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Donner DLP-124S Electric Guitar   —   guitar review
[Disclaimer:  I have not received as a promotion any guitar or music related product, nor am I mentioning anything in this post to secure compensation / income for myself or the manufacturers of the products mentioned.  I am only posting about these items because I personally purchased them and am excited to be learning about music and playing guitar.    —    KMAB]
Background:  I am a rank beginner guitar player, so please take all of my advice / opinions with a healthy grain of salt…  This is one in a series of reviews of guitars and kit I am doing as I learn how to play guitar.  All of my purchases have been at the bottom end / inexpensive side of the market.
Start of review:
Two weeks ago I purchased my fourth guitar (my second electric).  This one is the Donner (brand) DLP-124S (pictured below).  On sale and with a discount, it came delivered for just under $150USD.  The “normal” retail price on their site is just under $170USD.  I gather the naming convention is “Donner Les Paul” style with the ending “S” standing for the color: “Sunburst”.  I don’t know if the “124” means anything or not.
Delivery:
The guitar arrived in less than the promised 10-day delivery (good).  This was the longest it took to receive any of my four guitars.  It was the first of my guitars to arrive in an undamaged box (great).  It was not double-boxed, which is what I was expecting.  It came in a water-proof plastic and taped wrapped cardboard box.  All in all, a positive experience.  Not great, but positive.
What you get: 
The Donner site is long on marketing and short on actual information about the guitar.
Visual checklist:
• neck  –  straight, flat and not visibly warped or bent;
• nut  –  bone (in the marketing buff and it looks slightly discolored the way bone is supposed to look.  Would I know the difference?  Not without taking it off and breaking it.  I’ll assume it’s bone.
• strings  –  strum…  not in tune, but string ends are not excessively long or wrapped around the tuning pegs
• body  –  again, beautiful color and shiny finish.  I am very pleasantly surprised.  It looks “classy” to me.
• controls  –  the switch is responsive without being resistant, the volume and tone both turn smoothly. I am able to hear the differences between the pickups on the switch (after it’s plugged in and the amp is turned on), but the difference is not as big as on my “Strat”.  It’s only a three-way switch:  neck, both, and bridge.  They are labeled “treble” and “rhythm”.  I’m not sure what that’s about…  I assume it means high and low strings, not neck and bridge, but I really can’t tell.  (Again, I’m a rank beginner.)
• tuning pegs  –  no gaps and they seem sturdy
• tremolo bar  –  n/a
• strap  –  feels like nice cotton woven material with leather ends.  It’s comfortable and I won’t need to replace it anytime soon.
• pick (“plectrum”)  –  none.  A missed marketing opportunity by Donner.  The gig bag and strap have “Donner” on them.
• action and intonation  –  the strings height “look” fine, and they don’t feel bad on my fingertips. The guitar comes with a little action card.  I check it and then use the metal one I purchased separately some time ago.  They match.
• “gig-bag”  –  this is a decent bag.  See additional comments below…
The guitar is a steel six-string electric guitar with dual (neck and bridge) humbucker pickups. “Humbucker” pickups simply means they are (as near as I can tell) double posted and wound to breakup the 60 cycle hum which is common to unshielded single pickups.  In English, this means you get less feedback from the environment you’re playing in.  I have not opened up the electronics to see if they are in a shielded cavity or not.  As I only play in my bedroom or living room, my environment isn’t a big concern.
The guitar comes with a padded “gig” bag, a strap, a cable and a couple of Allen wrenches to make adjustments to the truss rod and the intonation.  It also comes with two cards: one with basic chords and one with action millimeter guides.  The guitar does NOT come tuned and ready to play, but it it pretty close.  I attached one of my electronic tuners and was playing in tune within five minutes.  The intonation was (is) practically perfect (according to my tuner).  The “action” (the height of the strings from the frets) seems pretty close to what the YouTubers are saying is standard height and although heavy (weight), the guitar is very easy to play.  I’m not sure if this (ease of play) is because of better strings or better action or a combination of both.  Either way, I was comfortable playing around with this guitar for well over an hour after it was tuned up.  (It didn’t hurt my fingertips.)
My “other” electric guitar is a Stratocaster style and this DLP is about twice the weight even though it is no larger (physically).  In fact, this guitar feels smaller in my hands.  I stood them side by side for comparison.  The DLP is thicker and does not have cutaways for your arm (in front) or stomach (on the back).
The sunburst paint / finish on my guitar is beautiful.  I didn’t think I’d like it only being “sunburst” on one side (the top), but the truth is I think it makes the guitar look classier and it makes me almost want to get a full-on black guitar.  Most of the other sunburst guitars (I’ve looked at) have a similar effect on both top and bottom, which is why I originally wasn’t too taken with this before its arrival.
The neck is very comfortable in my hand.  It’s somewhere between the width and fretboard flatness of my dreadnought acoustic and my other electric.  In other words, its almost as comfortable on the board side and slightly more comfortable on the underside.  The underside is stained / colored in a dark honey orange / brown.  It is smooth without being slick.  In other words, your hand doesn’t stick, but it also doesn’t feel like you’re on a slimy polyurethane shellac.  The frets end cleanly at the edge of the board and are moderately tapered so they neither stick nor slice your hands / fingers.  They are not rounded though.  The fretboard itself is fresh looking (dark and smooth) and did not come with that “ashy / dusty, oil me now” look which two of my other guitars had on delivery.
The tuners seem stable.  Easy to turn without dead spots or wiggles.
Extras:  I haven’t had to use the Allen wrenches so I don’t know if there are any issues with the truss rod.  The shoulder strap is a nice cotton feeling material.  Much better quality than my other three “included” straps, but obviously not as good as the full leather strap I bought (separately) for my primary acoustic.  Similarly, the included cable is much nicer than the one which came with my other electric (starter kit).  In fact, it compares favorably with the replacement I purchased.  It generates no more buzz than my good cable, so now I have two decent cables in case one goes on the fritz.
I would like to discuss the gig bag separately (here).  I was very dissatisfied with the “bag” which came with my first electric guitar.  It was little more than a plastic dust-cover with a cheap zipper.  It was bad enough I bought an upgrade (from Donner) for just over $20USD.  As it happens, the current bag is not as good as my upgrade (from Donner), but it is FAR superior to the dust-cover (from the other guitar manufacturer).
Factoring in the bag, the cable and the strap with the total price, this is probably $35-40USD (at retail) additional value.
After all this, you’re probably thinking:  “Who cares? What does it sound like?”  Well, disappointingly, I can’t give you very much input there.  Unplugged, it sounds much deeper / heavier / fuller than the unplugged Strat-style I own.  Not acoustic level loud / full, but significantly fuller than the Strat-style.  I don’t know if that’s because it’s a heavier / more solid guitar, or just because it has much better strings.  I can say, it tuned up faster and has stayed in tune better, too.  Again, is that the strings, the tuners, the weather or something else?  I don’t know…
Okay, how about plugged in?  Again, due to my extremely limited experience, I can only give a very limited evaluation.  I can play the standard beginner open chords and the standard A-minor and Blues pentatonic scales and (again) this guitar sounds “fuller”.  I don’t know (I don’t yet have the vocabulary) how to describe the differences. This guitar has three positions and the Strat has five.  This guitar seems to have more sustainability.  I have to palm mute it or it goes on forever.  I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.  I can imagine circumstances where it could be either / both.
Final Recommendation:  This guitar is a very nice beginner’s guitar.  On the guitar I received, once tuned, the intonation was spot on and the tuning was almost exactly the same at the end of the hour (plus) as when I initially started playing with it.  The price is very good and the only things missing are an inexpensive “starter” amp and a little electronic tuner to make this a pretty perfect starter set.  I feel the extras add a great deal of value to the purchase.  Not because you won’t get similar items from other vendors.  Because you won’t get them with similar quality.  Again, this is my limited experience with only three other vendors.
Given the weight, I’m not sure I would recommend this guitar for small (under 10-years old) children, but it seems to be both an excellent instrument and an excellent value for any beginner over 10 or 12 years old.  And it’s pretty good for a retired codger like me…  It’s now in my regular rotation and I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up with other Donner equipment (particularly a starter / practice amp or some effects pedals).
So, for now, keep on picking and strumming!
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2017 Tonight
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2016 Conscientious Courage
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2015 The Beautiful Snow
2014 Nurtured By The Voices
2013 Précis
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[This post is a 2-fer…  A poem and an editorial (below the poem).  Merry Christmas to all.  Be safe…    —   KMAB]

‘Twas The Night Before Christmas

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
“Now, DASHER! now, DANCER! now, PRANCER and VIXEN!
On, COMET! on CUPID! on, DONNER and BLITZEN!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His eyes — how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
HAPPY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOOD-NIGHT!
  —  Written by:  Clement Clarke Moore
DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?
VIRGINIA O’HANLON
115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET.
VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong.  They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.  They do not believe except they see.  They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.  All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little.  In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.
Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus.  He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy.  Alas!  how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus.  It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS.  There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence.  We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight.  The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.
Not believe in Santa Claus!  You might as well not believe in fairies!  You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove?  Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus.  The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.  Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn?  Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there.  Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.
You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart.  Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond.  Is it all real?  Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
No Santa Claus!  Thank God!  he lives, and he lives forever.  A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.
New York’s Sun Editorial Response
Sept. 21, 1897
Although the original editorial was unsigned, the response was written by veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church.
[Thanks for reading all the way to the end.  Again, Merry Christmas to All!!   —    KMAB]
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2013 I Hear Voices
2012 Positive Thoughts
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