Epiphone DR-100 – 2021 Review

Vlad
| Last Updated: March 12, 2021

Even some of the best players out there have started once with a cheap but good acoustic steel string guitar.

So perhaps Epiphone DR-100 could do the same for your beginnings, too.

IMAGEPRODUCT
  • Dreadnought shape to improve the sound output
  • Mahogany body for a nice resonance and durability
  • Top quality machine heads to last much longer
View Latest Price →Read Customer Reviews

Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar (Vintage Sunburst)

PROS

  • Full scale acoustic guitar 
  • Spruce top for tone brightness
  • Bridge system supports steel strings
  • Guitar neck for electric guitar players
  • Incredibly affordable and portable instrument

CONS

  • Strings and tuners are low quality
  • Die-cast tuners make headstock a bit heavy

Epiphone DR-100 Specs 

Type of Guitar: Acoustic guitar

Body Size and Type: Square Shoulder Dreadnought body type

Number of Strings: 6-string nylon guitar

Tonewood: Mahogany body with Select Spruce top and single-ply black pickguard

Orientation: Available in right and left-hand orientation

Neck Profile: Mahogany Slim Taper C-profile type with glued-in dovetail joint

Fretboard: 20-fret Walnut fretboard, 1.69 inches PVC nut width and 12-inch radius

Scale Length: 25.5 inches

Bridge: Traditional Rosewood belly up shape with PVC saddle and pins

Color: Ebony, Vintage Sunburst and Natural

Weight: 4.6 lbs

Pros

Let’s find out the pros it has to offer.

Spruce Top for Tone Brightness

Mahogany tonewood is a bit more warm and round, so it will be a wonderful foundation for your acoustic guitar tone. But, for the top, there is a wood used very often with Mahogany and it’s Spruce. It will resonate with so many trebles

Bridge System Supports Steel Strings

For a modern and contemporary sound, steel strings are a much better solution than nylon. They are significantly louder and brighter so they will make a more distinctive sound, especially if used along with other instruments.

Combined with the spruce top, it should make this guitar incredibly loud.

Guitar Neck for Electric Guitar Players

Usually, acoustic guitars come with wider necks that might be awkward at the beginning if you have played electric guitar before. But, DR-100 goes even further and offers you the same fretboard radius as you have on Les Paul or SG guitars for example.

Incredibly Affordable and Portable Instrument

This guitar won’t cost you a fortune. As a matter of fact, you may easily go and buy it right before a road trip. Even if you’re not a fan of acoustic guitars, guitars like DR-100 may come in handy for various situations.

Full Scale Acoustic Guitar 

Epiphone guitars usually follow the Gibson scale length of 24.75 inches. That’s why other players who are used to bigger frets may enjoy the regular 25.5-inch scale DR-100 has instead. The differences are subtle but for beginners, it may mean a lot if they are used to one scale or another.

Cons

However, it comes with some negatives, including:

Strings and Tuners Are Low Quality

It’s somewhat expected to have cheap parts or of poor quality at this price tier. Strings are recommended to be swapped as soon as possible and as for tuners… 

Well, if you get the well-made piece and passed the quality control, beginners won’t be affected that much. For the rest, if you plan to become dedicated, there are many third-party tuning machines that you can upgrade your DR-100 with.

Die-Cast Tuners Make Headstock a Bit Heavy

While die-cast tuners are in general a nice solution as they prevent dust from falling into tuning machines and prevent further intonation problems, they are a bit heavy for acoustic guitar’s body so it may cause a guitar to dive in a bit to the neck side. It may be a bit of an issue if you play in a standing position.

What Recent Buyers Report

This is one of the best selling guitars on Amazon at the moment and feedbacks are generally positive from newbies and experienced players would gladly recommend it to the others, especially for their first guitar choice. It is reported to be pretty loud for all kinds of campfire singalongs.

Buyers expected the beginners model for this price, but they came up with a sound quality that was closer to guitars that can cost up to $500. String articulation and projection seem to be excellent with this guitar and the sound is described to fit somewhere between Martin and Taylor acoustic guitar models. 

The only drawback might be the scale length if you’re a smaller frame person as the frets might be too big for your hands. On the other hand, action can be set very low so the playability won’t be the problem.

However, watch out for quality control problems as frets get sharp frequently due to lack of hand dressing - hopefully, this can be resolved with polishing and fret dressing. Also, the turning knobs are reported to come faulty often - for example, it happens that the first turn does nothing and then the next one turns to tune the tone more than expected. 

What Are the Components of the Epiphone DR-100? 

Epiphone DR-100 is a Mahogany acoustic guitar with Select Spruce top and Gloss tonewood finish available in Ebony, Vintage Sunburst, and Natural color. It has a body shape of Square shoulder Dreadnought. Beneath the strings, there is a single-ply PVC black pickguard. Tuners are Epiphone premium die-cast which while the bridge is made from Rosewood in traditional belly-up shape. 

This tonewood is combined with the Slim Taper C-profile Mahogany neck type that comes with a glued-in dovetail neck joint.  The fretboard is full-scale (25.5 inches) and has a 12-inch radius. It has 20 Medium Jumbo frets with dot pearloid inlay on a Rosewood material. The nut width is 1.69 inches and it comes with a standard budget PVC nut type.

What Size Strings Come on an Epiphone DR-100?

Stock strings found at Epiphone DR-100 are regular .013, .017, .026, .035, .045, .056 stele string pack. They are officially unbranded, but they are made by D’Addario.

What Types of Music is the Epiphone DR-100 Best For?

Epiphone DR-100 can fit all kinds of acoustic music genres. Blues, rock, or country seems to be the first call as it has a nice warm and full middle range that will put you in the necessary vibe straight on and if you need to make a dynamic, low-end will produce nice support for all those hard-strumming parts you’re about to play.

We also believe that with the proper set of lighter strings this guitar can also work for pop music as well and create a bit brighter output in general. 

In any case, it can fit all kinds of acoustic lounge performances, too.

What Ages and Skill Levels is the Epiphone DR-100 Suitable For?

This is an all-around acoustic guitar that has no serious attention to be a professional tool at all. It is oriented towards the lower semi-pro tier, but we honestly don’t think it would be a bad spare choice even for pro players as well.

As it comes with a 12-inch fretboard radius, it favors electric guitar players at first - they won’t have any trouble performing on DR-100 as they share the same fretboard radius and same kind of Medium Jumbo frets as those Les Paul guitars. The Rosewood material and Slim Taper neck profile just prove our point further.

Where Are Epiphone DR-100 Guitars Made?

Like all other Epiphones, DR-100 is made in Qingdao, China

What Makes the Epiphone DR-100 Stand Out From the Competition?

Epiphone DR-100 is one of the most affordable guitars on the market at the moment. It has a loud and resonant body that should cover all your practical needs and be a great choice for a first guitar choice, especially regarding the visual aspect.

Soundwise it may surpass its price and it will be the best choice for all people who are coming from an electric guitar world as the fretboard radius matches the usual Epiphone size while the string action can be set low so the transition towards acoustic guitar playing style can be effortless.

How Does the Epiphone DR-100 Compare?

Let’s see how Epiphone DR-100 stands against other instruments from the same tier. However, as all those guitars belong to the entry-level tier, we strongly advise you to take your time and try them out in person, because, in most situations, the differences will be minor and may vary based on the specific instrument piece:

Yamaha FG700S vs Epiphone DR-100

Both of these guitars are dreadnought acoustic guitars with full-scale Rosewood fretboard combined with a Mahogany body and Spruce top. While on paper those specs look the same, Yamaha seems to have a bit brighter tone in general.

Pricewise, Yamaha seems to be being a tad more expensive so perhaps that could help you make a decision. Those extra bucks seem to be justified in a bit better hardware and quality control, especially for tuning machines. 

As for visuals, Yamaha FG700S comes only in the natural color finish which may be a bit basic, but at least the pickguard motif gives it a bit of character.

So, if the budget allows you, FG700S may be worth considering as an alternative.

Fender CD-60S vs Epiphone DR-100

Fender CD-60S comes with a scalloped X-bracing top and rolled fingerboard edges, features usually found at more expensive models. The same could be said for the Solid Mahogany top. 

All those traits together will lead to a much better body resonance, especially when compared to a Laminate model. Solid top sound is often described as full, warm, and round. It’s not something that newbies will notice at first, but they will appreciate the difference in the long run. 

So, if your budget allows, Fender CD-60S seems to be a better deal but you won’t go wrong with DR-100 either.

Epiphone DR-100 vs Epiphone PRO-1

As for the visual aspect, besides prettier headstock, PRO-1 isn’t so much different from DR-100.

But, PRO-1 comes with a “shorter”, Gibson-like, scale so it may be a bit better in terms of playability. Frets are bigger and it seems like it was designed to fit beginners first. They will appreciate the scale size as the string tension will be a bit lighter than on DR-100. 

This may result in a faster response and will require less effort for both strumming and fingerpicking and that’s why the whole guitar may have a bit more presence.

Epiphone DR-100 vs Epiphone PR-150

Frankly speaking, back in the late 1990s, Epiphone overlapped DR and PR models for a short period without any specific order, so it was kinda hard to do a follow-up.

If we pick the natural finish color for both guitars and hide the model name from the headstock it would be a blind guess to tell what guitar we’re talking about. Visually they are identical and the only difference is that PR-150 comes with Okoume neck instead of Mahogany. 

So, whatever you pick there should be no significant difference at all, even the rosette looks identical, so our advice would be to take whatever seems available or more affordable at the moment.

How to Restring Epiphone DR-100

Epiphone DR-100 comes with the usual Epiphone headstock of 3+3 setup so this method can be applied not just on DR-100 but for all guitars that share this type of bridge and headstock.

For the easier string change, you will need a wire cutter and a string winder. Winder is an optional accessory, but it will speed up the whole process a lot. Unwind the old strings first, make them a bit lose and then cut and remove the content.

Now, put the corresponding new string by securing it first on the bridge part. The best way to do it is to insert the ball in from the inside of the bridge. Put the string first, then insert a bridge pin and tug it a couple of times until you feel that the ball moves from the bottom to the side of the pin. Also, remember that the bridge pins don’t have to be set tight, they just have to hold the string gently.

Next, turn the tuner so that the peg hole is parallel with the nut slot and pull the string through and tight. Now, grab the string around the first fret and pull it back just about one full fret. If it’s more convenient, you can also use hand width as a measure, too. 

Now, wrap the string over the tuner and the string tail and lift the tail up. Apply two or three windings and remove the rest of the string to keep your guitar tidy. To reduce the break-in period, stress the strings manually a little bit at the middle neck and the bridge position. Tune them up once again and you’re good to go.

Also, please remember that if you’re changing all the strings at once it might be a great time to apply a fingerboard conditioner. There is also a nice trick of adding a bit of graphite from a plain lead pencil to each nut slot may prevent the string from getting stuck and improve overall intonation. 

If you would like to find out more about it, check the video link below:

Conclusion 

Epiphone DR-100 can be a nice companion for beginners. Its steel string configuration should be loud enough for all kinds of traveling and casual meetings with friends and family and its fretboard action will provide great support to start learning guitar playing without hitting your wallet too hard.

People Also Ask

Now that we have introduced you to the Epiphone DR-100, let’s resolve some of the usual concerns about it such as if nylon string is an option for it or should you use pick or fingers for playing. We will also give you a hint about dreadnought body shape:

How Long Does it Take to Break in New Acoustic Guitar Strings?

All new strings require a bit of playing before they set their optimal performance. That’s why it’s not recommended to change the strings right before any kind of important performance. Allow yourself at least an hour or two of playing to ensure the tuning issues. As for other aspects, they should break-in within a week.

How Long Do Acoustic Guitar Strings Last?

String lifespan depends on how often you play and if you apply any string conditioner. 

But in general, acoustic strings should last more than 100 playing hours. Investing in premium strings may seem a good call as those strings will last significantly longer and provide a better tone.

Can I Use Nylon Strings on Epiphone DR-100?

As Epiphone DR-100 is originally made for steel strings, yes, it is possible and you will get a bit different and more round tone, in general, that might be more suitable for jazz and classical music. But, in case you have a nylon string guitar, please don’t use DR-100 strings on it.

Should I Use a Pick on Epiphone DR-100?

Using a pick may come in handy in specific situations, but most of the time, fingerpicking is recommended as the best playing technique for acoustic guitar. However, if you’re feeling more comfortable with a plectrum, there is nothing wrong with using it regularly, especially if combined with steel strings.

Is a Dreadnought Guitar Good for Beginners?

Dreadnought shaped guitars just like Epiphone DR-100 are one of the most frequently used body shapes in the acoustic guitar world. They have a nice big body that should generate more than enough volume to be heard on most occasions as they were originally designed to compete with the loudness of the banjo and mandolin instruments.

Is the Epiphone DR-100 Hard To Play?

Epiphone DR-100 shouldn’t be harder to play than any other acoustic guitar out there. Rosewood fretboard is a regular material used on most guitars on the market and the fretboard radius will make it easier for those guys who have smaller hands as well.

How to Care For an Epiphone DR-100 Guitar

When you’re done with your playing session, remember to always store your guitar into a gig bag as acoustic guitars are prone to gather a lot of dust because of the sound hole. Wiping your strings and applying a string conditioner may significantly improve your string lifespan.

How to Date a Epiphone DR-100

If you take a look at the back of your headstock, you should find a serial number. The first 4 numbers should tell you the manufacturing year and month, for example, 1808 means it was made in August 2018.

For more information, check the website on the link.

Is the Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar Good?

Epiphone DR-100 is a decent guitar for its price. The price matches the sound quality and it’s going to suit well most players except for those who are close to becoming fully professional. The fretboard radius will feel especially good for all-electric guitar players.

Vlad

I'm a 35-year-old rock-oriented professional musician from Belgrade, Serbia with 20 years of field experience in various areas of the music industry. After graduating from elementary music school I joined my first band Alogia in 2001 which had incredible initial success with the debut album and became one of the greatest Balkan heavy metal acts ever. We have recorded several studio and live albums and played as an opening act for Whitesnake, Apocalyptica, and Paul Di’Anno. Meanwhile, I got a chance to collaborate with Roland Planet shop and get familiar with various music equipment for more than a decade. For the last eight years, I have done live audio mixing for numerous bands and other live and studio events, including some TV audio mixing for national television broadcast as well. Currently, I’m playing keyboards for one of the most authentic Serbian music rock legends - Dr. Nele Karajlić, also known for his work with Zabranjeno Pušenje and No Smoking Orchestra.