The Martin LX1 is a 3/4 size dreadnought-style acoustic guitar that is ideally suited for children, those with smaller hands, or as a “travel guitar”. It’s small size certainly packs a punch, which has driven it to become one of the most popular small guitars available.
The LX series is part of the “Little Martins” range and is the smallest guitar that Martin offer. While it may be small, it is definitely not a toy; it is a serious instrument, played by real musicians in the real world. For example, Ed Sheeran plays an LX model and even has a signature version which is included within the Martin range.
If you are looking for a 3/4 size guitar, the Martin LX1 should be on your short list.
3/4 size guitars by definition, have smaller bodies and therefore are not as loud as full-size guitars. However, in comparison with other small guitars, the LX1’s volume is much louder than you would expect. But volume is not the only surprise. The LX1 also has a richer and deeper sound, which still manages to retain elements of the famous “Martin” tone. How this has been achieved this is beyond my understanding, but as a guitarist, I can appreciate the time and attention to detail necessary to create such an instrument.
Have you ever thought that Ed Sheeran has a thin guitar sound? Of course you haven’t. This just illustrates how the sound of this instrument stands out above other similar 3/4 size guitars.
When using a capo higher up the neck on any guitar, it can start to sound like a ukulele or a mandolin. It is not a fault with the guitar; it is just result of having a shorter string length. As 3/4 size guitars already have a shorter string length the use of a capo (especially above the 5th fret) will start to bring on these tonal elements. I mention this purely as information, as this may be good or bad depending on your needs.
Martin builds guitars to the highest standard, which is why they are one of the most respected and trusted manufacturers. Quality is inherent in all of their instruments, and the LX1 is no different.
The top of the guitar is made from solid Sitka spruce, which provides a natural look, while the sides and back are constructed from mahogany pattern High Pressure Laminate.
This laminate is made using Martin’s patterned technique, which provides more strength and durability than solid wood. This is a real benefit for a travel or child’s guitar. All guitars pick up a few knocks along the way, so the sturdy construction materials should reduce the risk of significant damage.
The LX1 provides the right balance between the superior tone created from solid wood and the strength provided by the High Pressure Laminate. However, if durability is a key consideration, then the LXM maybe be a better option, as it also includes a laminate top.
Even though this is a 3/4 size guitar and at the bottom of the Martin price range, the construction quality is so high that most players would struggle to believe it contains any laminate at all. Even the LXM, which does not include solid wood, has such a great tone that only a real expert would be able to notice any difference.
The neck is constructed with a Rust Birch Laminate with a Richlite fretboard, which are all strong, durable materials.
With 20 frets, it is consistent with many full-size guitars. Therefore, even advanced pieces which require notes to be fretted higher up the neck remain accessible.
The action (the distance between the strings and the fretboard) is low enough that children (aged 7-10) and those with smaller hands should be able to play this guitar comfortably.
The chrome enclosed tuners are stable, have smooth turn, and will hold the tuning in place.
The bridge is made from Richlite with a compensated white Tusq saddle.
The LX1 model does not come with a built-in pickup/microphone system. But the LX1E model does incorporate a Fishman pickup system, which enables the guitar to be used through an amplifier or PA system. Obviously, this provides a wider variety of tone and sound options, including the use of effects pedals which provide unlimited ways to alter the sound.
The guitar comes with with a heavily padded gig bag to ensure the guitar is not damaged when transported to lessons, small gigs, or when traveling.
If you are looking for a 3/4 size guitar from a top brand, then the Martin LX1 is one of your best options. The playability is excellent, it stays in tune and sounds fantastic.
While this may be one of the more expensive 3/4 size guitars, it is very high quality and is good value for money as it exceeds expectations in all areas.
If the Martin LX1 does not inspire you, there are similar guitars which may better meet your needs.
Other Guitars in the Little Martin LX series
All the guitars in the series are the same size and come with the padded gig bag. The difference between models is primarily the materials and electronics. The LXM and LX1E are compared below to highlight the differences.
Materials: High Pressure Laminate – Top, Back & Sides
Electronics: Fishman Sonitone System
Materials: Sitka Spruce – Top, High Pressure Laminate – Back & Sides
Taylor Guitars – Baby Taylor
Taylor, just like Martin, are one of the big names in quality acoustic guitars. Their best 3/4 size guitar is the Baby Taylor (Model No: BT1) and a comparable instrument to the Martin LX1.
Materials: Sitka Spruce – Top, Layered Sapele – Back & Sides