The Epiphone DR-500MCE Masterbilt Review – Bang for the buck all solid wood guitar

An all solid wood guitar would be a “solid” upgrade for every guitarist because this is the pinnacle of all acoustic guitar. Since it is the highest grade of tonewood combination you can have, you need to spend a lot. Good thing that there are many guitar makers who still think of many users and try to make solid wood guitars that is very affordable.

Epiphone is one of them. They have made a lot of budget-friendly guitars that are of great quality. Sure, they have to cut corners at some but the quality they deliver is still top notch.

The Masterbilt series of Epiphone is one of the most affordable all solid wood guitar out there and one of the acoustic guitar on that series is the Epiphone DR-500MCE which is the one that we are going to review today. Let’s take a closer look on it to see if it’s really worth your money.


My Rating: 4.4 out of 5
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  • Sound is between Warm and Bright because of the Solid Sitka Spruce Top and Solid Mahogany Back and Sides
  • Uses two pickups for flexibility in shaping the amplified sound
  • Uses Bone material for nut and saddle
  • 1.72″ nut width is perfect for fast playing
  • Affordable even if it is an all solid wood guitar


  • No individual bass, mid, treble eq in the control panel
  • Electronic system can be a little tricky at some

Is Epiphone DR-500MCE comparable to High-end guitars?

When you decided to go for a Solid wood guitar, then I know that you prepared a huge sum of money, let’s say about a $1000, to buy the best guitar you can. And then you encountered this guitar that is a Solid wood guitar but affordable. At a price of less than $700, you can have this and you will be able to save some $300.

Who doesn’t want that, but you started to think if it will be a good choice since this guitar will be with you for most of the years and saving up some money is hard. It’s true that quality comes with a price. So if you have some doubts in this guitar, let me help you with that. Everything I will say will somehow give you an insight on the quality of this guitar.

Body and Neck

Epiphone DR-500MCE is a Dreadnought and features a Solid Sitka Spruce top and Solid Mahogany Back and sides which is a popular combination even at the high-end guitars. Its neck is a Solid rosewood which is one of the best tonewood out there. Neck is very slim at 1.72″ nut width. Doing some chord changes will be easy but fingerstyle can be a challenge with those who have big hands since it usually requires slightly thicker neck.

Since everything is solid wood, you can be sure that the sound quality will improve as it age. It will be more resonant, richer, and louder. If you take care of it, it can last for a lifetime and you’ll definitely hear the difference that the time can bring.

Sound Quality is a killer

Sound quality is well-balanced in my opinion. Since it uses spruce-mahogany combination, you can expect that it will not be too bright and not too warm. It has also a focus mid-range sound thanks to Mahogany. Lows and Highs are not too much but also not lacking. Pretty well-balanced tone and it is perfect for a various of playstyles and genres.

Again, at such an affordable price, it is amazing that you can have this sound quality at this price point. It can somehow compete head-on with those that have 3x of its price on sound quality only. The tone and character you can hear on those recordings can be achieved by this guitar.

It has two Pickup System!!

The Epiphone DR-500MCE has two pickup system. One is the Nanoflex under-the-saddle pick up and another is the NanoMag pickup soundhole-mounted. It uses the Shadow eSonic2 Preamp that controls these two pickup. You might ask, why use two pickups?

First, it offers great versatility and flexibility in shaping your tone. Second, you can get a stereo sound out of it and lastly, you can produce two different sound in one guitar simultaneously. This guitar has two input jacks. One is for blending the signal of the two pickups, and one for splitting them.

You can use both to achieve stereo sound by panning left and right for both signal and you can have different sound from each signal. One is either a clean “Acoustic” sound and another is treated with effects.

I love the set up however I find the control lacking. It has no individual bass, mid and treble eq and only one tone eq for each pickup and it can be hard to shape the tone to the way you want it. But it has the necessary controls such as volume, stereo blend, and phase switch for feedbacks and built-in tuner.

Some users say that they got a faulty electronics so if you are buying on a physical store, make sure that you try to rotate every knob and there should not be any kind of static. But if you are buying online, just make sure that you can return it. Sound-wise, it is good and amplifies the “Acoustic” sound and the stereo feature is fantastic.

Other things worth knowing about Epiphone DR-500MCE

Playability is good right out of the box so you can play it right away once you have it. No set-up is needed since it is perfect already but it doesn’t hurt to check it: intonation, fret buzz, action, etc. Since even if they are of the same model, there will be differences in how it was set up.

This is the Epiphone DR-500MCE in Vintage Sunburst Finish
Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500MCE

Nut and Saddle are of high quality and uses bone material. This is the best material that you can use and it is great for having a good sustain and right intonation for all the time. Tuners are decent for me but I don’t like that it has no cover at the back. Dust can accumulate so you should check it regularly

Epiphone DR-500MCE vs Epiphone DR-400MCE

The Epiphone DR-400MCE is the cheapest all solid wood guitar I know at less than $400 only! But is the Epiphone DR-500MCE worth the extra $300? Let’s see the differences of this two guitars.

  1. The DR-400MCE has one pickup only while the DR-500MCE has two
  2. The fingerboard and bridge of DR-400MCE is made of specially treated pine while the DR-500MCE is made of Rosewood.

Other specifications and materials are of the same but these two differences are enough reason for me to save up for the DR-500MCE but we all have different needs. The DR-400MCE is not lacking in sound quality but the extra pickup of DR-500MCE offers versatility in me. If you don’t need the extra pick-up then you can choose the DR-400MCE and save up a ton of money.

Should you buy it?

Since the Epiphone DR-500MCE is one of my best acoustic guitar under $1000, then I highly recommend it. It offers a lot at this price and it is not really lacking the qualities that the high-end guitars have. This is a great alternative if you are lacking in cash right now and needs a Solid wood guitar.

But if you have a lot of cash right now, then go for the higher priced ones. There are qualities that you can only have in those high-end guitars that you can’t have in this price point even if they have the same specifications. It will be about the craftsmanship and character of tone. Those guitars are worth it if I must say.

Final Thoughts

Epiphone DR-500MCE is a great choice if you are looking for an upgrade. It is affordable but it doesn’t lack in great qualities that you can find in high-end guitars. But there are also that you may find lacking since Epiphone has to cut some corners to bring down its price at this range.

If you have any question about this guitar, feel free to leave it in the comment box.

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The Epiphone DR-500MCE Masterbilt Review - Bang for the buck all solid wood guitar

Epiphone DR-500MCE is an all solid wood guitar at a very low price compared to others. With two pickups, this guitar can really sing plugged or unplugged

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