Little Martin LXK2 – Review of Small Acoustic Guitar

When it comes to choosing a small acoustic guitar, there's something on the market for just about every price range. However, many of the very inexpensive guitars offer basic functionality, but they don't have a lot going for them in the way of tone.

Martin's Little Martin series of acoustic guitars offers players excellent build quality and surprisingly big tone, and the LXK2 little martin adds in a stunning aesthetic. If you want a smaller acoustic guitar whose sound rivals that of a full-sized Martin dreadnought, the LXK2 is worth looking at.

Things To Think About Before Buying A Smaller Or Travel-Size Guitar

Generally, if you only plan to buy an instrument, it's a good idea to purchase a full-sized acoustic--larger guitars will have a greater tonal range, and they'll give you a fullness of sound that a smaller body can't reach.

However, if you have the money to buy a travel guitar (or if you have smaller hands and would prefer to play a smaller guitar), it's worth looking into purchasing an LXK2 little martin or another smaller guitar. Before buying, here are a few things to ask yourself:

  • What type of tone do you need? If you need an instrument that sounds as close as possible to a quality full-size guitar, it's a good idea to look for a smaller guitar with a solid top.
  • Will you use a smaller guitar when gigging? If you want to perform with a smaller guitar, you may prefer one with onboard electronics.
  • Do you need the instrument to play well in many kinds of weather? Laminate isn't a preference for most people, but laminated woods are often more resistant to changes in humidity and temperature.
  • What's your budget? You can find very cheap smaller guitars, but those that are especially low-end often don't sound particularly good, and many have tuning stability issues.

Our Picks for Review

Guitar

Guitar

Model

Price

Review

Main

Martin

LXK2

Cell

Alternative

Martin

Little Martin LX1E

Alternative

Guild

M-240E Troubadour

Cell

Alternative

Yamaha

JR1

Martin LXK2 Little Martin

PRO's & CON's of Martin LXK2

Before we delve into its specifications, here are some of the pros and cons to keep in mind:

Pros

  • Small-sized body has a balanced tone with much more depth than your average 3/4 size guitar
  • High-pressure laminate (HPL) construction is resistant to temperature and humidity changes
  • Koa-patterned laminate makes this an aesthetic standout
  • Smaller size makes this a great guitar for travel or casual songwriting

Cons

  • All-laminate construction does't have the same sound quality as a solid-top guitar
  • Small size can be harder to play if you have larger hands

Features and Benefits

Sound Quality

Sound quality is almost always a concern when purchasing a smaller guitar. And if you've read product descriptions of this guitar, you know that Martin emphasizes the guitar's big tone for its size.

This sound demo gives you a sense of what the little martin LXK2 sounds like--we think it's an instrument that sounds surprisingly good for its small size. It doesn't quite have the sustain of a full-size dreadnought, but its tight, focused sound will go well with a variety of genres.

Body Size And Shape

At first glance, a LXK2 Little Martin looks a lot like a traditional Martin dreadnought. These guitars are substantially scaled-down dreadnoughts, which may explain the surprising amount of bass they can produce given their size. This Little Martin has non-scalloped X-bracing.

This bracing type is a little more stable than scalloped X bracing, and it helps create the tight, balanced sound you hear from the lxk2 little martin.

If you compare the LXK2 little martin to any other instrument ideal for travel you'll likely hear the sonic differences--many buyers have said their Little Martins can stand up to full-size dreadnoughts. When you hear the little martin LXK2, you'll see why.

Tonewoods

At first glance, you probably think that this Little Martin will have the unique, bright sound of koa. However, even though it's advertised as a koa guitar, the little martin LXK2 is simply a koa-finished laminate. It's made entirely of high-pressure laminate (HPL), but the top is patterned like koa.

There's very little difference in sound between guitars made with High-pressure laminate. The difference isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it's essential to realize this isn't an instrument that will sound like a solid-wood instrument.

This guitar's neck is also made of a laminate material--specifically, laminated natural birch. The fingerboard is made of RichLite, a laminate material that looks a lot like ebony.

An all-laminate guitar usually isn't any player's first choice. But when you're looking for an instrument you can travel with or a quality instrument to learn on, laminate has some advantages. Namely, it's much more durable than solid wood. When you need a guitar to take on trips or something for a small child to play, an all-laminate model may be the right choice.

Appointments

The wood used on an instrument is vital to consider, but some of the smaller components used can also shape its sound. Many inexpensive instruments designed either for travel or for smaller people learning to play come equipped with cheap plastic nuts and saddles and cheap tuners.

The LXK2 little martin, on the other hand, comes with higher-quality components that improve your playing experience along with the guitar's sound.

For instance, this instrument has a Corian nut and a Tusq saddle. Corian is a specialized plastic composite that mimics the tonal properties of bone. While some might look askance at it, Corian is the material used by Gibson to make the nuts on most of its instruments. Tusq is a composite that is designed to sound like ivory.

The nut and saddle are small parts of the instrument, but they add some sustain and improve the tonal quality of any instrument. In-house chrome tuners help it stay in tune, so you can play for hours on end without needing to stop and re-tune.

Handedness

Along with the rest of the Little Martin line, the LXK2 has an exciting feature. It's listed as being left-friendly. The added functionality means that Martin will make and sell you a left-handed version of this guitar without an upcharge. If you're a left-handed player, you know how hard it is to find a lefty instrument without having to pay extra.

Social Proof of the Guitar

Martin LXK2 Review 01

The comment is a brief review, but this reviewer's sentiment is similar to that of most people who purchase Little Martin LXK2 guitars. Many players think the lx2k little martin has a sound that comes very close to that of a full-size Martin.

Martin LXK2 Review 02

This review highlights one of the many purposes of the Martin LXK2--it makes an excellent starter guitar for children. While it's small enough to be easy for children to play, its build quality and sound make it an instrument they can grow into.

Martin LXK2 Review 03

Some players may hesitate when considering the LXK2 due to its all-laminate construction. However, in this review, a devotee of solid wood instruments finds that they ultimately like the sound of this all-laminate smaller guitar.

Alternatives to Martin LXK2

Before deciding on any given instrument, it's a good idea to explore other possibilities. In this section, we've chosen three other smaller guitars you may want to consider.

Little Martin LX1E

How it Compares to Martin LXK2

  • Solid top will have a richer, more resonant sound
  • Quality Fishman electronics make it easy to plug in and play
  • High-Pressure laminate on the back & sides offer durability
  • Same small size and easy portability as the LXK2
  • Only slightly more expensive

Review

Some artists prefer performing with a smaller-scale guitar, and the Little Martin LX1E may be a better choice for gigging. It's also a Little Martin, but it has a solid Sitka spruce tip and is also equipped with a Fishman Sonitone pickup for comfortable live playing.

If you're looking for the legendary quality that made the Little Martin famous but want something easy to gig with, make sure you check out the LX1E.

Guild M-240E Troubadour

How it Compares to Martin LXK2

  • Has a solid top for resonant tone
  • An arched back is a unique choice for a fuller sound
  • Slim C-shaped neck gives you wonderful playability
  • Vintage style is excellent for folk, country, and similar genres
  • Slightly more expensive

Review

If you prefer the sound of a Guild to that of a Martin, this company's stunning, vintage-inspired Troubador might be the right choice for you. This guitar has a solid Sitka spruce top, and the laminated mahogany back is arched to give you louder, more impressive tone.

The Guild M-240E Troubadour also comes with a DeArmond Tone Boss pickup, so it's the right choice for gigging, too. If you want a solid top instrument and prefer the look and sound of a vintage, make sure you check this one out.

Yamaha JR1

How it Compares to Martin LXK2

  • The all-laminate body may sound similar to the LXK2
  • The lightweight build makes it easy to take anywhere
  • Significantly cheaper

Review

If you want a smaller, travel-ready instrument for less than the cost of a LXK2 Little Martin, the Yamaha JR1 is a worthy selection. Yamaha JR1 is all-laminate, and it has a spruce top and meranti back & sides. This instrument is similar to Yamaha's acclaimed FG series of folk-style guitars. If you need a travel guitar but don't have it in your budget to buy a LXK2 Little Martin, make sure you check this one out.

In Conclusion

If you want a nice-looking travel guitar that can stand up to the elements, we think the LXK2 Little Martin is a great choice. The HPL body stands up to abuse, and the LXK2 has a powerful sound that's surprising when considering its small size. The LXK2 little martin is ideal for travel and a fantastic instrument whether you play it around the house or campfire surrounded by your friends.

However, if you're someone who needs a gig-ready guitar, we think something like the LX1E may be a better fit due to its solid top and onboard electronics. When shopping, be sure to consider your own needs as a player and research each possible instrument. Soon, you'll be on your way to playing the perfect travel guitar for you. Click here to check it out!

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