Silvertone SD 50CE

Coming from one of the oldest names in affordable gear, the dreadnought-sized SD 50CE looks sharp with its high gloss finish, abalone rosette, and preponderance of binding. Look closer, though, and you start noticing that the binding isn’t perfectly mitered in spots, there’s glue drippage on the inside of the body, and the screws that hold the preamp in place poke though to the interior. You can also see quite a lot of filler around the small, cross-shaped fretboard inlays.

The SD 50’s neck is fairly wide, with a chunky profile that makes it better suited for larger hands. The frets are dressed decently, but they don’t have much of a polish and their ends are quite uneven. The wide heel is a little bumpy as well, and the nut fits less than perfectly and has sharp corners. On the positive side, the black painted headstock facing is neatly done and the gold-plated Grovers are a quality touch. You also get a cool, faux-marquetry stripe that runs down the center of the back and up through the endpin area.

The SD 50CE plays well and sounds reasonably in tune along the neck. The acoustic tones are somewhat constricted, however. This isn’t surprising since this guitar has a fairly heavy polyurethane finish, but as long you’re not expecting a lot of volume or an abundance of harmonic bloom you won’t be disappointed. Plugged in, the SD 50CE needed a fair amount of treble rolloff in order to keep its brightness in check. The plasticy piezo artifacts are very noticeable when you strum with any force, but it’s possible to mitigate this pretty well by keeping the Treble and Presence way down, and then using close to a flat setting on the Bass control along with some midrange cut to obtain the best overall balance—if your acoustic amp is more naturally bassy than bright, so much the better. Personally, I’d rather have a plainer guitar with less finish and more going for it in the tonal department.