Nothing’s quite like a full-size, steel-string dreadnought guitar. Although it’s acoustic, it’s got boom, bass, and power unlike many classical guitars. Let’s take a look at three best-selling acoustic dreadnoughts to see which one will be the best for you.
Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Bundle with Gig Bag, Tuner, Strap, Picks, Strings – Natural
The bundle that comes with the Fender FA-100 is the perfect beginner’s package. You’ll get a gig bag to transport and store the guitar, plus picks, a tuner, and a strap. But the accessories aren’t as important as the guitar so let’s take a closer look at it.
The FA-100 has steel strings with light action so it doesn’t take a lot of effort to play it. In fact, some musicians have complained that the strings buzz on the frets. This is something that can be adjusted so it’s not a deal-breaker.
If you’re a lefty, you may be disappointed. The FA-100 is made for right-handed players. The pick guard is already laminated in place and the guitar comes strung for righties.
The front of the guitar is made from spruce laminate, not solid wood. This is normal for a beginner guitar. It ends up making the guitar a little tougher at the sacrifice of a little sound quality. But many owners love the good sustain and crisp sound of this guitar and they find it very easy to play.
Besides the spruce top with X bracing support, the sides and back are made of basswood. This is a little softer wood with good tone, and it’s commonly found in less expensive guitars. The C-shape neck is made from maple with a rosewood fingerboard. There are 20 frets total with some positions marked by pearloid dots. The whole guitar has a glossy polyurethane finish.
Some owners have commented that they appreciate the vintage-style bone saddle and nut. The headstock on the FA-100 is also the classic Fender shape although the tuning machines are just die-cast.
One note: if you happen to have small hands or arms, try it before you buy it. This is a full-size dreadnought so it’s even larger and boxier than a full-size classical guitar. It measures about 41 inches in length and the scale is 25.3 inches long.
More features of the Fender FA-100 acoustic guitar bundle:
- Fender offers a lifetime limited warranty on the guitar and 1-year on some accessories
- Strings are Fender Dura-Tone 880L
Epiphone DR-100 (Dreadnought), Vintage Sunburst
Epiphone has been making guitars since 1873 and the DR-100 is their best-selling acoustic guitar. It’s a dreadnought like the Fender FA-100, perfect for country, bluegrass, folk, and rock music. It gets its power not just from its design but from the great quality woods used to build it.
The top of the guitar is made from select spruce with sound that actually improves as it ages. It’s not a laminate like the top of the Fender FA-100. The back, sides, and neck of the Epiphone DR-100 are made of another rich and strong tonewood, mahogany. The fingerboard is made of rosewood and has dotted pearloid fret markers.
The scale on the Epiphone at 25-1/2 inches is just a tiny bit longer than on the Fender. If you’ve been a fan of Epiphone, you may appreciate the vintage Dovewing headstock and “E” symbol on the pickguard.
Owners have said that they love the DR-100 because the steel strings don’t buzz although the action is light enough for beginners to enjoy playing. Although the guitar is a full-size dreadnaught, it weighs just 4.6 pounds and can be worn with a strap supporting it.
More features of the Epiphone DR-100 acoustic guitar:
- Epiphone offers a lifetime limited warranty on the DR-100
- Has two buttons to secure a strap
- This particular model does not come with accessories like a gig bag
Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar, Natural
To wrap up our review of beginner dreadnoughts, we have the Jasmine S35. It has a couple of features in common with the Epiphone DR-100 above. For example, it has a select spruce top supported by X bracing, a rosewood fingerboard, and a 25-1/2-inch scale. But there are more differences than similarities between this and the other two guitars.
Instead of a laminate front or a solid wood body, the Jasmine has laminated Nato sides and back. Nato is an Asian wood that’s similar to mahogany but less expensive. This may be one of the reasons this guitar costs so much less than the other two.
The whole guitar has a soft satin finish instead of a high gloss. Jasmine’s manufacturer says the finish influences the sound. You may find you like the satin a lot mainly because it won’t show fingerprints as much.
Instead of die-cast tuners, the S35 has chrome-covered ones. And instead of a natural bone saddle and nut, these two parts are made from synthetic bone, perfect for vegan musicians. While this may not be a big issue for you, consider the fact that bone saddles and nuts are very, very common on acoustic guitars and they pose a serious dilemma for vegans.
More features of the Jasmine S35 acoustic guitar:
- Strings are Phospher Bronze Light Gauge .012-.053
- No accessories included with the guitar
- Made for right-handed players
- Jasmine acoustic guitars are covered by a lifetime limited warranty
Any one of these three acoustic guitars are appropriate for beginning musicians. While they have steel strings instead of the softer nylon found on classical guitars, they all have light action so they are very playable. All three have good sound with the booming bass, sweet resonance, and power of a dreadnaught guitar.
Your choice may come down to whether you’re a fan of one of these brands, or perhaps the price will sway you. The Fender FA-100 comes in a sweet bundle with everything you need to start playing right away, and that’s money saved right there.
The Epiphone DR-100 has a very attractive and dramatic look to it. If you want a guitar that calls attention to its beauty, this is the one for you. Out of the three models in this review, it’s the only one you might be able to get adapted for left-handed playing. Epiphone has friendly customer service that may be able to accommodate you in that.
The Jasmine S35 has a sturdy body, great sound, and a synthetic bone saddle and nut. This is an ideal choice for a musician who wants to live gently on the earth.