At every turn, Donner is redefining what it means to be a “budget” brand. In the past, the idiom “you get what you pay for” rang true in all but a few scenarios. You got the occasional meal of substance or a night out at the movies on the cheap. Aside from that, small amounts of money got you small amounts of low-quality stuff you didn’t want.
But Donner isn’t just creating “cheap” products. They’re creating the best quality products in an affordable price range, something few companies ever master. And this is what stands out about them.
In this guide, we’ll be looking at the much-lauded Donner DTC-100 TC Electric Guitar. So, is it any good? Read on…
The Donner DTC-100 TC Electric Guitar
The Donner DTC-100 TC (or the Standard Series – we’re still not sure what Donner ultimately wants to call it) is a beginner Telecaster-style six-string electric guitar. You’ve seen it all over YouTube. But does it measure up to the hype?
Straight up – you could do a lot worse. As a former full-time guitar teacher (I still teach the occasional lesson), I’ve had the opportunity to play a ton of beginner electrics, and I found that most off-brand ones are adequate at best, and unplayable at worst. I also found some on-brand ones mediocre.
The DTC-100 TC, on the other hand, is simple, sleek, and fun to play. And as far as I can tell, it has very few downsides.
Students and beginners alike can carry this axe around with pride, and without worry that their guitar is holding them back from progressing as a guitarist.
Honestly, I was a little worried about the guitar’s neck out of the box because it has a very thin finish. I thought this might cause unwanted resistance and friction and make the guitar harder to play. But no, it’s very comfortable, and I never feel like I’m rubbing my hand against sandpaper as I’m running up and down the fretboard.
Similarly, there are no issues with sharp frets, a hallmark of cheap guitars that are intentionally rushed out the door by lesser brands.
The action is also very even and there is minimal buzz. Bends and vibratos are very easy to perform. It’s mostly upsides with this guitar!
It doesn’t have a smooth, luxurious neck in the style of my Ernie Ball Music Man Axis, but it wouldn’t be fair to ask that of a guitar that’s under $200 USD. If I want a guitar that fits my hand like a glove, I can always pick my Axis off the guitar stand on which it rests.
Well, it’s a guitar. You really can’t ask for too much here, especially at this price point. It comes with two single coil pickups (standard Tele setup), one volume knob, one tone knob, a three-way pickup switch, and six strings.
No whammy bars, no B-Benders, no stacked humbuckers. But if you wanted to mod the guitar, you could either do it yourself or hire a skilled tech to do the work for you. Of course, as with any axe, you’ve got to ask yourself whether it’s worth the mod, and putting higher-quality parts on lower-quality guitars will only get you so far.
Ultimately, no disappointments here. The guitar features a simple, standard setup. And it does come with a few worthwhile extras, like a gig bag, hex key, instrument cable, and guitar strap.
First things first – I tried the Donner Standard Series guitar direct into my computer through my audio interface. This is the most unflattering way to listen to any guitar, as all its frequencies and natural character are greatly diminished.
Then, I tried the guitar through Positive Grid’s BIAS FX 2 Standard, experimenting with a few presets.
I was mostly listening for potential flaws but could not find any.
The bridge pickup offers all the twang and grit you would expect from a Tele. The neck pickup offers that delightful bell-like tone Teles and not coincidentally Strats are also known for.
If you were to test this guitar side by side with a $3,000 Fender Telecaster, of course, you would notice a difference. But the DTC-100 TC still sounds good enough for recording, and not just for demos and sketches.
I approached the test with a critical mind and came away feeling the guitar’s tone was more than adequate, especially at this price point. Naturally, it buzzes to high heaven, but that’s mostly to be expected from a guitar equipped with single coil pickups.
This is probably the guitar’s chief weakness. You can’t ask too much of a beginner guitar, but I do find that the Donner DTC-100 TC is lacking tuning stability, and it requires regular tuning.
It’s not much of a problem if you’re practicing alone, but if you’re playing gigs or recording, you’d want to keep an eye on this. Tune regularly to minimize cringing.
Also, make sure you know how to tune the guitar. That will keep you in the game.
When I picked up the guitar from the local convenience store post office, I couldn’t believe how light the instrument was. That’s not always a good thing, but in this case, it was a pleasant surprise.
Considering its overall playability and sound, the fact that it weighs so little makes it very convenient for road trips, and presumably, international travel as well.
I drive quite a bit myself, and this guitar has followed me all over Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley, and the Okanagan Valley without issue.
Of course, hauling it to and from school, lesson rooms, jams, and so on should prove mostly effortless too.
Manufacturers like Donner owe a great deal to Fender, which originally introduced the Telecaster design.
Why? Because the Donner DTC-100 TC is one sturdy axe!
I would advise against callously throwing the guitar in the back of your truck, slamming it into the ground, crushing it by setting heavy amplifiers on top of it or otherwise abusing it in unnatural ways.
But the axe should hold up to quite a bit of wear and tear, thanks to its robust design. That’s always a good thing for beginners, who might tend to bump and scrape their guitars without noticing.
What Others Are Saying About the Donner DTC-100 TC
You don’t need to take my word for it. You can watch the guitar in action in these videos:
Final Thoughts, Donner DTC-100 TC Electric Guitar
Everything you’ve heard about the Donner Standard Series is true. This is an excellent guitar for the money. Even advanced players will likely be wowed by the guitar’s overall quality and stability based on its price point.
For beginners, it should serve as a great instrument for learning and practicing alike. And for more seasoned players, the Donner DTC-100 TC is sure to become a workhorse for practice, demoing, jamming, and more.
You can get your Donner DTC-100 TC electric guitar here.