Hey DJ! Part 2 – Martin Dreadnought Junior

Had very little time to play the new addition since getting it last week.


My plan for the year was to buy only guitars that are under $500. Obviously that changed when I learnt that Citymusic will finally open the discounts to popular models such as the Dreadnought Junior.

At slightly over $800 after a good discount, I couldn’t pass on the chance to bring home an all solid wood Martin.

The Junior is officially listed as 15/16 of the regular dreadnought. Here is a photo of it next to my Alvarez AD30. The DJR is a nicely sized guitar to add to any collection.


Woods are the usual stuffs for lower end Martins – solid spruce top with sapele back and sides. The neck here is listed as “select hardwood” so I’m glad that it’s not stratabond.


It is worth mentioning that the whole guitar is done in a hand-rubbed oil finish. This has drawn a fair bit of negative comments over poor finishing and such. Personally I think you get what you pay for in life. So don’t expect luxurious finishing when you pay under $1k for a Martin.


Here you can see the back of the neck. Not a fine level of polish but it does the job for me. The neck feel of the Junior is great. It actually feels quite similar to a Gibson baseball bat profile. Different from the soft V I had on the DRSGT I bought earlier this year. It also has a 1.75 inch nut that most players welcome.


Other features include black plastic binding on the top only. As with most other Mexico made Martins, the Fishman Sonitone pickup is fitted as standard. I’m glad that this one doesn’t have any preamp or battery box cut and installed. Phew. 🙂

On first strum, the guitar sounds rather deep and bassy. Nothing fantastic, but definitely has the signature Martin sound. The stock Lifespan 80/20 Mediums were already quite dead because I had purchased the display guitar instead of a brand new piece. Something about the grains drew me to the display set, although I now have seconds thoughts. More on that later.


Let’s give it the Bearclaw Special. 

It’s a new guitar after all so I’ll be honest to say there’s really nothing much to be done.


The stock strings were always going to go. I took the time to clean up the fretboard with mild soap and water. You can see here that the fretboard indicates that this was indeed a display guitar. Let’s clean up all the gunk.


Stock plastic pins will go for ebony pins. I got a nice set here that fits even better than stock pins. Wombat came to oversee the project.

Some pencil lead over the nut slots and saddle. And we move on to setup.


As with stock Martins, saddle height at 12th fret is typically 1/8 inch. The plan is to lower it to 7/64.

Relief was slightly over 0.3mm, so I gave it a lil tightening to go for just under 0.3mm. I’m quite heavy handed so I try not to go under 0.25mm.


Just a bit of sanding to bring down the saddle height. 7/64 works fine for me. Restrung with Elixir 80/20 Mediums. I went and forth with the idea of putting in Light gauge but settled on Mediums since Martin recommends that for the Junior.

I also removed the pickguard. I totally dislike pickguards on guitars. But the decision to take the display guitar may have backfired because my DJ has a dramatic tan line now.

Wombat and Edward were checking out the DJ.


Sorry Martin, you guys still need more R&D when it comes to strings. Elixirs feel much better and easier to play. Not to mention they will outlast all other strings.

Had some intonation issues with the low E and filed down the nut slot just a hair lower. Now it is all OK.

Here’s a DJ with his tan line. Quirky, but I will take this over ugly ugly pickguards. 🙂


It is not known if DJ will stay. Guitarbear generally isn’t a big fan of the “traditional sound”, so let’s hope I’ll warm up to it.

5 thoughts on “Hey DJ! Part 2 – Martin Dreadnought Junior

  1. Shame You didn’t mention the pick up location,i just bought one yesterday and was assuming
    it would do a daffy duck impression when plugged in,but it sounds amazing,a fully acoustic
    sound with no quack at all.String tension is high on mine and the action needs to come down
    a tad,ebony french eye bridge pins are on the way from rothesay music’s ebay store.I play
    fingerstyle so a slight drop in volume is ok with me,DR sunbeam strings also on the way.
    Great guitar for the cash though,love thet gorgeous grizzly on your page heading………….


  2. Hi Russell thanks for dropping by.

    i didn’t get much chance to test out the Fishman Sonitone that comes with the DJR, but the initial impressions were that it still sounds like an undersaddle piezo.

    I did fit ebony bridge pins for aesthetic reasons, and yes, they looked great.

    I agree with you on the DJR being great for the money. Here in Singapore, you can get it for under a grand during the sale and that’s amazing value for a full solid Martin.

    And thanks for liking the grizzly bear header. I need to find out who is the rightful owner of the image!



  3. Hi PJ,
    tried the fishman p/u again at a higher volume level & it starts to sound more under saddle but
    still way better than the sigma lg 00 with the same p/u.I got my d jr here:-
    I wouldn’t worry too much as to the original owner of the grizzly,if they were that close the
    chances of them being alive are very small……………



  4. Hi PJ,

    I’ve finally got round to setting up my Martin DJ. Like you I’m not a big fan of the pickguard, which I’ve removed.

    How did you remove the remaining glue? Seems on pretty well..



  5. Hi Will, thanks for dropping by.

    You can try using Zippo lighter fluid. You’ll probably need to do a bit of rubbing to fully remove the glue residue.

    What I do is I normally try on a bit at some obscure area of the guitar before going full on. The DJR has very little finish so it can get a bit tricky. Too much polish and the likes will make the finish look shiny or sticky.


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