best Acoustic Travel Guitars, and the Best Acoustic Electric Guitars currently available for even more options.
Martin LX1 Little Martin Pros & Cons
- Good resonance and sustain
- Well balanced tone.
- High build quality.
- It’s easy to play.
- Easy to transport.
- Plain looks.
- The volume and bass levels are lower than on a full-sized equivalent acoustic guitar.
- No fretboard markers.
So, there you have it, an excellent little guitar with plenty to offer.
The Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar a beautifully well-made instrument with a big sound for its size. This is a guitar with plenty of versatility, and plenty of great tone, that can be taken anywhere and played by anyone.
The fact is that there are some sacrifices to be made when purchasing a smaller bodied guitar. But when considering an acoustic guitar at this price point over something larger, or over a similarly sized guitar of a different brand, this little Martin would appear to have most of them beat.