Cheap iPhone shot of new Donner DST-400

After picking up a Donner ukulele bass for a ridiculously low price early last year when retail stores weren’t open (it was purchased as something to just play around on in lieu of the cancellation of the in-person Winter NAMM 2021 convention in Anaheim), it was time to check out more of their music gear for the second “virtual” winter NAMM. The build quality, playability and value of their ukulele bass made it an incredible buy (it’s easily worth more than the list price) and raised the question of whether their Seeker line of electric guitars are as good of a buy.

This guitar, with included tools, guitar cable, strap and its backpack soft case/ gig bag provide everything that’s needed for going somewhere to take lessons and playing an electric guitar, minus a guitar amp and perhaps a guitar pick. There are gig bags (soft, padded guitar cases) out there that cost more than this entire guitar package.

The Donner H-S-S Pickups (1 humbucker and two single coil configuration) have 7 tone modes and are designed to provide powerful output, which allows for more distortion with a 5-way switch and push/pull coil split tone knob. This is a good setup/configuration for rock and metal players (it looks cooler, too- especially with the black white pickup color) and the “clean” sounds will work well for many styles. The neck feels nice and is a good width.

After plugging into a small practice amp and stretching out the strings a bit with some bends and slides, the guitar sounds good, both through the clean channel and with distortion. The tone knob actually changes the sound (some guitars just have knobs) and the push/pull knob also makes a noticeable difference in sound on the clean channel for splitting the pickups, but not as much using distortion on a cheap battery powered practice amp. Results will obviously vary depending on amplification. Harmonics sound good and notes sound good as they ring out. It’s set up pretty well out of the box for a good trial run.

This is a great entry level and intermediate guitar. It’s built well, looks like a rather expensive instrument and is decent enough to progress to intermediate or advanced guitar playing. Putting a few dollars into a professional setup and some upgrades could make this a guitar in a much higher price range.

The bridge is set flat out of the box. The springs are pretty tight upon receipt when pressing on the tremolo bar. This is a good starting setup to learn. Later on, loosening the strings and springs to float the tremolo will add another dimension to playing it.

With inflation, rising supply costs and current shipping problems in the world, guitar prices and values have been on the rise and will likely continue to go up. Guitars of any quality may never be this affordable again. Some entry level guitars can be a complete waste of money and don’t play the way they should, which can discourage new players from making a go at the instrument. Some seasoned players need reliable back up guitars. With a few adjustments and upgraded parts, this guitar would work for that.

Donner made their debut entry into NAMM this year and maintained a strong presence with their product line throughout the “Believe in Music” virtual sessions of the second annual online version until this summer’s NAMM in Anaheim.

We’ll definitely stop by their booth this summer to check out more of their products. Stay tuned for video.

The included guitar cable is a keeper. With one angled end, there are several options for plugging in to the guitar and amp. It actually made the small battery powered amp with a broken input power up and work when others wouldn’t, so that was a real bonus right there.