Okay, let me ask you this – “What acoustic guitar would you buy if you had $3000 right now?”
Most of you will land on something like a Gibson J-45 or Martin D28 Standard, or maybe a flagship Grand Auditorium from Taylor.
The reason is simple! You really can’t go wrong with these.
But what if you need something more affordable, but still want to experience the legacy and quality of an iconic brand like Martin?
Turns out you still have plenty of options!
Here are the best Martin guitars for the money that bring an authentic Martin craftsmanship down to a more pocket-friendly price.
7 Best Martin Acoustic Guitars For Your Money
Best Overall – Martin 000-15M
One guitar for finger-pickin’ heaven!
The Martin 000-15M is without a doubt the most enjoyable, incredibly-voiced guitar that you could want!
As far as the specs go:
- Solid genuine mahogany construction
- A-Frame “X” top bracing pattern
- Modified Low Oval neck shape
- Real Bone nut
- 25.4″ scale length
…I think it’s a complete powerhouse!
Even minute appointments like Grover open-back tuners, small Diamonds & Squares, and Short Pattern fret markers show the amount of detail Martin has put into this fine instrument.
The guitar is perfect in its playability, string spacing, and intonation. It sounds wonderful and deserves the solid Martin case that it comes in.
Recommended: Dreadnought vs 000 Guitars
With a smooth neck and excellent workmanship, the warmth of the mahogany tonewood and the comfort of the smaller body shape make this guitar ideal for creating an intimate musical experience. The mahogany finish is beautiful, such a no-frills classic look.
Sometimes simplicity can speak volumes! This guitar’s beauty is in its simplicity.
But don’t be fooled, with the proper audio equipment this Martin will please the ear and heart in the studio or on the stage.
The harmonics are so clear and responsive to the slightest whim of your fingertips and the sustain is just insane. Whether striking a chord or hitting a single note, you’ll be amazed at how long this guitar rings. Very nice!
If there’s one thing I’d be careful about this guitar, it’s the finish. Since it doesn’t have a gloss finish, it’s somewhat vulnerable to dings and scratches. Plus the 000-15 is very lightweight, so it might get knocked around in a busy environment. (Would not recommend this as a regular gigging guitar).
It’s beautiful, it plays wonderfully, it SMELLS like heaven, it’s just perfect. Simplicity at its best! This Martin 000-15M is without a doubt the most enjoyable, incredibly voiced, guitar that you could want. This is a guitar you will want to give a name, that will be a member of your family, you’ll like to talk to her, introduce her to your friends (and definitely want to use “her” pronoun).
- Full solid wood body
- First-class craftsmanship
- Highest quality playability
- Perfect sound for fingerpicking
- The satin finish could be too delicate for constant gigging use
- The mahogany finish might not be for everyone
- The strings that come with it could be better
Best Under $1000 – Martin Road Series D10-E
A Martin that’s solid wood, has a built-in pickup, sounds amazing, and is under $1000? Yes, please.
Martin has been perfecting guitar building for almost 2 centuries now, and while this is not their top-of-the-line guitar, it gets all the benefit of their experience in the way they’re designed and built.
Let’s get the specs sorted out first:
The Martin Road Series D-10E a non-scalloped Sitka spruce X-bracing with Sapele back & sides, compensated white Tusq saddle, 16” radius, plastic bridge pins, Fishman MX-T electronics, select Hardwood neck, Performing Artist neck profile with High-Performance Taper, and hand-rubbed finish.
I also love the hidden controls for the volume, tone, and tuner. I love that they didn’t cut a huge hole in the body of the guitar for them, very cool.
As this is not an ornate guitar with fancy inlays and stuff like that, this is what a great guitar should sound like. You’ll easily hear the way every string sounds as clear and loud as the others.
This has everything to do with the non-scalloped X-bracing and the way they build their tops, it just projects the way a guitar should, not muddy on low strings and too bright on the highs. It sounds superb, plain and simple. Clear, bright, and articulate.
There is just something awesome about that Martin sound, full and rich, the sound is really the thing here. It is everything you’d expect from a Martin guitar. The quality and workmanship of this guitar are outstanding. I would recommend this guitar to anyone looking for an all-solid wood guitar.
To top it all, Martin provides a high-quality padded case with the guitar, so your guitar will be well-protected when you’re not playing it.
Couple all that with the history behind Martin designing the original dreadnought shape and I am a happy camper. I really like this guitar, built well, sounds like a Martin, stays in tune, It’s easy to play, has good action height, no fret buzz. The D-10 is an excellent guitar for the cost-conscious guitar player – particularly those who need big sound at a good price.
- Genuine Martin feel
- Martin designed the dreadnought, you can definitely trust in this one
- Excellent sound, either acoustically or plugged-in
- Built to last for decades
- The strap might pull the guitar jack out since they are so close to each other
- Some reports of unresponsive tuner
- Fret edges could be polished a little more
Best Cutaway Option – Martin SC-13E
Fine-tuned body with tailored X-bracing produces near-cannon-like levels of volume and projection!
The Martin SC-13E is a real step forward in guitar design:
- Sitka spruce top with a non-scalloped X-bracing
- Sapele sides and back
- Richlite fingerboard with 16-inch radius
- 20 frets, 25.4” scale length with
- Fishman MX-T electronics
- Richlite bridge with 2.15” string spacing
- and a compensated white Tusq saddle.
The neck action is incredible, it feels like a professionally set up electric guitar. The neck in its own right should be a breakthrough in guitars going forward. The 1.75” Corian nut and low-profile velocity neck shape allows for helical hand rotation to ensure a relaxed and natural feel. It’s simply a dream to play.
You can play your cowboy chords easily, and slide up for solos with no effort or strain at all. Heel-less Sure Align neck system gives you unfettered access to the entire fretboard.
I didn’t think I’d be comfortably hitting fret 19 on the low E on an acoustic but this one does that.
The offset S-shaped body dropped my shoulder to a more comfortable position. It fits you like a glove while providing balanced output and effective feedback rejection. It is a smaller body shape, which is so comfortable you can play in the leaned-back position that any guitar teacher would cringe at; the guitar is light and is not “neck heavy” so standing is also very comfortable.
This Martin guitar has a wonderful brightness accompanied by a warm resonance. It’s great acoustically and worthy of miking but the electronics make it easy on loud stages.
Overall this would be an absolutely perfect guitar for anyone at any stage of their journey. It is NOT a dreadnought, nor does it attempt to sound like one. It has a nicely balanced tone and sounds great through any amplifier. The physical presentation is phenomenal and it’s a stunning guitar to see in person. Not many natural finishes get the WOW factor but this definitely does.
- Futuristic and practical design
- Extremely comfortable neck
- Easy access to all frets
- Very beautiful inlays and overall cosmetics
- The bass end can be a little lacking
- You must put thicker strings to achieve its real potential
- Although it comes with a gig bag, Martin does need to start working on a hard case for this Series
Most Affordable – Martin X Series D-X2E
This is the working man’s Martin-Quality guitar
The Martin X Series D-X2E an affordable guitar made of sustainable, less costly materials. Still, it’s a nice-looking guitar, and the quality is superb! It plays and sounds like a Martin; loud and proud with lots of low-end.
This Dreadnought-sized model has a Sitka spruce top and high-pressure laminate (HPL) back and sides. You do get Fishman MX electronics built-in for plugged-in performance and direct recording.
Playability is great thanks to the Performing Artist neck with High-Performance taper. You’ll never have any issues with intonation due to the compensated Tusq saddle.
It comes in several finishes like Sapele top with Macassar back & sides, a very classy sunburst with Macassar back & sides, Natural with Mahogany back & sides, and Natural with rosewood veneer back & sides.
I was curious to see how the HPL sides and back felt. It has a nice texture and also feels very durable, while it doesn’t feel exactly the same as real wood, it isn’t super light or cheap-feeling either. Doesn’t seem like a noticeable sacrifice in any way, and if it makes the guitar a little more affordable, that’s a win-win.
The fingerboard and bridge are made of Katalox (Mexican royal ebony), and while it seems that the color of that particular species can vary quite a bit, it’s mostly nice and dark.
It feels great, nice neck, sounds very good, and other than needing light gauge strings is a go-to instrument. And it stays in tune forever.
The included gig bag is surprisingly nice with thick padding, plush interior, good support for the neck, and a heavyweight, water-resistant covering.
In my opinion, the D-X2E is just as good if not better than most 1,500 dollar guitars out there.
All in all, I really like this guitar and it sounds great. If you’re in the market for a good-sounding dreadnought and can deal with some less expensive materials and finish, I don’t think you can go wrong with this one. Highly recommend it if you’re looking for Martin quality but can’t afford the next level up. I don’t think it can be beat for the price.
- Good setup right out of the box
- Incredible quality for the price
- Legit Martin sound and feel
- Needs a non-included Martin-proprietary key to adjust the truss rod
- Some units might develop light fret sprout
- HPL wood may not be for everyone
Best For Strumming – Martin D15M
Playing it is a complete sensory experience – it sounds superb and it smells like a cigar box.
Its lush full sound, long sustain, and perfectly balanced tone really resonates. It’s the sound that your brain wants to hear when you strum an open chord. Warm and balanced, focused and darkly sweet with that beautiful deep bass, clear highs, and just a touch of growl.
This beauty comes with A-Frame X scalloped, 5/16″ Solid Sitka Spruce bracing, genuine Mahogany top, back & sides, solid East Indian Rosewood bridge and fingerboard, 16″ radius compensated white bone saddle and bone nut, and a 25.4″ scale length.
It features Martin’s amazingly playable modified low-oval neck profile with Plek’d frets (a Plek machine automatically levels and dresses the frets for maximum playability), which gives you enough girth to hold onto while still allowing you to play faster lines unhindered.
It has a standard neck taper, and smooth fingerboard to ensure a playing experience that few guitars can offer. The Indian rosewood fingerboard and bridge pair beautifully with the look of the dark mahogany.
By the way, this guitar is always in tune, open-geared (Golden Age Relic Nickel) tuners with butterbean knobs keep you in tune with style.
Also, the hardshell case that comes with it is sturdy and fits the guitar like a glove.
I’ve found fingerpicking to be easy and if you’re someone who comes from the punk rock school of acoustic playing (meaning, you’re not afraid to lay into it for maximum volume) it can handle that too. it works great for strumming and singing along with and offers great bass accompaniment.
Top American craftsmanship thru & thru. If you like a bunch of shiny stuff on your guitar, this probably isn’t the axe for you. But if you prefer things simple and effective, with quality materials, this Martin is for you. The tone is sweet, warm, and articulate. It has beautiful resonant bass and, the sound is better than many guitars twice the price. They have maintained their high standards. Every player should have one of these.
- Plays like a dream out of the box
- Can handle heavy strumming with ease
- It’s absolutely beautiful
- Temperature changes might affect some few units more than usual
- Can be quite big for some people
- The finish is a little vulnerable to scratches
Best for Travel – Martin Steel-String Backpacker
Your partner in your dream road trip adventure!
The first thing you notice is the body shape, it is a bit tricky to get used to, and I can understand how this would be an issue if you’ve only played traditionally shaped acoustic guitars. But, if you’ve ever played an oddly shaped electric (Gibson Flying V for example), then the adjustments you have to make to play this traveler are not bad at all. Plus… it’s a travel guitar. Compact size is the name of the game.
The Martin Backpacker is not a full-sized guitar, you don’t get the same resonance and the bass tones aren’t as rich. This is because you are sacrificing a bit of tone quality for a more convenient travel size.
That being said, the fit and finish are top-notch. It really is more beautiful in person, The action is low, the tuning knobs are tight, and everything looks and feels solid when you play.
It has a solid Spruce top, solid Tonewood back and sides, a unique contour neck shape, features a very comfortable 24-Inch scale length, and 15 Frets. The bag and strap they include are both high quality.
Yes, it does sound a bit “pluckier” than your average guitar, but not in an annoying way. It’s a great fingerpicking guitar. you lose some volume, look at the size of this thing: physics, folks. But it’s almost magical in the way it projects, and if you strum strong and loud, you’ll definitely get plenty of volume for travel.
It doesn’t have the richness of a full-sized guitar, but it in no way sounds like a uke, as some people have been saying; The sonic qualities are quite nice. The build is solid and the machines hold tune even after traveling in very different climates. If you like the idea of playing guitar anywhere without the weight and bulk, get this. Decent bass, strumming sounds very clear and distinct with its solid spruce top. Perfect intonation all the way to the 15th fret. It’s a Martin!
- Totally portable and lightweight
- Very good sound for its size
- Comfortable Neck
- Remarkably high tolerance to temperature changes
- You can’t balance it on your leg while you play like you can with a full-sized acoustic guitar.
- The body shape also restricts “anchoring” with the pinky finger
- It is neck heavy
Best For Kids/Small Hands – Little Martin LX1
Small in size, BIG on tone!
This is Martin’s smallest guitar. While small in size, is big on quality, and versatility. It sounds great being played around the campfire or while practicing around the house. The smaller size makes it convenient for small fingers and for travel.
Sounds just like a Martin should sound, with plenty of volume and a nice bass tone for such a little guy!
For what it is, it’s awesome and I have no specific quibbles with it at all. It stays in tune and the intonation is pretty accurate up and down the neck – good enough to enjoy in any setting and no cringe-factor.
Martin’s Little Martin LX1 acoustic guitar has a Sitka spruce and mahogany high-pressure laminate (HPL) construction back & sides, a 23″ scale length, 14 frets clear, 20 frets total, compensated white Tusq saddle. And LX1E includes the renowned Fishman Sonitone pickup for extra versatility. Both include a good-quality padded gig bag.
These acoustic guitars are built with sustainable wood-certified parts. The LX1 and LX1E features a mortise and tenon neck joint, non-scalloped X-Brace, standard tapered neck, and chrome-enclosed gear tuners, making it look as captivating as it sounds.
Now, can you use it for performance? Certainly, you can. There is any number of more informal situations when it could be appropriate. Someone else might even find it appropriate for more formal things. This is a fun guitar that you’ll play and practice with a lot. You’ll take it places where you wouldn’t take a full-sized guitar, and you’ll worry about it a lot less. Keep it in perspective and view it for what it’s intended to be, and you’ll likely enjoy it as much as it deserves.
It will not sound like a Martin Dreadnought or Orchestra Model OM. But for its fun size and price range, this is an awesome and totally fun guitar to play. This guitar is a dream for younger guitarists. It has the excellent sound of a normal-size Martin with the portability of a travel guitar, and it is extremely comfortable to play.
- Very high quality for the price
- 23” scale turns out to be very comfortable not only for kids
- When connected it sounds almost like a full-sized, more expensive Martin
- HPL is more resistant to temperature changes
- Another Martin model that requires a non-included “special truss rod wrench”
- Can go out of tune more often than other models in this list
- Martin only offers a 1-year warranty for this model, for full-sized models they give lifetime warranty
Final Thoughts on Best Martin Guitar For The Money
Many people will assure you that Martin acoustics are the best made on the planet, and I think they are right!
This brand has guitars that cover the entire spectrum of musical genres, the ones shown here are just a small portion of the complex full range that Martin offers.
To conclude the article, if you need the most bang-for-your-buck, the 000-15M is the best Martin guitar for your money.
But if you want an authentic Martin quality without breaking the bank you can go with the D-X2E. On the other hand, if you want to try true versatility and modernism you can go with the SC -13E and you will be left with your mouth open.
Is a Martin Guitar a Good Investment?
Martin is a top-tier acoustic guitar manufacturer with more than 19 decades of legacy and history. Their guitars are not only just an epitome of high-quality craftsmanship, but also for the value they offer you as a musician.
All things considered, a Martin Guitar is certainly a good investment for your musical journey.
Do Martin Guitars Get Better With Age?
It’s usually accepted that solid wood guitars open up and get better with age. As the wood dries up, it resonates and sustains more producing a better sound over time.
The same thing applies to any Martin Guitar. Since these are some of the most well-built instruments using premium quality woods, you can expect them to get better with age.
How Long Will a Martin Guitar Last?
If you take care of it, probably several decades. Martin guitars use the highest-quality craftsmanship and are built to last generations. Whether it’s an affordable model like the Road Series, or a premium HD-28, you’re getting something that’ll outlive any other cheaply built guitar by quite a bit.
Is a Martin or Taylor Guitar Easier To Play?
The brand doesn’t matter. What’s easier to play is decided by the overall design, shape, materials used, and construction.
Both manufacturers have guitars ranging from budget segment to high-end segment, from small auditorium shapes to full-sized dreads.
Generally speaking, however, Taylor’s grand auditorium series is widely loved by fingerpicking players, while Martin’s dreadnoughts are preferred for strumming and especially by bluegrass artists.
1 thought on “7 Best Martin Guitars For The Money [2023 Reviews]”
I own a 1967 Martin D-28
Most beautiful sounding guitar ever.