Price paid: $ 349.99
Purchased from: Lanham Music
Sound — 10
I play in a style I like to call "Psychedelic Country Gospel." If you have difficulty conceptualizing that, think the Oak Ridge Boys singing the best of the Doobie Brothers. This suits my style very well. I have been using it with an Alesis Guitar FX but hope to jump up to a Zoom A2.1U soon. I play through a Peavey Escort 2000 PA system. This is not a noisy unit. A little gain is all that is necessary. The Pre-Amp is excellent. The sound quality is also excellent when played acoustically. The bass is strong without being boomy, muddy, or overpowering. The treble is clear without being tinny or strident. The spacing of the strings is sufficient to allow fingerpicking and it is marvelous for fingerpicking. It projects well. When strummed aggressively the chords are well articulated without breaking up. This is a great guitar for a folkie or a country-rocker. I've also been inspired to try some acoustic blues and it does well in this musical genre also.
Overall Impression — 10
As I stated earlier, I play a style I like to call "Psychedelic Country Gospel." This is not a good match. It is a great match. I have been playing guitar for over 36 years and playing 12-string for 31. I've owned 4 other 12-string guitars in that time and played dozens of others. This is the best 12-string in the under $500 price range I've found yet. While it would be presumptuous to compare this to a Taylor 355 or a Guild F512, it is definitely satisfying to play and makes me feel like if I can never afford one of those more expensive 12-strings, I can still be content. If someone stole this one, I would definitely consider buying another one like this one and would have to pray extra hard to be able to forgive the mangy mongrel who stole it.
Reliability & Durability — 10
Having owned over a dozen different guitars over the past 30 years. I have no reservations about this one holding up in gigging situations. I have two friends Who have played the DG16E-12 (the predecessor model to this one) for over five years and have never had problems with theirs. One plays weekly in the praise band for the congregation he pastors in Colorado, I figure if a Fender acoustic can hold up in that extremely dry climate at high altitude, it should be able to handle the climate of the midwest at a significantly lower altitude.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The factory set-up is killer. The tech at the music store said he has never had to do much with the Fender acoustics to prep them when they come in. I was impressed. The top is very-well bookmatched (another indicator that this is a solid top and not a laminate). I checked the inside with my little dental mirror and the bracing is solid and well placed. The kerfing was even and no ragged cuts. The glue job was solid and neat, no globs or runs. Fretwires were even and well filed. Nor burrs to snag an unsuspecting finger on. I found no construction flaws in this baby.
Features — 9
Presumably 2005 or 2006 since product line was just introduced in '05. Made in China. 20 frets (14 clear of body). Fat neck. The specs as indicated on Fender's website state the top is laminated spruce. However, the cross-section/edge of top visible in the soundhole show the top to be solid. Sides/back are mahogany laminate. Neck is Nato. Natural finish. Snowflake inlays on fingerboard (so the website says the correct term would be "slotted Diamond"). Dreadnaught body, non-cutaway. Active electronics. Pre-Amp with five sliders: 1 for volume and 4 for EQ (Lo, Mid, Hi, Brilliance/Presence). Electronics include built-in tuner. No brand is indicated on tuners. I'm giving this a 9. If the binding and/or rosette had been abalone I'd have given this a 10.