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Fender DG-14SCE Natural 6 String Acoustic
Review and Description
Fender DG-14SCE Natural 6 String Acoustic - Review and Description

Fender DG-14SCE Natural
6 String Acoustic Guitar

Yamaha FG-410-12A

A robust, nicely made and good sounding 6 string acoustic guitar that compares well to more expensive acoustic brands.

Excellent value as a versatile student level instrument with great preamp.

 


A typical Fender DG-14SCE Natural

Fender DG-14SCE

 



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The Fender DG-14SCE is a modestly appointed dreadnought style guitar, manufactured in China to Fender's specifications in around about 2003 (manufacture date is hard to pin down precisely). In this case that means the build quality is probably much better than some similar Chinese made instruments built during the same period. That the instrument being reviewed has never required any meaningful 'adjustments' speaks for itself.

The Fender DG-14SCE comes in two finishes, gloss and satin (a.k.a. Natural). It is a good looking and well performing acoustic guitar with a solid spruce top that delivers a well balanced sound.

I was present (in an advisory capacity) when the instrument being reviewed was first purchased (by my now X), back in 2005. Just to say that I am familiar with this particular guitar going back to when it was brand new. Which in turn makes the fact that it was chosen above other similarly priced guitars, significant in itself.

Prior to this guitar, I had never really thought of Fender as an acoustic guitar manufacturer, but I remember being pleasantly surprised at the quality and sound of the DG-14SCE. This was purchased as a 'first guitar', and I believe that it was an excellent fit for that purpose, perhaps even slightly overkill.

  About Review and Description articles, click to expand
 
  

Note:
The Fender DG-14SCE Nat was purchased new with non-Fender case for around AUD $700 in 2005. Expect to pay AUD $400 to $450 for the same combo in good condition in 2021-22.
Currently available in 'used condition' and shipped from the USA for around AUD $300 + expenses. With shipping from the USA, import duty and GST, you can essentially double that initial purchase cost. Adding more for priority shipping.



Playing the Fender DG-14SCE (8/10)

This guitar has a narrower neck, well suited to those with smaller hands. If you are a Mr. Chubby Fingers like me, this is probably not the guitar for you. However, many of the teens and ladies out there, might find this guitar a great match.

The action and setup on this guitar was just right, out of the box. So it played as well as it was ever going to, right from new ... and it still plays very nicely. The narrow frets however, do make moving around quickly, a little more work. The compensated saddle and built in tuner make keeping the instrument in tune very simple.

It is interesting to note that other reviews remark exceptionally favorably on this guitar, pointing out that it is made well after the period of 'tragic' early acoustics produced by Fender. The quality control issues of earlier decades had obviously been resolved.


Several web sites (among them ultimate-guitar.com) have this guitar rated as 'superb'. I wouldn't go quite that far, but certainly 'good to very good' is a comfortable assessment. I guess I'm just less easy to impress

I have included measurements with the Fender DG-14SCE specifications below.



Fender DG-14SCE Natural Sound (8/10)

While it's not going to threaten the likes of Martin or a Maton, the Fender DG-14SCE still has a very pleasing and balanced sound, tending a little toward the brighter side (Spruce tops will do that). This has remained largely consistent for the time I have known this instrument. For a D sized six string it is not as loud as I would expect, so I'm guessing the chosen bracing strategy is affecting the acoustic output.

That said, the instrument being reviewed (Fender DG-14SCE, where C = Cutaway, E= Electronic), comes fitted with a Fender badged Fishman preamp ... not at all shabby.

The 9V battery powered Fishman preamp provides an absolutely excellent clean sound with simple EQ and Tuner also available. Battery life is very good to exceptional, particularly when used as an acoustic only (when only the tuner is used as needed).



Build Quality / Workmanship (8/10) - Reliability (9/10)

The Fender DG-14SCE is a well made D sized instrument, showing no adverse signs of ageing, even after the better part of years Calculated using Javascript. The workmanship is generally good and the finish is consistent and high quality. The fret ends could have had a little more attention with a file, but this roughness is not noticeable while playing.

The components range from the excellent Fishman preamp to the somewhat ordinary unbranded chrome tuning pegs, plastic nut and saddle. The black plastic tail pins are also rather cheap and will fail over time. Annoyingly, they are also ever so slightly thinner than the standard end pins, requiring replacement pins to be modified / shaved down to fit.

While the tuning pegs are serviceable, I did note during a string change that the quality varied and one in particular was loose internally (not noticeable under tension). I put that down to the inconsistences of being 'made in PRC'. The nut and compensated saddle are just standard plastic items that could readily make for a quick, relatively inexpensive, but meaningful upgrade to bone components - should one care to do so when the plastic parts have worn too far. They are quite functional as is.

Having taken a peek inside with an endoscope, the build quality is quite good for such a modestly priced guitar. No nasty glue spills or untidy workmanship to be seen anywhere. While the braces aren't exactly sanded smooth, all parts are cleanly made and properly fitted. Big tick!



Strings for the DG-14SCE

My general personal preference for guitars that are played regularly, are the light gauge D'Addario EJ41 Phosphor Bronze series strings. Nice and bright but can also deliver a rich tone. They do oxidize fairly quickly, but I'm prepared to put up that to get the sound that I want. For the Fender DG-14SCE guitar, depth of tone becomes more of an issue for string choice. So the D'Addarios are a good fit.



Value for Money (8/10)

The Fender DG-14SCE Natural was good value for money at the time of release, being in the lower-mid price range for acoustic guitars. Good for students or serious beginners. In its time it would have equated to new guitars currently in the AUD $800 to $1,200 space. A DG-14SCE in good condition, with case, should readily fetch in the realm of AUD $450 today. These are a nicely made instrument, with scope for a few meaningful yet inexpensive upgrades (e.g. to bone nut and bridge).


Repairs, Parts, Restoration

While Fender make a big deal about providing 'genuine Fender' spare parts for electric guitars, bases and amps, this is not the case for their acoustic guitars. I doubt that one could readily source exact replacement parts for the DG-14SCE after Calculated using Javascript. That said
, there should be adequate supply of third party parts from dedicated suppliers, in the case of something actually breaking.

Just FYI: I tend to replace (as required) any plastic components, like the nut and saddle piece, with bone ones which I shape as needed. The bone blanks along with new tail pins can easily be sourced for a few dollars on ebay. Replacing the plastic parts with bone ones can improve sustain and just means that you will never have to do it again in your lifetime.



Determining the age of a Fender DG-14SCE Nat 6 String Guitar

Like most manufacturers, Fender has a poor track record when in comes to recording their own manufacturing history on a 'by model' basis. Apparently that gets even worse when it comes to Fender's acoustic guitars. The Fender DG-14SCE Nat is not mentioned on the 'official page' of the Fender web site. Unlike other manufacturers, the serial number provides little to no clue as to when the guitar was made. A serial number search also provided no useful information.

So in this case, a best guess based on information found elsewhere on the internet suggests a manufacture date of around 2003 to 2005. It is plausible, based on what I have read, to conclude the following:
Serial #:
CD05106xxx ... where ...
C  = China or Cutaway
D  = D model (Dreadnought)
05 = 2005
But seriously, that's just a best guess (and I'm not Spock).


Fender DG-14SCE Natural Specifications

 Fender DG-14SCE 
 Measurements

There are also variations of the Fender DG-14SCE Nat 6 string with identical specifications, but potentially without the C (Cutaway), E (Electronics) and a with gloss finish rather than the Natural (Satin). This instrument will comfortably fit into a standard Dreadnought guitar case.
  

Year(s) Sold: 2003 ?? - 2005+ ??
Original MSRP* (US$): $300.00 (AUD $500'ish)
Body Depth: at C 105mm (4 1/8")
at E 118mm (4 3/4")
Neck Radius: 254mm (10")
Width at Nut: 43mm (1.69")
Width at Heel: 57mm (2.24")
Scale Length: 643mm (25.3")
Frets: 20
Soundboard (Top): Solid Spruce
Rosette: Black & Ivory colour rings
Outer Binding: Black & Ivory colour
Back & Sides: Laminated Maple
Neck: Nato
Fingerboard: Rosewood
Bridge: Rosewood with Compensated Saddle
Finish: Satin or Gloss Clear
Pick Guard: Self-adhesive semi-clear faux tortoiseshell
Machine Heads: Chrome Die cast
Electronics: Fender/Fishman Classic 4T Active On-Board Preamp and Tuner. Features: Volume, Bass, Mid, Treble, Brilliance & Low Battery Indicator Light
* Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price








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