There's not much selection in the under $300 concert guitar category, but this one's a keeper. It goes for $299 at the brick and mortar Mars Superstores. While I liked the playability of the store models that I tried, the price was not low enough to dissuade me from scrimping my empty beer can deposits toward a solid-top, Taylor Big Baby at $339. But a Mars Internet clearance special at $165 changed my mind in a hurry. If this one were lost, stolen or demolished, I'd gladly buy another - at a similar price. I'll concede that the Taylor is a better guitar, but it's surely not twice as good. Besides, like most guitar players, I have no upcoming world tour on the immediate horizon. Most importantly, the PR400 plays and sounds like an Epiphone. Consequently, this guitar is absolutely peachy for the everyday player.
Model Year: 2001
Price: $165.00 (new)
Where Obtained: www,marsmusic.com
This is a sharp-looking, Korean-made acoustic that's as easy to play as it was to pay for. It has a stripe rosettte bound body with a (natural) laminate spruce top, mahogany back, sides and neck, a rosewood bridge and 20-fret fingerboard (body meets neck at 14), with chrome tuners.
But while this guitar was "100% inspected and set-up in the USA by #6, methinks #6 was Ray Charles or Stevie Wonder because the pickguard was missing. Mars was very gracious though, and allowed me to exchange the unit at their nearest retail outlet. Although the PR400 has technically been out of production since 1999, Epiphone cranked out an exclusive production run for Mars Music earlier this year (2001).
I've always found Epiphone fretboards to be infintely playable; this one is no exception. But the action on both the original and replacement guitar was quite high for my tastes (#6 strikes again!).
Initially, I'd have given it a three for playability, but after tweaking the truss rod for an hour and filing down the saddle, it finally came around. This instrument is fun to play and very hard to put down.
The PR400, like most small body models, has a bright sound but lacks the deep, full-bodied sound of a dreadnought. That said, it still sounds pretty darn good. There are many dreadnoughts costing a fair amount more that don't sound this good.
This guitar is brand, spanking new, so I'll empty my piggy bank, invest $9.95/minute in a call to Madame Cleo, the late-night, info-mercial psychic, and get back to you ASAP about its durabilty. But hey, it did endure a three-day cross-country trip in the back of a sweltering UPS truck, arriving in dandy condition. While this is probably not a play-for-pay instrument, it IS plenty nice enough to play at informal gatherings, to take on trips, or to be your everyday woodshed guitar - most especially for a diminutive player. (-: