Epiphone Masterbilt DR-400

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UnexplodedCow
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Epiphone Masterbilt DR-400

Postby UnexplodedCow » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:46 pm

So, yesterday I was able to play one of these. A friend wanted me to go with them to help choose an acoustic. We hit up the local GC and (thankfully) it was a slow day there. We went through 20-30 guitars all told. It came down to, and I wish I were joking, a $2500 Taylor 416CE-R and....a $400 Epiphone. The two guitars sounded ridiculously similar, with similar strings on them.

I initially picked up the Epi as a joke since the guy was looking at mostly $1k+ models, and I was goofing off, picking up something random. There was a DR-500 on the wall as well...didn't sound as good (about identical to a 214ce model). The guy decided on the DR-400 in the end. Made in China, supposedly solid sitka top with mahogany back and sides. Tailpiece and fretboard are an engineered wood ("blackwood tek"), with bone nut and saddle, in a dark sunburst. The Epi was chosen simply because it sounded excellent, played well (could use a little lower action, as is the norm I find), and seemed to be well made. No real excess glue inside, internal bracing was well cut.

It turned out the model was on sale. The guy walked out of the store with the guitar, extra set of strings, picks, and a new wooden hardshell case for 4 bills.

It completely blew me away, as I haven't looked at acoustics in years, and absolutely did not expect anything that cheap, or from Asia, to sound that good. It wasn't just good for the price...it actually sounded (really) good. Color me impressed, Epiphone. If anyone gets a chance to try one of these, the one I tried was definitely worth the price. The DR-50 wasn't bad, either, but not quite so hot.
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Re: Epiphone Masterbilt DR-400

Postby Doctor Turn » Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:51 pm

I'll try one. I bought a very cheap Yama acoustic around 3 years ago, simply to supply rhythmic strumming with very little focus for an eq'd acoustic guitar voice, it was meant to be purely percussive. And this was a mistake, because an acoustic is, for me, the superior songwriting tool (short having a piano or good keyboard set up.. and you can play it)--so there's endless times I write music featuring the acoustic and I just don't use it much out front.

So I'm definitely in the market.
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Re: Epiphone Masterbilt DR-400

Postby silvergoat2k6 » Wed Apr 04, 2018 3:41 am

I was at the local GC in Grand Rapids on Sunday, and I spent a lot of time in the acoustic room playing lots of different guitars...and to be brutally honest, the best acoustic guitar I played that day was a used Yamaha AC3R that was listed for $649. I have always thought Yamaha built decent acoustic guitars at fair prices, but I was absolutely blown away by just how good this all-solid-wood guitar was. The $1500-$2000 Taylors and Martins I played IMO didn't play or sound that much better to justify their higher cost.

If you are in the market for one of these guitars, take a serious look at and play a Yamaha AC3R, or any of their all-solid-wood A-series guitars. I came oh so close to walking out of there with it that day.
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Re: Epiphone Masterbilt DR-400

Postby UnexplodedCow » Wed Apr 04, 2018 5:56 am

We started looking at Yamaha after noticing the Epiphone, and I believe that model was picked up once, and while it wasn't bad, it was about on par with the 214 Taylor, which was pretty much a benchmark sound we were going for at the least. It was definitely a good-sounding acoustic, To Taylor's credit, they're often far more consistent in terms of build and sound to my ear.

With that said, sometimes an anomaly comes up, and I think that Epi counts as one. Personally, I love success stories and diamonds in the rough, so I'm glad this turned out (the owner is very happy), but it does have me looking at that brand if I ever need an acoustic in the future. Granted, that there was a noticeable difference between the 400 and 500 model (essentially identical, aside from fretboard and tailpiece material), speaks to inconsistencies in build quality. Sometimes this works to the advantage of a better instrument, and sometimes not. Same with cars in my experience. Tolerance stacking is a real thing. In this case, holy cow. I'm still hearing that guitar in my head.
We are entitled to our own, wrong, opinions.

Guitar theorem: G=X+1 where G= guitars one needs, and X = guitars one has.

Do or do not; there is no understand.


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