Little Martin Acoustic Guitar Complete Review

Review of the Little Martin Series of Acoustic Guitars

Bigger is always better, right? When it comes to guitars, especially ones like what you’ll find in the Little Martin series, this oft-repeated moniker isn’t necessarily true.

This style of guitar, often referred to as a “travel guitar” or a “parlor guitar“, won’t replace your full-size guitar any time soon, but it does have its advantages. Best of all, if you choose your Little Martin wisely, you don’t really have to trade sound for size.

In this complete guide to the Little Martin Series of acoustic guitars I want to not only introduce you to what makes each model unique, you’ll also hear my review of how these guitars compare to their bigger brothers in terms of sound and durability.

Little Martin Review & Comparison

The Little Martin LXM mini acoustic guitarWhenever I pick up a 3/4-size travel guitar, my expectations for a full sound are quite low. It’s not that I fear the construction is shoddy, I just don’t believe you can get the same full-body sound from a guitar that’s lacking a, well…full body. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

To some degree my expectations are in line with reality, but I was surprised when I picked up a Little Martin for the first time. I’ve played and reviewed the Baby Taylor before, another great “little” acoustic guitar, but while the Baby Taylor sound could be described more as “bright” I was incredibly happy to get more of a “deep” sound out of the Little Martin guitars. That’s not common for smaller guitars…and I love it.

The biggest complaint against the Little Martin is their use of HPL or “High Pressure Laminate” to build the guitar. HPL is just a fancy way of saying “plastic made to look like wood” and it’s a big part of what makes the price of this guitar so low. But for most people, if you didn’t know this about the Little Martin acoustic guitars, when you pick it up and play it you never would have guessed.

Who is the Little Martin Guitar For?

The Little Martin acoustic guitar isn’t for everybody but in my opinion most people have a good reason to want a smaller-size guitar.

First of all, if you’re a parent looking to buy a guitar for your kid to learn on, the Little Martin is an excellent choice. It’s the perfect size, good action for their little fingers and a great sound. Best of all, if they decide not to follow through on this new hobby, you can just take the guitar for yourself!

Many guitarists use the Little Martin for travel. It fits well in the overhead bins of airplanes and the gig bag that comes with the guitar is incredibly sturdy.

Finally, as artists like Ed Sheeran have exemplified, the Little Martin can act as a primary guitar in some cases. It’s not common but it has a unique sound that, when properly used, can be really fun.

Which Little Martin is Right for You?

The currently lineup of Little Martin acoustic guitars include 4 different categories (LXM, LXK2, LX1 and the Ed Sheeran special) made up of 7 models. All of the guitars are the exact same size and all of them come with a padded gig bag. They all use the “Modified X” bracing for the sound board. The differences are primarily in the materials and electronics.

Take a look at the comparison chart below to see what really differentiates each of the Little Martin Guitars and then I’ll go into more detail below.

 

The Little Martin LXM mini acoustic guitarLittle Martin
LXM

The Little Martin LXK2 mini acoustic guitarLittle Martin
LXK2

The Little Martin LX1E mini acoustic guitarLittle Martin
LX1

The smaller LX1E Ed Sheeran special acoustic guitarLittle Martin
Ed Sheeran

Price:
All USD
$409 and $489
(with & w/o electronics)
$409$429 and $519
(with & w/o electronics)
$599
Materials:Top: Spruce patterned HPL

Back/Sides: Mahogany patterned HPL
Top: Koa patterned HPL

Back/Sides: Koa patterned HPL
Top: Solid Sitka Spruce

Back/Sides: Mahogany patterned HPL
Top: Solid Sapele

Back/Sides: Jett Black HPL
Electronics:Available (LXME)NoneAvailable (LX1E)Yes
ModelsLittle Martin LXM - basic

Little Martin LXME - with electronics

Little Martin LX Black - Jett Black HPL
Little Martin LXK2 - basicLittle Martin LX1 - basic

Little Martin LX1E - with electronics
Little Martin LXK2 - the Ed Sheeran special
Pricing:

LXM


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LXK2


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LX1


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Ed Sheeran


*Unavailable Online*

*HPL: High Pressure Laminate

Now that you have a quick overview via this Little Martin comparison chart, let’s look at each of the models individually starting from the most basic (LXM) to the most expensive (Ed Sheeran).

Little Martin LXM Review

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The Little Martin LXM is the basic model for this series, which doesn’t mean it sounds terrible. In fact, I think it sounds great. Nothing made me happier back in my teaching days than seeing a new student walk in with an LXM in their hands.

What you’re missing with the LXM is the ability to plug into a sound system (no electronics) and the use of solid wood. Most people won’t plug into a sound system with such a small guitar anyway, so that’s not a big deal. The HPL (High Pressure Laminate) bothers me a little, but I think that’s more arrogance on my part than anything else.

At under $300, if you just need a travel guitar or a simple guitar to learn on, the Martin LXM is a great choice.

Review of the Little Martin LXM acoustic guitar

Little Martin LXME Review

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The next step up from the LXM is the Little Martin LXME. It still uses HPL for the front, back and side materials instead of wood and all other specs are exactly the same. Except one.

The “E” at the end of the LXME signifies that this acoustic guitar comes with a Fishman Isys T pickup system that will allow you to plug into a sound system or recording deck.

This Fishman pickup also comes with an onboard tuner, a nice little bonus.

While this guitar is usually priced at under $400, it’s still a great deal if electronics are a “must” for you.

Review of the Little Martin LXME acoustic guitar

Little Martin LX BLACK Review

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If you’re big into black, the Martin LX Black is the guitar for you. The entire guitar – including the fingerboard – are made using black materials: HPL for the top, back and sides; black Micarta for the fretboard.

This model does not have the option for electronics, which I find interesting. If you want black, apparently that means you won’t be playing on stage any time in the near future – at least according to Martin.

Like the LXM, the Little Martin LX Black is well-priced at under $300.

Review of the Little Martin LX Black acoustic guitar

Little Martin LXK2 Review

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I’m a sucker for Koa wood, I won’t lie. Even though I know that this isn’t “real” Koa wood on the Little Martin LXK2, I still like it. Instead, they pattern the HPL to look like Koa wood for a bit of creative flare.

Like the LX Black model, the Little Martin LXK2 doesn’t offer the option to have electronics on board.

Again, this isn’t something that bothers me too much as I don’t tend to plug in travel guitars, but for some people that might be a deal-breaker.

The Martin LXK2 runs the same price as the LXM models – usually under $300 – so if I had to choose between the two, I’d always prefer the beautiful Koa!

Review of the Little Martin LXK2 acoustic guitar

Little Martin LX1 Review

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A step up from the LXM and LXK2 models is the wonderful-sounding LX1 models. I highly recommend these guitars if you can afford them because they use a solid top instead of the High Pressure Laminate. (see my thoughts on solid top vs laminate top here)

The Little Martin LX1 uses a Sitka Spruce solid top in its design, a commonly-used wood for many acoustic guitars on the market. It looks great and sounds excellent.

The LX1 doesn’t come with electronics, but it is something that can be an after-market addition.

Because the Little Martin LX1 is priced just $20 higher than the LXM, there’s no doubt in my mind that the extra cash is worth the solid top.

Review of the Little Martin LX1 Acoustic guitar

Little Martin LX1E Review

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Next in the lineup is the Little Martin LX1E acoustic guitar. It shares all of the same specifications as the LX1 including the much-desired solid Sitka Spruce top instead of High Pressure Laminate.

As the “E” implies, though, the only difference between the LX1E and the LX1 is the inclusion of electronics on board. This is the same Fishman Isys T pickup that you find on the LXME which includes an onboard tuner.

If you prefer to install your own pickup, go for the LX1, but if you like the sound of Fishman pickups then it’s nice to have it come pre-installed with the LX1E.

You can usually still get this guitar for under $400 at most stores.

Review of the Little Martin LX1E acoustic guitar

Little Martin LX1E Ed Sheeran Review

British singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran has become the face of the Little Martin series. He has shown that you can make big sound with a small guitar. This guitar pays homage to what he has done for this guitar.

The Little Martin LX1E Ed Sheeran Edition uses a solid Sapele top instead of the Sitka Spruce for the other LX1 models. This is a darker wood that will give you more of a deeper low end (although not too much more).

It comes laser etched with Ed Sheeran’s logo and comes with the Fishman Isys T pickup pre-installed.

Here’s the problem with the Ed Sheeran Edition – it’s very difficult to find. You’ll need to call around or perhaps even purchase a used one if you want to get your hands on it.

Review of the Little Martin LX1E Ed Sheeran Edition

Conclusion | Little Martin Acoustic Guitars

The Little Martin acoustic guitar series may be a smaller guitar, but it can be a great addition to your collection if you need a simple but good-sounding guitar to travel with or just play around the campfire.

Martin fans will be happy with the deeper sound and for those who want to plug in they have plenty of options that come with electronics on board.

Overall, I’ve enjoyed playing the Little Martin guitars and can’t wait to buy one for my son when he gets a few years older!

 

21 Responses to Little Martin Acoustic Guitar Complete Review

  1. Randy Adkison says:

    I bought a LX1 for my Grandaughters Christmas present this year. I was blown away by this little guitar. My wife had to force me to stop playing it so she could get it wrapped and under the tree.

    • Josh Summers says:

      Ha! I love it, Randy! Yea, I’m a big fan of these little guitars. Great sound, good value.

      My son is already calling my little guitar “his” guitar even though I haven’t really given it to him yet. I mean, that’s the plan eventually, but for now it’s my travel guitar. Ha!

  2. Pat Shields says:

    The first small guitar I bought was an LX1. I was actively looking and comparing; because of neurological problems I needed something that had everything closer together than a full-size. The choice came down to a baby Taylor or the Little Martin. Because of the sound and the neck construction the Martin won my choice. I love it absolutely. There is only one problem with it, and it is not really a problem; if I had known about the LX1E I would have bought that instead!

  3. Miki Tamayo says:

    Hi Josh, Im an spanish not very experienced guitarist and I was thinking about buying a little Martin. So…which would you recomend me to buy, the lx1, lxm or lxk2. I play John Mayer, Passenger, Ed Sheeran and Jack Johnson music mostly.
    Thanks and hope some answer soon.

    • Justin J says:

      Some say that the LXM sounds deeper than the LX1 but it all comes back to personal taste. Mind that Ed Sheeran uses LX1E in most of his career. I guess if u like to play Ed’s music, I personally recommend the LX1.

  4. Melysse says:

    I’ve been a cellist for 36 years but have been wanting to learn guitars for years now. While my cello is a full sized instrument, I’m only 5 feet tall and my hands are small. 3/4 sized travel & parlor guitars are more comfortable. I looked at the LX1 today at Guitar Center and liked the resonance and the feel, but the girly part of me is attracted to Luna’s Safari series (I’m going to test one of those at a different guitar store later this week).

    Thoughts and/or recommendations are appreciated. I’d like to stay under $350 for now. If I pick up guitar quickly enough, I’ll upgrade later.

  5. A wonderful guitar. Sound is great. My uncle has a D18. Said he really liked my little martin. I do too!!

  6. Lily J says:

    Hi! thanks for this very interesting review. I’m about to purchase a little Martin, but I still can’t make up my mind between the LX1E and the Ed Sheeran signature edition (I’m talking about the new version, with the green Xs and a lighter color). Could you please help me? Which one do you think is the best? I really don’t know the difference between the two, except for the price.
    Thanks,

    Lily.

    • Dawson says:

      Hi, you probably have this guitar now but I have the ed x edition and the only difference is the fretboard markers on the ed x and the colour.

  7. odessa says:

    are these all the same size because I lost my LXME case and want to know if i can buy a LX1 case? because I’m buying in from online so dont want to get it then it be the wrong size!? =)

  8. Bet says:

    I’m starting my first week of a month of travel and didn’t want to bring my big heavy Guild. I’m a small woman and it’s so heavy with the original wood case, which is what I’d need for air travel, and thinking of it getting lost,smashed or stolen made me leave it behind. I just heard and tried the the travel Martin and was so impressed I immediately thought, that’s the one I’m looking for. Came home from the jam,looked up reviews and found yours. This is one of the best reviews on any product I’ve read. Just want to thank you…very informative. Now to figure out the model. Thanks again.

  9. Steve Weninger says:

    I love my little Martin LXE but the fisherman pickup quit after 10 months, where can I get a replacement?

  10. Jason Evans says:

    They are the biggest pile of crap Ive ever owned….and I currently own 19 guitars incl another martin. The neck has one word…..SHIT. Its the only guitar Ive ever had to send back for a warranty claim…..best to avoid at all costs.

  11. Walter Rush says:

    I have heard from some people who live on boats that the LXM holds up well in a humid, marine environment. The HPL is an advantage in that setting.

  12. Rick says:

    The problem i have discovered over time is my little Martin slips out of tune quickly and I dont know if its cheap tuners or cheap body!! I have thought about getting better tuners!! I also have a D-28 that is nearly perfect every time I pick it up!! The Little Martin was great for about a year then started having tuning issues and very often!! I dont think I would ever buy another one because of this tuning issue! The neck is straight and I have no complaint about anything else on this guitar!!

  13. Katie Jackson says:

    How much does the Little Martin weigh?

  14. Stephen Joseph says:

    Hi, do u know in what country the Little Martin’s r made in. I own a Martin Back Packer and it’s made in Mexico.
    Just wondering as these r a little more expensive.
    Thanks

  15. Jeff Costello says:

    fThey’re made in Mexico. A friend of mine who much more of a Martin snob than I, says that quality standards are very high for all Martins, even the cheap ones and no matter where they’re made. Personally I like that the Martin LX is made from odd materials that make it seemingly more indestructible than a “real” instrument. Especially the neck, laminated wood strips, much stronger than solid necks. It would be very hard to break, even under severe abuse.

  16. mike says:

    My little LX1 gets picked up more than the D28! It stands in the corner and is great for noodling. I find 12 (high E) a little too light but 13’s are perfect and give a much fuller sound. It will never compare to a dreadnaught but that is not its purpose. I am just about to fit under saddle PU’s to play it live. Mine goes on many trips with me and often sits in the boot (trunk) of my car in freezing temperatures and is not affected. This is not something I would do with my D28. So, horses for courses but as a pony she is perfect!

  17. Jeff says:

    Does anyone think the Little Martin looks too small? Been thinking of buying one for several months but every time I go and look at them I come away empty handed. They look like a kids guitar which puts me off to be honest.

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