Top positive review
Best sounding guitar for $100 -- both for advanced and beginner players.
Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2016
This is hands-down one of the best sounding guitars in this price range (the $100-ish budget range). I am quite blown away by how great it sounds-- it's very similar to any of the solid-wood Epiphone Masterbilt guitars, which is also a great bargain because they sound just like their Gibson counterparts (e.g. the AJ) -- which sound somewhere between a Martin and a Taylor -- not too dark/muddy as some Martins can get, and not too harsh/bright which most Taylors are... It's just perfect.
Really great projection/volume too when you do full strum, and clear articulation and voice at any volume. I keep saying to myself, how do they make any money off this thing? Almost all "beginner" or budget guitars that I've played sound very shallow and "boxy" (like the sound is coming from a small cardboard box). They all do this-- any cheap Yamaha, Takamine, Washburn, whatever. But this DR-100 (also known as PR-100 if sold by Guitar Center/Musician's Friend) is just miles above those other guitars in sound quality and voice. I would say this sounds like a $500-800 guitar. Whether you're an experienced player looking for a backup guitar (which is why I bought mine-- wanted a laminate guitar that I don't have to worry about and just leave out and play whenever at the office or take with me outside), or a beginner, this is the perfect guitar and most bang for your buck at $100... plus it's a Epiphone with a lifetime guarantee and not some no name brand...
Of course, a guitar can't be perfect at this price range, so I'll tell you where they cut corners. They didn't cut corners on the finish-- the finish is very nice and glossy and the binding is very nice and has a lot of great details such as the nice big headstock. But here's where it needed some work: The frets. Ouch. They needed to be dressed BADLY. They were so sharp that I think you can really cut and bleed sliding up and down the neck... I spent a good 30 minutes just filing it down and smoothing it out as best as I could and now it's so much better. You can tell these were just pressed in by machines in a factory and that's it-- no one hand dressed them and filed them down and finished them-- that sort of manual hand labor is where it costs money and this easily can be a $500+ guitar... The other part that they cheaped out on are the tuner machines. They are not terrible, and fairly usable, but they aren't the best. If I had to modify one thing on this guitar, it would be to swap out the tuning machines with some good Grovers and call it a day. Specifically, when you turn the tuner, for the first 1/16 of a turn, it doesn't do anything, and then it turns and then sometimes it doesn't do anything... So it's not a 1:1 translation of turning it and the turning changing, which makes tuning the guitar a bit cumbersome. I was lucky to have bought the guitar and it didn't need a truss rod adjustment and the action was fairly good. I did file down the saddle nut about .5mm to lower it a bit more, but that's really it. Even with the crap strings that come with the guitar, it sounds good and that's what I'm basing this review on, so obviously with a better set of strings (I like the Elixir Polyweb in Light or Medium) it only sounds better. The stock strings corroded easily (noticeably changed colors) so I took off the strings from one of my other acoustic guitars and put them on this one.
In short, based on just the sound of the guitar-- I'm amazed that a laminate guitar sounds like a mid-level solid wood guitar. At this price, I don't have to worry about it getting dinged up or whatever, and yet it plays beautifully. I believe the Tak Jasmine S35 also gets good reviews for its sound, but I haven't had a chance to play it in person, so I can't compare...