Mahogany Guitars

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Steve L, May 12, 2006.


  1. Steve L

    Steve L Supporting Member

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    We had a small thread going before the crash regarding mahogany guitars. It started when I asked if anyone knew about the Collings Varnish D-1.
    In any event, I've been looking at a few Collings', Huss and Dalton's, Martin's, etc. for a few weeks now. Now I'm wondering why I never paid attention to mahogany guitars before. Nice bottom, clearer top, less muddy than rosewood...
    I know there are lots of mahogany fans around....any negatives? Any models to check out....or avoid?
    Thanks.
     
  2. Steve L

    Steve L Supporting Member

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    Here's a quick follow up to my original post....
    I have actually narrowed down my "shopping" to Huss and Dalton and Collings. Anybody willing to make any comparisons regarding playability, tone, etc. on those two makers? Or any other I should consider?
    Also, do we really need Adirondack tops on Mahogany guitars--or is that just the "latest thing?"
    Thanks!
     
  3. fretnot

    fretnot Gold Supporting Member

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    Steve,

    From my personal experiences, Collings guitars with Adirondack tops are killer. I actually sold a Collings with a Sitka top to purchase one with an Adirondack top. I compared MANY guitars side by side in one day, including Collings, Huss and Dalton, Beourgious, Santa Cruz, and Martin. I fell in love with a Collings CW Dread, but it was a bit outta my price range. I ended up with the Martin D-18 GE. The mahgany back/sides and Adirondack top were just rediculous. I have since sold that guitar because the large old school V neck hurt my wrist, but it was really nice. I sold a Collings D3 (rosewood back/sides, Sitka top) because it was just missing something for me. I now have a Goodall CJ with mahogany back and sides and a Adirondack top again (should be here next week), as that combo just "works" for me better than Rosewood. Hope that helps a little!
     
  4. 6120

    6120 Member

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    I own a Collings D1A varnish and it is an exceptional guitar. I also have a Martin D18 authentic and a Martin D18GE. The Collings is voiced stronger on the treble side while the Martin is voiced stronger on the bass side of things. Having an Adirondack top seems to(for me) makes the guitar "cut" better in live jams and seems to create a sharper tone in general. Sitka sounds "sweeter" to my ears. Do not overlook the D18GE, I have one that Dan Lashbrook modified(removed popsicle brace,taller frets, nut and bridge) and does not take a backseat to any mahogany guitar I've played and it is priced right. I would look at used D18GE's as the new ones may be shipped with cedar or mahogany necks wereas the older ones definately have mahogany necks. They sound great and if you buy it right very little cost of ownership.
     
  5. George H

    George H Member

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    Got my first mahogany acoustic recently. Larrivee SD50. Killer warm,
    woody tone w/ plenty of bottom w/o flubbing out & very articulate.

    It's a cannon too. Louder than both my Martins & my Taylor too.

    I had to buy it after playing it one time at GC. I justified the purchase by
    knowing that I hadn't yet owned a mahogany.

    This was one of the best impulse buys I've ever made.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    GH:)
     
  6. Gazza

    Gazza Member

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    Hi Steve, I was always a rosewood guy until I demoed a Collings D1A. I then bought a D1A! Liking mahogany so much, one month later I bought a Goodall D with mahogany/adirondack. Yet again another A+ mahogany experience.

    I'm now convinced mahogany is the best choice for an acoustic!

    I don't mean this as a plug but due to financial obligations I am now selling my Goodall. If you have interest let me know. I think Goodall does the best job with mahogany. Those who have played a mahogany Goodall will know what I'm talking about!
     
  7. stephenT

    stephenT Supporting Member

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    Collings does wonderful things with mahogany. Had an OM1 that was stellar.
     
  8. Chiba

    Chiba Gold Supporting Member

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    I have a Larrivee that is ALL mahogany, it's one of the best sounding acoustic 6-strings I have ever owned. It can be a little tough to mic up, because what sounds perfect to your ears at 3 or 4' away doesn't always sound as good with a mic 6 to 10" away, but once you hit the sweet spot... it's ... um, sweet :)

    --chiba
     
  9. Steve L

    Steve L Supporting Member

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    WOW--this is very interesting to me. Why I've never even tried a mahogany guitar until recently amazes me!! I always went right for the rosewood (and Koa). It seems there are a LOT of mahogany players around.
    Is it my imagination, because I've gotten interested now, but is this becoming a more popular tonewood lately--that is more popular than it has been? And, more expensive?
    I guess I still have some shopping to do. Never played a Larrivee or a Goodall. The Collings D-1 has jumped out for me. I'll go back and A/B it with the Adirondack top. The Huss and Dalton seems to be a possible "sleeper" in the bunch, too.
    (If I do anything, I'll post my progress here. But it might take a while!)
    Thanks much to all of you. VERY helpful!
     
  10. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    >> Anybody willing to make any comparisons regarding playability, tone, etc. on those two makers? Or any other I should consider?

    Uh, which do YOU like better?

    >> Also, do we really need Adirondack tops on Mahogany guitars--or is that just the "latest thing?"

    I'm not sure I understand the question... "really need..." You can get mahogany guitars with other tops.

    The Collings dreads that I've played that were real monsters, tone cannons, have been mahogany/adirondack. Usually 12-fret, but I think one I played last week was 13-fret.

    Not every guitar should be a monster tone cannon, IMO. Smaller guitars, or even other dread designs sometimes sound better with other wood combinations.
     
  11. nashvillesteve

    nashvillesteve Member

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    I have a GREAT Bourgeois OM-18 style guitar... it's got mahogany and sounds great for fingerpicking. Not 3-D sounding like some of the high end fancier wood guitars, where it sounds like the high end and bass are coming from different places, but a great sound on tap. Great bass response, but not the dreadnaught chunk sound we all still like. It's an incredible fingerstyle acoustic, great for blues, I have had several offers for people to buy it... sorry!
     
  12. Steve L

    Steve L Supporting Member

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    Hi Michael K-
    I have tried both and have liked them both. But I haven't had enough experience to have a favorite...yet! What I was asking for is what other people's experience are with the guitars. Sometimes when you get a guitar home or play with it, it's a bit different than sitting in a guitar store plucking out "Blackbird" or something. I felt that both the Collings and Huss and Dalton guitars had great tone, volume, and better necks than the other guitars I have seen/played. Frankly, I own two Breedloves and a Kinscherff, and the Collings and Huss and Daltons play/sound/look/feel MUCH different than both of "my brands."
    Also, my question regarding Adirondack and whether or not we need them is that I know (and I assume you have noticed, too) that tops go in and out of style. For example, I remember about 15 years ago, builders were prominently featuring Englemann tops. Now, they seem to be kind of off-the-market. Also, I know when one of my guitars was being built, Adirondack was not as popular as it is now and I was advised against it! I have spoken with some guitar builders since then who say that, frankly, it's a matter of personal taste rather than quality. So my question about whether we "need" Adirondack is because I am wondering if the brighter tone it's supposed to yield is necessary with the brighter sounding mahogany.
    Actually, I'm not really looking for a cannon. Mostly for light picking and strumming in a small ensemble. I'm find I like the sound/tone of the mahogany guitars now. I like the clarity.
    What Collings is a 13 fret? One of the D's?
    Thanks!
     
  13. jayn

    jayn Member

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    My three favorite brands are Martin, Collings and H&D. For some reason, most of the others just don't work for me (although, I haven't tried many of the very small builders that follow the Martin style). Of the three, right now, I'd say that H&D are my favorites. But, the other two are stellar (although, with Martin, you need to look a little harder sometimes).

    As far as comparisons...using a non-scientific sample. H&D's seem to be a little more supple to play (maybe 25.4" scale vs. Collings 25.5", although I have a hard time imagining such a small difference would matter), they are built lighter, and aren't quite as loud or in your face tonally. The necks on the two brands are very similar and the standard frets are basically the same. Both make a vintage neck, although the H&D isn't nearly as bulky as the Collings.

    If you are moving from a rosewood guitar to a mahogany, or adding a mahogany, I'd suggest a Martin D-18GE (or D-18A is you've got the ducats) or a H&D DS or a Collings D1 as a mid point step. If you want the full on clarity of mahogany with lots of fundamental in the sound, I'd go Collings D1A or H&D TD-M. I'm sure the H&D DM is great too, but I've never heard one.

    As far as adi vs. sitka. I hear adi as much tighter, punchier, and more fundamental, less overtones. I understand adi loosens up over time and needs to be played harder to loosen up.

    My preference was always towards sitka/rosewood for general strumming and messing around. But, now that I've been playing fiddle tunes, I'm looking for an adi/mahogany guitar (although, I'd consider the right adi/rosewood). I want something with a tighter, clearer tone with more punch and volume.
     
  14. Florida Joe

    Florida Joe Member

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    What body style of Larrivee do you have? I am trying to figure out if an OM would be adequate for someone who is a light picker. I am having troubles with the wider Dred body.

    And I apologize for a sidetrack with this thread.
     
  15. 62Tele

    62Tele Supporting Member

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    These are my fav's these days. The D1A's can be really amazing as can the D18 GE's. I have a late 90's J45 that jsut sounds great (I should say had - my daughters seem to have hijacked this one). I was also REALLY impressed with an all mahogany Martin D I played the other day - insane tone for $700ish. Makes me really wan to hear an all koa dread or slope shoulder.
     
  16. BBHollowbody

    BBHollowbody Member

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    I am a big fan of Gibson's mahogany guitars. My Woody Guthrie Southern Jumbo is an incredible guitar (luthier select woods, 24 3/4 scale). I just played some gigs on it with a bluegrass band last week. I normally play banjo when it comes to bluegrass, but needed to play guitar on a few songs with this band. the other band members commented on the rich tone of the guitar. Most bluegrassers aren't used to hearing Gibson guitars, but they were quite impressed with this guitar. It has a warm midrange and a rich bass (but not boomy). Highs are crisp but not overly bright. I love this guitar and it keeps getting better.
     
  17. Srvwannab

    Srvwannab Gold Supporting Member

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    My new favorite acoustic is my Taylor 510-L9- I have one w/ the cutaway and the electronics and one without, and I love them both.

    I don't consider myself much of an expert on acoustics, but to this untrained acoustic ear, I prefer Mahogany to Rosewood.
     
  18. Fripperton

    Fripperton Member

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    I'm a big fan of mahogany. My favorite acoustic is my old 1958 Epiphone Texan and I have a CFox Dreadnaught with a mahogany back and sides that just kills. Loud, great projection and a very robust tone.
    Here's the Texan

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    I guess to me most mahogany guitars I tried were to bright and sounded a bit thin. And if I wanted a bright chimey guitar I always liked Maple and KOA better then Mahogany. On the rosewood side, I do agree that Indian can get a little muddy sometimes or bassy. But I went the Brazilian rosewood route.
    Mahogany though is not a shabby tonewood at all, I am just more extreme in what I like.
     
  20. Steve L

    Steve L Supporting Member

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    Still in my quest! Thanks for all the responses.

    I played a very nice Collings D-1 the other day. No Adirondack. Clear, even tone...nice neck.
    That leads me to my question. I have noticed that a lot of the mahogany guitars have 1-3/4" necks. (I'm trying to stay with the 1-11/16th if possible.) And I've been told that is because they are intended for Bluegrass players. Hmmm. I always thought the "wider necks" were for fingerstyle players--perhaps I've been wrong. In any event, are these mahogany guitars really essentially flatpickers' guitars or are they suitable for someone like me who plays mostly with bare fingers---occasionally with a flat pick. Or is that really determined more by the body style and less by the tonewood? For my personal taste, the D-1 sounded and played great!
    Thanks.
     

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