Which Mini Acoustic Guitar is Right For Me?
Over here at PMT, we are committed to covering the most asked about topics for all of you curious players out there. We are players ourselves and have notice a fast growing trend in mini acoustic guitars. Everyone is going to tell you that the one they have is best. But we know better.
When Did These Small Acoustic Guitars Become So Popular and Why?
When we think of acoustic guitars, it's typically the dreadnought body which comes to mind. The classic shape has been favored by guitar players for decades however, in recent years we have noticed a steady increase in major guitar builders (Martin, Taylor, Tanglewood and Faith to name a few), producing smaller-bodied acoustics.
While these kind of instruments have been available in the past, it probably wasn't until UK singer songwriter Ed Sheeran appeared on SBTV back in 2010 with his Martin LX1 to perform his hit 'You Need Me, I Don't Need You', that the interest really began to pick up. Even non-fans of the artist started to see the benefit of gigging with a mini acoustic guitar. They are lightweight, super portable, inexpensive and sound superb plugged up. This makes them great for the gigging musician or buskers who typically throws their gear into a car to play a couple of shows a night.
Now on to the topic of this article which is, What is the best mini acoustic guitar available? We've taken four of the most popular selling models, had a play around and now we're going to tell you what our experts actually think!
Introducing The Contestants.
Martin LX1E Electro Acoustic
Also known as 'The Little or Mini Martin', is easily the best selling small axe we've ever had in.
This guitars popularity sky rocketed with players when Ed Sheeran broke onto the scene. Due to Ed's phenomenal success it hasn't been difficult to eclipse the competition. Today it almost seems to be the immediate choice for players looking for one of these smaller guitars.
The Mini Martin has been the daddy of the small guitar since Ed Sheeran debuted 6 years ago. Its quite amazing to see the effect that a successful artist has had in bringing a single product to the forefront of attention. What we are here to question however is its authority. Is this guitar a serious workhorse? or is this guitar a toy for Ed Sheeran fans. Well we'll say this, it's certainly no toy. love it or hate it, this is a Martin Guitar.
- Full Mahogany construction
- Solid Sitka Spruce top
- Fishman Isys T preamp system
- Plays great and feels very comfortable in the hands
- It does perform well when plugged in
- A solid name brand to play with pride
By all means this is a good guitar. It does live up to it's hype and performs very well. The price is quite steep for what it offers but is sure to make players very happy indeed. After all, it's an adorable sized Martin guitar!
In short, a very good entry from Martin but it's beginning to face some major competition from its biggest competitors.
Taylor GS Mini-E and Taylor Baby BT1E
Taylor are no stranger to the idea of mini acoustic guitars. In fact they pioneered them. The original Baby Taylor was conceived in 1996 which predated good ol' Sheerans Martin by about 14 years. Following on from Taylor's original 'Baby' range and bringing us to 2016 are the brand new GS Mini models.
The Taylor GS Mini-E has a slightly different approach to the Martin LX1E or the previously successful Taylor Baby BT1E. The idea here was to take a top of the range Taylor guitar and scale it down almost by means of a magical 'Photoshop' button. The result is a fully fledged 3/4 size guitar which is a little more costly than that Martin, but hugs closer to the idea of a scaled down guitar, rather than a small one.
It feels and sounds somewhere between the mini-dreadnoughts on offer and conventional full sized acoustic guitars. With that said, it's still a small guitar which can be thrown into overhead luggage spaces and used for regular gigs. For those looking to splash out a little extra, this is probably the model to go for.
- Great intonation and action thanks to a compensated bridge
- Fantastic Taylor build quality
- The loudest of its class
- Well priced for a genuine Taylor guitar
- Easy access 2-way truss rod for making neck adjustments
- Supplied with tough hard bag
- Taylor preamp system sounds great
- Solid Sitka Spruce top with Laminated back and sides helps to deliver that extra volume
This guitar is perfect for busking and sounds great plugged in as you would expect. It is also the loudest and in our opinion best sounding 3/4 size guitar available. It serves up the same dish offered by Martin in a distinctly different package. This is a really awesome alternative to the Martin for those looking to spend that little bit extra.
Faith Guitars FDS Nomad Mini-Saturn
New to 2016 is the FDS Nomad Mini-Saturn from Faith Guitars. For those of you who may not be familiar with Faith guitars, they were founded in 2002 by British master luthier, Patrick James Eggle.
Faith guitars are are all classic British design and since 2002 have been making a strong presence among players. The FDS Nomad Mini-Saturn is faiths entry into the 3/4 size guitar market and follows the LX1E approach more so then that of the GS Mini offered from Taylor. The result is a cheaper, more ergonomic guitar with no fills.
This little guitar by the much lesser known brand really hits the ground running and proves to be a credible threat to the likes of the Baby Taylor and Mini Martin. Again, Faith guitars like any brand have their own unique sound, while the characteristics are similar, all of these models do vary in their sound and will take different players fancies. The Faith Nomad Mini-Saturn is an excellent alternative which is designed to actually age well! The mark of a great luthier.
- Solid Spruce/Mahogany construction is designed to sound better and better with age
- The Headstock design, Indian Rosewood fingerboard and Faith 'F' inlay are very nice touches
- This guitar plays really well, has a proper 2-way truss rod for neck adjustments and overall feels very comfortable
- Excellent sounding preamp from Faith with a built in tuner
- Very well priced!
- Tone wise, this guitar sounds bigger then it is
This to us defines the mini acoustic guitar. A perfect busking/travel companion designed to actually sound better over the time it's played. In terms of pricing it falls right between the Taylor Baby BT1E and Martin LX1E while performing and looking as good, if not better than both. You now know this axe is out their. Find one, try it and see for yourself how it compares.
Washburn Comfort Series WCDM55K
Washburn guitars were founded in Chicago, Illinois USA back in 1886. The company who have a very long history making guitars, have always aimed to offer tremendous value with their instruments.
The WCDM55K is not the first 3/4 size guitar to come from Washburn, but it is the most recent entry. The first thing you've probably noticed is the stunning design which doesn't really reflect its price tag of £259. At this price the Washburn is almost £100 cheaper then a 'Baby Taylor' while also being far better looking then its competition.
Whether or not you prefer this model over the other 3 is one thing, What can't be argued is the value this guitar brings to the table. the Little Martin might have pushed the small guitar to new heights but Washburn have done their complete own take on it. This guitar is gorgeous and comes in at a phenominal price which is more affordabe to most players.
- Incredible price
- Stunning design
- Plays incredibly well and has a uniquely designed semi-cutaway
- Constructed from stunning Koa tone wood
*This guitar is acoustic only and requires a pickup for live situations. You can find our selection of acoustic pickups HERE.
While the lack of a pickup does let it down slightly, ourselves and many purists agree that traditional acoustics tend to sound better due to a lack of clutter in the guitar body. With that said, you could spend almost £200 extra on an excellent removable acoustic pickup and the Washburn will still match the price of the Martin!
The WCDM55K is easily the best looking, among the best sounding and absolutely hands down, the best value of our picks.
So Which Mini Acoustic Guitar is Best?
All four of these models are going to appeal to different players so it's important to bare that in mind. We would always recommend trying out each guitar in store before making a buying decision. With that said, here is our ranking.
- Faith FDS Nomad Mini-Saturn
- Taylor GS Mini E
- Martin LX1E
Topping our list as the all round favorite is the Faith FDS Nomad Mini-Saturn. It beats the Martin on price, has incredible play-ability and sounds great with either Faiths own preamp system or unplugged.
We should say now, all four of these models are well made, have a great heritage and perform great! We know however that the small guitar is a hot topic for discussion and sometimes, it's easy to be drawn towards the most popular model (The Martin LX1E). What we aimed to do was make you the reader aware of the other models are available before buying so that you can choose exactly what's right for you.
Of course what we'd actually suggest is saving all your money and making one of these amazing paper Mache' guitars like the one you see below.
You need me man, I don't need you.