The Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic Guitar Review!

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The Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic Guitar Review

I love things with strings. Things with strings that make sound… Many times, I can be just as happy sitting with an acoustic guitar (or bass, or mandolin, or…) and play for hours on end. I compose, I wander, I contemplate, I just lose myself in the music. With electrics, I can hear what I’m playing (when not plugged in) and can enjoy the sheer ease with which the guitar comes to life beneath my fingers. I’m not particularly “for” or “against” anything – I love playing things with strings. Yesterday, it was a rubber band and a couple of pencils because I was too hot and tired (from yardwork) to play my instruments.

But when you’re playing an acoustic instrument, the gratification is wholesome and wonderful. Wow. I just love the whole experience of playing an acoustic instrument – and when it’s a great instrument, the experience ceases to be about playing (guitar or whatever) and becomes about a flow of life between my heart/brain and the instruments and back to my ears. When I stop thinking about playing and start living the experience, I get lost in the music. What a joy.
OK, with that little ramble, let’s take a look at a guitar that’s easy to experience that joy – and is easy on the wallet, too!
JpearsonEpiphoneDovePickguard

I needed an acoustic to augment my library which gives me a brighter and louder experience – that’s easy to play and can tolerate odd tunings very well. My budget was just wiped out by purchasing a nice Gibson Songwriter Deluxe Studio, so I wasn’t flush with cash… I did my research, did a little experimentation and in-store noodling, and settled on the Epiphone Dove Pro.
I am so glad I did. Here’s why!

Quick Opinion:
The Epiphone Dove Pro acoustic guitar is a surprisingly inexpensive guitar that has a great deal to offer. The sound is great, the build quality is top-notch, and it plays like a guitar that costs hundreds more.
Please visit my sponsor zZounds.com for more information about the Elegant Epiphone Dove Pro – click here! (visiting my sponsor helps me fund more reviews! (And G.A.S., of course! :-))

I generally have my Epiphone Dove Pro out on a stand in the living room – and every guitar player that comes through plays it. All have remarked positively, even those who are die-hard fans of other brands and types.

Features:
The Epiphone Dove Pro has a long list of features for a low-cost dreadnought acoustic guitar. From great tuners, to a solid wood top, to excellent binding and inlays – this is a great guitar.
* Solid spruce top
* Maple neck, back, and sides
* Dovetail (no pun intended :-)) neck/body joint
* Rosewood fretboard
* Parallelogram inlays
* Bound fingerboard, body top and body back
* 25.5” scale (the distance between the saddle and nut)
* Compensated saddle and dove-inlaid rosewood bridge
* Grover tuners
* Fishman Sonicore under-saddle pickup and Sonicore sond-hole preamp

The Epiphone Dove pro is listed as Violin Burst – but in truth it is a beautiful orange-y burst with a transparent orange-y back and sides. It’s a beautiful guitar that stands out from the everyday colors seen on most acoustics. I am an unabashed “orange” fan when it comes to transparent finishes on guitars – so it is right up my alley. I love the dove inlays in the very striped bridge and the parallelograms in the fretboard match the look of my Gibson Songwriters to a T.
The Dove comes with a simple and easy pickup/preamp combination from Fishman. The soundhole’s easily-accessed master tone and volume controls work great and are easy to change while actively playing the guitar. Adjustment is like on an electric – you just turn the knob(s) until your ears like what you hear.

Overall, the Epiphone Dove Pro is very feature-rich, very much on par with guitars that cost north of $700 (street value).
You can see more about the features and benefits of owning an Epiphone Dove Pro Acoustic here at zZounds.com
JpearsonEpiphoneDoveBodyFront1

Playability
This guitar is easy to play. The neck is a little on the narrow side, so it isn’t giant wide like some acoustics. It has a good “D” shape that helps you grip the neck nicely when doing difficult chords or fret reaches. When you’re holding acoustic strings down for a good while when you are playing, it is nice to get a good grip on the neck. For those with small hands, the neck isn’t too deep a D – it is a good balance for most hands. I’m a person with large hands and slender fingers, so the neck is mostly good with me. The width of the fretboard on my Gibsons is more comfortable – but my Dove feels somewhat similar to the necks on my Seagulls (Original 6 and 12).
The fretboard is nicely finished, so it is easy when playing lots of fretting-hand movement. The string spread of the bridge is just about right, making it fairly comfortable for finger picking, hybrid picking, and flat-picking.

Despite the miles of hard maple in this guitar, it is surprisingly comfortable and relatively light. My Ibanez Artcore guitars are substantially heavier, for comparison. The guitar is easy on the shoulder and easy on the knee – and feels like a good depth for lots of pick-arm and hand work.
The full-size Grover Rotomatic chrome tuners are very smooth and work great. They’re easy to use and do a nice job. The nut (it seems like almost every guitar, these days) works great with a little lubrication such as Lizard Spit or Big Bends Nut Sauce.

Sound
The Epiphone Dove Pro comes strung with phosphor-bronze .012-.053 D’Addario strings. The strings themselves sound fantastic and present themselves with a clean, edgy acoustic sound that is clear and not muddy at all. I’ve played 80/20 bronzes on maples before, and have found that the 80/20 bronzes tend to darken the sound such that the maple-ness of the sound is not as articulate as it tends to be. The phosphor-bronze strings sound just right.

As a dread, the Dove is loud and clear. It does the low notes very tightly and the mid-tones nicely too… The highs tend to be a little tinny when playing in the middle third of the neck on the two plain (E and B) strings. I think this is partly a function of the finish and the glue/joint work. When recording, the first two strings played from 7 to 10 (frets) are often not warm enough – such that I’ll often play up the neck on the D string if I can… I don’t think this is a deal-breaker on this guitar: it’s not a $2700 hand-crafted instrument.

The resonance and sustain are good to very good on the Dove. It sustains like an excellent glued-in neck – but with the highs rolling off fairly quickly on fretted notes. The open-string notes ring pretty well, particularly the 6th-4th strings. The strings on this guitar make a big difference. Dead, corroded strings muffle out this guitar fairly dramatically – when the strings get nasty, the Dove begins to sound like a laminate-topped guitar. I like the D’Addario EXP coated strings and the Ernie Ball coated acoustic strings on this guitar. The feel and sound of these particular strings is no sacrifice as compared to the truly long life you get out of the sound on average. Even those with sweaty or acid hands will see a good length of use from the two strings I’ve mentioned.
Take a look here at zZounds.com.
JpearsonEpiphoneDoveFullFront

Fit and Finish
The fit and finish of my Dove is outstanding. I did not see a single finish burble, and everything fits and sits like it should. Since the Dove appears to be finished in poly, it has a hard and slick finish that puts up with lots of little dings without showing them. The finish doesn’t sound like the resonant quality of a hand-applied lacquer finish – but it doesn’t seem to dampen things too much. The body and neck finish are extremely consistent and smooth. The headstock and neck inlays are actually nicely done: many Asian-made acoustics I’ve handled have lots of dark filler around the inlays. The Dove’s inlays are very accurate in most cases, with only a few very minor filled splinters or routing blems.
The fret ends were nicely dressed out of the box. The overall feel as you traverse the neck is simple and good, with no real issues to be found. I didn’t find any substantial fret leveling issues (if any at all, really). There aren’t any buzzes that appear at unexpected spots. The guitar even plays nicely with .013 strings tuned to a low tuning like CGCGCC. It does play crisply and nicely with standard .012 gauge strings and “standard” EADGBE tuning.

The electronics are attached to the inside of the body nicely and are fairly well dressed. The wires don’t dangle too much and don’t clunk around in the body. The Fishman controls are solidly mounted and work smoothly and easily. The end-pin 1/4” jack works great and attaches positively to the cable.
Please have a look here at zZounds.com

Wishes and Wants I do wish the battery was in a standard battery box attached to the sides somewhere instead of deep in the sound hole. I wonder how hard it would be for Epiphone “Pro” guitars to have that killer fret-end binding one gets on better Gibson electric guitars and basses?

One other thing: Couldn’t we have 18:1 Grovers on our Gibsons and Epiphones? I really like the larger-ratio feel when tuning.
JpearsonEpiphoneDoveBack1

The Fender FSR Ash Noiseless Stratocaster Transparent White Blonde Review – Creamy Goodness!

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The Fender FSR Ash Stratocaster Noiseless See-through White Blonde Review! Good enough to own one twice!

So, what is “FSR”, anyway? According to Fender’s web site, FSR means “Fender Special Run.” You can read a bit more here at Fender’s web site. The link opens a new window…. FSR Fender products pop up here and there, generally at major online or brick-and-mortar dealers. Sometimes the extra cool ones (like the ones that Jeff Allen signed) come to hometown dealers, too. I’ve had an FSR Strat or Tele here and there over the years. Sometimes they are just color combinations on the standard stuff, other times; they’re great combinations of great materials that aren’t offered together.

The white blonde Fender FSR Ash Stratocaster with Noiseless Pickups is one of those wonderful FSRs that shouldn’t get away from you if you want an awesome sounding Strat that really fits the bill. Why did I sell off some of my instruments just so I could get one (and then another after someone offered me the right price for my first (customized, too!) one? Read on…

Although zZounds doesn’t offer the blond ash Noiseless FSR Strat, they do carry a HUGE array of Fender Stratocasters. Click here and read all about them! It helps me write more reviews if you buy awesome gear at zZounds. Besides, they have great customer service and return policies!

FenderFSRAshNoiselessStratFactoryImage

Factory image. The colors are a little off, but the idea is about right

Quick Opinion: The FSR Ash Stratocaster with Noiseless pickups and the transparent white blonde finish is superb. The neck is (at least, at the moment) unique, the electronics are awesome, and the build quality is just fantastic. I love this guitar. If you’re looking for a mid-priced Stratocaster that won’t break the bank and will play its heart out, this is definitely one to consider!

This particular FSR Stratocaster has good looks, easy playability, that wonderful ash-body sound, and the quiet power of Fender’s “Noiseless” single coil pickups. Even the pickguard is cool: mint green – like an old friend from the 70s that’s been around for a long time.

The interesting neck, the mint pickguard, the pickups, and the look and feel of the transparent gloss finish on the ash body is intriguing and very playable.

Here’s a quick breakdown of this particular guitar’s features:
* Ash body;
* Transparent white blonde body finish;
* Combination semi-gloss/gloss neck (read on), modern C shape;
* Vintage-style 6-screw non-floating tremolo bridge;
* Maple neck, maple fretboard;
* Traditional S-S-S pickup configuration with two tones and a master volume;
* 5-way blade pickup selector switch (N-NM-M-MB-B);
* Mint pickguard… Cool!;
* Ping-style tuners and old-style string tree on B and high E;
* Synthetic bone nut;
* Fender’s awesome Noiseless hand-wound pickups;
* Nicer Fender gig bag

Sound: If you like a quiet Stratocaster that has the guts to pull off everything from country to blues to Stevie Ray Vaughan to Jeff Beck to Clapton, this guitar is a real contender. Overall, this Strat captures the essence of what a Strat sounds like, but with quieter oomph.

Let’s get into details about what drove me to this MIM Strat in the first place…
1) Pickups/electronics
2) Tone woods – a one-piece maple neck and: Ash!

Pickups and Electronics: The pickups are a big part of “the reason for the season” with these particular FSR Strats. The pickups are hotter than vintage, but aren’t super wide-open. They live up to their “quiet” reputation with their AlNiCo magnets, special enamel-coil wire, dressed magnet edges, and the nicely upgraded controls (pots, caps, resistors). They sound great, are nicely balanced, and are truly great at making that “Fender Strat” sound.

The electronics are the upgraded/special set of controls that Fender sells with its Noiseless set kits. The tone pots and volume pot work superbly and sound just fine. All the solder joints are really clean and nicely done. The wiring is well-routed and planned – overall: nice stuff.

I like the traditional CRL-style mechanical blade pickup selector switch. Fender, please don’t switch to those awful PCB switches (like those in the Blacktop Fenders)!

Tone woods Some of the best sounding Fender guitars in history have been ash. Ash has a completely different character than alder or basswood. It has a denser tone (at least, to my ears), and has more definition and ring than alder.

My particular FSR ash Strat sounds warmer and more full than my alder Stratocaster. It has a heavier feel to the shoulder, but I like the sustain and resonance of the ash.

Body wood can be a really personal thing for Fender players, so I won’t take up a stance here – I just want to try to have an objective view of things in my reviews: Ash is a great tone wood, one that does great for rock styles and country styles.

FenderFSRAshNoiselessStratocasterJimPearsonCustomBodyShot

My customized FSR with the 50s Reissue neck, my Jimi Hendrix-style “Gypsied” pickguard, and my Schaller strap locks

Playability This guitar fits the body like a soft cotton shirt, and the overall balance is excellent. The ash body is a little heavier than my alder-body Strat, but not enough that I really notice it. I found that the body feels smoother against my skin than my Highway 1, but not as buttery as my Jimmie Vaughan signature MIM Strat. The body is extremely high gloss, done to the nines. Someone spent A LOT of time getting this one right. When I sold my first one, I found myself pining away for it about a week later… I eventually saved up and bought another during a big online sale.

The feel of the traditional Strat body is a story on it own, with countless thousands of friends out there to testify. It’s a very playable body, comfortable and straightforward. So very easy to reach the front of the guitar… you don’t spend much time thinking about the body’s contact with your arm and ribcage. Simple. Genius.

Vintage-style (6-screw, non-floating) Fender Stratocaster bridges aren’t the most intonation-stable bridges. They require a good setup to stay close in tune for an extended period of play, but still go out here and there even then. If you want extreme tuning stability, you’ll need to go to a stop-tail with locking tuners, or a double locking trem such as a Floyd Rose, Jackson, Kahler, or Ibanez. (There are Floyd-bridged Strats out there…). If you can accept that you’ll have to tweak the tuning keys if you’re a big tremolo-bar-bomber, the vintage-style bridge is fine. When I’m not specifically looking for trem effects while I’m playing, I don’t even put the trem arm in my Strat’s bridge when I play it. To put this into perspective, when I recorded with my American Standard Stratocaster last month (two-point floating trem, Ping-style tuners), I had to stop and tune it several times when I pushed the trem around a bunch for some parts of the recording.

I love the way Strats play. Even though I am a fan of many types of guitars, I’m not sure I’d ever do without at least one Strat in my closet.

Playability: The neck This particular FSR Strat came with a neck that isn’t like its contemporary MIM Standard Strat cousins. The fretboard and headstock face are high gloss, while the back of the neck is a creamy semi-gloss/matte finish. The back of the neck feels a lot like my Fender Deluxe Ash Telecaster’s neck. The front of the neck reminds me a lot of the nicer Japanese Fender necks and the 50s reissue necks made in America and in Mexico.

This (currently) unusual combination of gloss front/matte back is a neat combination. I felt instantly comfortable with it. The neck back profile is a general C “modern” shape and feels compatible with the necks of the Fender MIM Standard models. It’s just thick enough to feel substantial, without feeling like a Jackson speedy neck. The width is quite comfortable, and I find chording is just as easy as picking and arpeggiating. Nice neck.

(Editor’s note: I really like a boat, V, or D neck on Fenders, so I ended up putting a 50s reissue neck on my FSR. A VERY happy eBay member got my FSR’s original neck and found it to be a real winner for him… Necks are like shoes. You like the way they feel or you don’t. NO issues with the FSR’s beautiful neck: I just liked my V neck better.)

Don’t forget to check out zZounds’ selection of Fender Stratocasters

Quality: The build quality of my FSR Ash Noiseless blonde Stratocaster is nothing short of superb. There was only one flaw on the entire guitar: the neck pocket on the bass side has a tiny gap with the original neck, on the edge facing towards the headstock. I don’t think this is a deal-breaker for me. After all, this is not an Eric Clapton Signature Strat or an Eric Johnson Signature Strat. It’s a mid-line animal that was built with LOTS of attention to detail and love from the folks at the Ensenada plant.

FenderFSRNoiselessAshStratocasterDetailBackByJimPearson

The back goodness of creamy transparent blonde. You can just see the grain in this (not my best) picture. The “F” neck plate is my addition: factory versions ship with a plain neck plate.

I couldn’t have found a nicer example of neck craftsmanship, body routing and finish, electronics detail, and fret detail in such a nice mid-priced guitar. Speaking of the frets: they’re very nicely ended and crowned, smooth, and even…

I’m gushing, but then again, this guitar deserves it. I don’t know that every one is this way, but the two I’ve had were excellent examples.

Value: The FSR Ash Stratocaster with Noiseless pickups is about $150 more than the MIM Standard Stratocaster. In my opinion, it is very much well worth it. It’s a strong value if you’re looking for much nicer pickups and much better neck and tone woods. In the grander scheme of Fender guitars, this one is mid-range and has a value that’s more akin to the $899+ “specialty” Fenders like the Player series and Road Worn series

I would have a hard time choosing between this Strat and the much more expensive 50s Player Stratocaster. I like the 50s Player: a lot! But this one is much more affordable and sounds much better! The difference for me? The body wood wins on the FSR and the neck wins on the 50s Player.

Wishes: I do wish these particular FSRs had V-shaped necks. Otherwise, I love them just like they are!