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Acoustic advice - Fingerpicking guitar (and method?)

jruano

Member
Messages
1,145
Hi guys, I hope this finds you safe and healthy in these crazy, crazy times. I’ve been mostly an electric player my whole life and looking to use this confinement opportunity to work a little more seriously on fingerpicking, which I’ve wanted to do for decades. I do have a mahogany J-45 which is my main acoustic, it is my flatpick strumming guitar for the most part, as said, never been much of a fingerpicker on acoustic and looking for a tool to inspire me finally tackle that. I know about dreadnoughts and such because that’s always what I’ve used in our genres, only recently started to read about 0, 00 and 000, which I understand is what I should be looking into. Telling you all this story to see if you could help me out with any suggestions. This would be a guitar to play around the house in trying to develop these skills. I have small hands and do gravitate towards thinner neck profiles whenever I can, 60s Cs and the like. And as said, my only other “serious” acoustic is mahogany. Thanks for any tips.
 

Joe Manganese

Member
Messages
686
Ah welcome to fingerstyle living. The J45 is great for that.
Personally i like cedar top guitars so that even if i play softer the sound is clear and less boomy. I suggest you a second hand Guild F4ce .
But th J45 is just wonderful too. Drop the picks and start using the fingers, and careful with your nails. Let them grow a bit .
 

Joe Manganese

Member
Messages
686
Haha... I’m sure. Just using the excuse and a new tool for motivation
Then, the J45 is not suitable and you absolutely need a cedar top, maybe a Taylor 514 . But seriously the F4ce is very nice for the purpose. No flatpicking on it
 

Irving Pye

Member
Messages
534
Body size won't be a big factor - neck, nut and spacing will be the key. I've gravitated to smaller bodies only because of "old man syndrome". If you're comfy with Gibsons 12 radius neck. 1.72 nut, and 2 3/8 spacing, I'd continue with 12 radius vs. Martins 16 and Gibsons new 16 radius builds. Another big factor is 12 or 14 fret? Many other nuances, have a great time playing and choosing :cool:
 

Route67

Member
Messages
729
As above, the J-45 is a good fingerstyle guitar - I like them except for the 16.25” lower bout width which I find huge and unmanageable nowadays - my favourites are the Martin 00-28 or 00-18 (beautiful example pictured in a recent thread). The lower bout and size of the 00 is close to perfect for home parlour use. The CEO-7 is very slightly larger, with a little extra string spacing at the bridge - a good CEO will almost play itself - constructed at the crossroads (humor) with antique inspired appointments. These three Martin models are all excellent for fingerpicking.
 

jackaroo

Member
Messages
4,525
If you want a special experience seek out an old Kel Kroyden that’s been worked on. They sound wonderful. But they do often need an overhaul. They are very lightly built/braced Gibson built guitars from the 30’s. Spectacular for finger style...but not all modern fancy pants finger style...more old school.

Here’s a sample of me goofing around with mine

https://soundclick.com/r/s79zqo
 

Bryan T

guitar owner
Double Platinum Member
Messages
19,987
I’d look hard at OM and 000 sized guitars. I’ve used dreads, jumbos, parlors, OM, and others extensively. All can work well, but the OM is in the sweet spot for me.

The sound then depends on the player, the builder’s voicing, and the woods. Some builders build very responsive guitars that don’t have much headroom. I can’t stand those, but some people swear by them if they have a weak right hand volume.

Be cognizant of your technique with regards to tone production. My fingerstyle sound is every bit as dynamic as my pick sound. Others have very little volume when playing fingerstyle. Classical guitar has a bunch of ideas to steal from to sound loud, clear, good while being relaxed.
 

Tommy Biggs

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,165
For me smaller bodies and wider necks are good features.
I really like the way the Martin 0M-21 sounds and plays, but there’s a lot of nice options.

The J45 is an awfully nice place to start though.
 

beeswax75

Member
Messages
535
I use the Art & Lutherie Ami Cedar for this purpose. It's awesome...great materials, cheap, sounds great.
 

Tony Done

Member
Messages
5,896
I'm exclusively a fingerpicker, and for the past 50 years, all my flattops except for a couple have been dreads. However, I can appreciate the desire for something different as a source of motivation. Cedar and Engelmann tops are more responsive than things like sitka and adirondack (red) spruce but lack the headroom, so are often well suited to fingerpicking. Mahogany tops are responsive, and sometimes warm, but many sound overbuilt IMO.

From a design POV, I'm a big fan of Taylor, and their easily-reset bolt-on neck that is nice and slim, but not so much their open sound, I prefer something tighter. - But try it and see is by far the best solution. There are a lot of very good inexpensive guitars out there these days.
 
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OM Flyer

Member
Messages
5,600
I like the 00 body shape with 12-fret joint for finger picking.
Me too. This combination has really inspired my fingerstyle playing, to the point where I rarely play anything else these days. Those that I've played and liked a lot include a Gibson Keb Mo Bluesmaster, several Waterloos (I own a WL12), and a Martin 0017S.
 

dazco

Member
Messages
14,145
I like the 00 body shape with 12-fret joint for finger picking. Take a look at the Eastman E10OO. It’s quality built at a reasonable price.
I can't agree more with this. I've owned my share of acoustics like martin and gibson and many more, but my $1000 eastman is the best finger picker i ever owned. It's not the E10OO but it;s a similarly small eastman that was a limited run called a E5SS thats inspired by the old gibson B25. It's just awesome for fingerpicking as are all the hand made line of eastmans. The thing that makes them stand out IMO is the fact they are extremely lightly built so they are very responsive. To the OP, if theres a eastman dealer near you try out any of the small body eastmans, Try and you will likely buy. Mine is easily the best FP guitar i have owned with the possible exception of a vintage martin 000-18. Don't know where the pricing is today, as i got mine about 5 years ago, but you really do get a guitar as good as any t 2-3 times the price. I spent a weekend going to 3 different GCs and playing every martin and gibson on the wall and could not find anything i was impressed with till i tried a eastman that came home with me. They are nitro too by the way. Not the cheap production models but the handmade line which are built individually by a single luthier like a boutique company.By the way, i had a early 90s J45 and it's not even close to my eastman for fingerpicking. Find a 60s J45 tho and it's a whole different ballgame, tho there are a lot of dogs too so beware. But find a good one and if u can deal with the small neck they are phenomenal IMO.
 

jklotz

Member
Messages
3,756
Thanks for the advice guys. I also thought of this one, since some of you mention Eastman. Thoughts? Afraid the neck may be chunky for my taste.

https://www.eastmanguitars.com/e10ooss_v
Na, stay away from that one. They are cool guitars, but I'm afraid the 1 11/16" nut width will hinder you for that style of playing. Eastmans are great guitars, but see if you can find one with a 1 3/4" nut. Cedar top's are great for fingerstyle. It's like having a built in compressor! A great budget option might be the e2-om. If you want to stick with a sitka top, which will be more versatile, have a look at the e6-om. You didn't mention a budget, so I'm sticking to the more affordable models.

I also have a really nice J-45. I rarely use it for fingerstyle. With a smaller body, you get a more immediate response and more projection with less effort. Plus I find them more comfortable for playing more than 30 mins.
 

jruano

Member
Messages
1,145
Thanks man, I thought that might be narrow too. How about that plethora of new Gibson l-00s there are?... they list the nut width as 1.72”, 1.73”...
 
Messages
2,533
Thanks for the advice guys. I also thought of this one, since some of you mention Eastman. Thoughts? Afraid the neck may be chunky for my taste.

https://www.eastmanguitars.com/e10ooss_v
I wouldn’t suggest a model with the 14-fret neck joint for finger picking. The 12-fret version will sound much better, and more balanced. Moving the bridge and sound hole rearward makes a huge difference. You won’t understand until you play one.
 

jklotz

Member
Messages
3,756
I wouldn’t suggest a model with the 14-fret neck joint for finger picking. The 12-fret version will sound much better, and more balanced. Moving the bridge and sound hole rearward makes a huge difference. You won’t understand until you play one.
I love a nice 12 fret, but I tend to capo up for some of the stuff I play and 12 fretters tend to get a little cramped, especially if you need to get past that 12th fret.
 




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