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Thread: Acoustic buying advice needed

  1. #1
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    Question

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    I'm a keyboard player looking to buy an acoustic guitar (no pickup). I used to play one about 18 years ago when I had in my possession a Guild for a year or two. But I've not owned one since.

    I know very little about guitars. I could use some advice on what to look and listen for when shopping. I figure I'll have to spend at least $500 to get something decent, and I guess I'd go up to $1000 if it meant that anything less just sucks. Specific model recommendations would be great. One thing I think I know is that the back of better guitars is made of more than one piece. But I don't know anything about the wood.

    I don't remember there being any Takemines or Taylors years ago. There were Guilds and Martins and Epiphones and no-name brands. Martin was the cream of the crop and they were expensive, so nobody I knew had one. But now you can get a Martin for $500-600 new. Has Martin gone downhill? Or have they simply added more affordable (and compromised) models? The other day I tried a Martin DM (?) that was about $550. It was easy to play and sounded OK. For comparison I picked up a $3000 Martin. It was harder to play but felt more…mmmm…I don’t know…fluid? But to my ears the actual sound was not THAT different. It must be that I've been away from it for too long to not hear much difference, or else I'm not listening for the right thing.

    Also, I'd like to get an electric at some point (which I know ABSOLUTELY nothing about). But that can wait for another post.

    Thanks for any help,

    Jim

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    Cool

    In the $5 bills for new arena, check out the Epiphone EJ-200. Awesome flat top. But you've already hit on the two things to "look" for in a guitar. Sound and playability.

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    I have to agree that dollar for dollar the Epiphones are a good machine. Unlike many sister companies (Martin makes sigma and so on) Epiphone is quality stuff.
    Woods to peek for: spruce top for resonation.
    Mahogony or maple back and sides for reflection.
    And unless you are a small dude I would steer you from mid or thin guitars. They almost always lack depth and tone. They are cozy for a small dude and tend to have sweet electronics to plug in. If you are going to be acoustic 100% get a full body.
    Be sure to get an ebony fretboard too.. not a finished stained one.
    Lets see, Takamines and Ovations suck under $1000. But are very nice if you go over that. Martin is not what it was, but still sweet. But I think dollar for dollar a seagul will blow them away.
    I adore the Alvarez tone, even in the thin ones. Sheesh I don't know. I guess it really does come down to what plays and feels and sounds like to you. But thats about all I can offer.

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    I would recomend something made in Canada. You can get a guitar made the same way as the Americans that are really expensive, only cheaper cause they are from North of the border. Simon & Patrick is very nice, all hand made and great sounding. I don't remember their website, but I own their Rosewood Pro and love it! Their are also Seaguls, one of their acoustic guitars has been the top selling guitar in the world for the last 4 years. Seaguls are great. Also, check out Art and Luthier (Sp??) They are very good. Those are all made by Godin Inc. But they are all very good. Check em out and you won't be disappointed...they are better than the Epiphones and such.

    MIKE

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    I have heard one whole Hootie album so that can't be it. Maybe it was the sealed soundroom I was in and the price tags side by side that left me able to say Dollar for dollar. The phrase dollar for dollar suggests that what you get versus what you pay is superior. Similar to the phrase pound for pound. Yes Martins make very nice guitars. And I sure did not want to hurt anyones Martin playing feelings. But oddly is it remotely possible to get a very good piece of equiptment from other companies for the buck.

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    Thumbs up

    I would have to agree that Seagull guitars are as good as you can get for the money. They play and sound superb and won't drain your bank account.
    Larrivee is another nice guitar from the Great White North, but it's a bit more expensive.
    Another option is to get a Godin Acousticaster... and you get the best of both worlds.... acoustic AND electric. I got one, and believe me... it's incredible.
    My personal favorites are old Yamaha acoustics (which I own) but if I were to buy a new acoustic, Seagull or Larrivee would be tops on the list. The Canadians make great acoustics and great beer.

    Ahhhhh.... Molson

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    Larrivee' makes outstanding guitars. And they have models that you can buy for as little as $599 (D-O2). And Larrivee' uses solid woods on all of their guitars. I think Martin uses laminates on the back and sides of their lower end models. You can also get a very nice Taylor for under a grand (Models 310 and 410, I think).

    Ebony fingerboards are standard on most of these brands. Rosewood is not better than mahogany or maple. It's just different. Rosewood is popular for its balanced sound, rich bass, and clear treble. Mahogany is light and strong and acoustically bright and clear. Maple is known for producing strong midrange and bright treble. Spruce is the most popular top becuase of its bright sound and good projection, but cedar is also a fine tonal wood that adds a warm, sensitive, mature sound. The most important thing here is to make sure the top is solid wood, no laminates.

    Every guitar maker mentioned so far on this thread makes fine guitars. You can't go wrong with any of them as long as the guitar feels good in your hands, is easy to play, and sounds good.

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    Just about all the acoustic axes mentioned are great sounding and playing and most of them are great value for the money. My only advice is that you don't buy an acoustic brand new and you don't buy one with electronics(pick up and equalization) in it. I've tried out so many good brandname acoustics in music stores and they usually are never set up properly. They often have crappy strings and fret buzzing or action problems. In my experience, used acoustics always play and sound way better than when they come off the rack in a guitar shop. Secondly, if you avoid buying an acoustic with built in electronics, dollar for dollar you will be getting a way better axe because the several hundred dollars that's built into the acoustic price for electronics will show up with better features elsewhere like tuners, quality dressed frets, general sound quality and playability. So my advice would be to check out a buy and sell paper with a musical instrument section and to check out some music stores that specialize in selling used acoustics. There is always a huge supply of great used acoustics going in and out of the stores that I regularly visit and the turnover seems pretty high. One final thing, after you score your acoustic make sure you experiment with different string gauges. This is the final factor that can determine whether your axe will play and sound great. The incorrect string gauge can screw up a great axe, not to mention making it difficult to play. Oh yah, and with the US./CDN dollar exchange rate so much in your favour, you may find great value in buying one of those great Canadian axes used. Then, you can buy a two-four of Molson Canadian or Moosehead Beer with all the coin you've saved. Take-off ehhhhh!

    [This message has been edited by Supersonic (edited 04-02-2000).]

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    I don't know, I bought my acoustic new (guild, USA), no problems (except for the big crack down the front which was my fault. Gets dry up here). The thing is, like any guitar you have to get it set up by a pro. Especially acoustics, so factor in another $70 or so to get a good setup.

    Guild makes some good guitars, I think their owned by fender now though so I would avoid them.



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    I would crawl ten miles on broken glass for the Guild jumbo at my local music store!
    I certainly can't afford it.

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