Donner DTC-100 Telecaster Style Guitar Review
Under: Guitar Gear Reviews
A note before we get started: the folks at Donner sent me the Donner DTC-100 Telecaster Style Guitar, Donner Triple Looper Pedal, and Donner Harmonic Square Octave/Pitch Shifter Pedal to review. So while I got it for free, the following review is my honest opinion.
The humble Telecaster. Leo Fender got it right the first time. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I prefer teles to strats. There’s no logical reason other than personal preference.
Stratocasters don’t fill me with the same excitement as a good telecaster! Strange, but true.
When the guys at Donner offered me a guitar to review, I jumped at their tele-style guitar. I imagined it would be ok for basic use around the home and some teaching. But nothing too fancy.
The guitar comes with a case, strap, cable, and 2 Allen wrenches. I had a Squire Telecast about 5/6 years ago, and the Donner DTC-100 is far better built and costs a fraction of the price.
Remember to use the code ASHLEY on checkout to save 15%!
Billed as a starter kit, the Donner DTC-100 is a telecaster-style guitar. It comes with a case, strap, and cable.
On paper, this might not look that exciting or any different from the myriad of other options, but in reality, it’s in a completely different league.
The build quality is excellent, not only on the guitar but also the case and strap. The soft case is quite weighty and should provide some protection. The pack comes with 2 Allen wrenches, allowing you to easily adjust the action.
One thing that surprised me is the cable. It’s very decent, none of this molded cheap noisy crap you’d typically expect with a starter kit. Instead, it’s a 10ft quality cable with metal jacks.
Build Quality: 9/10
You might want to buy an early 50s tele, as do I. But, remember, you’ll have to play a load to find that magic one. On the journey, you’ll play a lot of god-awful ones. These inconsistencies are down to the human touch.
Most modern guitars are made in part using CNC machines, removing the majority of human error present in vintage guitars. So, unless you’re buying a hand-built guitar from Suhr or the Fender Custom Shop, you’re paying more for the brand.
The Donner DTC-100 offers a build quality you’d find on an old Mexican Fender or high-end Squire.
The tuners are smooth and stable with no lumps. Moving down the guitar, you’ll notice a simple nut, which is easy to swap for something custom. A worthwhile upgrade in my mind.
The bolt-on maple neck sports a classic C shape, which feels meaty but isn’t a tree trunk. It’s a tiny bit too chunky for me but isn’t something I’d change or attempt to shave down.
With 22 frets and a 25.5 string length (again standard Fender scale), the fretboard is finished in perilla wood, creating a nice contrast with the white body and maple neck.
The classic T design body includes 2 pickups, volume control, tone control, 3-way pickup selector, and a jack socket. We’ll come to how it sounds shortly.
The thing that surprised me the most is the bridge. I was expecting one that holds the strings, much like my old Squire. No, instead it has a proper string-through-body setup with individual holes on the rear.
Unlike the Squire, the DTC-100’s bridge is easy to adjust, stable, and changing strings should be fast. I haven’t needed to yet. But, I’m guessing it will be simple.
Controls and Features: 10/10
One of the reason’s I love telecasters is they are so simple to use. They have two pickups, a 3-way switch, volume control, and a tone knob. Despite their simplicity, they are highly versatile. You can play funk, jazz, rock, blues, and more on a telecaster.
As the original electric design, they got it right the first time! Having two pickups and a 3-way switch, means you have three options.
You can use the neck pickup, which, in true tele-style is covered. It’s ideal for pop, blues, soul, and jazz. Moving to the middle switch position. You get a combination of the two pickups, which is ideal for funk or pop.
Finally, the third position, or bridge pickup (open coils), is perfect for country, pop, rock, and blues. You can tame the high end by turning the tone control down slightly.
What I find with most strats and teles, is that you want to lower the bridge pickup slightly to better balance the volume of the two pickups. It only takes a few seconds, so worth it.
Tones and Sounds: 10/10
After lowering the bridge pickup slightly, the guitar sounds more balanced. The neck pickup produces a warm tone, with plenty of definition, that’s ideal for playing chords, clean solos, and muted single notes.
Switching to the middle position, you’re using both pickups. You get that classic clucking sound that great for muted single notes. As my favorite position, I use it often to create guitar tones that don’t rip your head off but sit perfectly in the mix.
Sometimes in a band setting, you want to add depth and not be overly noticeable, a tele in the middle position fits the bill for this role. And it worked for Motown, so why not me?!
Most people wrongly assume that the bridge pickup is only good for playing country music. And while that’s one use, it is ideal for pop tones (think beautiful day by U2), rock tones (like Queen’s crazy little thing called love), and of course, country music!
The Donner DTC-100 telecaster style guitar offers a range of classic tones at your fingertips without needing a ton of controls or pickups.
Overall: Donner DTC-100 Telecaster Style Guitar
There is much to love about the Donner DTC-100 Telecaster style guitar set. Compared to a Squire telecaster I had years ago, which had terrible action and bridge screws that wouldn’t stay put, the Donner wins hands down.
I know many will want to discount Donner as a cheap brand that’s only making copies of classic designs. I get that. However, with improvements in manufacturing technology, there’s no need to pay an inflated price for a brand name.
I have already used this $125-ish Donner T-style guitar for teaching and would happily use it for gigs. If only, I wasn’t so busy with other projects! It’s easy to play, stays in tune, and sounds great regardless of the configuration.
Plus, it comes with some amazing extras, especially given the price. So, if you’re looking for a highly affordable telecaster, consider getting this Donner DTC-100 guitar!
Remember to use the code ASHLEY on checkout to save 15%!