I like to travel around the world, and I’ve been faced with a tough decision: how to avoid my guitar was destroyed by airline baggage handlers or how to lug it on the subway during rush hour? I did quite a bit of research about the travel guitar and stopped at Martin travel guitar.
Today, I’m going to show you my Martin LX1E review and why I chose it for my travel guitar.
LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar Ultimate Review
All About Martin Guitar
The Martin’s are known for creating the finest musical instruments in the world for over a hundred and seventy-five years. Their innovation over the years turned out to be the new industry’s standards.
The Martin’s unique styles of Guitar’s are made by highly skilled craftspersons who maintained the ideologies of the founder Christian Frederick Martin.
The Martins Guitars have been played by lots of famous musicians of this generation, while they lauded the playability and gold standards the Martins have maintained.
Many Performing artists have relied on the Martins guitars to achieve sweet, the acoustic sound on stage and in the studio.
The Martins have had famous players like: John Mayer, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Page, The Avett Brothers, Dierks Bently, Eddie Vedder, David Crosby, Neil Young, John Lennon, Paul MacCartney, Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Johnny Cash, Neko Case, Colbie Caillat, Kurt Cobain, Joan Baez, Mumford and Sons, Dierks Bentley, Woodie Guthrie, Gene Autry, Hunter Hayes, Thom Yorke and Ed Sheeran.
The Martin LX1E is a small travel guitar which is probably the smallest of the Martin series. Some call this beautiful piece, “small but mighty” because of the magnificent properties that accompany its small stature.
When it comes to guitar’s some, say “the bigger, the better” right? But that’s not the case here. The Martin LX1E might not be able to replace your more prominent guitars, but it surely has its numerous advantages.
This beautifully designed electro acoustic guitar is a perfectly manufactured instrument that packs tons of power into a compact.
Despite the small size of the Martin LX1E, the rich tone offered by this guitar is just awesome! Which makes it just more than a little travel guitar, it certainly doesn’t sound like a small guitar.
A Grammy award winning singer Ed Sheeran has shown time and time again that you could make big sounds with smaller guitars as this.
When it comes to making good sounds, Ed Sheeran is really admirable, and then you will figure out why the guy is selling out concerts from Wembley to Madison Square and spreading around the globe.
If you listen closer to his songs, you would certainly feel the predominant acoustic melodies of the Martin LX1E guitar in it.
The Martin XL1E Guitar known as the “Little Martin” is an upgrade from the previous LX1 version. The only notable difference between the LX1 and LX1E is the inclusion of an electronic board in the later.
This portable travel-sized guitar guarantees you all round comfort and pleasure. Despite the size of the Martin XL1E, it has similar qualities which it’s bigger counterparts possesses and has all properties an excellent acoustic guitar should have.
The size of this guitar is so deceptive as its credentials.
Martin LX1E Review: Build Quality
The top of the Martin XL1E guitar is made of spruce – a top quality wood mostly used in the soundboard of instruments such as the guitar, violin, mandolin, flute, and other instruments.
Due to its stiffness-to-weight ratio, the spruce is no doubt one of the best picks when it comes to quality instruments. Spruce made instruments lasts longer as long as they are in use and that is simply because Spruce improves with age.
The back and sides of Martin XL1E are made of high-pressure laminate (HPL), the combination of resins and particles pressed together under extreme temperature and given a “finish” to resemble the real wood mahogany.
It’s quite surprising a mahogany look-alike could originate from wood pulp, although feels a bit plastic-like, tapping it gives you a distinct woody response.
The neck of the Martin LX1E is made from rust stratabond which is not a natural wood but a dyed composite of timber veneers known for durability and strength.
The high-pressure laminate (HPL) sides offer excellent resonant tones shy of such dense tonewood. Stratabond is not a new material as it has been reportedly used as both handles and stocks of guns previously.
A couple of years ago I saw stratabond used on the Martin DRS1-it had a lovely look and was resistant to bending.
The presence of the laminate makes it temperature and humidity resilient than a non-laminate one, making it a great deal for travelers. The neck of the Martin LX1E is 23 inches long, which hosts 20 playable frets.
The fingerboard is made of Richlite – an alternative to the popular Rosewood. The Richlite is a lightweight composite material known for its incredible strength, and without doubt, increases the credibility of the neck.
Richlite is the resultant product of the mixture of phenolic resin and paper and could be used for kitchen work as an alternative to granite. The fingerboard width at the nut is 1-11/16″ and at the 12 fret extends to 2-1/6″ making the playing surface quite comfortable.
The Martin LX1E headstock features black painted die-cast tuners that work almost like the roto-grip tuners. When it comes to the jam session with friends and family, it certainly doesn’t get better than this.
Martin LX1E uses an artificial bone imitator (TUSQ) for the saddle and a black Corian for the nut. These materials mentioned above are both synthetic plastic materials, but they are pretty expensive.
It took me days of playing before I realized they were both made of plastics, they look beautiful.
The Martin LX1E has a Satin finish on it. The guitar finishes are more complicated than people see it, is more like the phrase “the more you look, the less you see.”
There are multi-layers of finishes on the Martin LX1E guitar, with each of the different layers applied and allowed to dry before the next one is applied to the desired result is obtained.
Now you know why the Martins LX1E has great finish right? You certainly do.
The Martin LX1E is a “big fish in a small river” compared to other travel guitars. I travel a lot and not without a company. Music is my life I wouldn’t dare to travel without my travel guitar.
I own a Martin LX1E and also a Taylor baby but I still prefer one over the other. Parents might tell you they love their kids equally but no matter what they still have their own favorites for reasons best known to them.
I have played both countless times; they are both good, but the qualities possessed by Martin Lx1e is unrivalled.
The magnificent sound of the Martin LX1E cannot be found on any other travel guitar, the introduction of the Fisher pickup system just raises its standard furthermore.
The Martin LX1E allowed me to finger-pick, control volume and tone, Whereas the Taylor baby didn’t offer me those attractive opportunities although it sounded good I already got a winner.
The Martin Lx1E has been one of my best buys for years considering the edge it has over its peers in the same category.
The LX1E fully matches the Martin Backpacker in several departments. The Martin Backpacker on its own way have some bragging rights too, regarding quality, playability, and projection.
The Martin Backpacker has a small, oddly-shaped body- that resembles a fan, a solid mahogany neck, back, and sides. Just like the LX1E, it’s built to withstand the rigors of camping, hiking and traveling.
One edge the Martin Backpacker has over the Martin LX1E is that it has a decent gig bag with a pocket at the front that is large
Martin LX1E Review: Sound Quality
The Fishman Isys T electronic system fitted on the Martin LX1E is just awesome. The Fishman pickups are designed to bring out the natural tonal spectrum of the LX1E.
The Fishman Isys system hosts an inbuilt seven segment chromatic tuners, a phase control, a volume switch control, and also an EQ tone shaping control (Contour).
The tone control generates punchier and thicker sounds, it boosts the bass and treble frequencies to give a full sound, while the phase control produces more bass at lower volumes.
If finger-picking is your stuff, the good news is that you can drop out of the midrange and add more depth when you want to strum hard.
The Fishman Isys systems are available in three models, the preamp systems which features volume, tone shaping, and phase controls; a low profile control knobs and a pre-wired fishman sonic ore pickup.
The sound of the Martin Backpacker is equally good but not expected to be better than the Martin LX1E for obvious reasons.
The bass of the Martin Backpacker is not too convincing, but it’s portable and useful to strum but don’t expect to be heard clearly when finger-picking to a room full of people, and the finishing of the Martin Backpacker is not as prominent as that of the Martin LX1E.
The difference between the Martins LX1 and LX1E could rarely be distinguished because of the overwhelming similarities between them. As a matter of fact, I found it difficult to spot the difference checking out each part intermittently.
The Martin LX1E is just an upgrade on the LX1, and virtually all features are the same except for one-the Electronic system of the LX1E.
Unlike the Martin LX1E which is made of Spruce top – which is a solid wood top, the Martin LXM is made entirely of HPL laminate except for the stratabond neck. The Martin LXM is less studied when compared to the LX1E.
The Martins, LX1E, and the LX1E Ed Sheeran’s edition are of same quality but few dissimilarities.
There are markers on the fretboard of the Ed Sheeran’s version which you wouldn’t find on the LX1E. The Ed Sheeran’s version has a (“X”) multiple signs on the headstock and also the Ed Sheeran’s platinum selling album’s logo inlaid on the spruce wood top.
Martin LX1E Review: Pros and Cons
- The sound is clear and quite bright courtesy of the solid spruce top.
- The Fishman Isys preamp allows you to control your sound.
- The contour switch acts as an EQ when pressed, but gives a full sound by boosting the bass and treble.
- The phase switch gives a little more bass at lower volumes.
- Has good playability and feel.
- The bass projection does not match that of the bigger guitars.
Martin LX1E Review: Editor’s Rating Card
Body and Neck
Although mahogany was not the choice for the LX1E, it is made of quality materials like the high-pressure laminate and spruce top.
It has a pretty decent hardware.
The sound quality can be better, but I will prefer it over other travel guitars.
Among the travel guitar, it is one of the few that has value for the money spent.
Martin LX1E Review
- Body and Neck - 9/10 9/10
- Hardware - 8/10 8/10
- Sound - 8.5/10 8.5/10
- Value - 8/10 8/10
The Martin LX1E guitar is ideal for a whole range of players. The smaller size of the LX1E tends to suit people with small stature and smaller hands compared to those with bigger stature, but nothing to worry for those with more significant stature because they could quickly adjust as I did. This guitar is excellent for beginners because your hand wouldn’t have much stretching to do, and also experienced people who move around a lot. This guitar is beautiful for songwriting, the onboard pickup and preamp means it is perfect for gigging as well. The Martin LX1E has a warm sound, but the bass projections are not as great as you would get from larger guitars, but among its travel peers, it is the best. I strongly recommend Martins LX1E guitar to beginners, songwriters, and travelers, and it’s a good value for your money.