A smaller, more comfortable semi-hollow new for 2020 from the esteemed NY guitar makers!
Overview & Final Score: 8.4
One of D’Angelico’s many new 2020 guitars, the Premier Mini DC takes their popular Premier DC and brings it down to a more compact size. Much like how a Gibson ES-339 is a shrunken ES-335, smaller profile players can now enjoy a fine D’Angelico semi-hollow. The 14″ wide body also has a smaller headstock before returning to more traditional D’Angelico specs. Multi-ply binding surrounds a laminated Maple body with a Spruce top. Tune-o-matic and stop bar tailpiece provide a reliable and familiar bridge system paired to Rotomatic Stairstep tuners. The 25″ scale length makes the Premier Mini DC an excellent in-between option for Gibson or Fender players.
On the electronic side, two Seymour-Duncan designed humbuckers, a HB-101 and HB-102 power this semi-hollow beauty. Two tone and two volume 500k pots provide tone control over the three way switch configurations that are pretty standard on most HH semi-hollow guitars. An Ovangkol fingerboard holds medium sized frets with convenient fretboard and side markers. On the side of the neck you get dot fret markers while acrylic block inlays look great right on the darkwood fretboard.
Despite the smaller size, the new Premier Mini DC still packed a big punch. The Duncan-Designed humbuckers sound pretty close to the real thing, even if they didn’t quiet push the tubes in my Vox as hard as I would have liked. Once I layered drive and distortion on top, these humbuckers really howled though! On the other hand, they were incredibly clear and articulate in all configurations. Fingerpicked arpeggios and chords had a surprising amount of a chime, making the Premier Mini DC far more versatile than I expected.
I’d say everything from pop to jazz to blues would pour out of this guitar in the right player’s hands. The electronics were solid, providing sensitive control of the guitar’s volume and tone, no cheap pots with poor sweep here. The more compact body size still had a ton of that classic semi-hollow resonance. Chords ring out naturally, with strong sustain, and an impressively small amount of buzz from feedback.
D’Angelico’s new Premier DC Mini seems to have all the sounds and tones I would expect from their classic Premier DC, just making it more comfortable to play, store, and transport. It’s very versatile, has some big tones, and brings classic D’Angelico features down to a small price and package. The only downside? I still wasn’t super impressed with the guitar’s ability to naturally overdrive and push a tube amp.
It took a bit longer than I would have liked for the guitar to get in tune, but once it stabilized, it proved to be fairly reliable. The stop bar tailpiece and ornate tuners certainly did their job, with the guitar only slipping out after a few too many huge bends and over aggressive downstrokes while playing some punk tunes. While the tuning stability wasn’t perfect, it did not disappoint and seems ready to hit the stage. The neck and fretwork were impressive however, with smooth playability and no fret buzz. Even the higher frets felt comfortable and easy to access, more so than some other oversea’s made ES-style guitars have felt. Even the action was great out of the box!
Finish & Construction: 9
The finish and looks of this Fiesta Red beauty was definitely my favorite feature of the Premier Mini DC. The sounds and feel were well above average, no disrespect to them, but D’Angelico’s unique headstock, pickguard and tuning machines make it such an appealing guitar. The build quality was excellent too, with only a few small cosmetic issues. Some poorly cut binding around the f holes and a loose washer on the pickup selector were the only issues. Everything else was tightly secured, properly installed and adjusted, and seems built to last on stage or in the studio.
I think for the money you spend, you do get far more than your average Epiphone HH semi-hollow. Especially when you consider the comfortable size, unique looks, and build quality. $800 certainly isn’t cheap, but as guitar prices creep higher and higher it is nice to see you will still get reliable tone quality and aesthetics for the price. The surprising versatility of this D’Angelico also makes it feel like a guitar you could purchase and rely on as your main weapon for a number of applications. Selfishly, I’m a big fan of compact semi-hollows and they certainly aren’t well represented on the affordable/overseas market. Considering the circumstances, I think you could do far worse for $800!
Good for: Blues, Jazz, Pop, Gigging Musicians, Semi-Hollow Fans