Donner DST-200 Electric Guitar Review – Is It Worth Buying?

Donner is a well-known name in the cost-effective musical gear market. With the impressive quality-for-price ratios of its products, Donner has surprised many musicians and helped many to take their first steps into the music world.

One of the recent series of Donner is the Seeker Series, which has one of the greatest Strat-style guitars in the affordable price range: Donner DST-200. Designed with beginner guitarists in mind, the guitar has the standard Strat specs with some nice touches that increase versatility. 

Donner 39 Inch Electric Guitar, Designer Series DST-200 Stylish Solid...
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Plus, it looks pretty good and plays really well, which are both highly crucial aspects, especially for beginner guitarists. With the high versatility of the guitar, provided by the coil-split feature on the humbucker, it performs great in many genres, from jazz to metal. This is another great feature for beginners, as you will be playing many different songs until you find your tone and style.

ProsCons
Great value for the pricePlastic nut
High sonic versatility with the coil-split featureSlightly on the heavier side
Looks elegant with matching colors on different partsNot the best setup out of the box
Surprisingly good pickups for the price
Plays well with the smooth neck
Comes with a good accessory bundle

Overall, the Donner DST-200 is one of the best Donner guitars I have tested. Donner took all the positive aspects of the former Seeker Series while correcting all the parts that users complained about in order to create the ultimate Strat-style beginner electric guitar. I would rate this instrument 4.5 out of 5 without hesitation. I would totally give 5 stars if the setup was a bit lower.

Donner

Donner is a music gear brand that was founded in 2012. The team has been working on delivering high-quality instruments, musical gear, and accessories like effect pedals, multi-fx processors, instruments, and many other products, for affordable prices. 

Donner is a popular name among beginner guitarists and musicians on a tight budget, as Donner products are mostly cost-effective products with amazing value-for-price ratios. That is why Donner became a well-known name, as the quality of Donner instruments and gear received highly positive feedback on many websites, online stores, and blogs all over the internet.

Donner’s warehouses are located in the U.S.A. and Canada. So, whenever you order a Donner product, these are the places where your products will be shipped from. The delivery times are pretty good, and shipping problems rarely occur. In any case, customer service is always there to change your product, give a refund, or solve your problems as fast as possible.

Specs of Donner DST-200

Let’s look at the specs of the Donner DST-200 and what it has to offer.

General

SeriesDesigner Series (DST)
Number of Strings6
Hand OrientationRight
ColorsBlossom Pink, Void Black
Weight7.6 lbs (3.45 kg)

Body

Body ShapeStrat-style
Body ConstructionSolidbody
Body MaterialPoplar
Body FinishPolyurethane 

Neck

Neck ConstructionBolt-On
Neck MaterialAAA Canada Maple Neck
Neck ShapeC-shape
Scale Length25.5”
Truss RodAt the headstock
Truss Rod TypeWrench
Fretboard MaterialPurpleheart
Fretboard Radius14″
Fret MaterialNickel Silver
Position InlaysDots
Number of Frets22
NutPlastic
Nut Width1.65” (42mm)
Pickup ConfigurationHSS
Neck PickupSingle-coil/Ceramic
Middle PickupSingle-coil/Ceramic
Bridge PickupHumbucker/Ceramic
Controls1 x Volume, 2 x Tone
Switch5-Way Blade Pickup Switch, Coil-Split on The Bridge Humbucker

Hardware

TailpieceNone
Bridge Type6-Saddle Vintage-Style Synchronized Tremolo Bridge
TunersVintage Styled Sealed Tuners
PickguardYes

Donner DST-200 is a pretty standard Strat-style electric guitar from the new Designer Series of Donner. The Designer Series follows the heritage of the Seeker Series while taking the positives from the old models and replacing the negatives with new solutions.

The guitar looks pretty good, with good color combinations and a high-quality finish. There are two color options: the Blossom Pink and the Void Black versions. As I have the pink one, I can say that it looks impressive with pick peach color of the body and the black color of the headstock, fingerboard, and bridge pickup combined with the yellow vintage-style pickguard and knobs. I haven’t seen the black model physically, but I can say that it also looks pretty elegant in the photos.

The guitar weighs around 7.6 lbs (3.45 kg), which is slightly heavier than I like. My personal limit is around 7.25 lbs (3.3 kg), and this one exceeds my limit slightly. However, this is highly personal as different musicians can handle different weigh.

The strat-style guitar has a solid body made of poplar and is finished with polyurethane for a glossy look. 

The bolt-on neck is made of AAA Canadian maple. It has a C-shaped profile like the good old Strats, and it is completed with a Purpleheart fretboard. The neck feels quite smooth, which is excellent for beginners. The scale length is also standard as it is 25.5” long. 

Coming to the pickups, the guitar has two custom Donner ceramic single coils and a custom Donner humbucker. With the HSS pickup configuration and the coil-split feature on the humbucker, the sonic versatility provided by the instrument is amazing. There 

On the fretboard, there are 22 nickel-silver frets, which is a pretty standard configuration for Strats. The nut is made of plastic, as expected from an affordable guitar. The truss rod configuration can be made on the headstock with a standard Allen wrench. With the  5-Way Blade Pickup Switch and Coil-Split on The Bridge Humbucker, along with a volume and two-tone knobs, the guitar’s sound can be made ready for anything from smooth jazz to metal.

Donner DST-200 has some vintage touches that keep the aesthetic-level high and stay loyal to the Stratocaster heritage. The 6-Saddle vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge, vintage pickguard, and vintage-style sealed tuners all look great and get the job done.

Finally, the guitar comes with a nice accessory pack that features a waterproof nylon oxford electric guitar bag, a 10 ft AWG24 Oxygen-free copper center conductor guitar cable, and a Donner guitar strap.

The Sound, The Feel Of The Donner DST-200

I was impressed with Donner DST-200 as it feels great in hand and plays quite smoothly. Of course, I rate it with consideration of its price. Despite that, it is an amazing guitar, especially for beginners.

Starting with the overall feel of the guitar in hand, I would say it is just slightly a bit heavy for me. Although it exceeded my ideal weight limit, I did not feel disturbed or had a hard time carrying it as the guitar was highly balanced. Also, this issue is highly personal as ideal guitar weight varies from musician to musician. Being said that, the guitar felt really comfortable on the lep and at first, I thought it weigh less.

The neck feels very smooth and comfortable with the C-shape neck profile and Purpleheart fingerboard, and the Satin finish on the neck. There were no cracks or gaps between the neck and the body, which was also important as this is an affordable guitar. 

The neck was pretty straight out of the box, but the setup was a bit too high, and the bridge was not as tight as I would have liked. But, this is very common among budget guitars and is totally expected. If you are not familiar with how to change the setup, you can go to a luthier or learn more about it from this article.

Coming to the sound, the shining aspect of this guitar is its versatility. With dual single coils and a humbucker in the bridge position, as well as the coil-split feature, you get 10 different pickup combinations which are great for playing different genres. 

For example, you can get the advantage of the humbucker when you play rock or metal, as it sounds much punchier and sharp, while you can take advantage of single coils to play smoother tones for jazz, pop, funky, alternative rock, and so on.

The quality of the pickups also surprised me as they were really good, especially the humbucker. The single coils are not noisy and do not produce any hum, while the humbucker provides quite a beefy tone. The high-ends may be too much for some, but that can be adjusted easily with an EQ on the amp or a pedal.

So, Donner DST-200 passes the test with a high score on both perspectives. As I said, this is one of the best Donner guitars I played.

Donner DST-200 Is Perfect For Whom?

Donner DST-200 is an amazing beginner guitar for music enthusiasts who want to step into the journey of learning how to play guitar. Its high versatility, great sonic performance, and comfort in the hand make it an ideal guitar to start learning.

The versatility is also important for beginners as you will be playing many different genres before you decide your style and tone. This guitar can help you explore all different regions of tonal areas for you to decide which one suits you.

On the other hand, the guitar is easy to play, and there are not many problems out of the box. The neck is straight, and the setup is not the best, but it is ok; the tuners hold the tuning well and precisely, so you do not have to worry about much of anything with this instrument.

While this is a budget beginner-level guitar, with some upgrades and tweaks, it can be a good substitute or travel guitar for more experienced guitarists. Of course, there may be better choices with higher prices, but Donner DST-200 can be a good candidate to help you when you need a second guitar. Its versatility and comfort match with the higher-end instruments.

The guitar can perform well in many genres, so there is no limit when it comes to the sonic character of this guitar. But, I would not recommend it for modern ultra high-gain metal style playing as this humbucker can kind of manage its way around those tones, but there are much better options on the market.

Other Donner Guitars Worth Mentioning

Donner DST-100R

Donner DST-100R 39 Inch Electric Guitar Beginner Kit Red Full Size...
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Donner DST-100R is the starter model of the Seeker Series and is suited for absolute beginners. It comes in different versions, such as the left-hand and right-hand models, along with four different color choices. The guitar is similar in design to the DST-200 but features an African Basswood body, while it does not feature the coil switch option.

Donner DST-152

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  • [Vintage Style Tuning Machine] Donner DST-152 electric guitar uses a...

Donner DST-152 is one of the first guitars in the Seeker Series. The Strat-style solid-body guitar has an elegant look, comfortable neck, and good sonic performance for its price. It is a slightly downgraded version of the DST-200 with a more affordable price. It also comes with a practice amp which is great to start playing immediately.

Donner DST-400

Donner 39 Inch Electric Guitar, Seeker Series DST-400 Solid Alder Body...
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  • 【Upgraded Vintage Style Full Block Pop-In Arm 2-Point Tremolo Bridge】...
  • 【Deep “C” Neck Profile & Vintage Style Hardware】AAA Canada maple...

Donner DST-400 is the highest-end model in the Seeker Series in terms of features and price. It has an Alder body like most Strats, HSS configuration, maple neck, rosewood fretboard, coil-split feature, and different color options. The guitar is more suited for slightly experienced players as it has more specs than we can find in higher-end guitars compared to other models in the Seeker Series.

Is It Possible To Upgrade Donner DST-200?

Donner DST-200 can easily be upgraded like most electric guitars. Although it does not necessarily need any upgrade for beginner guitarists, there are some parts that can be changed for more experienced guitarists. I would definitely suggest changing the nut and maybe pickups later on if you want to get sharper on a specific style and tone instead of the high versatility of DST-200.

Nut

The weakest point of the DST-200 is probably the plastic nut it comes equipped with. It is the lowest-quality material and needs to be changed in order to have better tuning stability and overall instrument durability. Replacing the nut with a graph tech or bone nut is a necessary and great idea.

Pickups

While the pickups of DST-200 are surprisingly good for the price, they may not be enough for experienced guitarists. After a while, you may look for richer harmonics and a more characteristic sound for the genre you are playing. In that case, upgrading the pickups with another set may be the solution.

Of course, the choice of pickups depends on your playing style and desired tone. But Seymour Duncan, Fender, and DiMarzio have great pickup sets for Strat-style guitars that you can use for anything from metal to funk.

Alternatives To The Instrument In Terms Of Look, Feel, Sound, Specs, And Price

Squier Affinity Stratocaster

Fender Squier Affinity Stratocaster - Competition Orange Bundle with...
  • Maple neck with "C"-shaped profile and "large" headstock
  • Maple fingerboard
  • Three single-coil Stratocaster pickups with five-way switching
  • Vintage-style synchronized tremolo bridge

When it comes to budget Strat-style guitars, the first brand to come to mind is probably Squier. The side-branch of Fender is specialized in designing and creating cost-effective versions of Fender guitars which often feature great quality.

The Affinity Stratocaster Series features great value for their prices as they feature a poplar body, maple top, maple neck, and fretboard, along with the single humbucker on the bridge and dual single-coil pickups. Although the instrument does not provide the performance of authentic Fender guitars, they feel and sound great for the price and for beginners.

The ceramic single-coil pickups perform quite well following the hints of Fender pickups, while the versatility is ok with a tone and a volume knob, as well as the 5-way pickup switch. The neck is also smooth and well-crafted, which is good for beginners.

There are many color options as well as different layouts with various pickup configurations. Finally, Squier Affinity Stratocaster costs higher than Donner DST-200.

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112J

Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112J Electric Guitar; Natural
  • Alder Body
  • Maple Bolt-On Neck
  • Rosewood Fingerboard
  • Vintage Tremolo

Yamaha is another great brand to search for cost-effective beginner Strat-style electric guitars. Its Pacifica Series PAC112J model is one of the best-selling beginner guitars thanks to its high-quality construction and parts, basic design, good sound, and great price.

PAC 112J is a highly lightweight guitar, making it a great choice for younger guitarists. The instrument shines with its comfort and feel, provided by the alder body, maple neck, and rosewood fingerboard, a pretty traditional Strat design. The HSS pickups configuration increases the versatility while the sound is pretty balanced with strong low-end and smooth high-ends along with a surprisingly good sustain.

When considering the value-for-price ratio, Yamaha Pacifica Series PAC112J is a great strat copy for beginners and younger musicians. However, it costs almost the same as the Donner DST-200, but the DST-200 comes with accessories like a gig bag, while the Yamaha PAC112J does not have any accessories in the pack.

Cort G-200DX

Cort G200DX Natural Ash Bdy Mpl Neck & Fngbrd SSH
  • Ash Body
  • Canadian Hardmaple Neck and Fingerboard
  • H-S-S PICKUP CONFIGURATION
  • Neck-Body Joint Beveled Heel

Another great Strat-style entry-level guitar comes from the popular brand Cort. The Cort G-200DX features higher-quality construction and parts than the other guitars mentioned in the article. It comes with an ash body, a Canadian hard maple neck, maple fingerboard, HSS pickup layout along with 22 frets on the fingerboard.

The guitar’s comfort is amazing as it features a C-shaped neck combined with a balanced and lightweight body. It feels quite balanced in hand without any neck dive, and you feel pretty comfortable playing it. The guitar’s overall feel and sound are impressive, and I would say this is a high-quality beginner guitar or even an intermediate-level guitar.

The sonic versatility provided by the 5-way switch, tone, and volume knobs is great, as the Powersound pickups give the possibility to use them for any genre and style. They deliver bright mids for rock-style tones while excellent low-ends and smooth high-ends give flexibility for other styles and tones.

But of course, this quality comes for a price as Cort G-200DX costs significantly higher than Donner DST-200.

Conclusion

In short, Donner DST-200 is one of the best beginner guitars I have ever tested. Big applause to Donner from here as they once again managed to squeeze great quality into an affordable price tag. The guitar feels and plays great, while the sonic versatility makes things much more enjoyable.

Of course, there are things to be upgraded, like the plastic nut. Also, the guitar’s weight is slightly on the heavier side, which might be a problem for younger guitarists, but it feels quite balanced on the positive side. Also, the setup out of the box is not ideal, and the action should be lowered slightly, which can not be done by a first-time guitar player.

But these are all very small details that can easily be fixed. There are some reports with different setups and quality control issues on the internet, but in my case, there was not much to complain about besides the slightly high setup.

For me, with the HSS layout, high versatility with the coil-split feature, balanced feel, playing comfort, C-shaped profile, smooth maple neck, and Perilla fingerboard, great tuning pegs holding the tuning solid and stable, as well as the eye-catching aesthetics, this is an amazing guitar for the price.

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Last update on 2022-09-27 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Jacob

I have been playing guitar since 2004. As long as I can remember I always had a huge passion for rock music and I extremely enjoy playing it. Helping people on their rock journey is what drives me to keep on playing. Read More About Me

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