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Martin LX1E Little Martin review

A three-quarter size acoustic that sounds bigger than most of its competition

Martin LX1E Little Martin review
(Image: © Future)

Our Verdict

This is a well made travel-size guitar, with a great pickup system that only suffers a touch acoustically from having a smaller body.

For

  • Great sound for the size
  • Compact
  • Easy and comfortable to play
  • Great amplified sound
  • Well made

Against

  • Suffers a little in the low-end
  • Lacks projection of a full-size acoustic

The Martin LX1E Little Martin has been one of the most popular acoustic guitars of the last 10 years, largely thanks to Ed Sheeran’s prolific use of one early on in his career, before his relationship with Lowden began.

The LX1E is a 3/4 size acoustic electric guitar, boasting a solid sitka spruce top, high pressure laminate back and sides, 23” scale, Richlite fingerboard and a Fishman Sonitone pickup. It’s smaller than a regular acoustic guitar, which makes it ideal for travelling with, or for children (we even rate it as a great acoustic guitar for beginners). It also comes shipped with a padded gig bag.

Martin LX1E neck

(Image credit: Future)

The 23” scale does mean that the frets are slightly closer together than they would be on a full-size acoustic, but the nut width is 1 11/16” meaning the string spacing is the same as a full-size. As someone who normally plays a dreadnought, I found the LX1E to be comfortable to play - it starts getting a little cramped around the 12th fret and above, but you’re probably not going to be spending much time around there. Chords and melody lines are just as easy to strum or fingerpick as they would be on any other guitar.

It’s likely that beginners, children or those of smaller stature will find it comfortable, but they aren’t the only intended users. If you’re an experienced player, then the LX1E is a great guitar to take with you on the road, perhaps with work or on tour etc. 

It’s worth noting how well made the guitar feels as well. It’s a high-quality guitar, and it’s likely to last a long time. The tuners hold the tuning well, and the construction all seems well put together.

If you’re an experienced player, then the LX1E is a great guitar to take with you on the road

The sound of the guitar, admittedly, does reflect the size of it to some extent. It doesn’t project as much volume as a full size acoustic, but then again, you wouldn’t expect it to. That said, the Martin LX1E is fairly loud for its size - it’s louder than most other smaller guitars, and it sounds clear and defined. Martin ships it with 13 gauge acoustic guitar strings, which really helps with volume and tone. The solid top also helps it resonate more, plus it’s going to sound better the more you play it, as you break in the top over the years.

Whilst there is a bit of that boxiness commonly associated with smaller-bodied acoustics, it’s got a fairly strong frequency response. It doesn’t throw out lots of low end, but the bass is definitely still there, and the shape of it helps it really cut through in the middle and treble frequencies. It responds well to playing dynamically too, so it’s suitable for a variety of different players, whether you’re playing in a band, or performing as a singer-songwriter.

View of Martin LX1E sound hole and pickup

(Image credit: Future)

Plugged in, the Martin LX1E performs just as well as any other guitar with an undersaddle piezo system, which means that it can keep up with much bigger and more expensive guitars utilizing the same pickup. It’s a good sounding pickup, and you’d have to spend a fair bit more to beat it, in our opinion - add some EQ and reverb via an acoustic amp or mixing desk and you’ll have a decent amplified acoustic sound that’s certainly good enough for gigs and open mic nights. 

There’s no preamp system on the top of the guitar like there used to be - instead you’ve got a volume and tone knob discreetly positioned in the soundhole. It’s easy enough to get to them, but it might take some getting used to if you’re adjusting them a lot whilst playing. This also means that the top of the guitar looks cleaner, though the tuner that used to be in the old preamp was pretty handy. 

Martin LX1E Little Martin review: Verdict 

There’s a reason why the Martin LX1E is one of the most popular small-bodied acoustic guitars - it sounds great, particularly plugged in, and it’s really comfortable to play. It doesn’t quite have the projection and low end of a full-sized acoustic, but it’s a superb choice if you’re seeking a quality, compact acoustic for travelling or gigging. 

Martin LX1E Little Martin review: Specifications 

  • Price: $499/£499
  • Body Shape: Modified O - 14 Fret Body
  • Scale Length: 23”
  • Top Wood: Solid Spruce
  • Body Wood: Mahogany Pattern HPL
  • Neck Profile: Modified Low Oval
  • Nut Width: 1.69”
  • Pickup: Fishman Sonitone 
  • Contact: Martin guitars