Fender FA-100 Dreadnought Acoustic Guitar Review
When I got the urge to pick up a guitar and learn how to play, I honestly had no clue what I was doing. All the slang people on the Internet were using was hard to understand without ever touching the instrument, so I decided to go to the local guitar store to get some advice from the owners. When I asked them what great beginner guitar I should try out, all of them instantly recommended the Fender FA-100 Dreadnought, Fender’s affordable acoustic guitar for beginners. I left the store with one that same day!
Things To Consider Before Buying an Acoustic Guitar
As a beginner, buying your first guitar is difficult. There are some things to consider that you may not even understand yet. The most important things to consider are the price to usability ratio (for example, you don’t want a guitar that’s barely playable even if it’s $25) and whether or not you like the tone the guitar makes. Also, you should consider what type of music you like and what guitar corresponds with that type of music. An acoustic guitar is associated with folk, country, classical, and flamenco music, while an electric guitar is more associated with rock, heavy metal, and other heavier genres.
The Fender FA-100 Dreadnought
The FA-100 Dreadnought is Fender’s cheapest beginner guitar. It’s a full-size guitar that has a spruce top and basswood backing and siding. It also comes with some of the most necessary accessories, including an electric tuner and a great padded gig bag. Though you might not need the gig bag yet, it’s always handy to have just in case you want to play at a friend’s house. The tone is quite nice for a beginner guitar, and if you’re just starting out this is a perfect choice.
Features and benefits
Having a good action setup for a beginner guitarist is essential for ease of use. The action of a guitar is the distance between the strings and the neck, and a low action means the strings are close to the neck. Since beginners don’t have the calluses built up on their fingertips yet, having a high action that requires pressing hard on the strings will hurt quite a bit. Therefore, Fender decided to give this guitar a low action to help out new guitarists. The only downside to this feature is that the strings have a greater tendency to buzz when strummed hard, but that can easily be fixed with a quick tweak of the action.
Wood Quality for Price
For the low price point of this guitar, Fender definitely delivers a much higher wood quality than expected. Both the neck and body of the guitar look and feel great. The body’s basswood back and sides have a decent resonance, giving the low tones of the guitar a good, booming sound. The spruce top is standard for most dreadnought-type guitars, and Fender has included that as well.
Tone & Pitch
When you first pick up a beginner guitar, you don’t expect its tone to sound exactly like what you hear on some recordings. While this is true to a small extent with the FA-100, you’ll still be pleasantly surprised to hear its pleasing tones. The lows have good tonality and extended resonance, and the high notes aren’t too shrill.
Another problem that most cheap beginner guitars have is a tendency for the neck to warp, changing the pitch of each string dramatically day to day. This has rarely happened with my Fender — I can play, go to sleep, pick it up the next, and barely have to tune it before playing again.
Value for the Money
If Fender isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other beginner guitar choices out there for you to try. Here are three that are worth consideration.
Jasmine S35 Acoustic Guitar
This is a cheaper but slightly less high-quality beginner guitar. The saddle that comes with the guitar is not the best, but the capabilities of the guitar to have great tones and resonance far surpass those of the Fender. I recommend immediately replacing the strings this guitar is manufactured with, as they are the lowest quality part. Once the strings are replaced, you’ll find this guitar has stunning sound. Give it a try, and see how it feels compared to the Fender.
Compared to Fender FA-100:
- Great tonal quality
- Poor initial setup
Washburn WD7SCE Harvest Series
Though this guitar is more expensive than the FA-100, the finish and wood quality are extremely nice for the price. It also has the added perk of decent electronics — an XLR output means this guitar can be plugged into an amplifier for more volume output, and the sound comes out fairly clean. The lows are just as bold as the Fender, but the highs lack a little bit of the same crispness. If your budget has a little more range than just the Fender, give this guitar a playtest.
Compared to Fender FA-100:
- Includes XLR output
- Slightly more expensive than Fender
- Comparable low end
Epiphone DR-100 Acoustic Guitar
Yet another beginner guitar that’s cheaper than the FA-100, the Epiphone DR-100 is a spruce-topped acoustic that has great sound for the price. Volume outputs nicely, and the sunburst finish makes this guitar look beautiful. However, the fretboard is sloppily made and you’ll have to either file down some of the frets or get lucky with the individual guitar you purchased. Check out the sound quality on this guitar if it’s in your local shop.
Compared to Fender FA-100:
- Amazing sound quality
- Looks great
- Fretboard not well made
If you’re looking to get your first guitar, I think that the Fender FA-100 Dreadnought is a great choice. It’s great to use right out of the box, and the low action makes it easier to get good tones out of the guitar right away.