I've decided to get an Epiphone Masterbilt as my first acoustic guitar (been playing on an old classical guitar). I looked at the DR-500ME at the store and really liked the sound. The store I went to only had the ME version (amplified). I know Epiphone makes the DR-500M without the pickups. The store sells the ME for 529 vs the M which is 500 online.

Does the electric acoustic sound the same as the acoustic? I've only been playing for about a month and a half and don't think I will be playing any shows or anything for a while. I've read a lot of recommendations that people should just get the acoustic and then install pickups afterwards.

Is the esonic2 system good?
Is the esonic2 system considered sorta obtrusive (dont have any experience with pickups)?
The previous pickup system only had a small knob, this one has a console and a pickup at the end of the fretboard

Any advice. thanks
I played a couple Epi Masterbilts with and without electronics. I didn't feel like they got in the way at all and both guitars sounded pretty well the same. However, I didn't get a chance to try them out amplified (didn't have a battery)
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I hear the pickups sound pretty nice although I've never played through an amp with them. I got my DR-500M off of this site:


You get "USED" guitars there. It's just a USED stamp on the back of the headstock, the guitars are actually new but they had finish blemishes or whatever so they were taken off the line. There is a sunburst and non sunburst up on auction now but they come with some elan pickup system (which I don't think is the best). If you can get one off there without electronics I'd say go for it. I got my Masterbilt for $200.00 american and it's magical. Bought an L.R. Baggs M1A for amplification if I ever need it and it all came to much less than in the store. I like them better straight acoustic, I find they sound much better to my ears depending on the pickup but it's up to you.
thanks for the responses so far. i did look into ebay but since its my first guitar i want a brand new one. any other advice is appreciated thanks