While many have a narrow idea of what Martin guitars look and sound like, they’ve made 000-size guitars for about a century. The Martin 000X1AE is the most affordable example.
What stands out immediately is the unusual materials they’ve used. Other than that, it seems like a full-featured Martin with a rich sound. Let’s see how it performs.
Like the other guitars in the X-series, the Martin 000X1AE has a smaller-than-average body consisting of high-pressure laminate made from mahogany. Due to its photo finish, it looks a lot like proper wood.
More importantly, the top is high-grade solid sitka spruce, which gives it a rich and vibrant tone. Non-scalloped X-bracing underneath balances the sound a bit. While it’s no dreadnought, it offers a bold and clear tone with powerful projection.
For the neck, they’ve used Stratabond, which is a birch laminate traditionally used for gun stocks and such. It has Martin’s Performing Artist design and connects at the 14th fret. With its enclosed chrome tuners, it holds a tuning well.
Its fingerboard consists of FSC-certified Richlite, which is a convincing imitation of ebony made from paper under very high pressure. You find that same Richlite material in the bridge of the Martin 000X1AE.
Other than the somewhat unusual material choices, this is the kind of instrument you’d expect from Martin. It’s a fine work of craftsmanship with the looks and sound of a fancy guitar.
The Martin 000X1AE comes equipped with a Fishman Sonitone preamp system. This popular setup from the market-leading manufacturers of acoustic amplification gives you a full and natural tone when plugged in.
It achieves this with a Sonicore pickup under the bridge. You’ll find the volume and tone knobs conveniently placed in the soundhole.
Like the general construction, there’s nothing questionable about the finish of the Martin 000X1AE. Both the body and neck have a finely hand-rubbed satin finish. It’s somewhat glossy, but not over the top.
This finish gives the neck a fast feel and adds to the durability and flair of the guitar without stifling the sound. Martin takes care and pride in these guitars, so there are no sloppy elements.
Overall, it’s a simplistic design without bindings or flashy inlays. Other than the tasteful tortoiseshell pickguard, it’s a blank and sleek design.
How the Martin 000X1AE Plays
It may be hard to believe at this price, but the Martin 000X1AE provides that signature feel of the Martin brand. The smooth playability invites you to play for hours on end regardless of skill level.
It’s impressive how the low-oval neck profile and the high-performance taper combine to provide comfortable fretting all over the fingerboard. Speaking of the fingerboard, it’s quite impressive how similar Richlite feels to traditional ebony fretboards.
It’s thin enough for complex chords but has the girth for a good grip, and the smooth finish makes it easier to play fast.
Tone Quality of the Martin 000X1AE
While the Martin 000X1AE has some odd materials, the most important one for sound is traditional. A solid spruce top gives it that vibrant, resonant timbre and strong projection that we love in guitars.
The best thing about these high-quality wood tops is that they only get better with age. The more you play, the more the sound matures.
Despite the reduced size, it sounds full with a round low-end. But it has a clear midrange bias, which makes it very versatile. Striking a big open chord doesn’t cause a boomy mess, and the clarity between distinct notes in complex runs is beautiful.
Moreover, the Martin 000X1AE lends itself excellently to fingerstyle guitar and hybrid styles. It has an almost compressed feel that helps with balancing softer and harder notes, but it’s still responsive.
Due to this warm and balanced tone, it’s ideal for singing over. It’s loud and clear enough, yet you can play hard rock rhythms without drowning out your vocals. That’s awesome.
What people say
Happy buyers say it’s a comfortable, high-quality guitar and a great value for the price. Some say it sounds and plays like high-end Martins.
A few users think it feels somewhat cheap, and some wish it had fretboard markers. All in all, it gets a 4-star average on Amazon.
Martin 000X1AE Price
After a few mentions of the good price in this Martin 000X1AE review, it’s time to clarify what that means. While most associate Martin with high-end guitars that cost thousands of dollars, the Martin 000X1AE costs less.
Martin 000X1AE VS Taylor GS Mini-e
One competitor that’s similar in price, size, and features is the Taylor GS Mini-e. While it comes in a few different wood types, they all have solid tops on laminated sides and backs.
Also, they have similar electronics and a similar combination of natural and manufactured materials.
Pros & Cons
Let’s make this Martin 000X1AE review a bit more digestible. Here are the key qualities.
- Great price-to-value ratio
- Rich sound for the size
- Excellent playability
The Martin 000X1AE does almost everything you’d expect of the typical Martin. That’s impressive given its size and affordability.
- No fretboard dots on older editions
- Not all-solid wood
These are generally matters of preference. While fretboard dots can help beginners find the right fret, they’re not that important.
Martin 000X1AE Review Conclusion
Summing it up, the Martin 000X1AE is an ideal pick for those who want a small, affordable Martin guitar. Whether you’re a young beginner, a traveler, or someone with smaller hands, it won’t disappoint.
Do you think it’s not for you? Here are some alternatives I recommend.
Martin 000X1AE John Holloway Rating: 5 out of 5