Reviewed: Donner DAJ-110CG
brandon anderson | 12.18.2021
If you aren’t familiar with Donner, then we will give you a quick introduction. They are a stateside company producing instruments overseas, similar to many other instrument manufacturers that have popped up in the last few years, but they seem to be one of the standouts with regards to instrument build quality and customer service. Originally popping onto our radar in 2020, we first noticed their great line of budget guitar pedals which we were pleasantly surprised with and which we will also be featuring in future reviews.
When we were first contacted to review their latest acoustic guitar offering we were excited to see if Donner's guitars live up to the hype that their pedals have been creating online, as well as standing up to the build quality of their surprising electric guitar models. Our review subject is the Donner DAJ-110CG acoustic starter pack, one of the 14 different models of acoustic guitars currently available from Donner. This guitar may be at the bottom end of the price bracket, but we were happy to see that doesn’t affect Donner’s ability to provide a great guitar with a lot of extras thrown in to give you everything you need to get started on your journey. For example, the inclusion of a soft gig bag, stick-on piezo style pickup, capo, tuner, extra strings, and more!
Upon opening our well-packaged guitar we were pleased with the obvious extra care taken to ensure the instrument wouldn’t arrive damaged. We removed ample bubble wrap to expose the cool brown/charcoal sunburst matte finish and Jumbo style cutaway body reminiscent of the classic Gibson Jumbos. We took a minute to run through everything and do a quick setup and were surprised to find the guitar comes pretty well set up from the factory with a level neck, low action, and no noticeable burrs on the fret ends, which is always a good sign. We really dig the stylish black tuners and strap buttons that keep with the theme of the dark vintage-style hand-rubbed sunburst finish (they really tie the room together dude!) A quick tune with the included tuner had us ready to roll in no time.
Perhaps the greatest feature of the DAJ-110CG is the clarity and sound projection, another clear sign of a well-built instrument, and the projection here puts more expensive offerings to shame. Contributing to the crisp volume and tone is the added X-bracing, allowing the DAJ-110CG to produce a rich and oh-so-twangy sound similar to its more expensive counterparts. Throw a nice set of high-end custom strings on it and get ready to be even more surprised! Overall the tone of the DAJ-110CG is well-rounded and packs a punch of that coveted high-end sizzle that Jumbo style bodies are known for, and it will certainly find favor with those looking for that classic country and blues sound on a budget.
The North American Sitka Spruce top and AAA Mahogany back and sides are standard fare but the matte finish and cool black hardware make the DAJ-110CG a definite standout amid the sea of cheaper looking, high-gloss guitars common at this price point. The DAJ-110 is offered in natural, subtle green sunburst, and brown/black sunburst finishes.
In terms of playability, the DAJ-110CG has a smaller diameter neck (perfect for younger folks) that plays smooth and is well finished with absolutely no fret issues to report. The “Mini” Jumbo body provides ample sound projection without being too large or cumbersome when being played in a seated position. As stated our test model came ready to play straight out of the box with a great setup done at the factory.
The rest of the kit, such as the sealed die-cast machine heads and hardwood bridge all feel solid and well attached. The DAJ-110CG also includes a solid bone nut and saddle to further enhance tone.
If you were to ask most players what they’re looking for in a guitar – regardless of budget – they’ll most likely say it needs to be reliable, comfortable, sound fantastic, and let’s be honest it needs to look cool! Well, the Donner DAJ-110CG checks all of those boxes and then some with a great entry-level guitar starter package that includes everything you need, all for under $200.
The solid tonewoods and classic Jumbo style body deliver a rich, all-encompassing tone usually found at much more expensive price points. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better quality guitar with these specs and included accessories at a better price.
Donner DAJ-110CG Specifications
Body Type: “Mini” Jumbo w/ cutaway
Top: Sitka Spruce
Back and sides: African Mahogany w/ X bracing
Neck: C-Shaped - 43mm at the nut
Scale: 25.9/16” w/ 40” total length
Tuners: Die-cast sealed black 18:1 ratio w/ matching black strap buttons
Finish: Vintage hand-rubbed color matte Body/Neck (available colors: natural, black/brown, green)