Do certain brands have certain tones?

TheGuildedAge

Member
Messages
13,068
Although I have been playing since I was 17, I have always favored electrics. Tons of money on amps, effects, speakers, picks, strings, etc. to really develop "my sound."

As far as acoustics, I was lucky enough to score a brand new Gibson Songbird in 2000 for $765 out the door. I've just used it forever with no thoughts about anything else.

Our local shop has a used but looks brand new Martin D15 for $950. Dead mint.

I played it to kill my GAS, but ended up absolutely loving it.

Enough that I am thinking of grabbing it.

I have started researching different brands and keep coming across "the Martin sound" or "the Taylor sound."

I'm just curious how all of you approach acoustics and if you find any big advantages or disadvantages to certain brands or styles.

I always liked my Gibson and thought I had a good acoustic and am done. But now, I guess it's almost like a strat, tele, Marshall/Fender thing with acoustics with body sizes, wood, etc.

I read how Martins are better if you sing, Gibsons for rhythm, etc. Different string spaces, laminate vs wood.

Any opinions are welcome.
 

Floridaplayer

Member
Messages
52
Man, you need to get over to the AGF! Acoustic Guitar Forum.
The 100 and 200 series Taylor's have the 1 11/16 nut width, laminated back and sides. The rest are all solid woods with 1 3/4 nut width.
They have everything from mahogany, rosewood, and Maple plus others. Distinct tone...clear, a bit brighter.

Martins, so many to chose from. As a class, more mellow, deeper bass.

Gibsons.....the right one will be an awesome singer songwriter guitar.
 

s2y

Member
Messages
19,265
The AGF is an excellent resource and good overall forum.

Every little variable about acoustics play a role into the tone. Shape, woods, bracing, scale length, strings, setup, +/- cutaway, etc. I'm sure if Martin, Taylor, and Gibson made a guitar with identical specs and bracing that they would sound very similar. Another aspect is how a given acoustic is meant to be played. I feel that Taylor gets a bad rap because someone grabs a small bodied Taylor with a cutaway and compares it to something like a D-18 as well as plays them the same.
 

TheGuildedAge

Member
Messages
13,068
Thanks. I have a 1930 Martin but I actually don't like it. Action too high and bar frets. But this d15 felt great. Kind of a mellow sound, not as loud as my Gibson.
 

Barnzy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
3,448
I think you can definitely generalize a particular sound to the brands you mentioned. But the big three are making plenty of models that directly compete with eachother too. That's where the lines get blurred. Taylor have some dreadnaughts that have a Martin sound with the right strings on. Martin make some cutaway performer models with electronic packages that would give Taylor a run for the money. Gibson also have their share of models with crossover features too. It's a great time to be an acoustic guitar player. In the end, if you personally handpick your acoustic instruments (...like you did with your Gibson) you will never be disappointed.
 

OM Flyer

Senior Member
Messages
6,081
While brands do have certain characteristics that are common to their entire line, there is SO much deviation that it's really hard to generalize accurately. I think Martin's 15-series, for example, gets its unique tone from its mahogany top more than from its "Martin-ness." A Gibson J-35 may have a few things in common with a Gibson SJ-200, but each is still very much its own thing. In a perfect world, there should be a way to sample guitars without looking at the headstock logo; I think when guitar shopping, we're often influenced by what we expect a guitar to sound like instead of what it actually sounds like.

Hope this makes sense.
 
Messages
428
To me, the main players definitely have their own tones. Yeah, they each cover the spectrum with their various models, but no doubt have their brand's flavor. It does not surprise me at all that everyone has their favorite brand, be it Martin, Taylor or Gibson, as it should be. We all have different tastes, different ears and different genres. I have my fav, but it is basically meaningless. You need to try them out yourselves.
 
Messages
6,128
I think there is, but each brand has lots of lines and model variations. But I think there is a few real classic tones:

Martin D28/D35 - Big bass, bright treble, some what scooped in the midrange

Taylor 7/8/910 - Shimmery treble, not a lot of bass, clear, clean harmonics

Gibson J45 - Slightly recessed treble, big barky midrange

and of course there are more - Lowden and Guild come to mind, but they are far less common.
 

frquent flyer

Member
Messages
2,589
I agree with Barnzy, Different brands have their own distinct sound except the cross over models.My favorite is Santa Cruz athough I have two custom builds that are superior{ but costly}
 

Lo Blues

Member
Messages
2,911
Thanks. I have a 1930 Martin but I actually don't like it. Action too high and bar frets. But this d15 felt great. Kind of a mellow sound, not as loud as my Gibson.
Have you considered a neck reset for your 30's Martin? Often I find that vintage guitars like yours that have had the neck reset are some of the best playing guitars. I don't believe it hurts the resale value too much if done correctly but I'm not an expert in that area.
 

stucker

Member
Messages
1,169
Electric guitar has been my primary instrument over the years since I've worked a lot with bands. However, over the past 15 years I've been drawn to acoustic guitars for playing solo, or with duos, trios, etc. I've owned/played Martin, Taylor, Lowden, Gibson, Godin, Bourgeois, Merrill, Collings and each brand and model have different characteristics. There is a LOT to learn about acoustic guitars and the AGF is a great resource as others have said.
 

hippieboy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,643
There's definitely different sounds per brand, to me this is the Taylor sound, my 812 (small body) recorded directly from an iPod touch a bit of reverb and that's it!

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Delver

Member
Messages
26
Have you considered a neck reset for your 30's Martin? Often I find that vintage guitars like yours that have had the neck reset are some of the best playing guitars. I don't believe it hurts the resale value too much if done correctly but I'm not an expert in that area.
That's what I was thinking. It's quite common to have a neck reset on older guitars and if it's done well it does not interfere with its resale value, unless it is an un-marked museum piece. And there would be quite a lot of interest in a 1930 Martin so the cost of a decent (and I must emphasise Decent) neck reset would be swallowed up should you decide to sell it. But once it is playing again you may well decide it is for you. It would be a great companion to your Gibson.
And then you will hear the Martin and Gibson sounds side by side, with the Martin being strong and sweet and the Gibson being more "tubby" with more mid range punch. Depends a lot on the model Martin you have. What is it?
 

rwmct

Member
Messages
2,809
I read how Martins are better if you sing, Gibsons for rhythm, etc. Different string spaces, laminate vs wood.

Any opinions are welcome.
And I also read the opposite: that the way the midrange is voiced on the Gibson means the guitar is "out of the way" of the vocals.

Obviously, any time spend on youtube shows great artists singing with both brands (as well as lots of other brands too . . . )
 

s2y

Member
Messages
19,265
I just picked up a Taylor 514e LTD. The comparison of a 25.5" scale 14 fret mahogany body with a European spruce top to a 24.75" scale 12 fret with walnut sides with sitka spruce top has been fun. I wish I had proper recording gear to demonstrate the differences. The 514e has a much more traditional sound with more mids where my 12 fret has a modern mid scooped sound.
 

Multicellular

Member
Messages
7,880
Although I have been playing since I was 17, I have always favored electrics. Tons of money on amps, effects, speakers, picks, strings, etc. to really develop "my sound."

As far as acoustics, I was lucky enough to score a brand new Gibson Songbird in 2000 for $765 out the door. I've just used it forever with no thoughts about anything else.

Our local shop has a used but looks brand new Martin D15 for $950. Dead mint.

I played it to kill my GAS, but ended up absolutely loving it.

Enough that I am thinking of grabbing it.

I have started researching different brands and keep coming across "the Martin sound" or "the Taylor sound."

I'm just curious how all of you approach acoustics and if you find any big advantages or disadvantages to certain brands or styles.

I always liked my Gibson and thought I had a good acoustic and am done. But now, I guess it's almost like a strat, tele, Marshall/Fender thing with acoustics with body sizes, wood, etc.

I read how Martins are better if you sing, Gibsons for rhythm, etc. Different string spaces, laminate vs wood.

Any opinions are welcome.
They can have distinctive sounds. A few reasons, some brands use certain bracing styles. Finish wood in a certain way. But the individual cut of wood can make as much a difference.
 

mikealpine

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
1,538
I have a friend who just bought his first new guitar. He plays three chords and only strums downward for now, so he wasn't really equipped to do a good comparison. I went with him. He sat facing away from me and I selected guitars from the wall that were within his price range and played the same thing on each, doing my best to play the same each time. He didn't know the name on the headstock, or anything about the model (other than I was choosing similar sizes to a Taylor X14, which he settled on as a comfortable body size). It was fun! And he consistently selected the Taylor 214. Yes, it had a distinctive tone, and I find Taylors sound like Taylors, and (for the most part) Martins sound like Martins. But he didn't buy a name, he selected purely on the sound. And that's how I'll select my next acoustic, blindfolded with someone handing them to me. I will choose the one that feels and sounds the best, and not get hung up on what name it has. You might want to give it a shot. If nothing else, it was a fun experiment, even for me as the player.
 




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