Acoustic Guitar Help

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RRJeff
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Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by RRJeff »

Seeking help from fellow Bogleheads on a potential acoustic-electric guitar purchase. Like many, I have picked up guitar playing again during the pandemic and after my recent “retirement”. I am in my early 50s and learned basic guitar playing as a teen, but have played only sparingly over the last 30 years or so, with a few time periods of more intense playing. I consider myself an intermediate player (or maybe advanced beginner).

I currently own a Fender Jimmie Vaughan Signature Stratocaster purchased off Craigslist maybe 7 years ago, which I love. My current acoustic is a circa-1985 Ovation Celebrity CC-11 that has been battered around pretty badly. It has a lot of dings and at some point developed a crack in the top. Still plays OK, but the sound leaves something to be desired. I primarily play rock, blues, and folk type music mostly strumming currently, but interested in more finger style.

I am considering buying a new acoustic-electric for my enjoyment only (I have never gigged), and possible home recording. I would like to get something around the same “level” as my Fender Strat, if that makes sense. Looking for suggestions on what I should be looking at. My budget is probably $1-2k (I could afford more if it was warranted to get what I’m looking for). The choices in acoustic guitars are quite overwhelming, with different body types, materials, etc. I’m hoping experienced players here can help me make a good decision or at least get me going in the right direction. Thanks!
rebellovw
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by rebellovw »

I'm very pleased with my Seagull - was about 800.00 for the one I picked up - very beautiful guitar in natural cherry. I also have an American Standard Strat.

Otherwise a Martin right?

But best advice is to go out and hold one and play one and see what you like - that is how I bought my Seagull - local music store. Hard though to ignore the online presence and options.
Small Law Survivor
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Small Law Survivor »

I have a Taylor 510 that I purchased 25 years ago. Wonderful guitar that just gets better with age! I've played a lot of Martins and Taylors, and I prefer Taylor - very personal decision, but Taylors are worth checking out.
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SethJane42
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by SethJane42 »

I'm a musical artist and have been playing on the same acoustic (Alvarez with inserted pickup and adjustable bridge) and electric guitars (Les Paul) I bought in the mid- 80's. I haven't bought anything new because I love the sound of both. It's an artistic choice. I love the action on both. The acoustic is as low as the electric. Music is about creating sound in an artistic way. So ask yourself why you need another guitar, what sound are you looking to make that you can't with the other ones? Some people love to collect guitars, and that's cool. I know guys that never play that have a bunch of guitars on stands in a room for the show. But if you're an artist, always bring it back to creativity. Are you looking for another sound brush? What is that sound? Then go from there and visit guitar stores and play what they got until you find what you're looking for. Have fun!
Last edited by SethJane42 on Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:37 am, edited 1 time in total.
greenflamingo
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by greenflamingo »

There are a lot of great options in the acoustic world today. If you're not gigging, you may not need/want the 'electric' portion of acoustic-electric. It's added cost, and often cutting a hole in the guitar. Granted, most shops carry primarily A/Es and not many without pickups, except on the very high end.

So many good companies these days:
Taylor
Martin
Seagull
Eastman
Alvarez
Takemine

...and many more.

Personally, I'd take my time finding the guitar that feels right and brings fresh inspiration. Find a good local guitar shop that has stock, and go play them. A good way to find a shop is to look for the places that carry some of the higher end national brand stuff (Collings, Goodall, Rainsong) but also Martins and Taylors. They'll usually have a nice space to sit down and try out a bunch.

Stop by every couple of weeks until something really strikes your fancy. To me, the pursuit of a new guitar that meshes with you is part of the fun. Maybe I'm a romantic in that sense.
BalancedJCB19
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by BalancedJCB19 »

Another guitar player here, but at that price you can get almost anything you want. Of course not Vintage collectibles. You really need to visit some music stores and play them.

A few years back my wife bought me an Ibanez acoustic electric with a built in tuner for Christmas. She bought it because she loved the color, she knows nothing about guitars.

I am constantly impressed on how much I love this guitar. The feel and sound of this guitar is great. I believe she paid about $300 and it is still my go to guitar when I just want to pick up and play. I also own a Tacoma, Taylor and Recording King Dirty Thirty Acoustic. All but the Recording King were hundreds of dollars more expensive then the Ibanez, but the Ibanez is my favorite.

I played my friends Martin (which is probably my grail guitar if I wanted to spend a couple of thousand) and I also played Ovations, PRS and others, but again for the money the Ibanez is awesome.
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Zeppcoustic
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Zeppcoustic »

Try to pick one that makes it hard for you to put it down. If you are inspired to play, you will get better. That is the bottom line. Quality is great with guitars these days. Pick one you will play a ton. Aesthetics matter also, if it makes you more likely to play it.

Try different neck profiles, neck widths, and body types. I played a Martin D-18 for a while, then tried one of the smaller bodied Martins (OM) and found it much more comfortable for me. Depending on your hand size and and playing preferences, like thumb over the neck, one neck will feel especially comfortable for you. If you want to play mostly finger style, a 1.75" nut width may be great. I have that on my OM-21 Special and the wider spacing is great.

OTOH, the Martin OMJM has thinner neck that feels like a strat neck. Amazingly comfortable. That will be over $3k though. PM me if you have any questions. Good luck on search.
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El Greco
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by El Greco »

If you're going finger style, I would recommend a Taylor. For my 60th birthday, I gifted myself a Taylor 214CE Deluxe, about $1300 at the time. It's a size below Dreadnought with a cutaway and excellent built-in pickup system. This is the top of the line Mexican built Taylor. As you move up the line, manufacturing is done in California, the woods get fancier and the prices increase rather dramatically.

Taylors are famous for their easy action and crisp tone. Mine sounds and plays great and continues to sound even better as it ages. I was a similar level player as you, but proud to say since owning this guitar have progressed to solid intermediate. If at all possible, I would buy it in a store rather than online at Sweetwater or Musician's Friend. There's no substitute for trying out the actual guitar you're going to buy and be able to talk with the tech who's going to set it up for you. Also, I highly recommend stringing it with Elixir strings (that's what comes from the factory). They last for months and months and are well worth the extra cost.

Another good choice would be one of the higher-end Yamahas like the "L" series or the "Red Label" series acoustics. These guitars are at a similar price point, with excellent build quality, tone and action. Yamaha necks also tend to be a bit wider so you might prefer the wider string spacing for finger style playing. Again, try it out in a store like Guitar Center or Sam Ash if you can. Both of these brands should be widely available.

You should also consider Breedlove. I can't give you a specific model, but my buddy owns a Breedlove cutaway similar in price and style to my Taylor and it's a fine choice, too.

Down the line, I'd love to own a Martin D-45, but at $9K it's a little rich for me at the moment. Unless I get to be a dramatically better player. Practice, practice, practice! :D
Last edited by El Greco on Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jack FFR1846
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Jack FFR1846 »

My advice is to ignore brands. You absolutely MUST play the actual guitar you're considering purchasing. With an electric, there are brands you don't have to do this with (Music Man, PRS) but with acoustics, an Ovation S771 mid bowl next to another Ovation S771 mid bowl at the guitar store, both with brand new, identical strings could play completely different.

As an engineer, I get overly analytical, but that does help to figure out what I want. I'm mostly an electric player, but have played my Ovation on stage when needed.....usually when the leader, who plays acoustic needs to have no guitar. In any case, if you like Ovation, I would recommend you look for American made used models. These guitars plugged in are absolutely fantastic. And since you own them, you probably fall on that side of the line because guitar players either love or hate the bowls.

Ovations as a rule have narrow fingerboards. Like a Squier strat, they work well for people with smaller fingers. As an opposite world, if you can find a Martin Eric Clapton, the strings are spaced waaaay far apart and I found playing one was wicked easy compared to my Ovation. How the guitar sounds is completely different to each person. I've heard reviewers call the stratacoustic a good sound. I think "Are you nuts? It sounds like scratches on a blackboard".

If you have a really good guitar store near you, go in and try stuff out. I'm fortunate to have Music Emporium in Lexington, MA and they are happy to let me try pedestrian $2k Taylors, then a $90k Martin. But more important, they can help you choose something that fits what you're looking for between sound and feel. Some people are fine with ginormous boxes that boom the sound. Being an electric player, I'd be far happier playing a Gibson Songwriter (the one that's only an inch thick) or (gasp) a Line 6 acoustic, electric.

Have fun looking. Oh, and keep that Jimmie Vaughan. I had one once (previous owner dropped it and cracked the body). It has the feel and sound of a SRV-junior with the wider US spec spacing and tex-mex pickups.
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desconhecido
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by desconhecido »

Taylor guitars are nice, I have a couple both in the
"grand concert" size as I play strictly finger style and don't really care for a big-a thumping bass. I'm not familiar with the latest Taylor guitars, both mine date from about 1992. So, play some. I think something like the 312 would fit into the top of your range. Looks like therer are some decent prices on used, but that can be a crapshoot.

Good luck.

if you're interested in acoustic blues fingerstyle guiter, check out the "daddystovepipe" youtube channel. A really good player and his videos seem to be clear and easy to follow. Haven't personally seen any of his tabs, but he has a bunch you can get for free so you could check them out.
Strummer
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Strummer »

Here's another vote for going to some guitar shops and trying them out to see what clicks. That thing from Harry Potter — "the wand chooses the wizard" — can apply to guitars, too.

That said, if I was shopping in that price range, I'd be sure to check out a Waterloo. They're a lower-priced brand from Collings, handmade in the US, and are getting great reviews.
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TinyElvis
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by TinyElvis »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:29 am My advice is to ignore brands. You absolutely MUST play the actual guitar you're considering purchasing. With an electric, there are brands you don't have to do this with (Music Man, PRS) but with acoustics, an Ovation S771 mid bowl next to another Ovation S771 mid bowl at the guitar store, both with brand new, identical strings could play completely different.
Yes, what he said. I have played for 35 years. For an acoustic guitar purchase that you want to keep for the long term, you really have to play several and choose the one that speaks to you, and feels good in your hands. For example, my Dad has 4 expensive Martins and only 1 of them is enjoyable for me to play (he says I have "feminine hands"). The very first time I played my Gibson J-45, I knew it was the one. Years later it still is.
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GG1273
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by GG1273 »

Not sure if you want a straight up acoustic but these are excellent can switch from electric to acoustic effortlessly. The Hollowbody run about $1,500 and the solid body closer to $5K; friend of mine loves his.
I have one of their Kingfisher Bass Guitars
PRS = Paul Reed Smith (the bird inlays)
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Solid body
https://prsguitars.com/electrics/model/ ... piezo_2021
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RRJeff
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by RRJeff »

El Greco wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:04 am

Down the line, I'd love to own a Martin D-28, but at $7K it's a little rich for me at the moment. Unless I get to be a dramatically better player. Practice, practice, practice! :D
Thanks for your advice! Btw, just checked the price of D28 at a local guitar shop and it is around $4k...just in case that changes your mind on getting one. :sharebeer
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RRJeff
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by RRJeff »

TinyElvis wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 12:44 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:29 am My advice is to ignore brands. You absolutely MUST play the actual guitar you're considering purchasing. With an electric, there are brands you don't have to do this with (Music Man, PRS) but with acoustics, an Ovation S771 mid bowl next to another Ovation S771 mid bowl at the guitar store, both with brand new, identical strings could play completely different.
Yes, what he said. I have played for 35 years. For an acoustic guitar purchase that you want to keep for the long term, you really have to play several and choose the one that speaks to you, and feels good in your hands. For example, my Dad has 4 expensive Martins and only 1 of them is enjoyable for me to play (he says I have "feminine hands"). The very first time I played my Gibson J-45, I knew it was the one. Years later it still is.
Thanks! I hope to be able to get to a few shops to try some out and figure out which one feels the best and sounds the best (to me). The J-45 looks like a fantastic guitar!
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Vanguard Fan 1367 »

I bought a less expensive ($900) new Martin 10 years ago and I love it. But folks I admire seem to really like their Taylors.

I agree with going somewhere where you can play them to see what you like.
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diabelli
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by diabelli »

If you like Blues, can't beat a Gibson in my opinion.

I have a Hummingbird (you can probably find a used one for $2500-3000 on Reverb or eBay) as well as a J45 --> the latter I probably like slightly more for comfort of play and sound, even though it's less hyped.

The smaller body style is the L-00 , Robert Johnson-esque body and feel. I don't have one but it's next on my list.

Can't say much about Martin's. I have one entry-level which strikes me as brighter (and stiffer?) than my Gibsons
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munemaker
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by munemaker »

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Doctor Rhythm
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Doctor Rhythm »

Two thoughts from another bedroom guitar hero:

1. Do you really need the electronics if you only play for yourself or (maybe) record at home? For around the same price premium you might pay for the pickup/preamp etc., you can buy a cheap import condenser microphone which will give much better recorded sound than an under saddle pickup or sound hole mic. I’d say, if the electronics are included, then fine - but it’s absence wouldn’t deter me from buying an otherwise great guitar.

2. Echoing what others say about try before you buy. Acoustic guitars seem so idiosyncratic compared to electrics that I don’t think someone’s advice or a YouTube video should be more than a starting point. I played nearly a dozen at Guitar Center last week and was most pleased by a $1000 used Taylor (close to $2000 if new) and a Epiphone J-45 clone. But that’s just worked best for my hands and ears.
Strummer
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Strummer »

Doctor Rhythm wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:17 pm 1. Do you really need the electronics if you only play for yourself or (maybe) record at home? For around the same price premium you might pay for the pickup/preamp etc., you can buy a cheap import condenser microphone which will give much better recorded sound than an under saddle pickup or sound hole mic. I’d say, if the electronics are included, then fine - but it’s absence wouldn’t deter me from buying an otherwise great guitar.
This is an excellent point. Unless you're playing live with a drummer, the sound will be much better with a mic on the guitar rather than any sort of electronics. (Once you involve drums, you need some type of device that won't pick them up.) Pickups are useful for what they do, but they just can't capture all the overtones and harmonics you get from a good acoustic guitar.
hi_there
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by hi_there »

I am not trying to discount the advice to buy the guitar that "feels right" rather than rely on information and advice from others. However, at the same time, since OP is a relatively inexperienced player, his preference and priorities might change over time. So, if it were me, I would also heavily weight the input of experienced people who know the path that people take as they increase in skill.
Tjb
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Tjb »

OP

You have gotten some good advice here. Many of the usual suspects, Martin Taylor, Alvarez (YARI if possible) etc. I can add my opinion.

First, I would suggest hanging on to the Ovation. Not because they are great guitars, but they are the ultimate beater guitar. Take it to the beach and get sand on it, no big deal, spill a beer on it, no big deal. I have one that I bought in a yard sale for $ 30 bucks and It's great for camping and I have even played out with it a few times, so I would hang on to yours for those reasons.

As for upgrading, I have to agree that if you can, go and play some different types, you will get a feel for the various models. Don't be afraid to look at used guitars either, nice guitars can be picked up for less than new price.

Currently, I have a Breedlove (Older model with the *B* logo) It's solid wood and is a nice guitar. I bought it at a used guitar shop for $400, with a case. I saw someone else recommended this brand as well. Breedlove is a good example of looking into some of the manufacturing history of some of the companies, Breedlove is associated with Bedel, which are also fine guitars.

Some people focus on made in America, but there are fine foreign made guitars, and most all of the major brands have lower price points made in Korea, Mexico, Japan or even China. I have played made in Mexico Martins and you couldn't tell the difference than one made in Pa, except for the price. However, I always wanted to get a nice Martin from Pa. I also have a Sigma, which comes out of Martins Korean factory. It's a nice guitar, given as a gift from my mom, but I would go for the real deal if I was looking now.

Hopefully you can play a few, try the Martins and Taylors, they have a wide array of price points, and then try some other high end models to compare, you have heard from other posts that many players have found great guitars that are not Martins or Taylors but play just as well.

It becomes a personal choice and what is affordable. For $800 you will be able to find a nice selection of guitars on the market that offer good value. Please let us know what you end up choosing. It's a fun process, so enjoy the search and make your choice :)
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RRJeff
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by RRJeff »

Strummer wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 5:06 pm
Doctor Rhythm wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:17 pm 1. Do you really need the electronics if you only play for yourself or (maybe) record at home? For around the same price premium you might pay for the pickup/preamp etc., you can buy a cheap import condenser microphone which will give much better recorded sound than an under saddle pickup or sound hole mic. I’d say, if the electronics are included, then fine - but it’s absence wouldn’t deter me from buying an otherwise great guitar.
This is an excellent point. Unless you're playing live with a drummer, the sound will be much better with a mic on the guitar rather than any sort of electronics. (Once you involve drums, you need some type of device that won't pick them up.) Pickups are useful for what they do, but they just can't capture all the overtones and harmonics you get from a good acoustic guitar.

I was assuming I needed an acoustic/electric in case I record, but getting a mic is a good suggestion. Now, how am I going to convince my wife that I NEED a new guitar? :wink:
automatic deductions
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by automatic deductions »

First, you absolutely with certainty need a new guitar. We all do. You can post a bunch of numbers here if you want, but you need one. This is literally what the emergency fund is for.

But seriously, go have a play. Consider a smaller body as they are easy to hug for long periods of time vs the standard dreadnaught size, meaning more playing time.
Lucien786
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Lucien786 »

Does it need to be acoustic-electric? I don't think it does!!

I have owned both a Seagull S6, and a Martin D-18. The Seagull you can get new around $400. It's an amazing guitar. If I had never played anything else I would probably not know I was missing anything. Your tastes may differ, but I thought it was beautiful in its own right and never felt like a compromise. I'm honestly pretty stunned; I don't think there are many other values like that in the guitar world.

The other is a Martin D-18. You can get it used in your price range on reverb.com. You would probably also be able to find a D-28 if that suits you better. (The key difference is mahogany vs. rosewood body.) I got mine around $1900. Note that prices have been wonky due to COVID; if you can't find it at a good price you might just need to wait. The D-18 is an unbelievable guitar. An absolute classic. And even though I never had any problems with my Seagull, I could tell immediately why the D-18 was so much more known.

I have no idea where you saw that a D-28 costs $7K; maybe for unique vintage specimens, but a run of the mill D-28 should probably come in around $2200 to $2400 used.
Doctor Rhythm
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Doctor Rhythm »

RRJeff wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 6:33 pm
Strummer wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 5:06 pm
Doctor Rhythm wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:17 pm 1. Do you really need the electronics if you only play for yourself or (maybe) record at home? For around the same price premium you might pay for the pickup/preamp etc., you can buy a cheap import condenser microphone which will give much better recorded sound than an under saddle pickup or sound hole mic. I’d say, if the electronics are included, then fine - but it’s absence wouldn’t deter me from buying an otherwise great guitar.
This is an excellent point. Unless you're playing live with a drummer, the sound will be much better with a mic on the guitar rather than any sort of electronics. (Once you involve drums, you need some type of device that won't pick them up.) Pickups are useful for what they do, but they just can't capture all the overtones and harmonics you get from a good acoustic guitar.

I was assuming I needed an acoustic/electric in case I record, but getting a mic is a good suggestion. Now, how am I going to convince my wife that I NEED a new guitar? :wink:
Almost every acoustic guitar you’ve heard on a studio recording was done with external microphones. Pickups on an acoustic usually sound like…well, pickups on an acoustic…which is something similar to the sound of a guitar, though not necessarily the guitar being played.
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El Greco
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by El Greco »

RRJeff wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 2:32 pm
El Greco wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:04 am

Down the line, I'd love to own a Martin D-28, but at $7K it's a little rich for me at the moment. Unless I get to be a dramatically better player. Practice, practice, practice! :D
Thanks for your advice! Btw, just checked the price of D28 at a local guitar shop and it is around $4k...just in case that changes your mind on getting one. :sharebeer
Oops!. My bad. I meant a Martin D-45. Just looked it up and it's actually closer to $9K!
Jaymover
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Jaymover »

I saved a cheap but mint Yamaha dreadnought from the rubbish tip.

Spent some time putting in a bone saddle, some fret sanding, restringing, careful setup. It sounds AMAZING.

Alot to be said for getting a quality cheap guitar and paying someone (or DIY) setting it up. Don't have to worry about it getting damaged or stolen.
59Gibson
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by 59Gibson »

RRJeff wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 6:33 pm
Strummer wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 5:06 pm
Doctor Rhythm wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 4:17 pm 1. Do you really need the electronics if you only play for yourself or (maybe) record at home? For around the same price premium you might pay for the pickup/preamp etc., you can buy a cheap import condenser microphone which will give much better recorded sound than an under saddle pickup or sound hole mic. I’d say, if the electronics are included, then fine - but it’s absence wouldn’t deter me from buying an otherwise great guitar.
This is an excellent point. Unless you're playing live with a drummer, the sound will be much better with a mic on the guitar rather than any sort of electronics. (Once you involve drums, you need some type of device that won't pick them up.) Pickups are useful for what they do, but they just can't capture all the overtones and harmonics you get from a good acoustic guitar.

I was assuming I needed an acoustic/electric in case I record, but getting a mic is a good suggestion. Now, how am I going to convince my wife that I NEED a new guitar? :wink:
Have you considered an Epiphone Hummingbird Acoustic/Electric? ($400-800) as opposed to Gibson Hummingbird $2-5k. I think they have a great feel and play better than $400 guitar. See Guitar center below

https://www.guitarcenter.com/Epiphone/H ... VEEALw_wcB
Small Law Survivor
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Small Law Survivor »

Jack FFR1846 wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:29 am If you have a really good guitar store near you, go in and try stuff out. I'm fortunate to have Music Emporium in Lexington, MA and they are happy to let me try pedestrian $2k Taylors, then a $90k Martin. But more important, they can help you choose something that fits what you're looking for between sound and feel. Some people are fine with ginormous boxes that boom the sound. Being an electric player, I'd be far happier playing a Gibson Songwriter (the one that's only an inch thick) or (gasp) a Line 6 acoustic, electric.
If you live anywhere within driving distance of Eastern Massachusetts the Music Emporium is a must visit. Make it a full day trip. Guitars learn toward the expensive side (lot of $6,000 Collings, Taylors, Martins ...), but it's a great place to visit and try guitars. I spent an hour or so there yesterday playing some of these monsters, but none seemed to match my Taylor 510, which I purchased 25 years ago and have loved ever since.
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GmanJeff
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by GmanJeff »

In addition to the recommendations you've received so far, perhaps consider the benefits of a carbon fiber instrument such as those made by Emerald, RainSong, Klos, and others. They can offer good tone and playability along with the benefit of being impervious to temperature and humidity fluctuations, making them less risky to leave out of their cases and close to hand to play on impulse or outdoors when temperatures or humidity conditions might give you pause with a traditional wood instrument.
Last edited by GmanJeff on Sat Jun 12, 2021 5:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Sandtrap »

Taylor or Martin mid level acoustic with pickup.

IMHO: It's about getting the "sound" that you want to match what you are playing, your style, supportive to your vocals if you are a singer, etc. Think "band", "trio" or solo (IE: James Taylor), and rhythm vs fingerstyle (Marty Knopfler, Chet Atkins, Joe Pass). And, then find the instrument that best all around supports this in a variety of most situations you might encounter.

For example: I played both Hawaiian Slack Key and also general music plus acoustic jazz, and others. So, most often, I'd take 2 guitars to a gig, depending on the gig. A mid/high level Acoustic/Electric Taylor in standard tuning, and a Jazz High Tension Acoustic/Electric Martin in Slack Key Tuning. But, again, it depends on what you're doing. Maybe on some jams, just bring a bass guitar if that is your slot for the day.

As for the guitar, if you're going to play a lot, find one that fits, sort of like finding a great pair of shoes. So, the fingerboard and neck shape has to fit your hand well and fall in line easily with how you like to sit or stand, a comfy neck strap. And, here, the body shape of the guitar also matches that in how it pulls from what angle. And, so forth.

Suggest going to a lot of guitar shops and "trying on" guitars. Just sit with the for awhile and eventually, or quickly if lucky, one will say, "hey, I'm for you, take me home". It might be new or used, but it "indeed" will call to you. :D :D

As an aside: Look and read about "Willie Nelson's" guitar, "Trigger". The history of it.

*Lot's of different views on these things based on one's experience and likes and dislikes.
My POV only as having gigged and played professionally in the past.
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marc515
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by marc515 »

Have you tried the acoustic guitar forum? There's a wealth of knowledge over there.
https://www.acousticguitarforum.com/for ... y.php?f=24
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RRJeff
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by RRJeff »

Thanks all for the recommendations and advice! I found a used Martin Centennial cutaway model in “great” condition that falls at the lower end of my price range. It has a spruce top and solid rosewood back/sides. This model was only manufactured in 2016, so finding one to play before buying is probably not going to happen. Anyone know anything about this model, good or bad?
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Sandtrap
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Sandtrap »

RRJeff wrote: Fri Jun 11, 2021 10:17 am Thanks all for the recommendations and advice! I found a used Martin Centennial cutaway model in “great” condition that falls at the lower end of my price range. It has a spruce top and solid rosewood back/sides. This model was only manufactured in 2016, so finding one to play before buying is probably not going to happen. Anyone know anything about this model, good or bad?
Might be good to have a guitar, used or new, looked at by someone in the shop or luthier before buying. Check the action, neck warpage, frets, deck, etc, etc. As guitars age they can take a bad set that results in tougher actions, fret buzz, etc. Some guitars age great, wood seasoned, tone deepens, etc.
There can be 5 identical Martin/Taylor/other guitars in the same model and year and some will age great, some not so. Some with great tone, some still sound "green".

Lot's of opinions on these things based on one's unique experience, etc.
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sperry8
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by sperry8 »

TinyElvis wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 12:44 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:29 am My advice is to ignore brands. You absolutely MUST play the actual guitar you're considering purchasing. With an electric, there are brands you don't have to do this with (Music Man, PRS) but with acoustics, an Ovation S771 mid bowl next to another Ovation S771 mid bowl at the guitar store, both with brand new, identical strings could play completely different.
Yes, what he said. I have played for 35 years. For an acoustic guitar purchase that you want to keep for the long term, you really have to play several and choose the one that speaks to you, and feels good in your hands. For example, my Dad has 4 expensive Martins and only 1 of them is enjoyable for me to play (he says I have "feminine hands"). The very first time I played my Gibson J-45, I knew it was the one. Years later it still is.
This 100%. You must go to some shops and sit there and play. This thread is filled with people who love Taylor. I hate em. Too trebly for me. But you see, this is a personal decision. Others love em. The point is the feel and sound are different to each person. Since it's your guitar, you must play them and see what feels right to you.

Some pointers though... generally each brand has a sound. Taylor, high crisp trebles. Martin, sweet mid-range. Gibson, larger bass sounds. Now that's how my ear hears em. Others may hear something different.

Once you get into the >$1k price range you'll generally get a solid spruce (or mahogany) top. The more solid wood, the better. Stay away from any guitar that uses laminate. Each wood has it's own sound. I own multiple guitars, and use different ones for different songs. For example, I love the warmth of the mahogany Martin I have. But it is not for every song.

At >$3k, you start to get into the best woods (for the 3 main brands). But you'll also be paying for inlays, and aesthetics. While you may not want these, you will likely notice the sound gets even better (usually due to higher end woods, better bracing inside, which is where the acoustics come from), etc. Other lesser known brands will give you the same stuff at a cheaper price (because they are a lesser known brand).

As others have stated, every guitar has a playability that is unique to your hand. Some have thin necks, some larger. Some have thin nut widths, others larger. Only buy playing a bunch will you identify the playability that you seek.

Also go into a used/vintage store to play as well. Play even the ones that are out of your price range. Get a sense of the sound and specs of the guitar you like. Then you can look for one in your price range that gets close to those specs and has the sound you seek.

Use the process of buying the guitar to learn and have fun with it. Dont think of it as a chore to be done with. You will have this guitar for decades. And if it plays and sounds great to you, you will practice and play more.
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oragne lovre
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by oragne lovre »

SethJane42 wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 9:27 am I'm a musical artist and have been playing on the same acoustic (Alvarez with inserted pickup and adjustable bridge) and electric guitars (Les Paul) I bought in the mid- 80's. I haven't bought anything new because I love the sound of both. It's an artistic choice. I love the action on both. The acoustic is as low as the electric. Music is about creating sound in an artistic way. So ask yourself why you need another guitar, what sound are you looking to make that you can't with the other ones? Some people love to collect guitars, and that's cool. I know guys that never play that have a bunch of guitars on stands in a room for the show. But if you're an artist, always bring it back to creativity. Are you looking for another sound brush? What is that sound? Then go from there and visit guitar stores and play what they got until you find what you're looking for. Have fun!
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The finest, albeit the most difficult, of all human achievements is being reasonable.
oragne lovre
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by oragne lovre »

:thumbsup
sperry8 wrote: Fri Jun 11, 2021 10:43 am
TinyElvis wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 12:44 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:29 am My advice is to ignore brands. You absolutely MUST play the actual guitar you're considering purchasing. With an electric, there are brands you don't have to do this with (Music Man, PRS) but with acoustics, an Ovation S771 mid bowl next to another Ovation S771 mid bowl at the guitar store, both with brand new, identical strings could play completely different.
Yes, what he said. I have played for 35 years. For an acoustic guitar purchase that you want to keep for the long term, you really have to play several and choose the one that speaks to you, and feels good in your hands. For example, my Dad has 4 expensive Martins and only 1 of them is enjoyable for me to play (he says I have "feminine hands"). The very first time I played my Gibson J-45, I knew it was the one. Years later it still is.
This 100%. You must go to some shops and sit there and play. This thread is filled with people who love Taylor. I hate em. Too trebly for me. But you see, this is a personal decision. Others love em. The point is the feel and sound are different to each person. Since it's your guitar, you must play them and see what feels right to you.

Some pointers though... generally each brand has a sound. Taylor, high crisp trebles. Martin, sweet mid-range. Gibson, larger bass sounds. Now that's how my ear hears em. Others may hear something different.

Once you get into the >$1k price range you'll generally get a solid spruce (or mahogany) top. The more solid wood, the better. Stay away from any guitar that uses laminate. Each wood has it's own sound. I own multiple guitars, and use different ones for different songs. For example, I love the warmth of the mahogany Martin I have. But it is not for every song.

At >$3k, you start to get into the best woods (for the 3 main brands). But you'll also be paying for inlays, and aesthetics. While you may not want these, you will likely notice the sound gets even better (usually due to higher end woods, better bracing inside, which is where the acoustics come from), etc. Other lesser known brands will give you the same stuff at a cheaper price (because they are a lesser known brand).

As others have stated, every guitar has a playability that is unique to your hand. Some have thin necks, some larger. Some have thin nut widths, others larger. Only buy playing a bunch will you identify the playability that you seek.

Also go into a used/vintage store to play as well. Play even the ones that are out of your price range. Get a sense of the sound and specs of the guitar you like. Then you can look for one in your price range that gets close to those specs and has the sound you seek.

Use the process of buying the guitar to learn and have fun with it. Dont think of it as a chore to be done with. You will have this guitar for decades. And if it plays and sounds great to you, you will practice and play more.
The finest, albeit the most difficult, of all human achievements is being reasonable.
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Sandtrap
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by Sandtrap »

sperry8 wrote: Fri Jun 11, 2021 10:43 am
TinyElvis wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 12:44 pm
Jack FFR1846 wrote: Wed Jun 09, 2021 10:29 am My advice is to ignore brands. You absolutely MUST play the actual guitar you're considering purchasing. With an electric, there are brands you don't have to do this with (Music Man, PRS) but with acoustics, an Ovation S771 mid bowl next to another Ovation S771 mid bowl at the guitar store, both with brand new, identical strings could play completely different.
Yes, what he said. I have played for 35 years. For an acoustic guitar purchase that you want to keep for the long term, you really have to play several and choose the one that speaks to you, and feels good in your hands. For example, my Dad has 4 expensive Martins and only 1 of them is enjoyable for me to play (he says I have "feminine hands"). The very first time I played my Gibson J-45, I knew it was the one. Years later it still is.
This 100%. You must go to some shops and sit there and play. This thread is filled with people who love Taylor. I hate em. Too trebly for me. But you see, this is a personal decision. Others love em. The point is the feel and sound are different to each person. Since it's your guitar, you must play them and see what feels right to you.

Some pointers though... generally each brand has a sound. Taylor, high crisp trebles. Martin, sweet mid-range. Gibson, larger bass sounds. Now that's how my ear hears em. Others may hear something different.

Once you get into the >$1k price range you'll generally get a solid spruce (or mahogany) top. The more solid wood, the better. Stay away from any guitar that uses laminate. Each wood has it's own sound. I own multiple guitars, and use different ones for different songs. For example, I love the warmth of the mahogany Martin I have. But it is not for every song.

At >$3k, you start to get into the best woods (for the 3 main brands). But you'll also be paying for inlays, and aesthetics. While you may not want these, you will likely notice the sound gets even better (usually due to higher end woods, better bracing inside, which is where the acoustics come from), etc. Other lesser known brands will give you the same stuff at a cheaper price (because they are a lesser known brand).

As others have stated, every guitar has a playability that is unique to your hand. Some have thin necks, some larger. Some have thin nut widths, others larger. Only buy playing a bunch will you identify the playability that you seek.

Also go into a used/vintage store to play as well. Play even the ones that are out of your price range. Get a sense of the sound and specs of the guitar you like. Then you can look for one in your price range that gets close to those specs and has the sound you seek.

Use the process of buying the guitar to learn and have fun with it. Dont think of it as a chore to be done with. You will have this guitar for decades. And if it plays and sounds great to you, you will practice and play more.
+1000
Well said!
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d18lover
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by d18lover »

My username here is about my D-18; a truly special guitar I bought new before getting married in 2012.

Taylor instruments frankly baffle me. They only caught on only because Martin got lazy for a decade or so and Taylor was smart getting playable guitars into Guitar Center show rooms. Coated strings and PLEK, while Martin shipped guitars for years that had short term strings and needed setups out of the box. These issues are no more, but Martin has forever lost some marketshare. I strongly recommend Martin for the following:

These are the current facts: Taylor uses a polyester based lacquer finish. It does not age, it does not breathe. Martin uses a nitrocellulose finish, which is much more labor and time intensive to apply. Over time, a Martin will age with a patina and it should allow the sound to open up. Take a look at an old Martin. Taylor also uses a bolt to adhere the neck to the body. Martin (for their made in USA guitars) use a hand fitted dovetail neck joint. It requires a skilled worker and takes time to get right. This has a very big impact on tone. I can tell a Taylor from a mile away, the done is very modern-pop sounding to me with very little character. Elevator music of guitars, to my ears.

You can get good discounts on Martin, check the unofficial Martin guitar forum and look at some of their preferred dealers (or PM me). Someone said $4k for a D-28. No way, likely about half that.
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jabberwockOG
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by jabberwockOG »

I have owned many more guitars than I can remember at this point.

My suggestions for folks looking for a good guitar.

- only buy solid wood guitars. Avoid laminates or engineered woods on the top, back, sides, neck, bridge, etc. Avoid plastic and fiberglass.
- find one or more shops that specialize in guitars if possible, or at least have a large and varied stock of new and used acoustic guitars.
- go in and play all of them. Ignore cost, brand, new versus old, whats important is quality materials, solid wood, but not brand or cost.
- narrow down favorites to maybe 2-3 guitars. They sound the best, easiest to play specifically for you (typically won't be the most expensive guitars.)
- Don't impulse buy, rest, sleep on it, go back and play the favorites again.
- buy the guitar that sounds the most musical, is easy for you to play, and that makes you sound like a better player than you actually are.
- if you put the time and effort in, and stay open minded, patient and really pay attention, the right guitar usually shows up and chooses you.
- take good care of it, if it's a high quality musical instrument you are just a caretaker for a few years as it has a much longer life that one person.
SueG5123
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Re: Acoustic Guitar Help

Post by SueG5123 »

I’ll throw another brand name at you: Guild. I have a vintage Rhode Island Guild dread and a recent “Chinese” Guild, and I play them more than my Martin!
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