Donner is a relatively new company, as instrument makers go. They were founded in 2012 with an aim to provide new, innovative designs of familiar instruments and music equipment. They’ve become best known for their line of mini effects pedals, but this isn’t the only offering in their catalog. Their array of string instruments includes […]
Donner is a relatively new company, as instrument makers go. They were founded in 2012 with an aim to provide new, innovative designs of familiar instruments and music equipment. They’ve become best known for their line of mini effects pedals, but this isn’t the only offering in their catalog. Their array of string instruments includes guitars, violins, ukuleles, and mandolins, all of which are made to the same high standards and with the same eye toward innovation as their electric guitar accessories.
The DML-1 mandolin that’s the centerpiece of this package is still what you’d consider to be a beginner mandolin.
The quality of the materials and construction is certainly higher than what you might expect from most entry level mandolins. Most notably, it uses solid African mahogany for the construction of both the body and the neck, as opposed to the laminate you’re more likely to find on many cheap mandolins.
You can both hear and feel the difference when you compare this model to other mandolins in the price range. It has a richer, deeper tone than many beginner instruments, though it doesn’t lose the bright edge you want from a mandolin that helps it cut through an ensemble.
This is also a smooth-playing instrument. Here’s why:
This is partially thanks to the design of the neck, which uses a “C” shape that’s designed to fit better into the player’s hand than other styles. It also uses an adjustable truss rod on the inside of the neck, which combines with the bridge for an incredibly smooth and fast-playing action across the instrument’s range.
The only complaint we’ve heard about the action on this instrument is that it’s a bit high out of the box for a beginner’s fingers, but this is a quick adjustment you can have made in minutes at any music shop.
The intonation on this model is pretty solid, too. It uses open-gear tuners, with chrome plating on both the tuners and the tailpiece. These work in tandem with the truss rod and frets to make it not only smooth playing but also solidly in tune, even after an extended practice session.
It gets better…
As good as the mandolin itself is, the accessory package that comes with this instrument is equally impressive. This includes basics like extra strings and a polishing cloth, and gives you a clip-on tuner, some guitar picks for playing, and a padded gig bag perfect for transportation or storage.
While it does cost a bit more than some of the other beginner mandolins on this list, these extras and the level of craftsmanship still make it an excellent value for a player at any level of experience.