C. F. Martin acoustic guitars remain the most respected, sought-after musical instruments of the 21st century.
And, why not?
Martin has nearly two centuries of unparalleled acoustic guitar craftsmanship, a unique guitar-making DNA passed down across generations, and a tone that can only be the classic sound of an acoustic guitar.
It also provides several acoustic guitar series for different folks with varying playing styles, needs, and budgets.
Unsurprisingly, many guitar brands today look up to Martin for inspiration in creating their signature winning formula – a feat only a few companies can come close to achieving.
With more than 188 years of experience making high-caliber acoustic guitars, Martin makes it challenging to pick the best acoustic guitar from its lineup.
Consider yourself lucky because I will help you sort things out with these ten best Martin acoustic guitars.
On this list, we considered the Martin D-15M the best Martin guitar overall because it has the classic shape and the legendary sound of its 1940s Style 15 model at a friendlier price tag.
I know other people might have different preferences, playing styles, needs, and budgets.
That is why I also included nine other Martin guitars worth checking out.
I will point out the strengths of each and why these acoustic guitars are the best for you.
The Best Martin Guitars
- Martin D-15M – Best Overall Martin Acoustic Guitar
- Martin D-18 – Best Martin Acoustic Guitar with Full Tonality
- Martin LX1 – Best Martin Acoustic Guitar for Teens and Kids
- Martin D-28 – Best Martin Acoustic Guitar with a Legendary Rock n’ Roll Sound
- Martin 000-15M – Best Value Martin Acoustic Guitar
- Martin HD-28 – Best Premium Martin Acoustic Guitar
- Martin Backpacker – Best Martin Travel Acoustic Guitar
- Martin SC-13E Acoustic Electric Guitar – Best Martin Acoustic-electric Guitar
- Martin LXK2 – Best Budget Martin ¾ Acoustic Guitar
- Martin 000-18 – Best Compact Martin Acoustic Guitar
Martin understands and appreciates solid mahogany’s sweet tonal texture, incorporating the tonewood in the D-15M’s top, back, sides, and neck.
While some folks might argue the D-15M’s all-mahogany construction will dampen its clarity and presence, it is not the case.
The sound is rounder, richer, fuller, and deeper than spruce-top acoustics, complete with a low-end, guttural, and warm resonance that many seasoned guitarists love.
It is perfect for flat-picking, allowing guitarists better clarity of individual notes with each attack.
Fingerstyle players also love the D-15M, using their fingerpicking skills like a magic wand to create a mesmerizing and comforting sound.
The 20-fret East Indian rosewood fingerboard complements the guitar’s chocolate hue.
It has a minimalist design that speaks of enduring elegance.
The Martin D-15M is perfect for those who want a 1940s-inspired acoustic guitar with a powerful projection, complex tones, and a classic dreadnought design.
- Classic vintage tone
- All-mahogany body
- Excellent projection
- Minimalist design
- Perfect for flat or fingerpicking
- Some people might not like its less-bright tone
Martin introduced the first D-18 in 1932, one of the world’s original dreadnoughts.
Fast-forward to the 21st-century.
Martin added a few improvements to its venerable 1930s acoustic guitar to make it sound fuller, warmer, more articulate, and richer with sufficient clarity and ability to deliver a punch when needed.
Some people might not like its ebony fingerboard.
However, ebony adds a bright tone, complementing the rich and full tonal attributes of the D-18’s Sitka spruce top, mahogany sides and back, and hardwood neck.
It also has butterbean knobs replacing the quintessential chrome tuning machines, allowing for exceptional stability.
An Elvis Presley and Clarence White choice, the D-18 delivers phenomenal sound with exceptional note definition, amazing projection, and focused low-end response that never sounds boomy.
This acoustic guitar is the perfect example of an iconic musical instrument based on craftsmanship and tonal qualities.
- Detailed, articulate, rich, and full sound
- Woody and warm tones
- Balanced clarity and punch
- Exceptional performance
- Modest design improvements
- Some might prefer rosewood fingerboards
The Martin LX1 might only be ¾ the size of a classic Martin, but it has all the makings of a venerable musical instrument.
Perfect for travelers, kids, and teenagers, the LX1’s compact size never gets in the way of its phenomenal sound.
Its Sitka spruce top gives it the same bright and clear tones of a classic Martin, while its high-pressure laminate sides and back add structural rigidity to stand the abuse of the road.
The LX1 is the perfect guitar for students and aspiring guitarists because of its 20-fret Richlite fingerboard atop a rust stratabond neck with a 1.6875-inch nut width.
People with small hands will also appreciate this tiny guitar, allowing them to enjoy the sound of a classic Martin without worrying about the price or the build quality.
- Versatile and compact design
- Perfect for guitarist of any skill level
- Classic Martin acoustic guitar tone
- Exceptional build quality
- Laminate sides and back
What do John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Paul McCartney, Hank Williams, Neil Young, and Stephen Stills have in common, besides being legendary artists?
The Martin D-28, of course!
Unquestionably the best acoustic guitar on the planet, the D-28 remains the gold standard of classic rock and roll acoustic guitar.
Many brands try to copy it but fall short.
Introduced in 1931, this Martin acoustic guitar has a high-quality tone, a booming projection, and a legendary sound that works well with any music genre.
The D-28 is the go-to six-string musical instrument of virtuosos, a favorite learning tool of teachers, and a must-have for any guitarist aspiring to become a future legend.
Such accolades can only come from Martin’s enviable guitar craftsmanship DNA – solid Sitka spruce, East Indian rosewood, and ebony – all contributing to a sound few contemporary acoustic guitars can come close to matching.
It is challenging to fault the D-28 unless you consider its price tag.
After all, it is a Martin.
- Legendary acoustic guitar sound
- Excellent for all music genres
- Superior projection
- Exceptional craftsmanship
- Preferred by music legends
Everyone knows Martin can be prohibitively expensive.
However, there are models for every budget.
The Martin 000-15M strikes an admirable balance between stellar artistry, top-shelf craftsmanship, legendary Martin acoustic sound, and affordability, making it one of the best-value acoustic guitars anyone can ever buy.
This chocolate-colored acoustic guitar has an excellent high-end response with low overtone content and a solid, warm, and punchy tone.
The mahogany sides and back, complementing the mahogany top, give the guitar a woody sound with more pronounced overtone coloration.
It is a classic piece that only gets more beautiful as you count the years playing it.
The Martin 000-15M’s exceptional craftsmanship and tonal DNA make it the go-to instrument of strummers and fingerstyle players.
Aspiring guitarists with their eyes on the prize will do well to get this Martin acoustic guitar.
- Perfect for strummers and fingerpickers
- Good high-end response
- Solid, woody, warm, and punchy tone
- Top-shelf craftsmanship
- Exceptional value
- Not as bright as spruce-tops
With its X-scalloped bracing, the Martin HD-28 improves Martin’s legendary D-28’s responsiveness and note definition by leaps and bounds.
Not only does the HD-28 have an outstanding sustain, but it also wows seasoned guitarists with its deep bass response, more open voice, and an aural illusion of wide and deep space.
Every note one plays with the HD-28 comes in exceptional definition, perfect for recording artists.
It has a loud and booming sound, just like any dreadnought, but with an imposing presence making for the perfect instrument in a live band.
The Martin HD-28 is a favorite of James Hetfield, Chris Martin, Dirty South, Bob Dylan, James Valentine, Pete Loeffler, Ray LaMontagne, Pete Anderson, John Moreland, Chuck Ragan, and more.
If you are ready to splurge on an unbeatable acoustic guitar with phenomenal sounds, enduring tonal qualities, and exceptional craftsmanship, the Martin HD-28 is for you.
- Classic Martin tone with substantial improvements
- Deep bass response
- Perfect for instrumentation
- Exceptional note definition
- Preferred by modern artists
Martin understands that packing a dreadnought for a weekend camping trip or an overseas escape is nearly impossible.
That is why the American guitar brand designed and created the Martin Backpacker – its offering to the growing number of guitar enthusiasts who want to play their favorite songs wherever they are.
Perfect for travelers, beginners, campers, kids, teens, and everyone in between, the Backpacker has a lovely design that complements its surprisingly good tonal qualities.
I call it surprising because the acoustic guitar does not have the soundbox of a full-sized guitar yet still delivers an interesting sustain and spot-on note definition.
It also stays in tune, regardless of one’s travel habits and preferences.
And since the Backpacker is a Martin, one can expect its construction to be as thoughtful and robust as its dreadnought brothers.
The Martin Backpacker also has a friendly price, making it an excellent choice for people who want a Martin but have second thoughts about their budgets.
- Great tone
- Interesting sustain
- Stays in tune
- Exceptional build
- Great value
- Not a full-size guitar replacement
Martin SC-13E Acoustic-Electric Guitar
Acoustic guitars have always been Martin’s forte, making the brand synonymous with the string musical instrument.
However, Martin also recognizes the need of other guitarists who want a guitar they can transform into an electric axe on the fly.
The Martin SC-13E is the brand’s offering to these people.
This acoustic-electric guitar combines Martin’s signature acoustic guitar DNA with the revolutionary Fishman MX-T electronics to give modern guitarists the versatile tool they need in their profession.
The integrated electronics and thoughtful S-shaped soundbox design ensure exceptional feedback rejection and balanced output.
Although the nut width is 1.75 inches, the low profile velocity neck and low-action fingerboard guarantee unmatched playability.
The SC-13E is perfect anywhere – the living room, backyard, studio, and concert stage – making it an excellent choice for anyone who wants the rich and full tones of a Martin acoustic and the superb sound control management of 21st-century guitar electronics technology.
- Stunning and comfortable S-shaped body
- Excellent feedback rejection
- Balanced output
- Outstanding playability
- Reliable electronics
- Veneer back and sides
The Martin LXK2 is almost similar to the LX1 Little Martin in many ways.
The only difference is in their tonewood construction.
Whereas the LX1 comes with a solid Sitka spruce top, the LXK2 has a high-pressure laminate with a koa pattern.
While it is safe to assume the laminate construction can impact the acoustic guitar’s tonal attributes, it does not.
That is unless a seasoned guitarist uses the instrument.
Surprisingly, the LXK2 still sounds good.
It might not be loud and boomy like full-sized Martins, but it is never dull and unpleasant.
Even though this acoustic guitar has laminate tonewood, Martin still paid careful attention to its construction.
This attention to detail translates to a guitar that beginner and travel guitarists will use for many years.
Now, that is what many consider a good buy.
- Ideal for absolute beginners, travelers, teens, and children
- Good tonal qualities for its price
- Reliable Martin construction
- Good value
- Laminate tonewood
The Martin 000-18 might have a compact Auditorium shape, but its sound is as impressive as a Martin dreadnought.
This acoustic guitar has Martin’s signature woodwork, growing in elegance and beauty as one counts the years.
As an Orchestra-shaped guitar, the 000-18 is perfect for flat and fingerpick players and strummers.
It produces rich, full, punchy, and warm tones with the superb projection of a full-sized guitar.
It also has a focused tone, allowing anyone to use the 000-18 in any playing style across music genres.
Its compact design makes it comfortable to hold, while its select hardwood neck makes fretting a breeze.
Note definition is spot-on, and the guitar’s timeless tone is as splendid as the D-28.
This Martin acoustic guitar is perfect for anyone who wants a more comfortable musical instrument than the legendary D-28.
- Full-sized guitar sound quality and projection in a compact size
- Focused tone
- Comfortable playing
- Excellent for fingerstyle players
- Ageless woodwork
Why Choose Martin Guitars?
I can cite a hundred different reasons for choosing a Martin guitar, but I will only focus on the most significant ones.
Unmatched Tradition of Excellence Spanning Nearly Two Centuries
Christian Frederick Martin founded the company 188 years ago.
With that much experience making high-quality guitars revered by artists, teachers, enthusiasts, and musicians, the company has its museum chronicling its colorful history.
What many people do not realize is that the Martin Museum is also a fountain of guitar knowledge.
It empowers its current and future luthiers to remain loyal to the founder’s vision.
Unquestionably, Martin’s strength is its people, many of whom are descendants of its first generation of master craftsmen.
Hence, you can expect the same attention to detail, level of commitment, and passion for excellence from 21st-century Martin employees as their forefathers did in the early 19th century.
This Martin DNA passes down from one generation to the next, ensuring the brand’s steadiness and stability amidst a turbulent sea of change in the 21st-century guitar market.
Moreover, C.F. Martin’s repair facility remains the gold standard.
You can expect the company to repair and restore a 1930s D-45 to its original form, complete with the iconic sound that catapulted the Martin dreadnought to fame.
Uncompromising Build Quality
Even though Martin has entry-level models for budget-conscious guitarists, it never compromises on build quality.
As mentioned, the Martin DNA remains strong among the third generation of Martin luthiers and guitar craftsmen.
They select tonewoods carefully and employ only proven guitar-building techniques passed down across generations.
The company uses only solid tonewood for the top, producing a louder, richer, and fuller sound than laminated wood.
Martin prefers spruce because of its clear response and exceptional projection, although the company also uses light and airy cedar and the tonally robust and deep mahogany.
Although Martin also uses laminate wood for its budget-friendly models, it ensures better value by using only high-pressure laminate without detracting from the guitar’s tonal attributes.
Innovative Playing-style-centric Design
While Martin is famous for its dreadnought guitars, it is more revered for its admirable attention to different guitar playing styles.
The company produces different guitar designs catering to various playing styles, ensuring each creation adheres to the highest standards.
For example, there are the Orchestra and 000-series guitars for on-the-go guitarists and the Little Martin for young players, traveling guitarists, and people with small hands.
Woody, bassy, dark, lush, full, and warm is how people describe the sound of a Martin acoustic guitar.
Ask a seasoned guitarist, and he will tell you a Martin has a warm and woody sound with robust and articulate bass.
It sounds excellent at the lower mids, is never too bright nor dark, and has an exceptional balance between harmonics and overtones.
The guitar’s sustain is phenomenal, and its tones are never saturated.
In a word: classic!
Unsurprisingly, many guitar legends consider the sound of a Martin guitar THE gold standard of acoustic guitar sound.
What is the most sought after Martin guitar?
According to Money Inc., four of the world’s five most sought-after acoustic guitars are from Martin, with Eric Clapton’s 1939 Martin 000-42 earning the top spot.
The 1930s Martin OM-45 Deluxe is a close second, producing stellar sounds and featuring appointments many experts and musicians considered legendary at the time.
The 1936-1942 Martin D-45 is also a sought-after Martin acoustic guitar with Brazilian rosewood construction and exceptional tonal characteristics.
Rounding up the top five are the D’Angelico New Yorker Teardrop and the 11930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe.
Are Martin guitars better than Taylor?
If we will pass judgment according to a guitar brand’s longevity, Martin outclasses any guitar brand on the planet, including Taylor.
Established in 1833, C. F. Martin remains the undisputed leader in the acoustic guitar market even after nearly two centuries.
If Martin did not make excellent guitars, it would have folded before the Millennium.
On the other hand, Taylor Guitars is a 47-year old guitar company formed in 1974.
Long before Taylor began producing its acoustic guitars, legends in the music industry have already been using Martin guitars in their Billboard-topping hits and Grammy-winning masterpieces.
Martin guitars give you the classic sound of an acoustic guitar, similar to the hits of the rock ‘n rolling 60s and 70s.
Many legendary artists use Martin acoustic guitars, including Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, The Eagles, Neil Young, Willie Nelson, Paul McCartney, and Crosby Stills & Nash.
Taylor guitars appeal more to contemporary musicians with their more articulate, more balanced, and crisper sound.
John Petrucci, Taylor Swift, Orianthi, and Chelsea Wolfe are some artists who use a Taylor acoustic guitar.
Why Martin guitars are the best?
First, it is worth remembering that C. F. Martin is already in its 188th year of producing high-quality guitars.
Companies cannot last nearly two centuries without a proven formula of excellent quality products with top-notch performance and impeccable craftsmanship.
Second, master guitarists always refer to the sound of a Martin guitar as the classic acoustic guitar sound.
Third, Martin guitars have an even volume and pitch, complete with an excellent dynamic range and projection.
Fourth, there is a Martin guitar for every guitarist, including kids, travelers, and budget-conscious ones.
Fifth, Martin guitars can accommodate any string gauge without undermining the musical instrument’s exceptional tonal properties.
Which Martin guitar is the most popular?
The Martin D-28 might look like any other dreadnought guitar, but it remains the brand’s most popular and most iconic acoustic guitar.
Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Tony Rice, Neil Young, Jimmy Page, Joni Mitchell, Noel Gallagher, Hank Williams, Brad Paisley, and Lester Flatt use this Martin guitar.
Introduced in 1931, the Martin D-28 is a favorite of strummers, fingerstyle players, flat pickers, and guitarists with unusual playing styles.
The model has a rich and booming projection without undermining its tonal qualities, perfect for playing rock, bluegrass, rockabilly, and other genres.
The Martin D-28 is a consistent Guitar of the Year and Player’s Choice awardee for its unmatched performance across music genres and playing styles.
The Martin D-15M came out on top of my review of ten of the best Martin acoustic guitars.
It has the iconic sound of a 1940’s Martin Style 15, a booming and warm dreadnought body, impeccable craftsmanship, and an unbeatable price.
Getting the Martin D-15M is more convenient with online music stores, such as Sweetwater (with discounts and flexible payment terms), Amazon, and other popular e-commerce platforms.
You can also check out your local music instrument store, although you might not get the freebies that e-commerce sites offer.