So, you’re thinking about buying a Martin acoustic guitar; well, you’ve made a terrific choice. Martin has built its well-deserved reputation over generations, innovating and crafting only the highest quality guitars and even changing the way we look at and approach the instrument.
Deciding to buy a Martin guitar is the easy part, though–which Martin guitar model to buy–that can be a much tougher choice. The best Martin acoustic guitar for you will depend, to a greater or lesser degree, on several factors.
Whether you’re looking to acquire a natural acoustic or an acoustic-electric, your desired balance between natural volume and tone, how large an instrument you are able to comfortably handle, and, of course, how much you’re able to spend will help determine the best Martin guitar for you.
Fortunately, Martin produces a wide variety of acoustic and acoustic-electric guitars suitable for guitarists of all styles and skill levels.
Our Choice Of Martin Acoustics
- Body: Dreadnought
- Top: Spruce
- Back/Sides: East Indian Rosewood
- Fretboard: Ebony
- Scale Lgth: 645 mm
- Electronics: Optional
- Key Feature: Premium Handmade
- Body: Dreadnought
- Top: Spruce + VTS
- Back/Sides: Genuine Mahogany
- Fretboard: Ebony
- Scale Lgth: 645 mm
- Electronics: Yes
- Key Feature: Vintage + Modern Technology
Review Of 7 Best Martin Acoustic Guitars
Our team of experts has tested and analyzed each guitar to provide you with an in-depth look at the features and benefits of each one. From the classic Martin HD-28 to the compact and portable Little Martin LX1E, our review has got you covered.
So, whether you’re looking for a top-of-the-line professional instrument or a budget-friendly option, you’re sure to find a Martin guitar that meets your needs.
1. HD-28 Standard Series Acoustic Guitar
One of Martin’s most popular and well-loved offerings, the Standard Series HD-28 is everything the discriminating guitarist or collector has come to expect from a higher-end Martin acoustic. Beautifully appointed and painstakingly handcrafted, the HD-28 looks almost as beautiful as it sounds.
Martin doesn’t cut corners when building their standard series guitars, and the HD-28 is no exception; its neck and sides are constructed of rich East Indian Rosewood, and its top is Spruce. The nut and saddle of the HD-28 are fashioned of compensated bone. The headstock of the HD-28 is solid with a square taper, and its headplate is East Indian rosewood.
A dovetail neck joint connects the high-performance taper neck of the HD-28 to its dreadnaught body at the fourteenth fret. The comfortable, eminently playable fretboard is fashioned of ebony and has twenty total frets; it measures 1-3/4″ at the nut and 2-1/8 inch at the twelfth fret.
The HD-28’s forward-shifted, scalloped x bracing–another Martin innovation–provides excellent stability and support for the spruce top and allows for greater resonance than other bracing options.
For those of us who prefer the option of playing plugged in, the HD-28 is available with a choice of optional electronics packages, including offerings from Fishman and LR Baggs.
Verdict: If you're looking for a time-tested Martin standard that offers the highest quality tone, craftsmanship, and playability--or even if you don't play and are looking for a good long-term investment--you should check out the Martin HD-28.
- A beautiful, top-quality high-end Martin acoustic guitar
- Very comfortable to play
- Delivers the rich, balanced tones for which Martin guitars are famous
- An excellent long-term investment
- Electronics packages optional
- Not ideal for guitarists with budget constraints
2. Martin D-18E Modern Deluxe
Next on our list of the best martin guitars is the Modern Deluxe D-18E. When Martin designed the D-18E, they married the style and tone of a classic Martin guitar with twenty-first century innovation.
More than any Martin offering to date, the D-18E is a stylish, beautifully appointed guitar that combines the classic features we’ve all come to expect from Martin with modern technology and new innovations.
The D-18E’s vintage features include its classic dreadnaught shape, dovetail neck joint, forward-shifted scalloped bracing, and genuine mahogany back and sides. Adding to the D-18’s classic vibe is the pearl inlayed, 1930s-style logo. The headstock of the D-18E is solid with a square taper, and like the HD-28, its headplate is East Indian rosewood.
Despite its vintage feel, one look at the D-18E is all it takes to realize you’re looking at something new and exciting. In addition to the pearl headstock logo, the D-18E boasts gold frets and open gear tuners. An East Indian Rosewood binding further sets this Martin apart.
The D-18E features a number of innovations designed to improve its tone and playability. Foremost among these is Martin’s “Vintage Tone System” (VTS), a process that allows the spruce top to produce tones closer to those of a fully matured Martin guitar.
Like the HD-28, the D-18E is available with a choice of Fishman or LR Baggs Anthem electronics packages.
Verdict: Guitarists looking for a high-end Martin acoustic that delivers incredible tone shouldn't overlook the D-18E; collectors may also wish to consider adding a D-18E to their collections, as this Martin is likely to prove a good long-term investment.
- Combines the best features of vintage and modern acoustic instruments.
- Vintage Tone System provides a more fully matured tone.
- Distinctive aesthetic and appointments
- Available with a choice of optional electronics packages
- The price may be prohibitive for guitarists with limited funds
3. Martin LX1E Little Martin
The smallest guitar produced by Martin, the Little Martin LX1E delivers real Martin tone and playability at a slightly reduced size. Unlike the previous two entries, both of which have scale-lengths of 25.4 inches, the Little Martin LX1E’s scale-length is 23 inches, making it an ideal guitar for young or petite players.
Though very reasonably priced for a Martin guitar, the Little Martin is crafted of the highest quality materials. It has a solid spruce top, mahogany high-pressure laminate back and sides, and a rust-birch laminate neck. A non-scalloped x-bracing supports the Little Martin’s structure and adds to the richness of its tone.
The LX1E’s modified low oval neck features a twenty-fret Richlite fingerboard that’s joined to the body at the fourteenth fret by a Mortise and Tenon neck joint. The Little Martin’s fingerboard width measures 1-11/16 inches at the nut and 2-1/16 inches at the twelfth fret.
The Little Martin’s saddle is compensated white TUSQ, its nut is fashioned of white Corian, and it boasts chrome enclosed-gear tuners. The headstock of the Little Martin is solid with an LX taper, and it’s headplate is high-pressure laminate.
If the Little Martin were solely a natural acoustic guitar, it would be an outstanding guitar that represented great value. The LX1E is more than that, though; its Fishman Sonitone electronics package delivers rich, vibrant tones when playing amplified.
Verdict: Whether you're looking for the perfect practice or travel guitar, a great instrument for busking, or an inexpensive way to get Martin's tone and playability, you owe it to yourself to consider the Little Martin LX1E.
- The Little Martin LX1E is the least expensive Martin guitar
- Its diminished scale size makes it ideal for younger or petite players
- Crafted of high-quality materials
- Delivers authentic Martin tones
- Available with an optional electronics package
- Not as naturally loud or resonant as larger-bodied guitars
- Doesn’t represent as valuable a long-term investment as some other Martin guitars
4. Martin 15 Series D-15M Streetmaster
Marin’s solid mahogany D series guitars have proven very popular, which is little surprise given the quality instrument you’re getting for the price. With the exception of spruce bracings, mahogany is the only tonewood you’ll find on D series guitars, giving them a uniquely rich and satisfying sound and aesthetic.
The D-15 Streetmaster offers the specs of a standard D-15M but features a beautifully distressed satin finish top. With the Streetmaster, guitarists get the best of both worlds: the aesthetic of a well-worn vintage instrument with the added benefit of modern innovations and features.
Like the standard D-15, the Streetmaster has a dreadnaught body and an overall scale length of 25.4 inches. Its standard taper, low-oval shaped neck is mahogany, and its 20-fret Katalox fingerboard is joined to the body at the fourteenth fret by a simple dovetail joint. The fingerboard measures 1-11/16 inches at the nut and 2-1/8 inches at the twelfth fret.
The D-15M’s headstock is solid with a square taper, and its headplate is mahogany. The saddle is fashioned of compensated bone, and its bridge is Katalox. Martin’s D-15 Streetmaster produces beautiful natural tones and comes with a choice of optional Fishman electronics packages for those times when plugging in is the practical choice.
Verdict: Practicing musicians, buskers, stage performers, and weekend warriors will all want to consider the Streetmaster. A versatile instrument with rich tones, the D-15M is more than just a pretty (if distressed) face among the best Martin guitars.
- Its beautifully distressed finish gives the Streetmaster a cool vintage aesthetic
- Same specs as the popular D-15 acoustic
- Solid mahogany construction
- Choice of optional electronics packages
- A full-size dreadnought body shape may not be ideal for petite guitarists
- Tones can be perceived as overly dark or less versatile by some players
5. Road Series SC-13E Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Never content to rest on their considerable laurels, Martin is always innovating and looking for new and better ways to approach guitar design. With the Road Series SC-13E, Martin offers an acoustic-electric guitar designed specifically to be played amplified, and in ways other acoustics can’t.
The SC-13E’s most distinctive feature is its S-13 Fret Cutaway body shape. Designed to allow access to all twenty frets and provide maximum comfort, the SC-13E’s stylishly asymmetrical body also facilitates greater gain before feedback; in other words, the Road Series SC-13E is an acoustic/electric designed to play like an electric guitar.
Contributing to the SC-13E’s amazing playability are its patented “sure align” neck system and its low-profile velocity neck barrier.
The SC-13E has a spruce top and bracing, select hardwood neck, and an ebony bridge. Its ebony fingerboard has twenty total frets and is joined to the body at the thirteenth fret with a “sure align” linear dovetail neck joint. The fingerboard measures 1-3/4 inches at the nut and 2-1/8 inches at the twelfth fret.
Its solid, square tapered headstock, ebony headplate material, and nickel, open gear tuners all add to the pleasing aesthetic of the SC-13E.
A Fishman MX-T electronics system is the finishing touch to this Martin offering. The system best equipped to highlight the versatility of the SC-13E, the MX-T provides amplified tones you’ll have to hear to believe.
Verdict: Acoustic-electric guitarists of all stripes, but especially those frustrated with the limitations of standard acoustic-electrics, will want to take a good hard look at Martin's SC-13E.
- The SC-13E is an acoustic designed to be as playable as an electric
- Cutaway body shape allows access to all frets
- Asymmetrical body shape allows for more gain before feedback
- Included Fishman MX-T electronics package
- Delivers classic Martin tone
- Lightweight and comfortable to play
- The SC13E’s sleek, cutaway body means less natural volume and resonance
- Select hardwood neck
- Unique neck design may take time to adapt for acoustic players
6. Martin X Series D-X2E Acoustic-Electric Guitar
One of Martin’s most affordable guitars, the X Series D-X2E delivers exceptional Martin tone and a simple, elegant aesthetic. The D-X2E has a dreadnaught body and standard 25.4-inch scale length. With its solid Sitka spruce top and high-pressure laminate back and sides, this relatively inexpensive guitar produces a big, tone-rich sound.
The D-X2E’s select hardwood, high-performance taper neck features a Katalox twenty-fret fingerboard joined to the body at the fourteenth fret by a Mortise and Tenon joint. The fingerboard measures 1-3/4 inches at the nut and 2-1/8 inches at the twelfth fret.
A compensated white TUSQ saddle and white Corian nut help keep the cost of the D-X2E low without compromising quality.
This Martin offering features a solid, standard tapered headstock and a high-pressure laminate (HPL) headplate.
A Fishman electronics package comes standard on the D-X2E, meaning its improved sound transfer will be apparent even when amplified. Of course, the D-X2E sounds great as a natural acoustic too; it is a Martin guitar, after all.
In addition to sounding great, the D-X2E is a sight to behold. Boasting a hand-rubbed top finish, mother of pearl pattern inlays, chrome enclosed gear tuning machines, and a turquoise pattern pickguard, this offering would be a standout at any price range.
Verdict: The D-X2E is a great option for guitarists looking for Martin's tone and quality at a price that won't break their budgets.
- One of Martin’s most affordable offerings
- Improved sound transfer
- A distinctive-looking guitar that offers that classic Martin sound
- Included Fishman MX electronics package
- A full-sized dreadnaught body may not be ideal for petite or young players
- Not as viable a long-term investment as some of the other best Martin guitars
- Select hardwood neck
7. Martin 000 Jr-10 Auditorium Acoustic Guitar
Last, but certainly not least on our list of the best Martin guitars is the 000JR-10 Junior. The only auditorium style guitar on our list, the 000JR-10 delivers rich tones that emphasize the midrange.
With a slightly reduced scale length of 24 inches, the 000JR-10 is a comfortable, affordable, and eminently playable guitar that delivers the tone you’ve come to expect from a Martin guitar.
The 000JR-10 features a solid Sitka spruce top and sapele back and sides. Its select hardwood, high-performance tapered neck features a twenty-fret Richlite fingerboard that joins the body via a Mortise and Tenon neck joint at the fourteenth fret. The fingerboard width is 1-3/4 inches at the nut and 2-1/8 inches at the twelfth fret.
When designing and crafting less expensive guitars, many acoustic guitar manufacturers cut costs by resorting to cheaper–and in many cases just plain cheap–hardware materials.
Martin, on the other hand, refuses to put their logo on any but the highest-quality instruments and looks to innovation, rather than thrift when designing less expensive guitars. Compensated white TUSQ saddles, enclosed gear chrome tuning machines, Richlite bridges, and white Corian nuts ensure the 000JR-10 is inexpensive and not cheap.
The headstock of this Junior Martin acoustic guitar is solid, and it has what’s known as a junior taper. A high-pressure laminate headplate further keeps the price of the 000JR-10 low without sacrificing aesthetics.
Verdict: The 000JR-10 is a great option for anyone in the market for a slightly smaller Martin acoustic that has an amazingly balanced tone. Guitarists on a budget will also want to consider this relatively diminutive Martin offering.
- Delivers tone similar to pricier Martin acoustic guitars.
- Ideal for a practice guitar, or for petite guitarists
- Auditorium body style offers beautifully balanced tones
- Junior body style may be too small for larger guitarists
- Not as promising a long-term investment as the Martin HD-28 or D-18E
- The 000JR-10 has a select hardwood neck
What To Consider When Buying A Martin Guitar?
There are a number of factors to keep in mind when choosing which style Martin guitar will best suit your needs.
Some are things you’d (hopefully) consider when purchasing a guitar of any brand, like the inevitable tradeoff between natural volume and tone, or the size instrument best suited to you; others are considerations specific to selecting a Martin guitar, like which electronics package you’d prefer if buying an acoustic-electric Martin.
Of the considerations to keep in mind when choosing a Martin guitar, five stand out as essential to making a good decision: the guitar’s size and shape, its tone, whether or not you want electronics, and, of course, your budget.
Let’s take a closer look at how each will help you select the Martin guitar best suited to your playing style and your lifestyle.
When it comes to choosing the right Marin guitar, size matters. An acoustic guitar’s size and shape affect its playability, volume, and tone, making it one of the most important considerations when choosing a Martin guitar.
Few things will affect a guitar’s playability as much as its size. Petite or young players, for example, are likely to find a dreadnaught or jumbo body acoustic too big to be played comfortably.
Stretching to accommodate a guitar that’s too large not only adversely affects practice and performance, but it can place undue stress on joints and even lead to back and neck problems.
A guitar’s tone is also determined, in large part, by its size; that means how you plan to play your new Martin guitar will factor into which model is right for you. Do you plan to play unamplified with other acoustic guitarists? If so, you’ll likely want to consider a dreadnaught if you can handle its size. The larger a guitar’s body, the more natural volume it will generally have.
If you’re a stickler for tone or don’t worry too much about natural volume as you plan to play plugged in, then you may want to consider a Martin with smaller body size.
To make life easier, here’s a quick rundown of the size guitars Martin manufactures, from smallest to largest, and a note on each variation’s tone:
Concert (0): The smallest of standard acoustic guitar body styles, the concert (o) size body generally produces very clear trebles and soft basses.
Grand Concert (00): Being larger than the concert guitar, the grand concert (00) body style delivers a bit more bass response than the concert, while retaining distinct trebles.
Orchestra/Auditorium (000): A great choice for fingerpickers and blues players, the orchestra/auditorium (000) delivers what many guitarists and luthiers consider the most balanced tones of all body styles.
Grand Performance (GP): Slightly larger than the orchestra/auditorium body, the grand performance (GP) delivers more bass response and is a bit more projective than the 000.
Jumbo/Grand Auditorium/Grand Jumbo (OOOO): Though it may not deliver as balanced a tone as an auditorium/orchestra guitar, jumbo (OOOO)-bodied guitars are known for their clear distinction between bass and tremble tones.
Dreadnaught (D): Easily the most popular acoustic guitar body style today, the versatile dreadnaught shape was pioneered by Martin. Delivering a lot of natural volumes and strong bass response, the dreadnaught has become a favorite of guitarists the world over.
When selecting the best Martin guitar for your needs, you’ll want to take note of the tone woods used to craft each instrument. Far more than an aesthetic consideration, the wood used to craft a guitar’s sides, back, and especially its top has a strong influence on its overall tone.
Let’s take a look at some of the most popular tone woods used by Martin, and how they tend to influence tone.
Spruce: Spruce wood, particularly Sitka spruce, is an extremely popular choice of guitar top material. Spruce delivers bright, clear tones that can be sweetened and warmed when combined with a dark wood back and sides.
Mahogany: Mahogany is most often used as material for guitar backs and sides, though in some cases it is used as a top material too. Blues guitarists, in particular, will appreciate the relatively darker tones of a mahogany-topped guitar. A dark wood that emphasizes midrange tones, mahogany is often used as a tonal counterbalance of sorts on guitars with spruce tops.
Rosewood: Rosewood, and especially solid East Indian Rosewood, is another extremely popular choice of guitar tone wood. Rosewood produces brighter, more resonant tones than mahogany, though it has less midrange. A hard, stiff wood, rosewood produces excellent volume and sustain.
High Pressure Laminate (HPL): Though purists may turn up their noses at the idea of owning a guitar comprised of HPL, this innovative material is the reason Martin’s value guitars produce tones similar to the best Martin acoustic guitars. Simply put, HPL is one way Martin is able to cut costs without compromising quality.
HPL is a strong wood substitute comprised of compressed wood fibers and natural resins that have been compressed at extremely high pressures. The result is a stiff, resilient material able to shrug off variations in temperature and humidity.
Sapele: Another popular dark tone wood, Sapele is similar in most ways to mahogany. Often used as a back and sides material, Sapele delivers tones brighter and crisper than those of mahogany.
Do You Want Electronics?
One of the first things you’ll want to determine when choosing the best Martin guitar for you is whether or not you want an included electronics package.
If you do, you’ll find that often, Martin has chosen the best electronics package for the model guitar you’re considering. Other times, Martin guitars will offer a range of available packages from which you may choose.
Martin guitars feature Fishman electronics, which utilize under-saddle pickups. Some of the electronics packages offered on Martin guitars include the Gold Plus Natural I, the Infinity Matrix, the Presys Plus, and the Ellipse Natural Blend.
In a perfect world, we’d all have at least one well-worn vintage Martin D-45 hanging on the wall beside us at arm’s length, so we could grab it whenever inspiration hit.
Unfortunately, here on Earth in the twenty-first century, few of us have the luxury of spending ten thousand dollars on a guitar, even if it is likely to prove a sound long-term investment. As such, most of us will have to factor in our budgets when choosing the right Martin guitar for our needs.
Fortunately for those of us who want a top-end guitar but don’t think we can afford one, Martin produces a number of reasonably priced (a few hundred above budget price) guitars that still deliver that distinctive Martin playability and tone.
Related Post: Curious about why Martin guitars come with a higher price tag? Check out our in-depth article to learn about the reasons that make these instruments truly exceptional and expensive.
Before you make your final decision on which Martin acoustic guitar to buy, make sure to check out this informative video on the top 10 things you should know about Martin guitars.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Martin Guitars Hold Their Value?
The vast market for vintage and used Martin guitars attests to the fact that Martin instruments generally hold their value quite well. The Martin name alone carries value, representing as it does generations of quality craftsmanship and innovation; Martin has literally changed the way we look at the guitar as an instrument.
Of course, there will be an initial dip in value when you buy any guitar, and few axes make for solid short-term investments. That said, Martin guitars do make an excellent long-term investment, provided they are reasonably maintained.
Do Martins Sound Better As They Age?
The answer to this question is a resounding yes. As top-quality tone woods age, they lose moisture; this is only one of the factors that contribute to aged guitars gradually sounding better, or “coming into their tone.” Some experts argue it can take as long as forty years for tone woods to mature.
Are Martin Guitars Harder To Play Than Other Brands?
Martin guitars are well known for their beautiful tones, but anyone who’s played one knows they’re also a pleasure to play. Not only are Martins not harder to play than other brands, but in many cases they’re much easier to play comfortably.
Are Martin Guitars Good For Beginners?
Martin guitars are top-quality instruments suitable for anyone; that said, beginner guitarists may be better served with a budget guitar until they’re sure playing guitar is something to which they’re willing to commit.
Are Martin Guitars Handmade?
In a time of mass-produced guitars, martin acoustic guitars are still handmade with pride by skilled artisans and luthiers. Even the guitar lines Martin has entrusted to its Mexico factory are largely handcrafted, as all the best acoustic guitars are.
How Long Will A Martin Guitar Last?
Unlike budget guitars, most of which will wear out or become otherwise unplayable within ten years, a quality guitar can last a lifetime or longer.
Ultimately, how long a quality guitar lasts will depend on several factors; how often a guitar is played, how well it’s maintained, and the environment where it’s stored are only three of the things that may affect a guitar’s lifespan.
About the Author
Thomas M., the founder of Guitar Top Review, boasts 15+ years of guitar experience and was a church band member in L.A. Transitioning from piano to acoustic guitar, his first love remains his Taylor GS Mini. Alongside like-minded hobbyist friends, he launched the site, driven by a deep love for music that transcends professional boundaries.