The Little Martin. Owned by Alex Trimble of Two Door Cinema Club. Made slightly more famous by Ed Sheeran. Lovely short-scale, travel guitar. They probably both liked The Shape Of You . . . Now everybody wants one.
What's more, it's a Martin. It may be the diminutive, and cheaper, relation to its fabled cousins, but it still bears that logo. And it still passes the high quality bar that Martin has set for all its instruments since 1833. Which doesn't just apply to the build, but also to the unexpectedly balanced tone and resonance. This is a great guitar, whether it be for noodling in your front room, playing in your band to 50,000 at Lollapalooza, or just going solo in front of 70,000 people at Wembley Stadium. Part of that has to come from Martin's inspired decision to put a solid spruce top into the mix, giving a natural wood sparkle to the sound. Being so small, it's never going to give you that low note intensity that a full-sized dreadnought will deliver in spades. But be prepared to be surprised by the range of tone this one can give you.
Two Door Cinema Club may be the lesser known of the pairing here. But give them your time. It's worth it. Alex Trimble, Kevin Baird and Sam Halliday have been turning out masterful up-tempo indie-pop since 2009. If you don't know, try What You Know - with a lovely acoustic version linked below. I haven't yet found any footage of Alex with this Little Martin, but it was part of a sale of gear from their Reverb shop in 2017. Whether it's
the Ed, the Alex, or simply the you you're looking for, this Little Martin is a fabulous and entertaining companion.
See & Hear It In Action
Sam from Professional Music Technology Road Tests The LX1: Nice talk and playthrough by Sam, on "probably the most popular travel guitar on the market". And that's not just because of the Ed Sheeran connection.
And Don Carr at Sweetwater Really Brings Out The Tonal Range Of This Travel Guitar: There's more info in the PMT review, but this video brings out a lot more of the sound of the LX1. Punches well above its size and weight.
Ed Sheeran Talks And Plays on Acoustic Guitar Sessions: Ed Sheeran now has at least 2, probably 3, probably more on the way signature models of the LX1 to his name. Nice to see him in conversation and playing one-to-one in this interview for Acoustic Guitar Sessions - and extolling the capacity and durability of the Martin gig bag for all an itinerant musician's needs.
Two Door Cinema Club Acoustic Set: OK, no images or video of Alex with the LX1 to date, but here's a 2-song acoustic set, filmed after their 2011 Lollapalooza appearance. Alex toting a bigger brother Gibson J-200 (see ours here).
LX1, aka Little Martin
Number of Frets
Rust Birch Laminate
Sitka Spruce & Mahogany Pattern HPL
Martin have been making Little Martins since 2003, with the LX1 introduced in 2004. It's the smallest of the guitars they produce - a 0-size tenor body. Not the first 0-size by any means. The first of those came out in 1854, according to Walter Carter in his fabulously researched and written The Martin Book.
Things have come some way since 1854. So, this one benefits from today's technologies: the High Pressure Laminate (HPL) back & sides, the Rust Birch Laminate Neck, the Corian nut. Materials that give amazing durability to this guitar. There's not a dent on it.
And some things are as true to the heritage as you'd want them to be: the hand-rubbing and finishing applied to the solid Sitka Spruce top and neck, the high-quality Martin-branded mini-Schallers, and especially the 14-fret neck, making access up to and beyond the octave a delight.
Soundwise, you've heard it a hundred times, in the hands of Ed Sheeran. It's got a great balanced tonal range from bottom to top - and it's got volume well beyond expectation. A lovely guitar to play.
And finally, it won't make you the centre of attention at a party, but here's a quite interesting fact I learnt while looking into this guitar. It's a travel guitar, it's not a short-scale guitar. They're different. Put another way, it's not a child's guitar. At first glance, you might think it could be - at 34" end to end, it's just over three quarters the length of a full-size acoustic. But the distinction comes in the scale-length. With its 23" scale, the Martin LX1 is only an inch or so shorter than its bigger bodied counterparts. A child's guitar has a shorter scale, in quarter, half, or three-quarter scale lengths. Which means simply, there's plenty of space for adult fingers on this guitar. OK, the tumbleweed, whistling wind, and tolling bell are calling . . . interesting fact moment over.
Sources & Links
The Martin LX1 Little Martin: Everything you need to know about this guitar from Martin themselves. I haven't tried playing it around the campfire yet. Not too many of those in London...