Larrivee Vs Martin: Which Guitar Brand is Better? [2023 Guide]

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If you want to learn more about Larrivee vs Martin guitar brands, this is the post for you!

And if you’re curious about some of my other brand comparison posts, check out the following:

For those who know, when it comes to high-end acoustic guitars, Martin is probably one of the first brands to come to mind.

And this is no coincidence. Martin guitars have been on the market for almost two centuries.

Martin has also inspired many guitar brands throughout the 20th century to up their game in manufacturing acoustic guitars.

You can see Martin guitar’s influence in instruments from many well-known guitar manufacturers such as Gibson, Fender, Yamaha, Ibanez, etc.

But one brand you may not be as familiar with is Jean Larrivée Guitars.

Larrivée has become a big name when it comes to acoustic guitars.

For those of you who are interested in a comparison between Larrivee and Martin guitars, let’s dive in.

Martin guitars

C.F. Martin & Company is one of the oldest guitar manufacturers in the United States.

They are also one of the oldest in the world when it comes to manufacturing the standard shape of acoustic guitars that we know today.

Christian Frederick Martin founded the company back in 1883. Its main factory is located in Nazareth, Pennsylvania.

To this day, Martin has remained a family-owned business for six generations.

Each generation has managed to adapt to new challenges and at the same time, preserving the uniqueness and high quality of their instruments.

One of Martin’s most important innovations was the creation of the dreadnought guitar body type.

In no time, the dreadnought became so popular that almost all other guitar manufacturers began to copy it.

Unlike previous models, the dreadnought has a richer and louder sound.

This is due to the size of the body, which is significantly larger than other types.

You might also know the Martin dreadnought guitars as “D-“. The most famous models are the D-18, D-28, and D-35.


Although less known, Larrivée is a legitimate competitor to Martin.

Compared to Martin, Larrivée guitars are a relatively new company. Jean Larrivée founded the company in 1976 in Toronto, Canada.

10 years later, the company moved to Victoria, British Columbia. Eventually, they ended up in Vancouver and opened a second factory in California in 2001.

Larrivée modeled their first guitars on European classical guitars but has since made L-body, Parlor, and Dreadnought models.

Some of their more popular series are Recording, Deluxe, Legacy, Performer, Artist, and Traditional.

What makes these guitars unique is the inlays. This feature has been part of the design of these guitars since 1977.

Since 1979, with the exception of “the Joker” inlay from 1998, Wendy Larrivée, Jean Larrivée’s wife creates all the inlays.

In addition to acoustic guitars, Larrivée also produces electric guitars and pickups.

Larrivee Vs Martin: Sound


Martin D-28 | Reverb Demo Video
You can get a sense of Martin’s sound in this demo of one of their most iconic instruments, the Martin D-28!

From the formation of their company, Martin has strived to set the standard for a perfect acoustic guitar.

And most believe that they have maintained that dedication to quality since the beginning. In fact, Martin has made a name for itself as defining the traditional acoustic guitar sound.

Although they have many different models, most instruments have a warm and full sound with plenty of natural reverb.

In fact, Martin is so popular with so many musicians playing their instruments, particularly in the 60s and 70s, that their guitar sound dominated this “Oldies” era.

This is one of the biggest indicators of Martin’s sound quality; the number of musicians who have played or currently play their instruments.

Among Martin’s most famous artists are Eric Clapton, Elvis Presley, Paul McCartney, Neil Young, and Willie Nelson.

But there are countless more!


Larrivee Tommy Emmanuel C03R Demo
Check out this video to get a sense of a Larrivee’s sound!

Larrivée does not have Martin’s rich history. They do however have models that match Martin’s high-end guitars in quality of materials and craftsmanship.

As with Martin, there is no specific definition of the Larrivée sound. There are different models for different needs.

However, If I had to describe their sound overall, I would say they typically produce a mellow resonant sound with good sustain.

One proof of the quality of Larrivée is the custom C-03R-TE. This guitar is a signature model designed for Tommy Emmanuel, who used to be a longtime Maton player.

Larrivee Vs Martin: Build

Both Martin and Larrivée are hand-made guitars. And in both, quality and originality take precedence over quantity.

This means that the best guitar makers in the world use the highest quality wood to make each guitar.

For a fair comparison, I will compare two models, similar in quality and price.

One of Martin’s most popular models is the D-28.

The guitar is made of high-quality Sitka Spruce for the top, East Indian Rosewood for the back and sides, Genuine Mahogany for the neck, and Ebony for the fretboard with a satin finish.

The Larrivée P-03 Recording Series is made with Sitka Spruce for the top, Mahogany for the back, sides, and neck, and the fretboard is made of Ebony with a satin finish.

Although the materials are a bit different for both guitars, they are still of the highest quality.

Larrivee Vs Martin: Pickups

The first difference that I think Larrivée has a slight advantage in, is the pickup system.

This is due to the system they produce themselves, the Stagepro Element and Stagepro Anthem.

Unlike Larrivée, Martin installs Fishman pickups on its guitars.

Fishman pickups are high quality; especially when it comes to the pickups that Martin uses for its guitars.

In short, both pickup systems are high quality, but different.

Therefore, there isn’t a clear answer to which is better.

It is simply a matter of taste.

Larrivee Vs Martin: Price

When it comes to the price, both guitars are pretty expensive and typically range between $1000 and $6000 USD.

You can also find some limited-edition models that cost over $14000 USD.

Considering the price, it is usually expert guitarists that go for these guitars. As you might expect, you won’t find a lot of amateurs playing on a limited edition $14,000 guitar


The difference between guitars of this size is minimal and mainly depends on taste.

In an ideal world, you would play the exact instrument you are considering before you purchase it.

However, you can always order online and use the retailer’s return policy if necessary.

Either way, these are high-quality brands that should provide you with a great guitar.

Let me know in the comments if you have questions about these brands or something else related to the guitar!

5 Responses

  1. Mark Kitzki says:

    Hi there. Had a Martin for a time from there Performance Artist series. Didn’t keep me interested. Had all the checks but didn’t hold me. Bought a Larrivee LV03RE. Got plenty of compliments on it’s sound and tone. One thing I think gives a nod to Larrivee is Jean goes and collects the wood for his guitars and he is quite a stickler about it. The size of Martin, IMHO, can’t be that involved. Love my Larrivee! Thanks. Enjoy!

    1. Thanks for sharing your experience, Mark. That’s interesting! It really goes to show the best guitar can be different for everyone!

  2. LR Baggs makes Anthem and Element systems, not Larrivee, and I believe you can order a Martin with a Baggs or Fishman. These two elecronics companies make the sytems for virtually every guitar brand.

  3. Tom Vaida says:

    In 1974 I wanted to get a high quality guitar. I tried compared a Martin D-28 and a Larrivee Jumbo Cedar top. The Larrivee had a much better sound and IMHO outplayed the Martin hands down.

    1. Hi Tom,

      That’s a bold claim! I’ll have to try that Larrivee sometime to see how it sounds!

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