While the guitar is a highly portable instrument, it’s always nice to have the option of bringing a more compact model when getting on a plane or hitting the streets. Martin’s DJR-10E Streetmaster (from the brand’s Junior Series) is a guitar that doesn’t sacrifice sound quality or dynamic range for size.
The Streetmaster is a 14-fret dreadnought junior acoustic-electric guitar. It’s the same shape as a dreadnought but much smaller with a 000 (or orchestra) depth. It has a 24” scale length and Martin’s High Performance Taper neck so that the neck is 1-3/4” wide at the nut and 2-1/8” wide at the 12th fret. Designed with street musicians in mind, this (dare I say) cute little guitar is perfect for the busker who’d rather not schlep around a deeper, heavier standard dreadnought.
Along with the specs listed above, the guitar has a sapele top, back, and sides, a satin body finish, and a hand-rubbed neck finish. Mistakenly called African mahogany, sapele is a highly sustainable, all-purpose tonewood that behaves similarly to mahogany but adds a little extra to the treble end of things. The guitar has classic scalloped X-bracing made with Sitka spruce.
With a top coloring Martin calls “mahogany burst,” part of the Streetmaster’s design is the illusion of some wear and tear. You’ll notice some spots that are a bit paler, making it look as though they’ve been scratched or worn. Don’t worry if you don’t want your guitar to look used, however. While some of the product images online make the markings look more pronounced, they are subtle and create a charming aesthetic in person.
A simple design, the guitar has no binding or purfling, with the only decorations being a mother-of-pearl rosette and Martin’s scripted logo on the headstock (done in gold). The bridge pins and strap button are white with black dots, and the tuning pegs are silver. It also comes with an onboard Fishman Sonitone preamp.
Despite the Streetmaster’s size, it has a great, full sound. The high end is as clear as you might expect from a smaller-bodied guitar, but the low end also comes through powerfully. It can only “boom” so much with its 000 depth, but it does sound like a regular dreadnought—pulled back a bit—when strummed. What I like best about its sound is that overall, it sits comfortably in the mids while the low end is strong. It’s not overpowering–while the high end is clear–it’s not like it’s the only thing you hear when playing. If anything, the even blend of tones is what makes it a great-sounding guitar.
I’m a fan of smaller guitars, and in terms of playability, I really enjoyed the feel of the neck and its tapered width. I was able to slide up and down the neck comfortably and practiced some of my favorite classical and flamenco pieces, noting how easy it was to make certain stretches that require just a little extra work on standard guitars. Just like how the guitar’s compactness makes it friendly to carry, it also makes it friendly to play.
Set up with the Fishman preamp, the Streetmaster has two wheels to adjust volume and tone (placed underneath the top of the soundhole and an output jack at the bottom left corner of the body). It sounds great when plugged in. I’ve experienced a lot of issues with acoustic guitar electronics—sometimes they distort the sound easily or the guitar’s squeaks are too pronounced. Neither of those things were a problem with the Fishman preamp—I was able to strum loudly without any undesired crunch, and thankfully, I couldn’t hear the sound of my nails hitting the strings when I strummed with the back of my hand. The only drawback was that without a little EQing, it sounded a bit muddy.
I decided to give the guitar a test run by taking it out to play at a busy park with a lot of wide-open spaces and people milling about. The guitar’s sound carried wonderfully. Especially with the help of my Roland CUBE Street amp, I was even able to perform some fingerpicking tunes like “Blackbird,” the Smiths’ “Back to the Old House,” and the Tallest Man on Earth’s “Love Is All,” seeing that they projected well in the open air. It was great to bring along something so portable and leave with the confidence that it could deliver just as well as anything larger.
For more information and full specifications, visit martinguitar.com.