Published On: Thu, Jul 3rd, 2014

Crafter DG-Rose Plus Review

If you fancy a bit of legend in your life, then Crafter Guitars are celebrating their lack of mid-life crisis with a mythically-themed special edition electro-acoustic. Review by Rick Batey



Details: Cutaway grand auditorium electro-acoustic. Made in Korea
Price: £799
Contact: Sutherland Trading – 02920 887333 - www.crafterguitars.uk.com


Daenerys Stormborn of House Targaryen, Khaleesi of the Great Grass Sea (to the uninitiated, TV’s Game Of Thrones’ Mother Of Dragons), may have the cities of Astapor and Yunkai in her hand plus a vast army of liberated slaves and a trio of scaly flying flame-throwers, but she probably doesn’t have a Crafter 42nd Anniversary Series DG-Rose. Which is a shame, because Dany, being a lady of some class, would probably rather like one.

But we must drag ourselves away from the Seven Kingdoms and back to this one, where it strikes us that while this may be a 42nd year celebration, we don’t exactly recall Crafter guitars in the shops in the ’70s. The explanation is that although the company was founded in Korea in 1972, for the first 14 years they used the brand name ‘Sungeum’. Since shifting to ‘Crafter’ in 1986 they’ve moved to larger premises twice and now employ 140 craftspeople to make over 60,000 guitars a year, of which the UK hoovers up about 10,000.





In terms of build, this anniversary special is built on a grand auditorium body, just shy of 16″ wide and 4.5″ deep, with a cutaway giving easy access to the 21st fret. The scale is a full 25.5″, while the nut is slightly wider than standard at 44mm/1.75″. We’ll get on to decoration in a minute, but the DG-Rose has some go as well as show: the top is solid Engelmann spruce, a species often noted for a soft, open sound and its suitability for fingerpickers, and this example has a super-fine grain and a buttery colour.



The back is solid rosewood, divided down the middle by a rosewood/maple backstrip, while the sides are laminated rosewood, slightly more stripy than the back but well-matched in terms of colour (if you prefer the tone of mahogany, by the way, then Crafter also offers the exact same guitar and in that very wood for £110 less, at £689). The body finish is gloss all over, a little thick and plasticky-feeling, and held up against the light we must say that the top looks slightly lumpy and bumpy.





So to the pearl, which seems most likely to be plastic. The dragon fingerboard inlay stretches from the seventh fret to the 19th and is quite well-executed, with dark-grained faux-abalone for the body, plain white for the head and spine, and a yellower version for the legs and feet. It’s matched on the body by a sparkly strip of abalone edge binding, possibly ablam this time, plus six ‘flame’ motifs set into the wide rosewood band of the soundhole rosette. There are also little abalone ‘wing’ designs on the bridge, which carries pearl-topped pins. On top of that the whole guitar, minus the headstock, is bound in cream plastic.

The DG-Rose comes stage-ready and complete with a semi-rigid gigbag, which is just the ticket. It has a strap button installed at the heel, while the output jack, endpin and battery sit together on an oval plastic plate. Crafter’s LR-T DX preamp is well-equipped, with Volume and Notch rotaries, four bands of EQ, phase reverse, and an output-muting LCD tuner which works well (especially in conjunction with the smooth, low-geared machineheads). It also functions unplugged, while Mode simply changes the E, B, G indicator to 1, 2, 3 and so on.



Sound
Picking up the DG-Rose, it feels solid and slightly heavy. The neck is a peach, a well-rounded medium C shape with a speedy satin finish, and the slightly wide string spacing at bridge and nut allow plenty of room for fingerpickers. It’s been set up nicely, with a 2mm action on the top E at the 12th fret, and no fret buzz; all the fret ends are smooth, and though it perhaps could do with a smidgin of height taken off at the nut, it’s very playable as it is.



There is an odd sympathetic vibration on the open G which we could not cure by restringing nor by snugging up the tuners and the trussrod; it’s possibly a wire routing hiccup which could be easily sorted, but you’d want to see that done pre-sale.


Screen shot 2014-07-03 at 13.48.19


Under gentle fingers or pick the Crafter sounds good, quite dynamic, with plenty of top-end presence and a hefty kick in the midrange which starts to become boxy when you really dig in. It’s good for bright strumming, and a thumbpick makes the most of the fractionally weak low end, which suffers slightly with bare fingers alone.

The preamp is hooked up to an LR Baggs Element piezo under the bridge saddle, and the results are excellent; the presence adjusts the sparkle perfectly, the sweepable midrange is a boon and the well-judged bass slider adds a richness that really makes the most of the undersaddle piezo sound.





Verdict
Although essentially a highly-decorated midrange Crafter and not one of their top quality models, the DG-Rose is a nice-playing guitar which satisfies reasonably well acoustically and does somewhat better plugged in. The 1.75” nut will find favour with fingerpickers and the lavish quantity of pearl does make it stand out from the crowd.



If you don’t see yourself as the Mother (or Father) of Dragons, Crafter does other grand auditoriums with alternative pearl designs or with plainer looks, and we bet they’re fine as well.




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