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Martin DJR-10E Bass
 
A compact acoustic bass guitar that’s easy to play and offers a big sound.
August 16, 2023
 

Acoustic bass guitars first arrived on the scene in the early 1970s, and by the time the “unplugged” wave of the 1990s hit, many acoustic guitar manufacturers included one in their catalogs. Approaches have varied from instruments that mate a bass neck with an existing acoustic guitar body to bass guitars designed from the ground up as acoustic instruments. However, acoustic bass guitars have always had a bit of a niche existence. They’re often not quite loud enough to compete with other instruments, they can be bulky and awkward to play, and when plugged in, feedback can be an issue. Enter the relatively new category of compact acoustic basses. Built using a small acoustic guitar body, a short-scale neck, and special strings, these instruments appeared a few years ago and are now available from several manufacturers, their surprisingly robust bass tones seeming to defy the laws of physics. Martin has offered several models of full-size basses over the years (the BC-16E is currently the only one), but earlier this year, the company introduced a line of compact basses based on its “junior” size dreadnought and 000 bodies. I recently had a chance to check out the DJR-10E Bass in the Peghead Nation studio. 

If you’ve seen any of Martin’s DJR guitars (check out our demo of the DJR-10E StreetMaster!), then the DJR-10E Bass will look familiar. The dreadnought-shape body is reduced in size (to about ¹⁵/₁₆ of a standard dreadnought) and built with a solid Sitka spruce top and solid sapele back and sides. Our demo bass had the burst finish, but a natural option is also available. The instrument’s neck and scale length is where things get interesting. Using the same 24-inch scale as the guitar version, the scale on the DJR-10E Bass is ten inches shorter than a typical full-scale bass guitar! Martin developed a special nylon-core, phosphor-bronze string (the M4750 Junior Bass set) to produce the right tension and easy playability. The DJR-10E Bass uses a set of full-size Gotoh bass tuning machines that work very smoothly. The bridge and fingerboard are made from black Richlite, which has an appearance similar to pitch-black ebony. The DJR-10E Bass includes Fishman Sonitone BT-1 electronics, which comprise an undersaddle pickup, controls for volume and tone in the bass side of the soundhole, and an output jack and battery compartment in the side of the lower bout. 

Players who haven’t yet checked out a compact acoustic bass guitar may be surprised by the bona-fide low-end that the DJR-10E Bass is able to produce. I’ve played full-size acoustic bass guitars that had less authentic bass tone than this little Martin, momentarily making me question what I thought I knew about the tonal ranges that a small instrument can produce. Sure, the DJR-10E Bass is not particularly loud when played acoustically, but it has plenty of volume for playing along with an acoustic guitarist, and it’s very satisfying to practice with. And the playability factor is huge. While first-position stretches can be a challenge on a full-size bass, the DJR-10E Bass is actually easier to play than most guitars, helped undoubtedly by the soft strings. I didn’t have a dedicated bass amp on hand, but when it was plugged into a Fishman Loudbox Mini Charge, the bass had a great growly voice, and it’s fair to say that on a recording or in an amplified performance setting, nobody would guess that the sound is coming from such a compact instrument. 

Overall, the DJR-10E Bass is the perfect bass for players who aren’t primarily bassists. It’s a fantastic instrument to try out ideas with, have around a home studio, or pull out at a jam where there are already too many guitars. With its relatively affordable price, the DJR-10E Bass is a great addition to Martin’s catalog, and I predict that it will gain many fans!

SPECS: Acoustic bass guitar. 14-fret Dreadnought Jr. body. Solid Sitka spruce top with scalloped X-bracing. Solid sapele back and sides. Hardwood neck. Richlite fretboard and bridge. 24-inch scale. 1¾-inch nut width. Gotoh chrome bass tuning machines. Fishman Sonitone BT-1 electronics. Made in Mexico. $749. Martinguitar.com

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Peghead Partners
 
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    ● Courses
    ● Live Workshops
    ● Instructors
    ● Sample Lessons
    ● Notation Guide
    ● For Beginners
 
 
    ● Vintage Vault
    ● New Gear
    ● Fine Lutherie
 
 
    ● Workshops
    ● Advice
    ● Repertoire
 
 
    ● Recordings
    ● Events
    ● Breaking News
 
 
    ● In The Studio
    ● Live Onstage
    ● Backroom
 
 
    ● New Products
    ● Inside Look
    ● Performances
    ● Partner Pages
 
 
© Copyright 2020 PegheadNation.com