Acoustic that Plays Like an Electric? Recommendations?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Dave LaP, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. Dave LaP

    Dave LaP Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    3,327
    Location:
    Baltimore Maryland
    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.
     
  2. jcground

    jcground Member

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2005
    Messages:
    1,146
    Location:
    New York
    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.
     
  3. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Messages:
    16,977
    Location:
    TEXAS
    It's all about setup...doesn't matter the brand
     
  4. davess23

    davess23 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2006
    Messages:
    3,250
    Location:
    Marblehead, MA
    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.
     
  5. Auriemma

    Auriemma Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    Messages:
    453
    Location:
    SE PA, USA
    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.
     
  6. ShavenYak

    ShavenYak Member

    Joined:
    May 23, 2009
    Messages:
    1,999
    Location:
    Birmingham, AL
    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.
     
  7. McStrats

    McStrats Member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2009
    Messages:
    1,498
    Location:
    Wake Forest, NC
    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.
     
  8. Stratobuc

    Stratobuc Gold Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2009
    Messages:
    11,681
    My Larrivee has a very electric-like neck. Wide and thin front to back.
     
  9. 84Bravo

    84Bravo Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2006
    Messages:
    3,078
    Location:
    Madison, WI
    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.
     
  10. Dave LaP

    Dave LaP Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    3,327
    Location:
    Baltimore Maryland
    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.
     
  11. mrpinter

    mrpinter Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    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.
     
  12. ahiddentableau

    ahiddentableau Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2010
    Messages:
    6
    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.
     
  13. mrpinter

    mrpinter Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    2,713
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    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.
     
  14. Smgbad

    Smgbad Supporting Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2010
    Messages:
    2,078
    Location:
    Raleigh, NC USA
    Taylor T5 or the Crafter SA is a bit cheaper for ultimately the same thing. Either one will get ya where you wanna go.
     
  15. frquent flyer

    frquent flyer Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2009
    Messages:
    2,353
    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
     
  16. RGB

    RGB Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Messages:
    4,266
    Location:
    N.E. WI
  17. Auriemma

    Auriemma Member

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2009
    Messages:
    453
    Location:
    SE PA, USA
    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
     
  18. facesfan

    facesfan Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2009
    Messages:
    415
    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!
     
  19. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2005
    Messages:
    16,977
    Location:
    TEXAS
    They're boat paddles aren't they? :)
     
  20. Dave LaP

    Dave LaP Member

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2002
    Messages:
    3,327
    Location:
    Baltimore Maryland
    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.
     

Share This Page