Many guitar players look to the most popular artists of the day to see what instruments they are playing to achieve that amazing sound. Ed Sheeran is one of those artists that people look up to because of his overall musical talents and notoriety. In this guide we are looking at the guitar models Ed Sheeran uses with both acoustic guitar and electric options. We focus mainly on the guitars that you see during his live performances.
Overall we see Ed Sheeran use three different guitars to achieve his signature sound. His acoustic guitar options include the Martin Ed Sheeran Divide model as well as the Little Martin (otherwise known as the Martin LX1E). For electric guitar, Sheeran would normally go for his one-of-a-kind Fender Stratocaster. These are the three guitars we will touch on in this piece as well as giving you some affordable option so you can play just like Sheeran on your very own guitar. If you want to learn some no capo guitar songs by this artist to get you started, make sure to check out the article on our website.
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Ed Sheeran’s Background
Before we jump in to the technical side of things let’s start by learning a bit more about Ed Sheeran. He’s most known for his hit singles which include Shape of You, Thinking Out Loud and Photograph. He first rose to fame in England as a singer/songwriter when he released his single A-Team back in 2011.
Ed Sheeran is a hugely popular artist all over the world now despite his humble beginnings. He quickly became a noted musical sensation thanks to the way he could play his guitar and use the music to evoke feelings and emotion. He has so many fans because he writes songs that everyone can truly relate to on a happy or sad level.
As of 2020, Ed Sheeran is now one of the best-selling artists and musicians anywhere in the world. He has reached an astonishing 150 million records sold worldwide which is incredibly impressive. On Spotify he is in second place for the most-streamed artist from the past ten years, as well as winning the musician of the decade award from the Official Charts Company.
The reason why we all love Ed so much is for his uniqueness. The way he plays his acoustic guitar matches his singing style. While he won’t go down in history as being a legendary guitarist like Hendrix or Clapton, his ability to create amazing music and sing while playing the guitar certainly puts him a step above the rest.
If you really want to get the authentic sound of Sheeran then you will need to invest in the accessories and other tools he uses as well. Typically he will use alternate tuning as well as a looper pedal. It’s these techniques that give his music that signature style.
Ed Sheeran Guitar Brands
Many young guitarists look to see what Ed Sheeran plays in terms of model and brand. His guitars rarely use over-the-top designs, opting for a plainer look. What is the same is the great sound he can produce from these instruments. It’s more than likely you will see Ed Sheeran use an acoustic guitar, and these come from big brands such as Lowden and Martin.
As we mentioned at the beginner of this article, there are three guitars that Ed Sheeran uses above the rest. The first is the Martin Ed Sheeran Divide which is his own signature edition acoustic guitar. The second is the Martin LX1E, otherwise referred to as the Little Martin. If he wants to go electric he picks up the Ed Sheeran signature Fender Stratocaster with a one-of-a-kind design.
Back in 2013 Ed decided to team up with the designers over at Martin so that he could have his own Ed Sheeran signature guitar line. These guitars went on to be called the Martin X Ed Sheeran Signature Edition line. When he initially teamed up with the brand they worked together on a new version of the Martin LX1E.
Ed Sheeran’s Guitars
Martin Ed Sheeran Divide
This guitar is the signature of Ed Sheeran and is an ideal instrument for playing those emotional and meaningful songs. The top of the guitar is made from Sitka spruce and has a sleek and glossy finish. You will notice that on the top of the guitar as well as on the headstock and the fingerboard there is a divide symbol. This icon is there to go along with the theme for Ed Sheeran’s album, Divide. The sides and back are crafted from solid mahogany HPL for an elegant finish.
The reason why HML is used so much for modern guitars is that it’s cheap to make and the sound quality it produces is amazing. It’s a very rigid material that is also durable thanks to the way it’s been constructed from multiple layers that are then pressed down and finally laminated together. The Sitka spruce is used because it’s a soft wood that helps bring out those low to mid-range tones. When added to a steel-string guitar you can play a lot of different genres such as folk, hip hop and pop.
As is common with Sheeran, the guitar isn’t full size because he likes them a little bit smaller. Despite the sound, this guitar still gives out a loud and dynamic sound. Thanks to the spruce, when you reach the higher tones they will sound brighter and punchier. The smaller size of the instrument means high notes are easier to hit too.
Little Martin LX1E
This Martin guitar is an acoustic-electric instrument that is affordable for more experienced guitarists. It gives out great tonal quality and clarity as a larger guitar but doesn’t have the same booming low notes that you would get with a full size piece. The Sitka spruce is used again and this time it’s been combined well with the mahogany wood that forms both the back and sides.
When you first see the guitar you will notice that it is very similar to the Divide guitar we mentioned above. What is missing is the artwork. Martin heavily markets this guitar to students of the instrument but Sheeran uses this alongside his signature edition still.
Because this is an electric acoustic there are four buttons along the side which are the electronic side of the instrument. You can change up your tuning, the volume, the contour and the phasing using these controls. Even though there is an electric element to this piece it still delivers a classic sound which is what Sheeran is known for.
When Sheeran does bring out his electric guitar he uses probably the most famous guitar of all time. However, his has a unique twist.
The artist took his Strat and joined forces with Teddy M as well as a graffiti artist John Crash Matos to add some artwork onto the body of the guitar. This is the Eric Clapton version of the Strat as well, which other guitarists such as John Mayer use regularly.
The Fender has always had a very distinct sound and adds in blends that give it an overall brighter tone. Even though it’s an electric piece, it can still be used for calmer and soft songs which is what Sheeran does. The pickups are unique because there are three instead of one or two which other guitars usually have. It’s the pickups being like this that created Sheeran’s hit songs because it gives you so much range.
Most of these guitars will be made from alder or ash and the neck is thick maple. Thanks to the shape and design of the guitar, there’s some versatility for players who want to use chords and then play solos. Thanks to the solid wood that is used to build this instrument, it’s ideal for pop song ballads.
Ed Sheeran Guitar Size
Normally you will see Ed using a 3/4 size guitar. Because of how popular he is amongst new musicians a lot of guitarists choose to follow in his footsteps with his loop pedals and junior-sized instruments. Sheeran has often said that the setup he uses is a magic formula. Usually, you would see a 3/4 size guitar used by traveling musicians or by younger players.
Sheeran chose to use smaller guitars as a smart choice because it matches his vocals. A smaller instrument is ideal for a loud voice or when playing in a band because the size generates a sound that is more focused than a larger guitar.
For an artist like Ed who constantly has to travel around the world to attend live performances, a smaller guitar is the ideal choice. Having a larger guitar can cause feedback problems when on stage and are also heavier to carry.
A smaller-bodied guitar would be a great choice for a guitarist with small hands. This is because you will be able to get to the upper frets a lot easier being that they are that little bit closer to each other. In turn, this could improve your playability as a musician overall.
Sheeran’s guitar size means that the sound and tone are much brighter than other guitars. It can cut through the noise of other instruments or voices easily. The downside is that you won’t be able to get those fuller bass sounds that a large guitar can provide. Ed Sheeran is famous for his softer and more ballad-like pieces so he doesn’t need the bravado of bass to fill out his music.
Yamaha FG JR1 3/4
This is a junior guitar so it’s quite small in size. However, it’s the exact same size as the guitars that Ed Sheeran plays. This instrument would be ideal for a younger player or anyone with small hands. It would also suit anyone who travels with their guitar for performances on the go because of its handy size.
The sound this guitar produces is crisp and it can project well. The reason that the price is cheap is that it’s not constructed from solid wood. Instead, it’s made from laminate which is still a good material for affordable acoustic guitars.
To save you even more money this instrument comes with its own starter kit. Included in this kit is a soft gig bag as well as a shoulder strap. They may also include a capo and a clip-on tuner depending on the kit you buy.
Fender Player Stratocaster
The price label on this guitar doesn’t match the brand it comes from. Fender released this instrument to introduce younger players to their guitars in the hopes of selling them a more expensive axe in the future. There are some more modern updates that differ from an original Strat here such as the C-shape neck and magnetized pickups. The sleek finish of the guitar is incredibly appealing and it’s also available in a range of colors which adds to the fun.
Even though this guitar is on the lower end of the price scale, it still has been made from the solid alder wood that a lot of other Fender guitars are crafted from. The wood that is used gives the guitar that bright and resonant tone while still being balanced to the ear. Alder wood is wonderful for guitarists who like to play longer sustains and belt out those mid-range notes. It’s also a lovely guitar to hold because of the rounded edges and contouring of the body, giving it a really smooth feeling in your hands.
Because this is a guitar on a budget you don’t get all the fancy stuff like the electronics and hardware that you would typically see on the more expensive models. However, this Strat does have the 2-point tremolo that was designed to enhance the playability of the guitar. Thanks to this synchronization the tuning is rock solid because there’s less friction on the posts as you play.
It’s amazing to know that one of the biggest pop sensations of the modern day has such an easy guitar setup that most players will be able to recreate on a budget. Thanks to his uniqueness he makes likable music with great style and tonality. Ed knows exactly how to pull on those heartstrings with his love ballads and his musicality is fun to listen to, even if you’re not a pro guitar player.
Most of the guitars he uses are affordable and small enough to be able to take with you wherever you go. However, if these are a little out of your price range we have provided you with some other options which may be better suited to your budget. With guitars of this size you get great sound quality and have the added advantage of being able to take it on the go. We hope you found our article helpful and that it might even help you choose your next guitar.
What guitar does Ed Sheeran use?
Ed Sheeran mainly uses three types of Martin acoustic guitars as his go-to instruments for live performances and studio sessions. He also occasionally uses an electric guitar which are usually your standard Fender Strats.
Why does Ed Sheeran play a small guitar?
Ed plays a 3/4 size guitar and the reason for this is because he just prefers them that way. He travels a lot and the smaller size guitars stay in tune more than a full-sized piece. These guitars are usually stronger when it comes to the bumps that happen on the road.
Who made Ed Sheeran’s guitars?
Sheeran used to use a range of Martin guitars but now has his own line of Lowden instruments that he helps to design along with the brand.
Does Ed Sheeran play a little Martin?
Yes, typically the artist can be seen with one of his Lowden guitars but if he’s using a Martin, he goes for either the Little Martin or his signature model – the Martin Ed Sheeran Divide.