Perfect guitar for intermediates
I've been playing mostly electric for a few years (my cheap acoustic split at the neck joint) and decided I'd spend some money on a decent acoustic to play around with. I have a couple of Epiphone electrics and they've always been my go-to's, so I knew I should look at epiphone's acoustic line. The Dove and Hummingbird Pros were right in my price range and after a little research, I settled on the Dove for a couple of reasons: the fishman preamp is hidden away in the soundhole, giving it a more classic look (I wasn't even looking for electronics in this purchase), and I preferred the lighter, violin-burst finish to the red/yellow of the hummingbird. And while both have a gorgeous spruce top, I liked the sound of the maple back, sides and neck of the Dove more than the Hummingbird's mahogany.
Let me just say that this guitar blew me away in terms of not only sound, but craftsmanship on Epiphone's part, as well as setup quality on Sweetwater's part. The guitar arrived in perfect tune with zero fret buzz or hardware rattle, two things I've grown used to with guitars at this price. The neck was arrow-straight with decent action (I lowered mine a tiny bit to my preference). The stock strings sounded nice, but got a bit muddy after a week. I recommend ordering a set of Elixr nanowebs of your preferred gauge when you buy (they sound great and last for ages). The sound is full, rich and loud with a pick, and pleasantly even with fingers or hybrid style picking, which is great, as that's an area I'm working on. The Grover tuners are flat-out amazing. They hold tune better than any of the ones on my twice-as-expensive electrics (including an Epi Les Paul). I haven't plugged this guitar into an amp yet, so I can't speak for the fishman electronics, but everything I've heard in other reviews about them is great. As I've mentioned, it's great that they're tucked into the soundhole in terms of looks, and the knobs are still easy to adjust. My only complaint about them is that the end pin output jack makes using a regular strap a pain. That should be easily remedied by making the bottom hole on the strap a little wider, though.
As for looks, this guitar has them in spades. The finish is gorgeous, I have a hard time not looking at this thing long enough to really play it. I wasn't crazy about the somewhat gaudy (though classic) pick guard even before I ordered, but I've gotten used to it and it has its charms. The wood is all flawless-looking, and I loved that Sweetwater let me choose which exact guitar I'd receive. It allowed me to take a close look at the wood grain and the saturation of the finish, which was perfect because as I mentioned above, I preferred it a little lighter.
All-in-all, this is the best value-for-money guitar I've ever bought. It's quality and craftsmanship at $300 (well within beginner's price range) is astounding, it's sound and looks are breathtaking, and Sweetwater's service and setup were flawless. I couldn't be happier with this guitar. Buy it.