It didn’t take long for the Epiphone DR-212 to become my favorite affordable guitar.
I remember when I first listened to Hotel California by the Eagles. The distinctive guitar tone made me think… I want to recreate that sound.
Turns out, what I was hearing on that record wasn’t clever studio overdubs. Nor was it the work of guitar pedals. The answer was simple, it’s a 12-string acoustic guitar.
To reenact one of the most famous introductions of all time, I turned to the Epiphone DR-212.
It ticked a lot of boxes. A 12-string acoustic guitar made by a reliable brand at an affordable price. But such an attractive price causes skepticism over quality.
So you might be wondering: Is Epiphone DR-212 worth it?
The Epiphone DR-212 is an excellent affordable choice for beginners looking to familiarize themselves with a 12-string dreadnought guitar. The mahogany neck bears a D-shaped carve comfy on the palm. While the nut width of 1.75″ means the octave strings are close together for improved playability.
In this Epiphone DR-212 review, I’ll highlight all the pros and cons I’ve come across. With this knowledge, you can determine whether the DR-212 is for you.
How Does it Sound?
The Epiphone DR-212 has all the tonal distinctiveness I wanted from a 12-string. When playing single notes the strings ping and when strummed, you’ll find the chords are full and bright.
For an affordable guitar, the tonewoods came as a surprise. Select Spruce top with mahogany back and sides.
But don’t let the spec list fool you. Upon inspection, I found the ‘Select’ top is a clever marketing term for laminate. Not that I’d expect it any other way at the low beginner price. Smart euphemism aside, the laminate tonewoods actually contribute to the great sound.
Using scalloped bracing, the select spruce top has plenty of vibration so you’ll get loud volume and bold bass frequencies from the DR-212.
For an added chime, I put on a set of D’Addario EJ 16 strings, which was an instant upgrade on the stock strings. I noticed the original strings were a little lifeless after a while.
Must admit, I had concerns about the playability of the Epiphone DR-212. As a newcomer to 12-strings, I knew fretting two strings at the same time would be a unique experience. Truth is, playing the added number of strings isn’t as hard as I thought.
If, like me, the DR-212 is your first experience of a 12-string acoustic guitar, you’ll find the simplest of chords fun to play.
A nut width of 1.75″ is a common measurement on 6-string guitars, so it’s not a major difference. The squared dreadnought shape is of a size that you’ll most likely have experience with.
The slim D-shaped carve on the mahogany neck is plush against the palm. This is again a common feature on 6-string guitars to make your jump seamless.
Out-of-the-box, the action is OK. I opted for a setup, which got it performing to a higher level.
If you’re hoping to use big string bends, it isn’t for you, but neither is any 12-string guitar. For open chords found in rock, folk, and country, you’ll find the Epiphone DR-212 is a very playable instrument and a joy to play.
With the extra strings, there’s added pressure at the bridge on the DR-212. Any scrimping on the build quality of a 12-string acoustic guitar causes bowing of the neck or worse.
As a sister company to Gibson, I expected the Epiphone to come up short with the DR-212. It doesn’t disappoint.
If you need convincing of the build quality, it’s in the limited lifetime warranty. A piece of advice, if you buy the DR-212, be sure to register your guitar on the Epiphone website. This will protect you against any defects from workmanship or materials, for life.
Unlike many of the guitars in the under $300 price range, the Epiphone DR 212 is solid. Inspecting the woods, although laminates, they don’t feel plastic-like. The mahogany neck has the touch of a high-quality, expensive piece of wood.
Once you’ve enjoyed your first strum, take the time to check the finer details. I own more expensive guitars with a rosewood fingerboard, and the quality is comparable. I also like the stylish white binding, traditional dot inlays, and the Epiphone symbol on the pickguard.
Finished with a layer of Gloss Polyurethane, it maintains its natural woody tone and looks. The finish offers added protection. Important if you’re a little clumsy and prone to scratching your musical instruments.
I won’t lie, there are signs of cost-cutting. Upgrading the plastic nut is on the to-do list to improve tuning stability. I’ve found that I’m reaching for the tuner more often than I’d like.
But, I’ve played much more costly guitars with plastic machine heads that had the same problem.
Priced under $300, the DR-212 is achievable for beginners. It’s a great guitar to have on hand if playing your standard 6-string guitar becomes stale.
Epiphone now calls the DR-212 the Songmaker. This is apt because if you’re a songwriter, the different articulation will inspire. Simple chord sequences have a fresh lease of life through the Epiphone DR-212 with its 12-string chime.
While it retails at a beginner price, I’ve used the Epiphone DR for studio recordings. If you’re a bedroom producer, the DR-212 is a superb affordable choice to have in your studio arsenal.
I love the Epiphone DR-212 12-string acoustic guitar. It’s back to basics, but it sounds great with its all-important 12-string shimmer.
Playing it, I soon realized that it wasn’t just the Eagles that have used a 12-string acoustic guitar. I discovered Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, Rolling Stones, and The Beatles use a 12-string to great effect. I was soon playing along to some great tunes on the DR-212. This guitar will broaden your creativity.
It isn’t my main guitar; I use the DR-212 for a change to my 6-string to keep things interesting. If this is your plan, the playability makes for a peaceful transition between guitars.
Sure, there are signs of cost-cutting. The plastic nut and the cheap stock strings are two features I didn’t like. But these are affordable upgrades.
The dreadnought body has no cutaway, nor is it an acoustic-electric guitar. While this didn’t affect me, if you rely on a cutaway and preamp connectivity, there’s always the Fender CD140SCE12.
But at close to double the price, for me, the Epiphone DR-212 is the best 12-string guitar in the low beginner price range.
Affordable, with great sound, and top playability, the DR-212 has the key attributes for any guitar player to enjoy.
Drawing on over 15 years of experience in the music industry, Neal’s writing specializes in all aspects of music. A self-taught guitarist who’s passionate about words, he’s at peace when songwriting. He finds comfort recording, traveling, and wearing his favorite leather jacket. Keep up to date on Twitter @TheNealSawyer