Martin LX1E Review

Martin LX1E Review

Martins are great guitars. A bad Martin is better than many other brands top of the line instrument. Our Martin LX1E review with cover this specific guitar so you can put it into context with other brands you may be shopping for.

First off this is a mini guitar. Although it is smaller than the “average” guitar do not confuse that with a kid’s guitar or a beginner instrument. While the LX1E could certainly fill both of these rolls, it is a quality guitar with a price tag to match. Beginner instruments usually range from $150 to $300 while this Martin will run right between $415 and $450 USD. This is a great price given the quality of the guitar, but it should be considered a step above a kid’s first guitar. The LX1E might also be referred to as parlor sized or even a traveling guitar.

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Martin LX1E Features


  • Solid Sitka spruce top.
  • Modified 1 Style top braceing pattern.
  • Inlaid Boltaron rosette w/ red fiber
  • Mahogany pattern HPL textured finish back and sides.
  • Headplate: Mahogany Pattern HPL
  • Neck Shape: Modified Low Oval.
  • Mortise/Tenon Neck Joint.
  • Nut Material: White Corian.
  • Fingerboard: Richlite
  • 23″ scale length.
  • 20 frets total.
  • Fingerboard Width at 12th Fret: 2 1/16″
  • Finished top
  • Fingerboard Width at Nut: 1 11/16″
  • Bridge Material: Solid Morado
  • Tuning Machines: Gotoh Nickel w/ Small Knobs.
  • Saddle: Compensated White Tusq.
  • Bridge and End Pins: White w/ Black Dots.
  • Interior Label: Gold Foil Label with Serial # and Patent #
  • Electronics: Fishman Sonitone pickup
This is certainly not one of Martin’s top offerings as those are going to be priced at thousands of dollars. Here is a $40k Martin-45 Fire and Ice. If you are wondering if it plays well I would guess yes. I wouldn’t know for sure as I would never pick it up in fear of dropping it. The LX1E has a solid spruce top with mahogany back and sides. This will help keep the price below the $500 mark but also add a more rugged quality to the guitar. As previously mentioned this good for traveling and certainly campfires.
The instrument lacks the booming lows of a Dreadnaught but the tonal clarity in the highs and mids were very good. One would expect this in a smaller guitar and Martin leaned into it and made a solid, clear tone that won’t disappoint.
Fine Acoustics Staff

The pickup is from Fishman and really has a punch. Plugged in this guitar really fills out the space tonally and was the biggest surprise during the review. We haven’t had a lot of experience with the Fishman Somitone and I’m now a big fan. The Martin LX1E should come with a decent set up as again, this isn’t a bargain basement guitar. That said while the action is low out of the box it is likely you will need to get it adjusted and have the intonation looked at. Getting the lowest action possible is a big deal and the cost of a good set up is always worth it on a new guitar. Overall the guitar is a great choice. If you have large hands you may have trouble fretting past to 10th fret so keep that in mind. For my tastes I prefer a full-sized instrument, but this Martin sounds great and the price is certainly right.

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Martin LX1E Review

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What is the Best Acoustic Guitar of 2020? Let’s find out!

Current Champion: Martin LX1E

In 2019 the current front runner in the search for the best of the best is the Martin LX1E. As a mini its lightweight but keeps a big sound. The instrument lacks the booming lows of a Dreadnaught but the tonal clarity in the highs and mids were very good. One would expect this in a smaller guitar and Martin leaned into it and made a solid, clear tone that won’t disappoint. If the champ changes we will update you here.

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The first thing we need to do here is talk about the idea of the “best acoustic guitar”. This is extremely subjective and one guitar that out team loves may be a nightmare for others. Here we will do our best to consider the general consensus of opinions from many sources while weighing our in-house feeling with greater importance as we prefer to lean on our own experience.

Next you as the reader will need to consider what you want to accomplish with your instrument. While we tend to discuss “starter gear” here if you know what you want to sound like let that inform your search as you shop. If you want to play country, then the guitar you choose will probably be different that if you want to play jazz or rock.

The biggest component driving your choice will probably budget and if that’s the case we can help. Fine Acoustics keeps an eye out for great prices and new deals so if you don’t see something in your price range just stick with us and keep looking. We have guitars that are around $150 and up and it is almost certain you can find something you can afford.

If you have no idea what style you really want to play or if you are even going to stick with it long enough to develop a style we have an instrument for you.

Remember, what’s best for you might not be the most expensive or the most talked about guitar so shop around. Just give us a few minutes to really dig in and find something that will be a great fit for you. Now as they say…

Fine Acoustics Staff

Let’s Get Started!


Ok its time to figure this thing out. Below you will see a listing of EVERY ACOUSTIC GUITAR we have reviewed. Take your time! Look at each one and read carefully our thoughts and descriptions. We do our best to put as much flavor into each review as we can to help communicate what each guitar feels like. On many we include videos so you can hear the guitar we are discussing so watch them! Get the right instrument for you because if you do, you are much more likely to stick with it and become a great guitar player. And at Fine Acoustics we believe the world needs more guitar players!

Yamaha FG830

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Epiphone DR 100

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Yamaha FG800

Some guitar brands try to make a premium affordable or an affordable guitar premium quality. Both efforts usually fail because you can’t make a guitar something that it isn’t. You see some Fenders around $700 like this and a few Taylors are around $200.

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Fender FA-100

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Yamaha FG830 Review

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As an upgrade to the FG 800 the 830 includes scalloped bracing that gives the instrument a slightly more pronounced projection and clarity of tone as well as a smooth fingerboard that is easier on the hands. The spruce top adds to the broad range of the 830 and is a surprising addition to a sub-$500 starter instrument.

As we noted in the FG 800 Review the Yamaha FG series is possibly the best-selling guitars worldwide. While we already know the Yamaha name means quality we must take a deeper dive in our new Yamaha FG830 review and find out if this guitar is a good choice for our readers. Let’s take a look.

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FG830 Features


  • Number of Strings: 6
  • String: Steel
  • Body Style: No Cutaway
  • Shape: Dreadnought
  • Back Wood: Rosewood
  • Side Wood: Rosewood
  • Finish: Gloss
  • Top Wood: Spruce
  • Bracing: Scalloped
  • Inlays: Dot
  • Neck: Nato
  • Fingerboard: Rosewood
  • Number of Frets: 20
  • Bridge Material: Rosewood
  • Nut Width: 1.6875″
  • Scale: 25.5″
  • Tuning Machines: Die-cast chrome
  • Saddle: Urea

Priced at around $300 the guitar is about in the middle ground of what could be considered a “starter” guitar. The sound of this killer guitar however suggests a much higher end instrument. Also Yamaha has built the FG830 in two sizes, Concert and Dreadnought, so pay close attention to what you are ordering and get the size you prefer. This guitar comes in a myriad of colors that as well that include Autumn Burst, Natural, classic Tobacco Sunburst and more.

To read more about guitar shapes and sizes check out Harmony Central if you are not sure what is right for you.

As a beginner the smooth fingerboard will be more forgiving on your fret hand and the slim neck and low action will make the experience of toughening up your fingertips even easier. Not painless, but much better than most. In fact, the FG 830 neck feels a lot like an electric guitar is some ways but fretting chords, while being easy, do require a bit more oomph as they would with any acoustic instrument.

The high-end sound of the 830 is much more than one would anticipate from this guitar and that is certainly the result of Rosewood in the mix when manufacturing this beauty.

Fine Acoustics Staff

Check out the look and the tone in the video below.

Out of the box this guitar is going to need some attention. Visit you local Guitar Center, or if they are already bankrupt by the time you read this find a local luthier or music store that does acoustic guitar set ups. Get a new set of strings, lower the action and have them check the intonation. This is all done in a standard set up and shouldn’t be hard to find.

The FG series is hugely popular, and the FG 830 is a fine example of Yamaha quality. This is a sturdy instrument that makes a great starter guitar, but you will also find it in the hands of experienced players as well. The low price point makes it great for gigging and its tone might find its way into a studio recording. If you need a reliable guitar at a great price the Yamaha FG830 is a good fit.

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Taylor GS Mini Review

Taylor GS Mini Review

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Acoustic guitars are either light and easy to play with a thin tone or are huge beasts you have to wrestle down but sound amazing. The rare instruments, light and tonally pleasing, are few and far between. This Taylor GS Mini review covers the latter and will be a big surprise to experienced players that pick it up and expect the usual thin tone from such a light and breezy instrument.

The classic Grand Symphony (GS) is a fantastic guitar and this is essentially a scaled down version of that. The narrow mid section of the guitar makes playing while sitting very comfortable and the decreased depth of the body itself helps the guitar conform to the player more smoothly by requiring less shoulder extension. The length of the guitar is 36 5/8″ with a scale of 23 1/2″. The depth of the body is 4 7/16″ and while being slightly more shallow than the standard GS this decrease doesn’t sacrifice tone. If the purpose of the guitar was to make it easier to play on the go without losing alot of the classic Grand Symphony sound then well done.

Don’t confuse the mini with the older Baby Taylor, which is actually quite a bit smaller. The mini is clearly an evolved version of the Baby embracing the smaller size (but larger) and increasing the tone and playability.

Features:

  • Case: GS Mini Hardbag
  • Top: Sitka Spruce
  • Shape: GS
  • Back/Sides: Layered Sapele
  • Finish: Satin
  • Neck: Sapele
  • Cutaway: None
  • Headstock: Lexan
  • Inlays: 5mm dots
  • Nut: 1-11/16″
  • Fretboard: Ebony
  • Body Depth: 4-7/16″
  • Body Width: 14-3/8″
  • Body Length: 17-5/8″
  • Pins: Plastic
  • No of Frets: 20
  • Pickguard: Tortoise
  • Overall Length: 36-5/8″
  • Scale Length: 23-1/2″
  • Bridge: Ebony
  • Nut/Saddle: Tusq Nut/Micarta Saddle
  • Tuners: Chrome

Action on an acoustic guitar has to be right or the instrument becomes unplayable real fast. Taylor is known for its great action and even their entry level guitars play smooth. This GS Mini does the brand proud and will continue the great Taylor legendary action. the Taylor NT neck feels like the full sized version, albeit smaller, and the instrument feels like a much higher end guitar. Taylor really knocked it out of the park here.

The gleaming gold grain has an illusion of depth and the laminated sapele sides and back are honey colored mahogany. The guitar has a solid Sitka top and an ebony bridge and fretboard. The mini uses the same materials for the nut, tuners and saddle that Taylor uses on the full sized guitars so no skimping there.

It’s time to get serious about the tone here. It isn’t possible for the GS Mini to have the same sound as a full GS or a dreadnaught. The builders must eventually give in to the physics of sound and embrace the fact that this guitar is smaller and that’s the deal. The highs are very clear, the mids are smooth and gentle and the lows don’t rumble so the guitar sounds great, just without the full harmonic range of its larger sized cousins. I I had to guess if this was as good as it get’s with this sized body I would lean towards yes. Tested under a D standards tuning as well as Drop C and E standard (with the same strings!) the guitar held up great. If I were to stay in Drop C I’d get heavier gauged strings than the mediums that came on the guitar but that unavoidable and not an issue with the instrument.

Taylor makes some great guitars and the Taylor GS Mini is counted among them. It is affordable, mobile, great sounding and gracefully playable. This get s a big thumbs up.

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Taylor Big Baby Review

Taylor Big Baby Review

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In today’s Taylor Big Baby review we will cover many details of the instrument in hopes of helping you decide if this guitar is a good choice for you. The full sounding Taylor Big Baby is, as the name suggest, larger than the Baby Taylor with a fuller sound and four inch body depth. This is slightly more shallow than a typical Dreadnought sized guitar (see description here) but still has the large sound associated with it. The Big Baby could be considered a mid-sized guitar being slightly larger than the Baby Taylor and slightly smaller than a full sized guitar. The Big Baby is a great size for learners as well as experienced musicians that want an easier playing experience without sacrificing sound. The instrument is very portable given its depth and weight with almost all of the dreadnought fullness and volume. The arched back gives the guitar its strength and is a big contributor to the wide tonal output overall. The Big Baby comes with a durable gig bag that has a good fit and offers good protection (but not as much as a flight case.)

Features:

  • Type: 6-String 15/16 Size
  • Total Length: 40 1/4 Inches
  • Case: Gig Bag
  • Body Length: 19 1/2 Inches
  • Body Depth: 4 Inches
  • Body Width: 15 Inches
  • Fret Number: 20
  • Neck Width at Nut: 1 11/16 Inches
  • Scale Length: 25 1/2 Inches
  • Nut & Saddle: Tusq Nut/Micarta Saddle
  • Bridge: Ebony
  • Headstock Overlay: Lexan
  • Fretboard Inlay: Pearloid Dots
  • Fretboard: Ebony
  • Neck: Tropical American Mahogany
  • Soundhole Rosette: Plastic
  • Top: Sitka Spruce
  • Back & Sides: Layered Sapele

The guitar top is Sitka Spruce and blends its natural elasticity and stiffness in perfect proportions to build a great sound. As the primary filter and vibrational distributor of the guitar this level of qulaity has a temendous impact on the guitar’s warm textural sound. The guitar has a dynamic range with crisp and very clean articulation that can be heard all the way in the cheap seats.

The Big Baby is sturdy and resistant to humidity and temperature changes due to the layered wood in the back and sides. This makes the guitar perfect for the travelling musician who needs a more durable instrument.

Quality, playability, and a wide tonal range and ethically sourced raw materials sets Taylor Guitars apart and the Big Baby will not disappoint.

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