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This article was originally published in issue #66
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No compromise small-bodied guitars.
Handsome good looks.
Superb tonal palette acoustically or plugged in
Soft case included
None at this price point!
D Junior Shape
Sitka Spruce or Sapele Top
Fishman Sonitone Electronics
World-renowned for their ability to craft beautiful guitars perfect for the working musician. Martin guitars, with their rich history, stunning design and effortless playability, continue to prove why they are considered one of the very best acoustic manufacturers around. In this issue, Tom Quayle reviews the latest from the brand, in the form of the extremely competitively priced: Martin Dreadnought Junior DJR10E.
Like many acoustic guitar manufacturers these days, Martin produces a whole range of smaller-bodied instruments to suit the needs of their customer base, ranging from their travel-friendly ‘Backpacker’ series to their diminutive ‘Little Martin’ guitars. The Junior series is designed to sit in between these mini guitars and a full-sized Martin, thanks to its smaller Dreadnought body proportions, ‘000’ body width and 24” scale length. The DJR-10E is perfectly suited to those players looking for a big Dreadnought sound in a smaller package and, unlike some of Martin’s smaller guitars, this one features all solid woods for a more authentic Martin experience.
Our review DJR-10E or Dreadnought Junior featured a solid, satin-finished Sitka Spruce top and cherry stained, satin-finished Sapele back and sides. Martin also offer a Sapele top for those wanting a darker overall look and perhaps a slightly brighter overall tone. The hand rubbed finish neck is constructed from select hardwood, sporting Martin’s high-performance taper for a smooth playing experience that matches beautifully with the shorter 24” scale length. The comfortable, thinner ‘000’ body width is enhanced with softer, contoured back edges that are a surprisingly welcome addition over the standard hard edges you would find on a larger Dreadnought guitar. Comfort is the name of the game here and the DJR-10E is a delightful playing experience that makes switching back to a full-size guitar a slightly disconcerting experience.
The DJR-10E is a classically good-looking instrument thanks to it’s natural, satin finish and handsome, understated aesthetic touches. The Mother of Pearl rosette and fretboard dots are all tastefully executed, matching beautifully with the Tortoise shell pickguard and the classic Martin headstock is adorned with a dark wood veneer and gold-script Martin logo, completing the classy, without ever being over the top, look.
The Dreadnought Junior is available with or without electronics – our review model featured a Fishman Sonitone pickup; a superb addition that sounds great and stays out of the way thanks to the controls being mounted inside the upper part of the sound hole. This renders the pickup and volume/tone controls completely invisible to the eye, thus not destroying the good looks mentioned earlier. The 9v battery compartment and input jack are located conveniently on the lower bout of the body rather than on the strap button, meaning you are less likely to damage the guitar if you stand on the jack cable mid-performance.
Tonally the DJR-10E is a fantastic performer with a ton of low-end volume and punch considering the smaller body size. The Sapele back and sides add more high-end sparkle than you might find with a Mahogany equivalent, meaning that the sound is always detailed and dynamically rewarding, making you play musically and thoughtfully.
Considering the Martin pedigree, excellent build quality and superb tones, the DJR-10E is also very well priced for an all solid woods guitar with this level of playability. It’s certainly not the cheapest guitar Martin make, but it won’t break the bank either and even comes with a good quality soft case thrown into the equation.
For those needing a smaller body guitar for whatever reason that doesn’t compromise too much on tone and features, the DJR-10 (no electronics) or DJR-10E (with pickup) are fantastic options that represent excellent value for money and the visual options to suit your taste.