PDA

View Full Version : Acoustic that Plays Like an Electric? Recommendations?


Dave LaP
10-25-2011, 01:47 PM
I want an acoustic guitar that plays like an electric for doing solo/duo type material. I want to be able to bend an unwound G string up a whole step when needed and still have the guitar sound pretty full for singing and playing. I know there is a tradeoff between the fullness of sound with a heavier set of strings and having the playability of an electric.

So this is a two part question:

1) Is there a particular brand you would recommend or...

2) Is it just a matter of finding an acoustic I like and re-stringing with a lighter gauge string and have a set up done?

My budget is between 500-1000. Maybe more if I LOVE a particular guitar.

What strategy would you recommend?

Thanks.

jcground
10-25-2011, 02:09 PM
Do you want to make whole step bends and play way up above the 12th fret too? If you only care about the bends, look for an acoustic with a shorter scale (24.9" or less). There are a variety of Martins that have that scale, as opposed to the longer 25.4", which would have higher string tension. I believe the 14-fret 000 models are short scale (like the one Clapton played on Unplugged), and a bunch of the 12-fret models are too. A cutaway will help with upper fret access, but I don't know of any acoustics that are as easy to play way up high as most electrics.

Taylor and many other companies make short scale acoustics too, including lots that are full-sized (in other words, not a little student guitar for a kid, but one with shorter scale specifically because the strings will be slinkier, which is what you'd be looking for). I'm a fan of Taylor guitars from a playability standpoint, so a short scale one might be a good guitar to try. A Grand Concert 300-series (now called a GC3, I think) would be on my short list, and I believe you could find one in your budget. They have a 24 7/8" scale.

And as you have already figured, using really light strings can help too, but I find if you go too light you lose a lot of tone, moreso on acoustic than on electric - especially if you get a lot of your electric tone from your amp or effects.

pickaguitar
10-25-2011, 02:23 PM
It's all about setup...doesn't matter the brand

davess23
10-25-2011, 08:09 PM
Setup is very important, true. But I'd say that in general, Taylor guitars' necks and design make them feel more like electrics, at least to me, than many other acoustics.

Auriemma
10-26-2011, 06:56 AM
Its been said many times... Ovations play like electrics, as long as you like the sound and can handle the round back.

But the setup for your big bends is crucial for any guitar you decide on.

ShavenYak
10-26-2011, 07:33 AM
Whatever you do is going to be a compromise, and only you can decide if it's one you're willing to live with. If you really want a traditional flat-top acoustic sound with electric playability, my best suggestion is Ernie Ball Earthwood Rock & Blues acoustic strings. They have a plain G, and they're 10s so you really don't even have to use a short-scale guitar to get the playability. You won't get the same volume you would from heavier strings, of course. If you're amplified, though, that might not matter.

As far as the guitar is concerned, a Taylor is what I would prefer. They play at least as well as the Ovations, but they sound like real guitars instead of plastic toys.

Some other options: in an acoustic duo act where I play lots of lead parts, I sometimes use a hollowbody archtop with a neck-mounted mini-humbucker instead of an acoustic. It would sound terrible strumming cowboy chords, but it meshes really well with the other guy's acoustic when I'm playing smaller chord voicings and single-note lines.

Another possibility if you decide you can't compromise the sound is to adjust your playing style. If you really need to bend a note, figure out a way to change your fingering so it falls on the B or E string, and if you can't do that, slide up instead of bending. This has the side benefit of helping a cliche blues lick sound more original.

McStrats
10-26-2011, 08:51 AM
You *might* be approaching the acoustic guitar all wrong. (Sorry if that sounds antagonistic) In my opinion an acoustic and an electric are to be approached and played very differently. If you want it to play like an electric just put electric strings on it. I think you'll be dissapointed in the sound though.

Acoustic Guitar and Electric Guitar are almost not the same instrument, IMO.

Stratobuc
10-26-2011, 10:45 AM
My Larrivee has a very electric-like neck. Wide and thin front to back.

84Bravo
10-26-2011, 11:24 AM
It's all about setup...doesn't matter the brand

Set UP and neck SET are crucial. If the neck set is off you will have more tension. You can't correct a bad neck set with the truss rod. If the neck is set correctly, the neck is straight, the nut is cut correctly, and the action medium, you should be able to bend a half step easily with 12s. If you have strong hands maybe a whole step.

Dave LaP
10-26-2011, 01:52 PM
Yes, going with a shorter scale length sounds like a good strategy. I play 10's with an 11 on the high E on my Grosh Setneck electric which has the standard LP scale length so I think I could go with 11's on an acoustic if the scale was similar and the set up is done properly.

I remember a friend had a cheap acoustic with low action and electric strings on it that I always picked up and never wanted to put down.It was fun and actually sounded decent.

I'm thinking that with a better guitar and heavier strings I'll have a versatile instrument for duo stuff and still be able to pull off some electric style leads.

mrpinter
10-26-2011, 02:09 PM
I'm after pretty much the same thing on acoustic - not necessarily that it play like an electric, but is easier to play. I've found a good solution for myself using a set of jazz strings. I use Thomastik-Infeld BeBops in 12-50, except I substitute an 11 and 15 e and b for the 12 and 16 it comes with. This gives me an easy to play guitar, with a nice bright sound, and enough volume for me. I play a standard scale length acoustic.

ahiddentableau
10-27-2011, 01:08 AM
For me, the point that's been made about the importance of string choice is one of the most important things. There are lots of different choices out there, some of which are custom made to address precisely this problem. My recommendation is to try Newtone Strings' round core acoustic offerings. The one that I like best is their Heritage Series. They're selected to have even tension among all six strings, and because they are round core they inherently require less tension to go to pitch. I use their extra light heritage series set on my acoustics (.10 to .43 - so they really are akin to electric sets) and it really works wonders for me in achieving a more electric-like feel and playability.

As far as guitar choices are concerned, I find Guild guitars often have thinner, more electric-like necks than most of the competition. I avoid acoustics with a nut width greater than 1-11/16", and Guild has a lot of offerings in that regard. If you really want to go more electric, though, you would do well to try out the Godin Acousticaster (I think that name is right--really a nice playing instrument) as well as their Multitac series. I also remember playing an old 70s Fender acoustic that was basically (probably not "basically", probably it really was) a strat/tele neck stuck on to an acoustic body. I think the model was a Malibu. Anyway, it was cheap ($300?) and in spite of its obviously somewhat haphazard construction/build quality, it played fast and light like an electric and didn't even sound half bad. I think Fender still makes some acoustic/electrics in this vein, but the newer ones I've played have been universially disappointing. But that Malibu was pretty cool and fit your criteria to a tee. Worth a look if you can find one.

mrpinter
10-27-2011, 01:18 AM
Acousticaster is the correct name - I have one and it is an amazing instrument. It is the size and shape of a telecaster with a really great Fender style neck with a fast satin finish. It only has a piezo pickup, along with an eq'd L.R. Baggs preamp built in. It sounds like a big box acoustic plugged in; getting it's resonance from 18 metal resonators embedded in chambers of the mahogany body. I have mine strung with Thomastik-Infeld Jazz Swing flatwounds in extra light 10-44 gauge. It sounds particularly good going through a direct box into a P.A.

Smgbad
10-27-2011, 01:19 AM
Taylor T5 or the Crafter SA is a bit cheaper for ultimately the same thing. Either one will get ya where you wanna go.

frquent flyer
10-27-2011, 06:08 AM
I'll never forget what my guitar repair guy said about Ovation: he said they are made from old auto fan belts; That spoiled it for me and ovations although I have picked on a few that were pleasing to the ear

RGB
10-27-2011, 06:21 AM
Check out Rick Turner's RS6! I love mine!

http://renaissanceguitars.com/steel-guitar.php

...best gigging "acoustic" ever!

Auriemma
10-27-2011, 06:31 AM
Its funny what people say about Ovations... isn't it.

- Sounds like plastic unplugged: they don't (like all guitars, their sound runs the gambit) - Plugged in, not much can beat their sound.

- Made from old fan belts: they aren't (usually molded lyricord or or hand laid fiberglass)

- Slides off your lap: thats a personal coordination issue

OP: Try one for yourself.

Steps off his soap box

facesfan
10-27-2011, 06:52 AM
Set UP and neck SET are crucial. If the neck set is off you will have more tension. You can't correct a bad neck set with the truss rod. If the neck is set correctly, the neck is straight, the nut is cut correctly, and the action medium, you should be able to bend a half step easily with 12s. If you have strong hands maybe a whole step.

Bravo...Bravo....Well said! I have a Gibson Sheryl Crow that sounds best with mediums but if you put lights on it plays almost like an electric. The back of the neck profile is close to my 61 SG RI...wide and flat. I also shave the middle of my saddle down to achieve more comfort. I don't follow the radius of factory Gibson saddles. With the B thru A strings leveled out some,bending ability and smoother feel are improved. It's tricky though,if you go too far you'll get buzz. Crow neck,light strings,straight neck with little or no relief,shave down the high arc radius of the middle strings...you got it!

pickaguitar
10-27-2011, 08:45 AM
Its funny what people say about Ovations... isn't it.

- Sounds like plastic unplugged: they don't (like all guitars, their sound runs the gambit) - Plugged in, not much can beat their sound.

- Made from old fan belts: they aren't (usually molded lyricord or or hand laid fiberglass)

- Slides off your lap: thats a personal coordination issue

OP: Try one for yourself.

Steps off his soap box
They're boat paddles aren't they? :)

Dave LaP
10-27-2011, 09:32 AM
Its funny what people say about Ovations... isn't it.

- Sounds like plastic unplugged: they don't (like all guitars, their sound runs the gambit) - Plugged in, not much can beat their sound.

- Made from old fan belts: they aren't (usually molded lyricord or or hand laid fiberglass)

- Slides off your lap: thats a personal coordination issue

OP: Try one for yourself.

Steps off his soap box

I've liked the Ovations I've heard but haven't loved them. I do really like their playability.

As for sliding off the lap-that drives me nuts. I'm coordinated enough to play guitar and basketball but not keep an Ovation on my lap. How coordinated to you have to be? Lol.

Auriemma
10-27-2011, 10:00 AM
I've liked the Ovations I've heard but haven't loved them. I do really like their playability.

As for sliding off the lap-that drives me nuts. I'm coordinated enough to play guitar and basketball but not keep an Ovation on my lap. How coordinated to you have to be? Lol. I don't know. I can play Ovations and can't play basketball. I can play lacrosse though. Go figure.

Honestly, hold the Ovation upright and keep the leading edge on your leg. Use good posture Don't slouch or lean the Ovation back. Simple right?

Pikesoldier
10-27-2011, 10:01 AM
Setup is very important, true. But I'd say that in general, Taylor guitars' necks and design make them feel more like electrics, at least to me, than many other acoustics.

seconded. i have a w-14ce strung with .010 elixirs. just like an electric.

go with a secondhand 214ce, that should get you there in your budget.

Auriemma
10-27-2011, 10:02 AM
I've liked the Ovations I've heard but haven't loved them. I do really like their playability.

As for sliding off the lap-that drives me nuts. I'm coordinated enough to play guitar and basketball but not keep an Ovation on my lap. How coordinated to you have to be? Lol. I don't know. I can play Ovations and can't play basketball. I can play lacrosse though. Go figure.

Honestly, hold the Ovation upright and keep the leading edge on your leg. Use good posture. Don't slouch or lean the Ovation back. Simple right?

Dave LaP
10-27-2011, 10:57 AM
With the Ovation thing, I'm sure it's just a matter of adapting to it. I've never owned one but I'm sure if I did, I'd get used to it.

The Taylor 214 CE sounds intriguing. There's one for sale locally, used. Guy says he upgraded the nut and saddles to bone and the work was done by a good luthier. He wants 700 and I think it sells for like 800 but it's very new. I guess the bone and nut work would probably run about 200...

Auriemma
10-27-2011, 01:49 PM
Well set up Taylors are nothing to sneeze at either. 700 with a new bone nut and saddle isn't too bad. There is always room negotiation.

Aoresteen
10-27-2011, 07:20 PM
Try a Godin. The ones I played had necks that were verymuch like electrics.

http://www.godinguitars.com/godina6ultrap.htm

Pietro
10-27-2011, 07:38 PM
I would almost like to see the guy who invented the Ovation guitar spend time in jail. I hate them to no end... but they do, in fact, play like certain electrics.

Another that does that has not been mentioned is Wechter. Mine is US, I can only guess that the imports available now have similar profiles. the Pathmaker even gives me upper fret access almost like my electrics.

JohnSS
10-28-2011, 12:05 PM
David Gilmour has an Ovation Legend strung with electric strings that he uses on stage. Ovations are great guitars; been a proud owner of a Custom Balladeer since the late 70's (my first US made guitar) and it still plays & sounds amazing.

Eric Pykala
10-28-2011, 04:38 PM
I'm assuming you're plugging in. I've had great results with the afore-mentioned Acousticaster and Godin A6 strung phosphor-bronze 10-47 with the G subbed for an .018 plain. Whole-step bends not a problem. Another and way better alternative was my PRS Hollowbody II with the piezo option, strung electric 10-46. Fools 'em in the bars every time (but lots more dough). Currently playing around with a Taylor GS Mini, but the plain G trick is too whacked in terms of intonation to use live, even to a buncha drunks. The Taylor T5 is built beautifully, but never sounded enough like an acoustic to me to justify the price. My old friend Terry Clements (RIP), Gordon Lighfoot's guitarist forever just used to use a custom set 11-50 set on his Martin live, and just relied on strong hands.
My three cents...but all from the school of hard knocks.

clicktone
10-28-2011, 06:53 PM
Make it easy...get a Taylor...any model you can afford

Wolfboy1
11-03-2011, 11:23 AM
Godin's are nice, I have one of their synth models and really like the neck. I also have a Larrive, which is their lower cost line, and it plays beautifully as well.

As to Ovations....they play great, sound great live and pretty good unplugged as well but they won't stay on my lap. It drove me nuts so I sold it.

Sandy Cheeks
11-03-2011, 11:28 AM
Godin's are nice, I have one of their synth models and really like the neck. I also have a Larrive, which is their lower cost line, and it plays beautifully as well.


They're both Canadian companies, and Godin has several brand lines (Seagull, Simon & Patrick, Art & Lutherie, LaPatrie), but Larrivée is a separate and unrelated company.

oldguitar
11-22-2011, 10:35 PM
I don't know about newer Ovations, but the old ones backs were made from the same material as helicopter main rotor blades. Very tough stuff. They played great, sounded good. They did slide down your leg though, just something you had to get used to. Glen Campbell played them for years. I wish I still had my old Legend.

The best playing acoustic guitar I ever owned was a 60's J160E. That one played darn near like an electric, but didn't have the tone I wanted. The legend sounded better, to my ears.

Haven't owned a Taylor, but the ones I've played sure play easy.

landru64
11-22-2011, 10:43 PM
check out the babicz guitars. they seemed to be geared towards this. the way the neck adjusts allows for stupid low action i think.

mralmostpopular
11-22-2011, 11:15 PM
I don't know about newer Ovations, but the old ones backs were made from the same material as helicopter main rotor blades. Very tough stuff. They played great, sounded good.

Well, the backs were anyway. Therein lies one of the biggest problems with old Ovations; the backs didn't flex with the seasons, while the tops did. It's not uncommon to have to have the top replaced on an Ovation, sometimes more than once. I believe they've since changed the way they attach the top in order to help prevent that.


------

To answer the original question, I'd take a look at a few of the lower-end Taylors. As stated before, a lot of that feeling comes from the guitar being properly set-up, so the advantage here is that with the NT neck the neck angle can be further tweaked to help get you an amazing set-up, if necessary.

Also take a look at the Takamine Pro series, in particular the EF340, 440, and 740. They play and sound good. They seem to have a pretty good consistency, as well.

leofenderbender
11-23-2011, 12:51 AM
Play a bunch of Taylors and you'll find many with the action of an electric. You'll definitely need to get it set up for lower guage strings to get the bends you are after.

harry65
11-23-2011, 10:13 AM
You *might* be approaching the acoustic guitar all wrong. (Sorry if that sounds antagonistic) In my opinion an acoustic and an electric are to be approached and played very differently. If you want it to play like an electric just put electric strings on it. I think you'll be dissapointed in the sound though.

Acoustic Guitar and Electric Guitar are almost not the same instrument, IMO.

couldn't disagree more.............;)

Benjam226
11-23-2011, 12:19 PM
Chet Atkins SST.

Epiphone does a version for much cheaper than the Gibson.

guitararmy
11-26-2011, 02:53 PM
Depending on your budget, the Composite Acoustics Legacy dread I have has a thin neck. I don't know what Peavey will price them at....

10strings
11-27-2011, 12:00 AM
My budget is between 500-1000. Maybe more if I LOVE a particular guitar.


Thanks.

For that money... this. Hands down.

http://www.wechterguitars.com/

The first time I picked one up, I was like dude... What's with your action!!!???
Very awesome to play...

corn husk bag
11-27-2011, 06:05 AM
For that money... this. Hands down.

http://www.wechterguitars.com/

The first time I picked one up, I was like dude... What's with your action!!!???
Very awesome to play...

Have you tried one of their double cutaway acoustics? And if so what did you think of it?

http://www.wechterguitars.com/models/Pathmaker/PM-5730E

Kind Regards,
Steve

Floyd Eye
11-27-2011, 06:07 AM
I went into a GC and played every single acoustic they had in the store. I was looking for a good sounding acoustic with a good set-up. I wound up buying a Chinese made Ibanez AEG10. I took it home, tweaked the set-up a little, put 12s on it and it is hands down the best playing acoustic ( that didn't have electric strings on it) that I have ever played.

Pietro
11-27-2011, 06:44 AM
Have you tried one of their double cutaway acoustics? And if so what did you think of it?

http://www.wechterguitars.com/models/Pathmaker/PM-5730E

Kind Regards,
Steve

I've owned one of the US Pathmakers for years. It's an amazing guitar, and from what I understand, the newer import ones are just as well made. The ergonomics are great, and I love the sound.

corn husk bag
11-27-2011, 07:26 AM
I've owned one of the US Pathmakers for years. It's an amazing guitar, and from what I understand, the newer import ones are just as well made. The ergonomics are great, and I love the sound.

Thanks a lot for the info. I will definitely have to give one of these a go.

Kind Regards,
Steve

10strings
11-27-2011, 08:05 AM
Thanks a lot for the info. I will definitely have to give one of these a go.

Kind Regards,
Steve

I liked their concert series. :)