LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar Ultimate Review
I like to travel around the world, and I’ve faced a tough decision: how to avoid my guitar being destroyed by airline baggage handlers or lug it on the subway during rush hour? I researched the travel guitar and stopped at Martin travel guitar.
Today, I will show you my LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar review and why I chose it for my travel guitar.
All About Martin Guitar
The Martin’s unique styles of Guitar are made by highly skilled craftspersons who maintained the ideologies of the founder Christian Frederick Martin.
Their 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’s guitars to achieve sweet, 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, 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, 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 indeed has 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, the rich tone offered by this guitar is just incredible! This makes it more than a bit of a 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 like this. When it comes to making good sounds, Ed Sheeran is 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 closely to his songs, you will undoubtedly feel the predominant acoustic melodies of the Martin LX1E guitar in them.
The 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 latter. This portable travel-sized guitar guarantees you all-around comfort and pleasure. Despite the size of the Martin XL1E, it has similar qualities to its bigger counterparts and has all properties an excellent acoustic guitar should have. The size of this guitar is as deceptive as its credentials.
LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar Review: Build Quality
The top of the Martin XL1E guitar is spruce – a top-quality wood primarily 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 undoubtedly one of the best picks for quality instruments. Spruce-made instruments last longer as long as they are in use, simply because Spruce improves with age.
The back and sides of LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar 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 genuine wood mahogany.
Surprisingly, a mahogany look-alike could originate from wood pulp; although it feels a bit plastic-like, tapping it gives you a distinct woody response. The neck of the Guitar is made from rust strata bound 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 reportedly been used as both handles and stocks of guns previously.
A couple of years ago, I saw strata bound used on the Martin DRS1-it had a lovely look and was resistant to bending. The presence of the laminate makes its temperature and humidity more resilient than a non-laminate one, making it an excellent deal for travelers. The neck of the LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar is 23 inches long and hosts 20 playable frets.
The fingerboard is made of Richlite – an alternative to the famous Rosewood. The Richlite is a lightweight composite material known for its incredible strength, and without a doubt, it increases the neck’s credibility.
Richlite is the product of a 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 frets 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. The Guitar uses an artificial bone imitator (TUSQ) for the saddle and a black Corian for the nut. These materials mentioned above are synthetic plastic materials, but they are expensive. It took me days of playing before I realized they were both made of plastic; they looked beautiful.
It has a Satin finish on it. The guitar finishes are more complicated than people see, like the phrase “the more you look, the less you see.” There are multi-layers of finishes, with each of the different layers applied and allowed to dry before the next one is applied to obtain the desired result. Now you know why the Martins LX1E has an excellent finish, right? You certainly do.
This Guitar is a “big fish in a small river” compared to other travel guitars. I travel a lot and not without company. Music is my life. I wouldn’t dare to travel without my travel guitar. I own one 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 favorites for reasons best known to them.
I have played both countless times; they are both excellent, but the qualities possessed by Martin Lx1e are unrivaled. The magnificent sound of the LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar cannot be found on any other travel guitar; the Fisher pickup system’s introduction also raises its standard.
The Martin LX1E allowed me to finger-pick and control volume and tone. The Taylor baby didn’t offer me those attractive opportunities; However, it sounded good; I already got a winner. It has been one of my best buys for years, considering its edge over its peers in the same category.
The LX1E fully matches the Martin Backpacker in several departments. The Martin Backpacker, in its way, has 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 large front.
LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar: Sound Quality
The Fishman Isys T electronic system fitted on the Martin LX1E is fantastic. The Fishman pickups are designed to bring out the natural tonal spectrum of the LX1E.
The Fishman Isys system hosts inbuilt seven-segment chromatic tuners, a phase control, a volume switch control, and 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 feature volume, tone shaping, and phase controls; 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 apparent reasons.
The bass of the Martin Backpacker is not too convincing. Still, it’s portable and valuable to strum. Don’t expect to be heard clearly when finger-picking in 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 their overwhelming similarities. I found it difficult to spot the difference by 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 – solid wood top, the Martin LXM is made entirely of HPL laminate except for the strata bound neck. The Martin LXM is less studied when compared to the LX1E.
The Martins, LX1E, and the LX1E Ed Sheeran edition are of the same quality but have a few dissimilarities. There are markers on the fretboard of Ed Sheeran’s version, which you wouldn’t find on the LX1E. Ed Sheeran’s version has (“X”) multiple signs on the headstock and also Ed Sheeran’s platinum-selling album’s logo inlaid on the spruce wood top.
LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar: Pros And Cons
- The sound is clear and 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 more prominent guitars.
LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar: Editor’s Rating Card
Body and Neck
Although mahogany was not chosen for the LX1E, it is made of quality materials like high-pressure laminate and spruce top.
It has 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.
My conclusion about LX1E Little Martin Travel Guitar
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 more considerable stature, but nothing to worry about 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 for experienced people who move around a lot. This guitar is beautiful for songwriting; the onboard pickup and preamp are also perfect for gigging.
The Martin LX1E has a warm sound, but the bass projections are not as great as you would get from more prominent guitars, but among its travel peers, it is the best. I strongly recommend Martins’s LX1E guitar to beginners, songwriters, and travelers, and it’s a good value for your money.