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Old 10-07-2022, 04:20 PM
gerardo1000 gerardo1000 is offline
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Default New Donner Rising Pro carbon fiber guitar delivered today! First impressions.

Pushed by curiosity (and always interested in new carbon fiber guitar offers) I ordered the new Donner Rising Pro carbon Fiber guitar from Amazon, for $499.00. Knowing that, if disappointed, I could always return it, no question asked, thanks to the excellent return policy of Amazon. It has been delivered this morning and I have spent already 6-7 hours with it. The guitar arrived in a superb packaging. A white box with the inside perfectly molded in order to contain the gig bag with the guitar, and a stylish white box containing a capo, a tuner, two picks, an additional set of Elixir strings, and a user manual. A lot of care has been spent in packaging and presenting the instrument in the best possible way to the buyer.
The first thing that I noticed when I took the guitar in my hands was the unexpected quality of manufacturing, up to the minimum detail. The instrument is assembled with great care, it looks perfect.
The body is slightly larger than a parlor, or slightly smaller than a 00. The scale, surprisingly, is a full 24.9 inches, like many Gibson guitars and many 12 fret 000 or OM guitars. The neck joins the body at the 14th fret. The bad news for me (I mainly play fingerstyle and I have large hands and favor a wide 1 neck and a wide string spacing at the bridge) is that the neck width at the nut is a standard 1 11/16 (43mm). The strings pacing at the nut is around 35mm. The strings spacing at the bridge is also quite narrow, 54mm.
I may have been lucky, but the guitar that I received has an impeccable set up. The neck is straight with very minimal relief, and the strings action at the 12th fret is spot on (3/32 for the low E and 2/32 for the high E).
And now for the big news: in MY guitar, the black saddle is clearly removable. You can really see that it is inserted inside the bridge slot, not molded with it.
So far: Positive: great looks, accurate construction, great set up. Negative: quite narrow strings spacing; mediocre tuners; so so sound when played with bare fingers.
Tuners are not great: they do not keep the guitar in tune for long, I have to re-tune it often. Which, for a carbon fiber guitar that is supposed to be almost always in tune, make little sense.
Let’s talk about the sound. Here I really have mixed feelings. I think that this guitar sounds quite good when strummed or when flat picked. It is balanced and also surprisingly loud. Chords come out great.
However, when I play fingerstyle, which is what I do 99% of the time (I use my bare fingers, no finger picks, no nails) it sounds a bit “tubby” on the basses, and the trebles do not have much projection. The factory installed strings are Elixir nanoweb light phosphor bronze. Maybe switching to 80/20 bronze could help. And playing with nails would also improve the clarity. Also, the narrow neck at the nut and the narrow strings spacing at the bridge does not help with this style of playing.
The sound of this guitar cannot compete with my Rainsong concert dread 12 fret, and with my McPherson Sable. Of course, the Donner costs 500 dollars. The Rainsong and the Sable are on the 3K range. Do they sound six times better than the Donner? Of course not. But the difference is audible.
In summary, this guitar is not a toy. If you are a strummer or a flat picker, it could really be an option, especially at this price. If you are a finger picker, I am not sure, although it is not too bad. For sure, it is quite an impressive product for the price. I will keep it for a few more days and see how it goes. The narrow neck could be a reason to return it. I’ll see. Thank you for your attention. P.S. forgot about the intonation: I checked it with a tuner and it is spot on.

Last edited by gerardo1000; 10-08-2022 at 06:52 AM.
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  #2  
Old 10-08-2022, 08:55 AM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Thanks, Gerardo, for being the first on AGF to purchase the new Donner Rising Pro and for your detailed review! It seems the Donner may be worth its cost, especially if taking advantage of the 10% Off coupon offer. It's good to know that the bridge saddle isn't molded into the bridge as was indicated in an online review. Given your size estimation of the Donner being bigger than a parlor guitar and slightly smaller than a 00 size, I'm surprised at that as the Donner seems to look bigger in the videos.

Have you played the Enya X4 Pro AcousticPlus, and if so, how does it compare to the new Donner Rising Pro?
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Last edited by SpruceTop; 10-08-2022 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 10-08-2022, 09:08 AM
gerardo1000 gerardo1000 is offline
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Hello SpruceTop, no I have not played the Enya Plus, from what I hear and read, it sounds good. I have quite an extensive experience with carbon fiber guitars, I have played (and in some cases owned) a McPherson Sable, An Emerald X20, an Emerald X30, a Rainsong CO-OM1000N2, a Rainsong BI-WS1000N2, a Nova Go, and a Rainsong CO-DR1100NS short scale, which is currently my favorite. I also just bought from a Forum Member an X7 that I should receive in the next days. All the above mentioned guitars (apart the Nova Go and, of course, theX7 that I have not tested yet) sound better than the Donner, and it makes sense considering that they cost four five six times the Donner. The Donner has a decent sound, with a good low end. The middle range sounds a tiny bit "tubby" and the trebles sound good but are not very loud. As I said in the review, it gives its best when strummed, and when you use a flat pick, a bit less when you play fingerstyle. Not to mention that, apart from the sound, to play fingerstyle with such a narrow strings spacing work well only if you have small hands. Because the set up of the Donner guitar was perfect, I did not take off the strings to lower the saddle, so I cannot say that I am 100% sure that the saddle is not molded. But when I look at it close, it is very visible to me that it is just inserted inside the bridge slot, and I can see the borders around the saddle. So I assume that it is removable. As an update, I decided today to return the guitar to Amazon, because of the narrow strings spacing.

Last edited by gerardo1000; 10-08-2022 at 01:12 PM.
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Old 10-08-2022, 09:30 AM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Gerardo, what do the frets look like? Are they normal-looking pressed-in frets or do they look like the round ones in the below Donner graphic? Thanks!

It almost looks like the frets may be glued on the fingerboard:
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Old 10-08-2022, 09:41 AM
gerardo1000 gerardo1000 is offline
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Sorry the guitar is already packed for return to Amazon, I cannot give the frets a second look. Based on my memory, they looked like normal frets, not like the ones depicted in the computer generated drawing. But I may be wrong. If they are glued or, instead, pressed in, this I do not know. From what I may remember, they looked more like glued frets. On the other hand, old Emerald guitars with the Parker fretboard, had glued frets (do not know today).

Last edited by gerardo1000; 10-08-2022 at 09:47 AM.
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Old 10-14-2022, 12:50 PM
JackDaniel JackDaniel is offline
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I decided to follow Gerardo's lead and bought one of the Donner guitars for Amazon prime day presale. It was only $399 so I decided it was worth a shot. Here is my impression:


Surprisingly high quality and attention to detail. It is really top notch in terms of quality. Does not feel cheap at all and very similar to my McPherson, actually. Everything is fit very well and there are no sharp frets, no visible imperfections, nice looking carbon.

The packaging was impeccable. Very clean and high quality. Did not look like it came out of China (or at least what stereotypically one would expect from a junky knockoff brand, not that Donner is one that I'm aware of). The gig bag it came with is fantastic! I'd say on par with the gig bags Emerald uses. Definitely not a Reunion Blues or Mono bag, but I would feel very safe traveling with it.

Now the guitar itself. The frets - they do seem glued on. Will post a couple photos of them. I took a look inside the guitar and it looks like there are structural support pieces that form a grid-like structure, likely for strength and not for tuning (as the McPherson uses). The tuners that come with the guitar look very nice. Dark chrome. Now the feel of them is a totally different story. They are not tight like the Gotoh's or the Schaller tuners. There is some empty space before they engage in tuning, as in, they wiggle around a little tiny bit. When they engage, they work very well, there is just some wiggle space before they engage. That said, they seem to hold quite well. Just not as tight as the highest quality tuners. Strings - surprisingly, the guitar comes with elixers. Weird to use such fancy strings on a $400 guitar.

Tone: I am pleasantly surprised. For 400 bucks, this thing sounds pretty good. Sure my McPhersons blow it out of the water, but remember the cost. For flat-picking, you almost cannot tell and nobody would complain about the tone. I'm not a fingerpicker so I cant really comment well on that, but from the bit that I did, it felt pretty decent. I would not expect this to be anyone's main guitar but more of a travel guitar, so for that purpose, it sounds great. A surprising amount of bass and sustain. It did not have great note separation as it when playing a G and hammering on-off the index finger. It did not give the spice my Sable does, for instance. When I do that with my Sable, you can really hear it well. The Donner, so-so. [excuse my poor lingo. I have never been formally trained in guitar, not ever. I just bang on it and noise comes out]. Lastly, it is pretty darn loud, as is expected of a CF guitar.

The guitar also comes with loads of accessories, which I didnt even open, to be honest. I just wanted to see and hear the guitar, and post a little review for you guys.

There are no electronics to speak of.


Summary: great little travel guitar. Sounds great, loud, excellent build quality and high quality gig bag. Would be great for missions trips or hiking or beach playing. The price point makes it an easy write off should it get lost or destroyed.

I am honestly tempted to keep it but at this point, I have three 3/4 size guitars (an Emerald X7, a McPherson Touring, and now the Donner). Given the economy the way it is, I may sell the other 2 and keep this little guy and pocket the extra couple thousand bucks. I may also decided to return it. I cant really decided at the moment. I mean, how many 3/4 size guitars does one need. For my lust for tone, my Sable hits the spot there. For gigs, I just bought an acoustasonic stratocaster. Not sure what to do now...
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Old 10-14-2022, 01:05 PM
gerardo1000 gerardo1000 is offline
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JackDaniel, your McPherson Touring and Emerald X7 have both a 1 3/4 inch wide neck at the nut. The Donner has a narrow 1 11/16 neck, and also quite a narrow string spacing at the bridge. For me, this was the main reason for returning it.
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Old 10-14-2022, 01:50 PM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Jack, given your review of your Donner and my liking of my Enya X4 Pro, I'm left wondering how these Chinese companies can produce such nice guitars for so little cost. Obviously, low labor costs and likely fairly large-scale, efficient production figure into this, but add in the shipping costs across the Pacific, and I'm simply amazed at the low prices!
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Old 10-14-2022, 01:57 PM
gerardo1000 gerardo1000 is offline
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I just wish that they offered an option with a wider strings spacing. I believe that this would increase dramatically the consumers interest.
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Old 10-14-2022, 02:11 PM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gerardo1000 View Post
I just wish that they offered an option with a wider strings spacing. I believe that this would increase dramatically the consumers interest.
Gerardo, that's a good point for sure! My general preference for neck-width at the nut is 1 23/32" (1.718") like a lot of Gibsons have, and also along with a nice comfortable neck profile. This for me seems like a nice easy-playing compromise and I'll bet it would be for many other players too. My dream neck would be for Taylor to make 1 23/32" (1.718") their standard nut-width while retaining their comfortable NT neck profile, and for other makers to copy this design.
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Old 10-15-2022, 10:46 AM
JackDaniel JackDaniel is offline
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Photos IMG_7386.jpgIMG_7385.jpg
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Old 10-15-2022, 10:50 AM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Thanks, Jack! Yes, a rounded-fret design for sure but I wonder if there is a thin tang on the bottom of the frets that locates in slots on the fingerboard?
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Old 10-15-2022, 12:14 PM
JackDaniel JackDaniel is offline
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I thought about picking one off to look but decided against it. From the side, you don't see any tang. I'm thinking they are more likely glued half circles.
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Old 10-15-2022, 01:27 PM
SpruceTop SpruceTop is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JackDaniel View Post
I thought about picking one off to look but decided against it. From the side, you don't see any tang. I'm thinking they are more likely glued half circles.
Thanks! If glued-on frets were good enough for Parker Guitars they're good enough for me.
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Old 11-24-2022, 01:45 PM
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Id try it if it had a pickup. Just saved $400. lol
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