View Full Version : Planning a purchase
Planning on buying an acoustic in a month or so, and trying to decide on the specs I'm looking for.
I've been an electric player essentially since I picked up guitar (about 7 years ago). The questions with an acoustic seem so numerous, though I guess no more so than with electrics. But not having played a lot of acoustics, seems like a difficult task. Woods, nut width, scale length...
I keep kicking around the idea of NOT getting a cutaway, though I pick up all the leads in my garage/wannabe club band. Would I just play more in the lower register? Don't know... Pretty much feel a pickup is mandatory, and I'm partial to bursts.
I'm also the type of guy who would prefer to buy a guitar I would never part with. Maybe I should think of it more as a process. But, hey, if you drop a couple grand - you know what I mean - it oughta be special, right?
Any advice or links to other reference would be appreciated. Thanks, all.
12-18-2006, 06:24 PM
If you are looking for a handmade killer acoustic, look at Delgado Guitars. www.delgadoguitars.com (http://www.delgadoguitars.com) Manuel is a dear friend and comes from 3 generations of luthiers. His stuff kills. I'm saving to order a guitar from him.
12-19-2006, 02:05 PM
If you are looking a relantionship, a guitar with a soul,that special guitar never to part with, you should most definetely buy a custom handbuilt to your own specs. Find someone you like to build YOUR guitar, someone that can guide you through the process and make your dream guitar.
The options are many and the right person can help with tonewood choices catering to your specific playing needs as well as looks. Remember, there is a lot involved in a guitar..... from the tonewood selection, neck profiles to bracing patterns....
12-19-2006, 03:03 PM
Don't want to pee on anyone's parade, but I don't agree with the idea of going to a custom guitar from a luthier for your first acoustic. I'd have to say with all due respect, that 7 years of electric guitar, or 17 for that matter, is unlikely to give you the "knowledge base" for a decision on spec'ing out the custom made (and thus probably high-ticket) acoustic guitar you'll never part with. Acoustic guitars are different beasts from electrics in too many ways.
Why not spend a couple of weeks or a month and play a lot of good production and small shop acoustics, find out what floats your boat and buy a nice example of the breed from a quality builder? You'll be quite likely to be happy with that guitar for at least a while. And if and when you decide to flip it, it won't be an orphan but will have an established resale value.
As to your thoughts so far, I'd say that as an electric player transitioning to acoustic, you may be more comfortable at least at first with a shorter scale length. But that's just a maybe...
Nut width is another very personal choice. You might consider 1 3/4 or even wider if fingerstyle will be your thing, but if you get into bluegrass picking you may prefer 1 11/16.
I'm personally not a big fan of cutaways, and I notice that many classical players manage to dance pretty well on the high frets without them. But your style may dictate the need for one. Certainly a cutaway can add substantially to the price of a guitar, money that could at least for me be better spent in a higher-grade top or a nicer pickup system, or even get you to the next model up in the catalog.
Wood choice is a whole other can of worms. Only way to find out is to play a ton of guitars and decide for yourself.
12-19-2006, 05:27 PM
Congrats on deciding to get a good acoustic guitar. Probably the single biggest tool for improving your skills as a musician.
Davess23 has got the right idea. I seriously doubt you'll be the same player in 20 years as you are today. So to expect an instrument to make that journey with you is a little unreasonable. Why be boxed in by what you like at this age when you're older. Your tastes WILL change.
My suggestion is that you find what you like from within a range of brands that retain their resale value. Basically that means Martin, Gibson and Taylor. Everyone here will push towards custom this and that...Do not do that unless you are really rich. To be more specific... I'd only buy a used guitar that you can play in person. The thought of spending so much loot on a custom made guitar or a new guitar when you're still determining what you want from an acoustic seems imprudent. Trust me.
12-19-2006, 07:03 PM
i too am looking to purchase a new acoustic. i want to upgrade my old, old washburn and am looking at martins and taylors. there's too many choices out there. i agree that i need to get out there and play different models. i'm definitely not going the custom route. can anyone steer me to specific model(s)? i'm looking to spend around $1,500 - $2,000ish. if i classified my style/skill level i'd say alot more strumming then picking but constantly improving. i like the old classic rock stuff - lots of grateful dead & related, beatles, steve miller, little feat, etc...
12-19-2006, 07:12 PM
There are many higher end stores that sell used custom luthier made guitars. Why don't you give those ones a try? I promise a well made custom guitar will give the others a run for their money! Get out there and see (or hear) for yourself!
12-19-2006, 08:42 PM
Buy a used D-28 or D-18 from the early 70s. Very resonable in terms of price vs. quality. The value will stay or improve and the guitar has had a chance to settle and open up. If you like those bands/style of music...basically you want a dread size Martin (or Gibson/Epiphone).
Differences between the two...is probably your next ?
They both are spruce topped.
Rosewood fingerboard. Mahogany back and sides. Quick transients and sparkle to the top. Think the dry sound of Led Zepplin. Often liked by engineers for their tight bass.
Rosewood back and sides, fuller bass response. The guitar of choice for most bluegrass (allthough the D-18 is well loved there too) Ebony fingerboard and appointments. Potentially has all that a great 18 has with more complexity in the lows. They look a little more expensive...and they are.
Gibson/Epiphone J-45 and Texan. Cool guitars for sure.
For blues sounds look to the Gibson L-OO and L-0 guitars...the older the better on these last ones.
If price is an issue, I'd look at an old Guild or even a Yamaha from the 70's. Big bang for the buck from those two companies.
Please try to play them before you buy 'em. Or make sure that the store has a great return policy. There's not much you can do to change the tone of a dog acoustic...like changing pickups,amp & fx etc for an electric.
12-19-2006, 08:47 PM
If you are looking for a keeper .. I'd first start with some simple but good acoustics try them out see what you like about them (go to a big guitar store somewhere .. )
Check out what different things do for you or don't do for you.
After that if you are ready for your own specs. there is quite a bit to consider and super awesome great luthiers around
Modern voicing versus classic voicing
types of material
setup finger style vs. strum
spacing of the strings
pick up type
cutaway or not
Well I do have an awesome guitar up for sale, my Barbarossa 000 (If you indeed want to drop a couple of grand on a keeper) but I'd recommend you come by play it for a while first and compare it to the one I am keeping my Charis SJ and you'll see the immense difference there is in sound and feel on these high end acoustics.
12-21-2006, 07:11 AM
many thanks for your response. i'm in delaware. any suggestions on where to find a 70's era d-18 or d-28? how about a new one? locally a d-18 is around 1,800 and d-28 around 2,100... ?
12-21-2006, 07:51 AM
Given the application for the guitar you described, (garage band, wannabe club band) do you think more of a 'player's guitar' might be in order? This is not to say your band won't go places, but sounds like your end game right now is a lot of playing and potential gigs.
Player's I know who own higher end acoustics don't take them to gigs. They take their 'player' acoustics that cost them less than $1000. Many of them MUCH less than $1000!
That said, I recently purchased an acoustic electric that I expect to gig with. Did all the research, asked a lot of questions here, got some great recommendations, narrowed the list to 4 and went to the stores and played a lot of guitars.
For $620, ended up with a Breedlove A25 (I believe that's the model #) with a stellar padded gig bag and a couple of spare string sets for it. This thing is proving to be a great player's guitar so far. VERY nice sounding plugged in. Nice balance, lots of fullness and not all high-end like some of the lower-end AE guitars out there.
Knowing what I know about getting gear to and from and playing gigs, I would NEVER consider taking a high dollar, beloved acoustic to a gig--unless it was me, a stool and a microphone. Too many things 'happen' doing the band thing.
That's my free $0.02 for you to consider. Or not!
Been away for a few days, and really appreciate the responses! Will post more as I get caught up.
12-22-2006, 10:51 AM
I'm not too familiar with DE...but I remember a dirth of music stores on the Eastern Shore (Bethany Beach). So I can't help you find one. Just comb the stores that you know of...pawn shops too. Look on Craigslist.org (just checked for you no listings under Martin Guitar). You may need to drive to Philly or DC to look at some good examples, but the best deals are player to player for sure.
If you're still listening...The deal with a new guitar is this. You're paying retail! Not good if you're not dead certain that that's "Your" guitar. It sounds to me like money is a real issue with respect to the purchase. So why not get more guitar for the $. Buy used as often as you can, let someone else take the hit on the initial retail sale.
Here's another reason...Let's say you buy a new Martin D-28 and it's cool, but you want to lower the action, and then you realize that you need a pickup, change the nut, file the frets smooth after the first winter when the wood shrinks etc...Why pay for all that? Look for a guitar that's seen some use, has had time to settle and open up, has gone through a few seasons and has had all the initial setup/maintainance done. Saves you time and $$$.
01-06-2007, 10:45 PM
One thing I have to say about custom, in my experience, is you get more guitar for your money. I recently played a Taylor 810ce ($3600) and a Martin D41 ($4600). They were AWESOME. The lower end models didn't sound all that great. Not that bad, but not great either.
You can spend $3000 on a custom acoustic and it will be twice the guitar of a $3000 taylor or martin. But is still cost $3000, though I think it's worth it.
01-06-2007, 11:17 PM
I bought my first Taylor after only playing for 2 years. And i love it. I certainly was an electric player when i bought due to the phenomenal neck. i still gravitate to that guitar today. the $$$ you're talking about dropping could get you a used Taylor 500 series w/pickup and cutaway (think Taylor 514ce) through a used Taylor 810ce, and i'm almost certain you'll like the necks on them. i personally would not get a guitar with the ES system as I use an internal mic on my guitars for looping purposes. But if you're only playing guitar and don't want to spend extra $$$ on a pickup get something like that. I'd also never purchase online---go play a guitar. i can say through some of my travels that many production guitarmakers have a good level of consistency. and just because a guitar costs 3k doesn't mean it's better than a $1k guitar. i played a $14,000 guitar once---and i wouldn't trade my taylor 310ce on it anyday. you should be entirely impressed with anything over $1000--above that you're paying for inlays and wood binding. bracing patterns are the same. necks are all cut on the same machine. slight differences in top material (WR cedar vs. sitka spruce vs. englemann spruce) will give a different tone as well, and if you need a guitar that cuts through get maple back/sides. good luck and God bless on finding your soulmate.
01-07-2007, 08:41 AM
All guitars over 1k are not the same. Not even close in many cases. Each company uses different bracing patterns, sometimes several patterns from the same maker. Their wood selection is different. The material of the braces is different. The climate is different. The neck carves are different. I could go on all day with the differences. Many people prefer Taylors because they have a neck that feels like an electric guitar (thin), despite having a 1 3/4 nut width. I personally don't care for Taylors...and I have owned several high end Taylors to come to that conclusion. I have owned 300 dollar acoustics, and 5k acoustics. I have played acoustics over 10k. Price is not a deciding factor on quality, but it is often more than just a fancy inlay. Skill level is involved in that price. Time to build is involved. Custom options, and other things are also involved. Top and back woods make a HUGE difference. Sitka and Adirondack and German and Engelman and Cedar tops all sound very different. Unless you plan on buying a guitar that is super consistent (Collings, Goodall, etc.) you should go and play a whole bunch and determine what you do and dont like in them. You will undoubtedly buy and sell several before you decide ultimately down the road...so good luck, and have fun with it!
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