Anybody that knows me will tell you that I think that most things Epiphone are a cut above the rest when considering low to mid-end guitars. I always talk about how the Epiphone SG is, to me at least, just as good as the Gibson SG. In large part that’s because they’re made by the same folks.
There’s something else to it though. They could have made a marked distinction between the Gibson and Epiphone models, but I just don’t really see it. So how does a beginners Epiphone acoustic guitar fair? In this Epiphone DR 100 review we’ll explore it’s features and explore who might be suited Epiphone’s acoustic offering.
Background to Epiphone
Epiphone has been making musical instruments since 1873, so they’ve been in the business for a very long time. Like so many of the heavy hitting companies these days, the story of Epiphone started as a family concern. Originally hailing from the mountains over looking the ancient city of Sparta in Greece. The Stathopoulo family first moved to Turkey, then on to the USA following the levying of taxes on Greek immigrants by the Ottoman empire. The family settled in New York where they opened a store selling and repairing lutes.
The family started making banjos in the years between the world wars, which had become very popular in the USA. Their facility in Long Island produced banjos that sold for upwards of $500. In the late 1920’s it became painfully apparent that guitars were becoming more popular. The introduction of the Masterbilt series of acoustic guitars launched Epiphone into a foray with rivals Gibson. Although there was a rivalry, the Masterbilt adapted some of the features of Gibson’s L-5 guitar.
Throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s Epiphone’s fortunes began to fade following the death of Epi Stathopoulo. His brothers Orphie and Fixo took over, but fought with each other over the direction of the company. Following a significant downturn in fortunes, Gibson bought Epiphone and all it’s assets for $20,000 in 1957. Since then Epiphone’s guitars have been used by artist such as the Beatles, Nirvana, Radiohead and the Strokes. Since it’s acquisition by Gibson, Epiphone has enjoyed it’s reputation as a quality manufacturer of guitars,
Overview of The DR-100
The DR-100 is a dreadnought style guitar, which basically means it’s a bit fatter in the body. That helps to produce a fuller and fatter sound. Having said that the DR-100 still produces a crisp and clean tone. It’s a full-scale guitar. The body is made of mahogany, which adds emphasis to both the bass and treble. The top of the guitar is made of select spruce. The design is completed with a gloss finish.
The bridge and finger board are made from Rosewood. Rosewood is hard wearing so is a decent material for use in the bridge, which has to cope with the tension of the strings. The rosewood on the finger board will give sweet and warm tones. The finger board features pearloid dot inlays at the standard frets. Pearloid is a plastic type alternative to mother of pearl.
The guitar has 20 medium-jumbo frets, which are slightly larger. Perfect for beginners. Medium-jumbo frets are better for rockier styles too. The neck is dovetail glued to the body instead of bolted. That makes for a better tone all round.
The head-stock features die-cast premium tuners. These are great and stop the DR-100 from slipping out of tune too often. The guitar comes with a set of medium strings (.13’s), which are pretty decent quality for stock strings. You might want to switch them out to your favorite brand and preferred gauge, but to be honest the stock strings will do if you’re a beginner and don’t have a preferred set of strings.
The action of the guitar is great and there was no detectable fret buzz. The neck is of slim-taper construction, which makes it more comfortable to play. It’s easier to move up and down the finger board and reduces cramping.
If you wanted to you could adjust the truss rod to set up the DR-100 to your own preferences, but that’s not necessary if you’re a beginner. There are three finishes currently available. Natural, Ebony and Sun bust, which can be seen in the overview video below.
My personal preference is always to have a cut-away so that you can reach the higher frets more easily, but that’s personal preference. The DR-100 also only has 20 frets, so it’s not like it’s targeted for those that want to do a lot of work at the higher end of the finger board.
The DR-1oo really is a beautifully constructed guitar. In fact, for the price it’s basically a steal. The quality of tone and the play-ability of the DR-100 makes it a top contender for any beginner or for more advanced guitarists who want something to casually noodle around with. In fact it’s Epiphone’s best selling acoustic guitar. Here are some of the best bits of the DR-100:
- Dynamic – will cope with a wide range of styles
- Constructed using good quality materials
- Fantastic value – spectacular quality for the price
- Included strings are good quality
It’s been difficult to find much wrong with the DR-100. I guess the key thing to note here is that although the DR-100 is a great guitar, more advanced players might want a little more. That might be pickups for example, or for the bridge to made of a harder wood. Here are one or two issues that are worth mentioning:
- There’s no cut-away making it more difficult to play higher up the finger-board
- Doesn’t have a pickup so you can’t play through an amp
I really can see why the DR 100 is Epiphone’s best selling acoustic guitar. It’s a perfect acoustic guitar for beginners but will serve more advanced players as a backup guitar equally well. The dreadnought design gives it a full sound, but it’s also able to produce clean and crisp tones.
The stock strings aren’t bad at all, but you might want to replace them if you have a favored brand. The action is great, but if you want to adjust it you can thanks to the adjustable truss rod. Aside from a quick tune up, the guitar is pretty much ready to play straight out of the box.
The DR 100 doesn’t have a pickup, so you won’t be able to plugin to an amp. If you’re looking for a purely acoustic guitar then that won’t matter. There’s also no cut-away, so reaching the higher frets can be a little difficult. Other than that the guitar is very comfortable to play thanks to it’s slim-tapered neck design.
A note for beginners. If you do buy this guitar make sure you also have a stand. Leaning a guitar against a wall can cause the neck to warp, which can cause all manner of problems in the future. A stand will also stop the guitar from being accidentally knocked over, protecting it from damage.
There are also two strap anchor points, so you don’t need to worry about fitting an additional anchor point. If you’re not sure what you need to get started, head over to my post about guitar accessories to find out more.
I hope you’ve found this review of the Epiphone DR 100 useful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions below. Alternatively you can get in touch using my contact page. Please share this post with anyone who you think might find it useful. As always, happy strumming!
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