2020 Reviews Of The Best Martin Guitars

What is the best affordable Martin guitar?

Are cheap Marting guitars good in any way?

Those are probably some of the questions streaming through your head right now as you scrub through the Net for the best stringers from Martin.

Generally speaking, Martin produces most of the lead guitarists’ choices played by the renowned and famous acoustic players.

You’re more likely to listen to Ed Sheeran play a small Martin than he would, say, a Fender.

But there’s no fast rule around what should be called the best as there’s no one-solution-fits-all.

It depends more on your skills and experience, your specs, your genre, and most importantly your budget.

Even the most famous Martin guitars may not be good for you.

So to speak, in these reviews, I will recommend 9 visually and tonally beautiful Martin models in various categories and across different price points.

I will also answer some of the most-asked questions about Martin guitars to clear your doubts on what you don’t know.

See the complete list first.

2020 A-List Of Martin’s Best Guitars

  • Best Martin Guitar For Beginners; Martin Backpacker Nylon String Acoustic Guitar
  • Best Martin Guitar For Fingerpicking; Martin 000-15SM Mahogany Guitar
  • Top Martin Acoustic Guitar; Martin D-28
  • Most Portable For Travelers; Martin LX1E
  • Budget Pick; Martin LXM
  • Best Dreadnought; Martin D-1
  • Top cutaway; Martin DC-16E
  • Singer Songwriter’s Choice; Martin HD-28E Natural
  • Lefty Guitarists’ Choice; Martin DX1RAE

If you already spot a model named after your needs and playing style as illustrated above, simply scroll down to read that one review.

Otherwise, read through each review below to fantom which of the reviewed recommendations is best for you.

Dive in.

The 9 Best Martin Guitars – Complete Review

  1. Martin Backpacker Nylon String Acoustic Guitar; Best Martin Guitar For Beginners 

As a beginner, you want a super-keep-it-simple-stupid gear that you can easily grow with and hone in on your skill. Something like Martin’s Backpacker should suffice with its top-end instrumental features engineered for easy learning. This is a Spruce top wood material construction made to last, withstanding all the knocks and falls from a beginner who is yet to gain mastery over handling a 6-stringer. The mahogany wood design of the neck with hand-rubbed finish establishes a smooth finger-to-board transition even before you play it. And you can always count on this for excellent sustain and great sound quality that truly reveals your level of expertise.

 

In my opinion, this is the best Martin guitar for beginners offering a lot of learning possibilities when practicing and rehearsing. What’s great? You get the Backpacker at a steal price of $320. Another opinion of mine is that the nylon strings that come with it should be replaced immediately before use so you can get the most of this masterpiece in a small body.

Features

  • Scale length; 24”
  • Backpacker taper neck
  • Nut width; 1.94”
  • Top material; Sitka Spruce
  • Backpacker bracing pattern
  • Bridge string spacing; 2.415”
  • Fingerboard width; 3.37”
  • White Corian nut material
  • Number of frets; 15
  • Neck material; select hardwood
  • Flat saddle
  • Side material; Tonewoods
  • Chrome enclosed tuning machines

Pros

  • Solid-body construction
  • The most superb Martin’s instrument for beginners
  • Super-lightweight
  • Recommended for traveler players
  • Comes with a gig bag
  • Smooth finger-to-board transition
  • Cleanly projected quality sound
  • Martin’s quality at the lowest price point

Cons

  • Not electronic integration-adaptable

 

  1. Martin 000-15SM Mahogany Guitar; Best Martin Guitar For Fingerpicking 

For all fingerstyle players out there and all singers/songwriters looking for the holy grail of unbeatable projection of natural tones for easy and accurate tracking, this is the real deal. The 000-15SM model features a high-definition construction body that combines the nature-given sound technology of Mahogany with the responsivity of nickel tuners’ tonal control to put you at the deepest core of your performances with highly-projected sound. 000-15 is 100% mahogany, therefore it is recommended for live performances too as it offers more headroom than the majority of the acoustic/electric out there. Most importantly is the fingerpicking performance of this instrument for the fingerstyle players both in the studio and on the street.

Martin 15 Series 000-15M Auditorium Acoustic Guitar

If you’re skeptical about any of the Mexican-made designs or you want to avoid the vulnerability of the Chinese knock-offs out there, the 000-15 SM is one of the finest American-made you can bet your money on. Though playing it is fun as this model focuses more on playability and sound projection quality, 000-15 SM has a finishing that is quite not up to standard. Additionally, the saddle appears to have been set higher than required for fingerpicking so you would need to tweak that yourself or meet a luthier before use.

Features

  • Number of frets; 20
  • Fingerboard width; 1.25”
  • Saddle radius; 16”
  • Bridge string spacing; 2.25”
  • Tortoise pattern pickguard
  • X-brace bracing pattern
  • Nut width; 1.75”
  • Mahogany back and top material
  • Mahogany sides material
  • Standard neck taper
  • Modern belly bridge style
  • East Indian Rosewood bridge material
  • Compensated bone saddle
  • Sitka Spruce brace material
  • Satin neck finish
  • Golden age bright nickel side mount tuners
  • Bone nut material
  • Scale length; 25.4”

Pros

  • An affordable solid wood design
  • 100% mahogany for more headroom and projection accuracy
  • Dark warn tones
  • The holy grail for fingerpicking, flat-picking, and other fingerstyles
  • The best recommendation for songwriters/singers
  • A complete harmonica experience
  • The included hardshell case offer protection and easy mobility

Cons

  • The endpin is not of a great quality
Click Here To Check Price On Amazon

 

  1. Martin D-28; Top Martin Acoustic Guitar 

If you can let go of your $3,600, you should be getting in the instrumental league of Johny Cash, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan, and Neil Young. Right? Martin D-28 has been the centerpiece of the oldies’ rock and folk-rock movement of the 1950s, boasting itself as the workhorse of rock legends. For the modern-day rock players, however, the D-28 has been upgraded to combine vintage appointments with a neck profile that gives it a modern feel altogether. Such vintage appointments include; a faux tortoise pickguard, an aged toner top, responsive open-gear tuners, and antique white accents. A forward-shifted bracing style is also a part of the update with the sole purpose of establishing greater sound vibration of the guitar’s top body.

Martin 2017 D-28 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Natural

As an illustration, the design is an Indian rosewood body with a Sitka Spruce top extending into a modified low oval neck shape with a dovetail neck joint. With a high-performance neck taper to support a 25.4” scale, the D-28 is the best acoustic guitar of all-time from Martin. See the complete features, pros, and cons in the bulletins below.

Features

  • Number of frets; 20
  • Scale length; 24.5”
  • 16” saddle radius
  • Faux tortoise bridge pin dots
  • Compensated bone saddle
  • Bridge string spacing; 2.16”
  • White plastic bridge pin
  • Tortoise pattern pickguard
  • Sitka Spruce top material
  • Aging toner top color
  • East Indian rosewood back and side material
  • Gloss back and sides finish
  • Modified low oval neck shape
  • Gloss top finish
  • Nut width; 1.75”
  • Forward-shifted X-brace bracing pattern

Pros

  • High-performance neck taper
  • The oldest instrument played by the legends
  • Comfortable playing experience
  • Great top vibration
  • Antique white accents
  • 100% skillful craftsmanship
  • Powerful resonance, volume, and tone
  • Clear treble and strong bass
  • Rich and nicely balanced tones
  • Ready to use right out of the box

Cons

  • An odd white boltaron binding
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  1. Martin LX1E Small Acoustic Guitar; Most Portable For Travelers 

The importance of size, weight, and the overall portability characteristics of an instrument all come in to play for a traveler performer. Besides, nobody enjoys choking themselves with the self-load of a bulky instrument. That is exactly why I am recommending the LX1E model that tops the small size category of Martin’s line. Whether you’re looking for a practical stringer to play around the campfire during a camping escapade or you’re a student on the search for a portability-wise acoustic instrument for practices and rehearsals, the LX1E Small acoustic is for you. It has a warm satin finish on its high-pressure laminate mahogany back and sides to retain its fine shape in the face of hard knocks from the back of the traveling truck.

Martin LX1E Little Martin Solid Sitka Spruce/Mahogany HPL Acoustic/Electric w/Gig Bag

The tuners are sleek, beautifully designed to stand you out of the crowd, and give you full command over your trebles and bass when performing to a large audience. Check below for more details, and why and why not to love this baby here.

Features

  • Nut width; 1.69”
  • Scale length; 23”
  • Sitka Spruce top material
  • Hand-rubbed top finish
  • High-pressure laminate back and side material
  • Mortise and Tenon neck joint construction
  • X-brace bracing pattern
  • Bridge string spacing; 2.125”
  • Compensated white Tusq saddle
  • 16” saddle radius
  • Junior style belly bridge
  • Number of frets; 20
  • White Corian nut material
  • Chrome enclosed gear tuners

Pros

  • Available in left-hand orientation for the lefties
  • Big on tone and small in size
  • Comfortable to travel with and play
  • A great learning instrument for students
  • The package comes with a soft gig bag
  • Reasonable price at $560
  • Standard neck taper
  • Highly portable and light in weight
  • The exact model played by Ed Sheeran

Cons

  • You may experience a buzz when strumming
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  1. Martin LXM; Budget Pick 

If you strongly believe that being on a low budget shouldn’t necessarily translate to claiming ownership to all the low-quality things that life has to offer, then this is the best Martin’s quality you can get a horribly low price. Martin LXM is Martin’s little baby that takes after the portability and compactness of the previously reviewed LX1E above. The LXM model is that little something for the shorthanded players and travelers alike. It is beginners-friendly, easy to strap on comfortably for an on-the-go performance on the street. This model gives you a ground-solid establishment on bluegrass and rock music genres even as a beginner. And the sound is not too tiny nor too loud for both practices and stage performances.

Martin Road Series 000-10E Solid Sapele w/Soft Case

Take it with you anywhere in the car, on the plane, in the studio, and about just anywhere. Martin LXM doesn’t eat up space and will continue to sound better with age. Finally, the design is quite feminine and will make great gear for a female instrumentalist that travels to perform. More on the features, pros, and cons below.

Features

  • Number of frets; 20
  • Fingerboard width; 2.06”
  • Mortise and Tenon neck joint construction
  • X-brace bracing pattern
  • Scale length; 23”
  • Bridge string spacing; 2.12”
  • Saddle radius; 16”
  • Junior style belly bridge style
  • White plastic bridge pin material
  • Spruce pattern top detail
  • Mahogany pattern side detail
  • White Corian nut material
  • Nut width; 1.68”
  • HPL top, back, and side material
  • Hand-rubbed neck finish
  • Rust birch laminate neck material
  • Sitka Spruce bracing

Pros

  • The perfect choice for travelers, students, and studios
  • Highly recommended for great sound quality
  • Extra-light and full-size
  • Easy to tone using an app on your iPhone
  • Aesthetic and durable
  • A fully padded backstrap for comfy portability
  • Martin’s quality at a steal price

Cons

  • The backing plate is quite thin
Click Here To Check Price On Amazon

 

  1. Martin D-15M; Best Dreadnought 

The D-15M of Martin’s D series is the holy grail on Martin’s lines of dreadnought acoustics with an exceptional tone. It combines best-practices technology with vintage features in a solid genuine mahogany acoustic for the professional guitarists. Though not the flashy type of an instrument, this D-15M model will go toe to toe with the majority of the stylish modern acoustic on the market in terms of tones, durability, control, and stability in tone richness. It comes with its own padded case that gives it the standing of a professional guitar, one of those you’d part with 2grands to get. You can count on the D-15M for zero fret noise whilst it keeps sounding better by time. The deep tones of it are simply amazing from a guitar that is easy and fun to play.

Martin 15 Series 000-15M Auditorium Acoustic Guitar

Martin D-15M boasts an incredible bass response across all frequencies. Also, the entire neck is warm to feel in its own right and that warmth surrounds both the upper and the mid register of this baby. Check the complete features, pros, and cons below. Or just go ahead to make the purchase you won’t look back to regret.

Features

  • Number of frets; 20
  • Fingerboard width; 2.12”
  • Saddle radius; 16”
  • Tortoise pattern pickguard
  • Compensated bone saddle
  • Scale length; 25.4”
  • X-brace bracing pattern
  • Nut width; 1.69”
  • Mahogany top, side, and back material
  • Modified low oval neck shape
  • Satin finish top
  • Modern belly, drop in saddle bridge style
  • East Indian rosewood bridge material
  • Bridge string spacing; 2.125”
  • East Indian rosewood fretboard material
  • Satin neck finish
  • Abalone fingerboard inlay material
  • Satin back and top finish

Pros

  • Solid genuine mahogany body construction
  • Free from deformities and air pockets
  • Good quality wood binding practice
  • Comfortable intricate fingerboard movement
  • Deep vintage sound
  • Powerful projection of strong tones
  • Reasonable string spacing
  • Warm mahogany tones suited for vocals

Cons

  • I don’t have a thing on this one really
Click Here To Check Price On Amazon

 

  1. Martin DC-16E; Top cutaway 

The DC-16E is a right-hand orientation cutaway, Sitka Spruce body construction with a gloss finish with a completely modified low oval neck, and a high-performance taper that makes it fun to play and comfy on the fingers for heavy-duty musical production. Playing up and down its medium scale is easy and you can as well configure this baby here to your taste as far as you can get it to a skilled luthier. For greater sounding upon amplification, DC-16E integrates Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics which is one of the high-tech state-of-the-art electronics used in modern days acoustics. Also, the forward-shifted bracing together with the Sitka Spruce body put this guitar more in the category of the high-pounding instruments with a lot of headroom.

Martin Americana 16 Series DC-16E Dreadnought Acoustic-Electric Guitar Natural

But while the outlook of the design may look simple and ordinary, the DC-16E is one of Martin’s top-quality charged a whopping sum of $2, 400 per copy. My final verdict is if you’re looking for quality and want to play professionally on the stage, this guitar is worth every penny of your investment.

Features

  • Scale length; 25.4”
  • Width nut; 1.75”
  • Forward-shifted X-brace
  • Sitka Spruce top material
  • Sycamore back and side material
  • Gloss top finish
  • Fishman Matrix VT Enhance electronics
  • Modified low oval neck shape
  • Saddle radius; 16”
  • Bridge stripe spacing; 2.16”
  • Ebony bridge material
  • Compensated white Tusq saddle
  • Black Tusq bridge pin
  • Mother-of-pearl bridge pin dots
  • Dark mahogany side and back color
  • Ebony fingerboard material
  • Fingerboard width; 2.125”
  • Number of frets; 20
  • Satin pear open-gear tuners
  • Sitka Spruce brace material

Pros

  • Has a left-hand orientation type
  • Strong bone nut material
  • Professional ply hardshell storage case
  • High-performance taper
  • Ready to use right out of the box

Cons

  • Falls to the top price point of the market
Click Here To Check Price On Amazon

 

  1. Martin HD-28E Natural; Singer Songwriter’s Choice 

If you’re a songwriter who does more of country, bluegrass, and rock than anything else, this is for you. This model HD-28E is a combination of a chunk load of materials that have been engineered together with Martin’s top craftsmanship into a dreadnought instrument for powerful chime, boom, and bark. The handpicked materials for the design of this baby here are; ebony, Spruce, herringbone, and rosewood. All of which work hand-in-hand with the most comfortable neck from Martin to exceed the specifications of songwriters. But at the bottom line, this model is only found among the most expensive series of Martin. You won’t get it anywhere for less than $4, 400. But boy does it overdeliver. In my opinion, if you’re looking to make a timeless investment as an international vocalist or a songwriter who plays guitars, this HD-28E is a great choice.

 

The tone from it is natural, crispy, and pronounced with Martin’s top-quality projection capability. It comes with more authentic strings set on its fretboard, all of which are flexible to adjust on the integrated nickel open-gear tuning machines. Overall, for your bluegrass, country, and rock, this model in its primal beauty and performance is the holy grail.

Features

  • Sitka Spruce top material
  • Scale length; 25.4”
  • Fingerboard width; 1.75”
  • Bridge string spacing; 2.16”
  • Ebony bridge material
  • Tortoise pickguard pattern
  • Compensated white Tusq saddle
  • Faux tortoise bridge pin dots
  • 16” saddle radius
  • Bold herringbone top inlay material
  • East Indian rosewood top and back material
  • Scalloped brace shape
  • Modified low oval neck
  • Gloss finish top for top, back, and sides
  • Fishman Matrix VT Enhance LR Baggs Anthems electronics
  • White plastic bridge pin
  • Number of frets; 20

Pros

  • Beautiful abalone inlay for the fingerboard
  • Strong butterbean knobs
  • Flexible tuners
  • Solid headstock
  • Uniformity in design finish
  • Feels great and smell nice right out of the box
  • Fun to play
  • A timeless investment for country, bluegrass, and rock

Cons

  • For big-budget only

 

 

  1. Martin DX1RAE; Lefty Guitarists’ Choice

Though not designed specifically for the southpaws, the DX1RAE is my recommendation for the lefty instrumentalist who needs something bold and profound for the show. This little gigging acoustic here easily converts to an electronic for a stable connection with your effects processing stompboxes. You can adjust the tone directly on your mobile phone app if you consider it strenuous to justle around the tuner. But the tuning machines built into this acoustic-electric platform are quite responsive to configuration. Also, as this DX1RAE stays in tune longer than many in its $800 price category, I boldly recommend it for your long-hours gigs as the workhorse that wouldn’t disappoint in any way. At its price, DX1RAE is an environmental-friendly acoustic-electric platform that will last longer upon months of consistent full-voicing via a non-cutaway body construction.

 

Who should use this? The aspiring 6-strings players, studio producers, vocalists, and stage performers that want to take a minimalistic approach into Martin’s quality. See the complete features, pros, and cons below.

Features

  • Scale length; 25.4”
  • Width nut; 1.75”
  • Hand-rubbed top finish
  • X-brace pattern
  • Sitka Spruce top material
  • High-pressure laminate back and side material
  • Bridge string spacing; 2.16”
  • 16” saddle radius
  • Tortoise pickguard pattern
  • Fingerboard width; 2.125”
  • 20 frets
  • Rust birch laminate neck material
  • Hand-rubbed neck finish
  • Chrome enclosed gear tuners
  • White Corian nut material
  • Rosewood back detail pattern
  • Sitka Spruce brace material

Pros

  • High-performance taper
  • Best choice for the performing artists
  • Hight-tech electronics
  • Durable and flexible
  • Affordable price

Cons

  • Slightly heavy

 

Finally, as promised, here are my answers to 3 of the frequently asked questions about Martin guitars.

Frequently asked questions

  • What is the best affordable martin guitar? it’s the DXMAE in my opinion.
  • Are cheap Martin guitars good? sure, yes. But you want to be careful about from whom you’re buying.
  • Are Martin guitars overrated? Not really. Martin is a leading guitar maker and they’ve been in the industry for quite too long and sure know how to produce inimitable qualities.

Conclusion

I hope you’ve finally been able to choose the best Martin guitar from the models recommended so far for your needs. Use the comment box if you need more recommendations or guidance.

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