Martin 000-X2E review – forget what you think about budget Martins

By Martin’s own admission, the X Series guitars weren’t at the level they wanted them to be – in a hugely competitive market, can this new remastered generation change the conversation?

Martin 000-X2E

Martin 000-X2E

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Review Overview

Our rating


Our verdict

Great looks
Much-improved playability
Nice balanced sound
One-strap gigbag is weird
You’re still paying a relative premium for the Martin brand and Mexico build

The remastered X Series offers looks, feel and sound that massively improve on the previous generation, and this 000 deserves to be in the conversation when we talk about ideal singer-songwriter acoustics. Whether it’s your first serious guitar or a great-sounding backup guitar, this won’t let you down.

$699/£699, martinguitar.com

For many, Martin Guitars are the gold standard of American-designed and crafted acoustic guitars. But there is a price to be paid for American craftsmanship, with increased resale value, and many of us don’t have the extra money required to acquire the Martin of our dreams right now.

  • READ MORE: Why the Martin GPCE Inception Maple shows that America’s oldest guitar brand is still a hotbed of innovation

So while Martin’s new GPCE Inception Maple might have made the biggest splash at this year’s NAMM show in Anaheim, California, it did mean that another and perhaps more important launch from America’s oldest guitar brand flew somewhat under the radar – the all-new X Series.

I’ve got a couple of the new guitars here to review, but we’ll be kicking things off with what’s sure to be one of the most popular guitars in the range, the 000-X2E.

What is the Martin X Series?

Martin launched the X Series back in 1998, and for all of that time the guitars have been made in Martin’s Navojoa, Mexico factory. This meant that the guitars were able to be made for much more affordable prices, and often used more innovative (and more sustainable) materials.

While the Richlite fretboards and Stratabond necks that polarised many players have long been consigned to history, Martin still makes use of High Pressure Laminates (HPL) in their X Series. HPL effectively takes multiple sheets of very thin paper-like substance, impregnates it with resin, and then puts it under extreme amounts of pressure and heat to create a very solid and hard-wearing material.

It’s very similar to Formica and other similar materials used in kitchen worktops – and just like those worktops, the HPL that Martin uses is printed with a faux-wood pattern to make it look more like real wood (more on that later).

Martin 000-X2E
Martin 000-X2E

What’s different about the Remastered X Series?

This new crop of ‘Remastered’ X Series guitars represent a total reimagining of Martin’s most affordable instruments, a decision that could reflect that the existing models were perhaps not on par with other instruments in their price ranges.

“We got feedback from players that playability is not where it needs to be, the aesthetics could be improved, and the electronics too,” Martin CEO Thomas Ripsam told Guitar.com’s Josh Gardner at the 2024 NAMM Show. “And that was obviously also in the context of that price range, where you just have a lot of choices available – it’s very competitive! And if you’re not at least on par or better, people may pick something else!”

All that boils down to some enhanced aesthetics, a thinner fingerboard with bevelled edges to make it more comfortable to play, while the bridge contour has also been tweaked to enhance overall playability.

Older X Series guitars used Fishman’s MX-T pickup and preamp system for electrified duties, but the Remastered range swaps over to Martin’s in-house E-1 system – which bears a striking resemblance to the MX-T right down to the built-in tuner that sits at the bass side of the soundhole.

Like previous X Series guitars, you get a HPL back and sides with a spruce top, while the fingerboard, neck and bridge are now what Martin calls ‘select hardwood’ – a wooly and slightly frustrating term that the brand has used for a while now to cover a variety of woods, including various species of mahogany, Spanish cedar, and sipo.

The term allows Martin to use these similar woods interchangeably (even on some of their less expensive US-made instruments) depending on their availability. What you get will depend on what they have in stock at the time, but they will still be quality solid tonewoods.

One of the most talked about aspects of the Remastered X Series are the overhauled wood-grain patterns on the HPL back, sides and headplate. Whereas the old guitars looked very fake on closer inspection, Martin has gone to the trouble of making ultra-hi-res scans of actual pieces of iconic and eye-catching tonewood – including Brazillian rosewood, cocobolo and ziricote – to create the new grain patterns.

Martin 000-X2E
Martin 000-X2E

How does the Martin 000-X2E feel and play?

When I was wandering around the Martin booth at this year’s NAMM, the X Series Remastered guitars were displayed in a most unusual fashion that allowed you to appreciate both the back and front of these guitars – Martin is clearly very proud of how good these new HPL patterns look, and with good cause.

While some of the more ostentatious woods (like cocobolo) probably have a bit too much fancy figure in them to look real, the more subtle grain pattern of the Brazilian rosewood here looks really fantastic. Okay it’s not going to fool anyone who knows their stuff up close, but it’s a real step forward from the previous efforts, and the new hand-rubbed satin finish to the spruce top looks much more premium than previous efforts.

Taking the 000-X2E out of its gigbag and strumming a chord or two is an equally impressive and enhanced experience. The new thinner bevelled neck is more comfortable to navigate for chords and soloing, and the “refined” string spacing (2 5/32″) enhances playability – it doesn’t feel as crowded as past X Series guitars.

The ‘select hardwood’ neck feels and looks much better than the sandwich woods they used to use on these instruments, and the guitar’s body feels really comfortable when played either seated or standing. The guitar comes with a nicely padded gigbag – though it has just one shoulder strap, meaning you can’t secure it over both shoulders. Okay, most of us carry our guitars on one strap most of the time, but it still feels like a weird design choice and one I’m not a fan of.

Martin 000-X2E
Martin 000-X2E

How does the Martin 000-X2E sound?

The 000 body style has become the go-to for modern singer-songwriters who don’t need the power and projection of a dreadnought but still want an instrument that can hold its own in a small room or home performance.

The 000-X2E delivers very articulate midrange sounds with enough volume to backup your vocals but not swamp them up, and it’s not just a strummer – this guitar is a lot of fun to fingerpick, and the individual string definition is very even across all strings without a boomy bass tone.

The E-1 undersaddle piezo pickup system is consistent without being spectacular. It does a nice job of showcasing the guitar’s unplugged tone without being too nasal, and the built-in tuner is really handy to have in a gigging, or indeed any, situation – it’s clear, bright and accurate.

Is the Martin 000-X2E worth buying?

In the 25 years-plus that Martin has been making the X Series, the budget acoustic market has become more competitive than ever – with brands like Cort, Eastman and Sigma driving up standards and raising expectations for players about what you can get for sub-$1,000.

For a few years now, Martin’s X Series has been lagging behind somewhat – the oft-repeated mantra has been that unless you have to have that iconic name on the headstock, there were better options to be had for the same money.

The 000-X2E shows that Martin has listened to what people have been saying and acted decisively. I spoke to some of Martin’s R&D team and they were giddy over all of the upgrades they were able to make on these guitars and still keep the cost down – and having spent time with this guitar I can understand why.

You used to hear people talk unflatteringly about the compromises in looks, feel and sound to get that Martin name on the peghead of an X Series guitar, but those days are over. This is a proper Martin guitar in all the ways that matters, and signals the return of the brand as a real force in the mid-price acoustic market once again.

Back of the Martin 000-X2E
Back of the Martin 000-X2E

Martin 000-X2E Pros & Cons

Pros: Great looks, much-improved playability, nice balanced sound

Cons: One-strap gigbag is weird, you’re still paying a relative premium for the Martin brand and Mexico build

Martin 000-X2E Alternatives

The most obvious competitor to the 000-X2E is the Taylor 110ce ($899/£799) also made in Mexico and similarly designed to recreate the feel and sound of a ‘real’ Taylor at a more affordable price point. If you’re after more of a Gibson vibe then Epiphone’s J-45 ($749/£799) is a very lovely guitar for the money, while Fender continues to offer outrageous value on the acoustic side – the PO-220E ($829/£629) has all-solid woods and sounds fantastic.

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