There are so many fantastic travel guitars available nowadays that it can be hard to pick the best one for your needs. In this article, let’s take a look at one of the best known instruments of this kind: the Martin LX1E Little Martin.
Its fame comes mainly from being one of pop star Ed Sheeran’s favorite guitars which he has used to play in stadiums and at award shows. We’ll dive into some specifications, materials, pricing, and more to understand why this is such a great travel guitar.
- Electro-acoustic guitar
- 3/4 size
- 20 frets
- 23” scale
- Steel strings
- Fishman Sonitone electronics
- HPL back and sides
- Sitka spruce top
- Rust birch laminate neck
- FSC Certified Richlite fingerboard
- FSC Certified Richlite bridge
- White Corian nut
- Compensated white TUSQ saddle
- 12” body width
- 3” body depth
- 15” body length
- 1-11/16” neck width
- Chrome tuners
- No pickguard
- No cutaway
The LX1E is a 3/4 length guitar with a 23” (58.4cm) scale, which is slightly shorter than a regular scale guitar. The main difference to the overall size is the body. It’s only 15” deep, 12” long, and 3” wide (38.1×30.5×7.6cm). This makes it compact and reduces the weight, two of the reasons why it’s a great choice when considering guitars to take with you on trips. Flying with a guitar will be a lot easier with smaller & lighter one in your hand.
The depth also makes it a good pick for children. If a guitar’s body is too big, kids have trouble reaching their arms around to play the strings. The LX1E makes this issue less pronounced, making it a great selection for all members of the family.
There are 20 frets on this guitar. The neck meets the body on the 14th fret, so you can play quite highly on it. The biggest issue with going further is the lack of a cutaway.
The width of the neck at the nut is 1-11/16” (4.3cm), which is a good size for travelers and people with smaller hands. If you’re used to classical guitars, it may feel small, but it’s close to the size of common electric guitars like Les Pauls and Stratocasters.
The Little Martin is made up of different robust materials. The back and sides are made of high pressure laminate (HPL) composite, giving the body a strong frame. This is what’s going to keep the guitar protected from stronger knocks while also keeping the price relatively low.
The top is Sitka spruce, a very flexible yet strong wood. It has a lighter color which offsets the darker HPL on the sides, giving the LX1E its signature look. The balance of these two materials, along with the birch laminate neck, is what’s going to produce the high-quality sound of this guitar.
Finally, there are some polymers that round out the list of materials used to make this guitar. The fingerboard and bridge are made of Richlite, the nut is Corian, and the saddle is TUSQ. These materials also contribute to the low price of the Little Martin.
The biggest issues with smaller guitars are always the lack of low-end and a lack of projection. Although the LX1E does suffer from a thinner sound in regards to the low-end, it’s still one of the best guitars when compared to others of its size. This is thanks to the great choice in wood that Martin made when designing this guitar.
The lack of projection is a bigger issue, which is why we suggest the electro-acoustic version of the Little Martin (LX1E rather than the LX1). The Fishman Sonitone electronics allow it to be plugged into a PA system, so if you’re using this guitar for gigs you can really fill out your sound. It also allows you to record a direct input if you’re traveling with a recording rig.
When you buy this guitar, you should receive a free soft gig bag. It’s a great way to store your instrument and avoid any damages like scratches. However, if you’re looking to travel a lot and will be loading and unloading it often, it’s best to look into a bag or case with more rigidity. A hard case is the best way to avoid dents and protect your guitar from stronger impacts.
There is a purely acoustic version of this guitar, the LX1. It’s also a great guitar and available at a cheaper price. However, as mentioned above, the electronics in the LX1E are what add a lot of value as you can plug it in and boost the sound of the guitar. If you know you won’t be using the guitar for playing live, then sticking to the fully acoustic version is still a great choice.
There is also a left-handed version of the LX1E. You can find where to buy it from Martin’s website.
The LX1E Little Martin is available for $499 from many stores, including Sweetwater and Amazon. This is a very competitive price when compared to other travel guitars. It can be hard to find a guitar that is made of such good materials, is suited to travelers and kids, and for such a good price, but the people at Martin have done it.
Pros and Cons
- Compact size
- Suitable for traveling, performing, and recording
- Suitable for children
- Amazing quality to price ratio
- Robust materials
- Great sound
- Competitive price
- High-quality electronics
- Lack of projection
- Hard to reach higher frets
- Lack of low-end
Martin’s LX1E Little Martin is a fantastic choice for anyone looking to buy a travel guitar. It’s compact, lightweight, and strong due to its small body size and sturdy materials. With the right case, it will be well-protected and won’t suffer any damage on the road.
It sounds great and, even though it lacks some projection and low-end, can be used for anything from performing at gigs and recording to just jamming around a campfire. All of this for a great price. You know that with a Martin guitar, you can’t go wrong.