My first guitar was basically a cheese grater for my fingers. I always wished I could’ve learned on something less cheap! Today, there are some fabulous starter guitars on the market, such as the Martin LX1. This Martin LX1 review will cover everything you ought to know about this wondrous axe, and its noteworthy competitors!
So, you want a small acoustic guitar?
Guitars come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and sounds. The LX1 is a small acoustic guitar; small acoustics are optimal for a variety of things. If you’re a child learner, the LX1 is going to be just the right size for you.
Maybe you’re a teen and you want to start learning. You probably want an electric guitar because they look cool, but you also want something smaller and more portable, and you don’t have the extra cash to throw at an amplifier anyway.
Let’s say you’re a master with an arsenal of axes sitting at home. You want a lightweight acoustic guitar for jamming out some folk tunes around the campfire this summer; the LX1 is perfect for that.
Traveling, campfires, learning and practicing; that’s what the Little Martin LX1 Acoustic Guitar is all about. If any of those things are in the ballpark of what you need an acoustic guitar for, the Martin LX1 is definitely your neck of the woods (no pun intended).
However, if you’re in a band that’s regularly playing shows, you may want to look elsewhere. The LX1 doesn’t plug in, so any live setting you’d be using it for would require an extra mic setup.
What Exactly Am I Looking For When I’m Searching For The Right Guitar?
In short, you’re looking for the right sound and how it feels to play. These two factors can be influenced by a plethora of things: the type(s) of wood used, how the neck is attached to the body, the quality of the electronics, the width of the neck, the size and weight of the body… the list goes on! It all depends on what sound speaks to you the most, and what’s most comfortable to play.
Alright, I Get It! Now What’s The Deal With The LX1?
The Little Martin LX1 Acoustic Guitar may be Martin’s smallest product, but it’s “very big on tone, quality, and versatility,” as stated on the official Martin website.
The LX1 is great for traveling with, or just playing around the house or fire pit. It’s also a perfect first or second instrument for entry-level players under 12. For under $400, you get the high-quality Martin experience packed into a lightweight body. If you enjoy the sound and size of the LX1, but you’re looking for something outfitted with electronics, you may want to look elsewhere; Ed Sheeran’s Signature Martin might be better suited for that criteria.
Neck & Body
The LX1 features an unfinished birch neck with a scale length of 23 inches. The richlite fingerboard features 20 frets, just under most standard electric guitars. The body is made of unfinished mahogany with a hand-rubbed spruce top. The spruce top offers nice projection for at-home practicing. The body type is concert/O and it is oriented for right-handed players. The LX1’s body reminds me of a smaller dreadnought-style guitar, which I really enjoy; the body feels very comfortable sitting in your lap. The unfinished neck makes the LX1 very comfortable for learning open chords and rhythmic progressions, however it may not be too comfortable for complicated licks or anything that requires the quick movement of your hands up and down the neck. Overall, the neck finish (or lack thereof) does not inhibit the LX1’s playability.
The LX1 is solely an acoustic guitar, with no plug-in capabilities. It does not feature a built in tuner or pickup. Any studio or live applications of this instrument requires an external microphone; a unidirectional large-diaphragm condenser mic might be the most well suited for recording this instrument in my opinion, but that’s all preferential. The tuning pegs are chrome, and the nut and saddle are made up of white corian. This helps it hold tune exceptionally well, which is something you should generally expect from Martin’s high quality instruments.
Sound & Tone
The tone of the LX1 rivals many full size Martins; it may be small in size, but it’s certainly big on sound. The bass notes are full and the higher notes cut through beautifully. This makes for nicely balanced natural EQ and allows any tune played on the instrument to really shine. The LX1 offers a very full and bright tone that has an oh-so mild folkish twang you’d expect from a small acoustic guitar. In my opinion, it’s the perfect sound for singer/songwriters and any acoustic pop artist. The bright, balanced tone will work perfectly for an acoustic rendition of any pop song you can imagine. However, don’t be turned off if pop isn’t your thing! The tone the LX1 offers sounds great in alternate tunings. Maybe you’re a bluegrass player and you wanna jam out in Open G, or perhaps you prefer some classic blues and you want to chug away in Open D. Even if your taste is highly obscure post-rock and you tend to make up your own wacky tunings, the LX1 can handle it! This guitar is perfectly capable of sparking life to a wide variety of genres, for all musicians looking to experiment and mess around with different ideas.
The LX1 certainly offers the quality in sound and materials you’d expect from Martin in a small acoustic guitar. The official Martin website states that the LX1 goes for $460, but the guitar can be found on major retailer sites such as Guitar Center and Sweetwater for $350. For either price point, I would prefer a built-in tuner and/or acoustic-electric capabilities, but that doesn’t negate the fact that it’s an affordable high quality Martin guitar. The LX1 is absolutely worth the price for young learners and travelers looking to take their playing on the go; it even comes with a gig bag!
- Perfect for travel without compromising on tone
- Consistent with Martin quality, while being optimal for practice
- Includes gig bag
- No plug-in
- Mediocre factory setup
- No built-in tuner
Alternatives to the LX1
Let’s take a look at some other small acoustic guitars worth checking out if you’re not sold on the LX1.
Taylor BT2 Baby Taylor
The Baby Taylor is also excellent for playing on the go! The body is a 3/4 size dreadnought with excellent tone; the solid mahogany top adds a healthy dose of mid-range oomph, giving you a sweet bluesy edge wherever you take it. The price is set at about $370, so it’s a tad more costly than the LX1 in some places. But if you ask me, that warm mahogany tone makes it worth every extra penny.
- Neck & Body: All mahogany
- Hardware: Die-Cast Chrome
- Tone: Very warm, great bluesy edge
- Price: $370
Washburn Apprentice G-Mini 5
The Apprentice G-Mini 5 is another “travel” guitar that accommodates a smaller budget of $200. The neck and body are made of mahogany, complete with a spruce top. Though the tone is full-bodied, I personally don’t feel it matches up to the warmth of the other guitars discussed here.
- Neck & Body: Mahogany neck and body, spruce top
- Hardware: Chrome
- Tone: Full-bodied, not super bright
Taylor GS Mini
The Taylor GS-Mini 5 is another great small scale guitar from Taylor. It has a similar Mahogany makeup to the Baby Taylor, and if you ask me, the tone is great mix of the Baby Taylor’s warmth and the LX1’s brightness. Of course, such a grand pairing of tones is going to have a grand price; one to the tune of $500. It sounds great and travels well, but for the price point, you may want to consider getting a full-size guitar.
- Neck & Body: All mahogany
- Hardware: Chrome
- Tone: Bright, warm, full-bodied
- Price: $500
Hopefully this article gave you some useful insight on the LX1 and its notable competitors. All the guitars we’ve discussed here today have one thing in common: they’re small! These guitars are denoted as travel guitars, starter guitars, desk guitars… you name it! They’re small and versatile, but they do share some differences!