In this section, Ricky gives his own take on the many products and services that he’s come across in the music business. This includes reviews of instruments, effects, plugins, production services, online educational courses on marketing, helpful YouTube channels, as well as promotional tools and services.
The Epiphone DR-100 is an incredible guitar for the money. I needed a straight-up acoustic guitar for simple strumming and light soloing for studio recording, and came across an old Epiphone in an antique shop in my neighborhood. The old guitar held its own in terms of play-ability and didn't sound bad. So I decided to check out some Epiphones at a local Sam Ashe guitar store.
At Sam Ashe, I tried out a wide range of acoustic guitars - Yamaha, Gibson, Fender, Ovation, Martin, Taylor, Takamine - from $120 all the way up to $4,000. I spent several hours trying out many guitars, and was impressed with the low end Epiphone DR-100. It really plays comfortably across the fretboard, and it sounds great. In fact, after several hours of test driving acoustic guitars, I concluded that the DR-100 was just as sweet if not more than over half the guitars in the shop. The only guitars that beat it in terms of play-ability and sound were the high end Martins.
Choosing a guitar is a very personal matter. What works for one guitarist may not work for another, and every guitar has its own special character. Personally, I was not impressed at all with the Gibson acoustic guitars - I found them sounding quite muffled and their playability did not suit my hands. The same for the Fender acoustics. Taylor guitars are supposed to compete directly with Martin, but I found that none of them could beat the sound of the Martins.
There were two high end Martin acoustics that won the prize, as far as I'm concerned. One was about $3,900 and the other costed about $2,500. I wasn't in the market for a high end acoustic, however, since I already have a pretty sweet Froggy Bottom guitar that I use for solos and "detailed" fingerpicking. As mentioned, I just needed a simple strumming and occasional lead acoustic that could hold its own in the studio as well as for playing at local coffeehouses.
I was extremely impressed with the DR-100. And at $129 on sale at Sam Ashe, you just can't go wrong. I've owned a Martin D-18 for over 20 years and know a quality sounding guitar when I play one. This Epiphone reminds me so much of the Martin D-18 that I had.
I'm also impressed at how far Chinese guitar manfacturers have come in terms of emulating top guitar models - on the acoustic as well as jazz and electric guitar front. Epiphone was wise in deciding to set up factories in China. The wood and fretboard work is exceptional, play-ability is quite comfortable.
I'd like to add a comment about how built-in pick-ups (inserted inside the soundbox of acoustic guitars) can really muffle the sound. I find that most if not all of them - even in the Martins - really distort the sound. You will lose a couple of hundred dollars right there in sound quality by buying an acoustic guitar with a built in pick-up system. Better to use a great mic in the studio to capture the sound. While this may not be possible for live performers, it is an important factor to consider for audiophiles, and if you're on the market for an inexpensive but great sounding guitar, better to choose one without the built-in pick-up.
If you'd like to hear a short demo of the Epiphone DR-100, please check out my product review YouTube video on the Ricky Molina YouTube channel.
- Ricky Molina