Martin LX1E Review: Acoustic Guitars Under $500 Review Series

Published Categorized as Guitar Reviews, Guitar Reviews under 500, Koa Patterned Laminate Back and Sides, Laminate Back and Sides Wood, Martin Acoustic Guitars, Sitka Spruce Top Wood, Small Size Guitar Reviews, Solid Wood Top Wood

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Hello and welcome to my LX1E Little Martin Review.

My first impression of this guitar was that it looked pretty cool. I knew it was going to be a smaller model guitar so the size wasn’t a surprise – it is quite a small guitar. I played the Ed Sheeran signature version of this guitar.

In this review I’ll discuss:

  • The sound of the LX1E (including video)
  • The LX1E’s playability
  • Who this guitar is most suitable for; and
  • My opinion as to whether or not this guitar is in the “value-for-money” picks.

Let’s get started with the sound.

Acoustic Guitars Under $500

The LX1Es Sound

I heard good things about this guitar, but I’m going to be honest. I was a little disappointed with the sound. No, it’s not a super pricey guitar, but it’s also not bottom of the pile in terms of price.

The guitar is small, so I certainly wasn’t expecting a big sound. But, I was expecting a little more than what I got.

Volume and Fullness

The sound lacked resonance, and I couldn’t extract much volume, even when really giving it some. It definitely sounded small and a bit tinny/empty to my ear.

Warm or Bright?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the muddiest sound you can get and 10 being the sharpest sound with great tone quality and versatility you can get, I would rate the LX1E as a 7 out of 10. Not big on tone quality. It’s quite bright sounding – but bright without the resonance, which gives it quite a tinny tone to my ear.


Guitar materials affect the sound, and we know it already. Let’s see the materials for this signature guitar, made with sustainable wood certified parts:

  • Top (Soundboard): Solid Sitka Spruce Top. This sitka spruce solid top contributes the brightness of sound, and should aid with a good dynamic range. But, I didn’t feel like sitka spruce achieved that with this guitar.
  • Back and Sides: Koa HPL (mahogany high pressure laminate). Laminate back and sides are expected in this price range so no problem there. Warm satin finish makes it really nice.
  • Headstock: The LX1E features die cast tuners painted black. These felt fine to use so no complaints there.
  • Nut and saddle: They use TUSQ (an artificial bone imitator) for the saddle, which is compensated and they use Black Corian for the nut. Both these materials are synthetic, but they’re not cheap plastic parts. Definitely no complaints with these parts, as I’ve played some really nice Little Martin guitars that use these materials.
  • Bridge: Black Richlite. Again, this is a synthetic material. But, as I said, I have no problem with this. It has the right properties for a bridge (hard and dense for transferring the sound from number of strings into the soundboard).

Quick Note

I only played this guitar unplugged. It apparently sounds great when plugged in. But in my opinion, I’m happier when it sounds better acoustically first and foremost.


This first video shows the Ed Sheeran X Signature Edition.

The second video here shows the standard version.


Was ok to play, but not amazing. Compared with the other guitar I played in the same session, (in the same price range) it was not of the same standard.

The Action

The action was actually set up ok. A lot lower than I’m used to seeing on a new guitar, especially at this price, but that was a pleasant surprise. Even with that better set up, it couldn’t make up for how the guitar felt.

It could have been lowered even more for my tastes, but I don’t think that was going to be enough to make big improvements and sounds great.

The Size

For me the size thing was a little bit tricky. I found it hard to play certain chords in the higher frets. If you have smaller fingers, or just want this as a travel guitar, this wouldn’t be a big deal. I could still play everything up there; I just had to concentrate a little harder and this is something you would get used to.

The scale length is 23″ which is definitely smaller than standard scale length. So, less room to fit those frets in.

Nut width

The nut width is a standard 1 11/16″ (43mm). This is within the standard range. On the narrower side of standard, but a lot of acoustic guitars, even full size dreadnought guitars, have this nut width.

Who this Guitar is Most Suited to

Due to its small size this guitar would be best for:

  • Kids learning
  • Student practice
  • People with smaller hands
  • Smaller people in general

It would also be great as a travel guitar for anyone. Being one of the smallest guitar, it makes it very easy to carry around, especially if you purchase the gig bag for it.

Value for Money?

I’m going to have to say NO for this one.

Whilst it’s not a bad mini guitar by any means, I don’t think it’s worth the price tag. I just think there are quite a few better options out there for a similar price.

If you can pick one up for less than the going rate, then it’s a good buy. But, I wouldn’t pay full price for this guitar.

I have a $150 guitar at home that I play regularly. Now I’m definitely not saying that this is better than the LX1E, but it’s not as far off as it should be for the price difference.

Final Verdict

Disclosure: Links below are affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you.

Martin LX1 Little Martin Acoustic Guitar

I don’t like to say anything bad about Little Martins, because every single other Little Martin guitar I’ve tried has been awesome. But, this one just is just NOT the unrivaled quality, considering sound or playability.

Now, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t have this guitar as a travel acoustic, or that I wouldn’t get it for my kids to learn on, (it would be more than suitable for those jobs). Definitely, I wouldn’t be generally unhappy with it.

But, I personally wouldn’t buy it. I feel there are better options for the same price that can do the same thing. If it was a little cheaper, then I’d definitely consider it. I did like the look of the guitar (especially the Ed Sheeran Signature Model) and it felt well-made. Overall, it didn’t do it for me.

Of course I am just one opinion and based on the user reviews for this thing I might be the odd one out!

Maybe part of the reason I didn’t like it was because of the other guitar I played in the same session, which was the Taylor GS Mini Mahogany. Now that would be an awesome buy for the price range in my opinion.

If you’re looking for other options in the under 500 price range then check out the link below.

FAQs Martin LX1E

What is a Martin LX1 guitar worth?

Brand new, the Martin LX1 will set you back around $500. Sure, it is certainly a fair amount smaller than your average dreadnought acoustic guitar, but seeing as it is made by Martin, you can rest assured that the quality will be nothing short of exemplary. Being one of the most highly revered and trusted acoustic guitar brands on the market today, it is little surprise that such a little guitar is still worth a pretty penny when it comes from the Martin factory.

Is Martin LX1 a good guitar?

This will depend on who you are asking and for whom the guitar is intended. If this guitar is for a touring and gigging musician who is going to put the guitar through its paces every night on stage beneath strong lights and sweaty palms, then perhaps this is not the right guitar for the job. If, however, the guitar is intended for a beginner musician who wants to get into learning the guitar but does not want to compromise on quality, then this is an incredible choice and you can’t really do much better at this level.

What size is a Martin LX1E?

The Martin LX1E is a 3/4 size guitar in a dreadnought shape with a 23-inch scale length. Contrary to popular belief, this size guitar is actually rather comfortable for guitarists who are more used to regular-sized guitars, whether they be electric or acoustic. These smaller guitars are also far more transportable, too. The spruce body will have a lot to do with how reliable and exemplary the tone is at all times. If this guitar is intended for a beginner musician who wants to get into learning the guitar but does not want to compromise on quality, then this is an incredible choice and you can’t really do much better at this level.

What guitar does Ed Sheeran use?

Ed Sheeran uses 3/4-sized guitars, having a particular penchant for Martin guitars in the LX1 series. Previously thought useful mainly for beginners, smaller guitarists, or for the luxury of portability, Sheeran has caused a mass shift of guitarists to embrace this particular size of guitar for more than these basic features. They are lighter and arguably more comfortable to play, offering a tighter and supposedly more focused sound than a larger acoustic guitar like a jumbo or a dreadnought, which are more often than not louder and bassier.

By Nate Pallesen

Nate is just your average (above average) guitar player. He's no Joe Satriani, Jimi Hendrix or Jimmy Page - wait this site is about acoustic guitars (sorry) He's no Django Reinhardt, Chet Atkins, or Michael Hedges, wait? who!? He's no Robert Johnson, Eric Clapton or Ben Harper - more familiar? Anyway you get the point :-)


  1. I’ve read some garbage reviews bit this beats them all. It’s the lx1e and is to be plugged in. Small hands? It’s a guitar to travel with. You’re never going to get a full sound unplugged with a mini guitar. Keep the day job.

    1. Hi Max

      Thanks for your opinion – it’s much appreciated – even if presented without grace.

      I have played similar sized guitars with a much fuller sound – no, you won’t get as full a sound as larger instruments but there are others that give more than this guitar (which is explained in the review). Also, if it’s supposed to just be a travel guitar, then I imagine you are going to want to play it unplugged right?

      And I stand by the fact that this guitar would be easier to play for people with small hands – and I do mention that it’s a travel guitar option.

  2. I agree with this review. I would have been even more harsh. These things sound pitiful. It’s the only guitar out of my quite large collection that I regret buying. It is completely lifeless. NO resonance whatsoever. Just flat and boxy sounding. Tried all sorts of string variations and nothing changes. Taylor GS mini is the way to go.

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