Is a high-end junior guitar a good choice? This Martin D Jr. review will clarify that for you.
With over 180 years in the business, Martin is a big brand famous for high-quality guitars. They also made the first dedicated travel guitar, the Backpacker. While small guitars offer great portability and easier playability for small hands, they’ve had a reputation for lacks in other areas.
This isn’t true for modern junior guitars like the Martin D Jr. With this guitar, Martin bridges the gap between small and full-sized guitars. It’s like a regular Martin dreadnought, just slightly smaller.
The Martin D Jr. is a 15/16th-size version of a typical Martin dreadnought. It has a 24-inch scale length and 20 frets with no cutaway. It has a solid Sitka spruce top, the rest of the body and neck are Sapele wood. The body has scalloped X-bracing. Regarding size, it’s right between the Little Martin and a full-size dreadnought.
The neck attaches to the body with a Mortise and Tenon joint. A synthetic ebony material called Richlite makes up the fretboard. With a string spacing of 54.76mm, it’s suitable for most finger sizes. It has small sealed chrome tuners for steady tuning and intonation. The nut is made of white Corian.
In the other end of the strings, you find a compensated Tusq saddle on a Richlite bridge. It also has a faux tortoise pickguard. As you can see, the Martin D Jr. uses only high-quality materials. It also comes with a nylon gig bag.
Let’s clarify what separates the Martin D Jr. E and Martin D Jr. 2 from the regular version. E is for electronics, and it has a Fishman Sonitone pickup system. The Martin D Jr. 2 is a newer version with a Sapele top.
Instead of the common gloss finish, the Martin D Jr. has a natural hand-rubbed oil surface. This makes the guitar look and sound better, but it’s not as protective and requires occasional maintenance for optimal results. You can expect great attention to detail in both the finish and other visual features.
How the Martin D Jr. Plays
Since it’s not a lot smaller than a typical guitar, it’s an easy transition in both directions. While the frets are narrower and ideal for small hands, it can accommodate bigger ones too. The Martin D Jr. has a quick neck that lets you cover all 14 free frets with ease. Its taper and profile make complex chords and fast runs easier for small hands, and the string spacing is optimal for fingerstyle.
The lower string tension makes the Martin D Jr. comfortable to play, especially for beginners. You can expect effortless bends and slides. Combined with the light weight, this makes long sessions less tiring.
While it doesn’t have the full low end of a full-size guitar, the Martin D Jr. produces a big and smooth sound for its size. It has a warm, resonant midrange with a rich texture. While it’s not the most complex tone, it’s punchy and defined with a balanced treble. Country, rock, and jazz would all sound right on a Martin D Jr.
For its small size, it offers enough projection and volume for playing on a street corner or at a campfire. Thus, the Martin D Jr. makes a handy travel guitar.
What People Say
Guitarists give it 4.5out of 5 stars on Amazon. Comments highlight the smoothness in both feel and tone, and the articulate timbre. They say it sounds and feels like a much pricier guitar.
The Martin D Jr. is affordable for a Martin guitar. If you’re interested in the Martin D Jr. 2E, check it out here.
Martin D Jr. VS Taylor Big Baby
A Martin D Jr review wouldn’t be complete without a comparison against a similar guitar from a comparable brand. The Big Baby Taylor is the same size and has a Sitka top with select Sapele sides and back. It’s a somewhat cheaper build, but not by much. Other than the micarta saddle and neck screws, nothing stands out.
It sounds slightly brighter and less deep. It’s not a big difference, and it’s a matter of preference. The same goes for playability. If you want to learn more about the Big Baby Taylor, read my review here.
Pros & Cons
Let’s summarize this Martin D Jr. review. These are the main insights.
- Classic Martin timbre
- Excellent build quality
- Convenient size
- Smooth playability
Few junior guitars can match a Martin D Jr. And it’s affordable for a Martin.
- No double-action truss rod
- No cutaway
The simple design may have its limits, but it’s the standard. Performance-wise, it’s on point.
Is Martin D Jr. the Guitar for You?
It’s portable, beginner-friendly, and sounds bigger than it is. It’s a proper Martin with a smaller design and price tag. This makes the Martin D Jr. an excellent choice for guitarists with smaller hands. If you want something for a smaller child, here are some great guitars for kids. I hope you found this Martin D Jr. review helpful.
Martin D Jr John Holloway Rating: 5 out of 5