Donner DST-400 Electric Guitar Review

S-type guitars are arguably the most common electric guitar style. The modular design and the adaptability of the electronics have made them popular with players from Buddy Holly to Billy Corgan, and countless others in between. Import versions have long been a value for the beginner player, but Donner’s got a sub-$300 version that’s a lot of guitar for the buck.

Our test guitar came in a tried-and-true black body with white pickups and pickguard, and a version in green is also available. The body wood is solid alder, and the finish was done very well. A maple neck and fingerboard, along with 22 medium frets and vintage style tuners have a blend of classic and modern. At the other end a two-post vintage style tremolo with steel saddles again, puts old school and new cool together.

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Electronics wise, with single coils in the neck and middle positions combined with a zebra styled humbucker in the bridge offers up the best of both worlds. The traditional five-way switch paired to a master volume is familiar, but the first tone knob covers the neck and middle pickup, while the second one is reserved for the bridge pickup. To take things a step further, the second tone knob is a push pull for splitting the bridge humbucker.

Right out of the gig bag, it’s pretty impressive; the fretwork was nicely done, with no rough spots or fret sprout at all, and it even had a decent setup. Playing wise, the neck is quite comfortable, with its C shaped profile. The tremolo is workable — with heavy usage, it’ll go out of tune (like most non locking systems) but it’s on par for its design. An added feature is the tremolo arm being a pop-in type that’s usually found on higher end instruments, meaning no threads to strip or barks that snap from over tightening.

 All of the knobs and switches felt tight and smooth, with no electronics noise. The pickups are decent as well; the single coils have plenty of fullness, and the humbucker has plenty of bottom end. Pulling up on the tone knob brought things back into a traditional S-type feel, with quack and sparkle on position #4, and on #5 had the benefit of the tone knob, rolling off some high end, and thickening the tone up while through a dirty amp. The pickup configuration can pretty much cover most styles of music — we ran it through a set of cover band material, (Pink to AC/DC) and weren’t at a loss for sounds.

Simply put, at this price, it’s shockingly good. Comparing it to other imports, this really delivers a big value. Experienced players might want to swap pickups to something specific to their needs and tastes, but that’s about it.

PROS:

Great sounding, great playing, great price.

CONS:

None

STREET PRICE:

$259

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