Martin Alternatives

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by Creighton, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Creighton

    Creighton Member

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    Anyone owned or played anything by either of these two builders?

    https://bourgeoisguitars.net/guitar-body-styles/dreadnought/

    http://pktguitars.com/custom-acoustic-guitar-models/dreadnought/

    I'm looking for a dreadnought comparable to the Martin 75th Anniversary D-28 with the Adi top and Madigascar back and sides. I really like the Martin sound the most of anything I've played but have been told that there are higher quality better built instruments than Martin in the same price range. Any other recommendations are welcome.
     
  2. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    I own 2 Bourgeois. A Dred and a large soundhole OM.
    Most of the Bourgeois come with Adirondack tops. Bourgeois, to me,
    are very much in that pre-war Martin camp. Solid build, great neck profile, great fit and finish.
    I, obviously, prefer the sound “out of the box” of the Bourgeois over Collings (which I feel has their own thing going) and all but a few post mid 60’s Martins I’ve personally played. They seem to be more “open” and have a more airy quality.
    As a comparison I’ve owned, or still own, a Santa Cruz D, Collings 0002h,
    59 Martin D18, Martin D76, ‘74 Martin D28, ‘59 Gibson LG2, Martin OM28.
    I’ve been fortunate to have played a few pre-war Martins and Gibsons.
    Those guitars are what I’ve had experience with and what I base my decisions on.

    Hope this helps.


    Here are some drool worthy pieces if you have time.
    https://www.dreamguitars.com/
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
  3. s2y

    s2y Member

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    Bob Thompson might be worth checking out. I own a torrified Adirondack+EIR dread and an Englemann+Brazilian OM. Great guitars if you're looking for a vintage sounding guitar that's made extremely well.
     
  4. Frozen Rat

    Frozen Rat Gold Supporting Member

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    Both Thompson and Bourgeois are top-shelf makers. You should also consider Ds from Santa Cruz, Froggy Bottom, Goodall and Collings. You will be in a rarified space when playing these and will wonder if you'll ever be able to play anything else ever again. Your wallet will be the only thing that suffers from the experience. When I play a Martin or a Gibson I like I think, "this is pretty good." When I play a guitar by one of these boutique makers I think, "nothing sounds better than this."

    I believe that Adirondack is the best sounding top wood there is. Others may disagree, but I've played them all and both of my guitars have Adirondack. I always end up with guitars that have it. As for the back, you may want to play a few dreads with Mahogany backs. When you get into the boutique guitars you tend to get Honduran mahogany instead of someone's idea of an adequate substitute. I much prefer mahogany over rosewood for the backs, but of course others say the same about rosewood; still I would recommend you try both because they are quite different.
     
  5. Tony Done

    Tony Done Member

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    ^^^^ You could add Huss and Dalton to that list.

    I have a Bourgeois, which for its intended purpose, altered tunings and slide, is by far the best guitar I have ever played - loud, resonant, bright and very well balanced across its whole range. Another important consideration for me was that it has a bolt-on neck, which will make any future reset a lot easier than on, say, a Martin or Gibson. H&D, Collings and possibly others on @Frozen Rat 's list also have bolt-on necks
     
  6. GibbyMartin

    GibbyMartin Member

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    I'll just say this, and hopefully it will save you some money. If you want a Martin and want the Martin "sound", just get a Martin.

    There are plenty of boutique builders out here who build clones, copies, or heavily inspired versions or various types of Martin guitars. No doubt because they are usually smaller operations, and less hands on the guitar during it's construction, they have the ability to put a but more attention to detail into the build, and they no doubt make incredible instruments.

    However, there is a reason Martins are so popular and have stood the test of time. Sure, some is lore and history, others will chime in and say they are overrated and not what they used to be, etc. But let's just say just because something looks just like a Martin, doest mean it will sound like a Martin. I've also experienced this with Gibson-style acoustics. I was in a shop once and the sales person kept raving about this boutique acoustic and how amazing it was. It pretty much looked just like a J45, but when I played it it sounded NOTHING like a J45. It was way to sterile sounding, was missing that low end Gibson growl and thump, and although it did sound good, it sounded nothing like a J45.

    I'm not knocking any boutique builders by any means. I've also owned a few over the years. All I am saying is be wary of what others tell you. What they may categorize as "better" may not translate to something that sounds like what you're looking for. With the boutique builders you're paying for something that's more handcrafted, more attention detail, "higher quality" materials (I put that in quotes because just because a piece of wood is more aesthetically pleasing doesn't always guarantee it will be sonically superior).

    I also say this with no disrespect, but I get the impression that the OP may not be that experienced with acoustics, and just get this impression but he way he mentioned that "he's been told" by others. Also would help to know what brought him/her to the conclusion of why they want this particular style of guitar, those particular woods, etc. What made you settle on that particular model of D-28? Have you played one, do one of your musical heroes/influences play one, did you hear someone else playing one and just loved the sound? None of those reasons are wrong, but knowing what brought you to that conclusion can help us with pointing you in the right direction and giving recommendations.

    I currently own two Martin acoustics (Reimagined D-35, Custom Shop 12-fret 00-18). I've also owned quite a few D-28's including a '75 D-28 I recently sold, HD-28's, 00-15, 00-18, 000-15, and a few others I am forgetting), and a couple Gibsons (J45 Standard & an Advanced Jumbo) and several others over the years including other J45 Standards, J45 True Vintage, J45 Vintage, a couple SJ200's, J35, etc., and have owned a few Waterloos, played several Collings, Santa Cruz acoustics and other from other boutique builders. I'm more of into owning what I consider "workingman's" guitars. The ones from the boutique builders are sweet for sure, but they all seemed a but too perfect for me, a but sterile, and just didn't capture the sound I was looking for a grew up hearing and wanting to replicate.
     
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  7. s2y

    s2y Member

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    If I may ask, how much do you think Martin would charge for an D/OM-41 with Brazilian back and sides? $12-15k? I'd probably be able to get 2 guitars from Bob and have a little change in my pockets. Unlike TGP, I don't need a certain name on the headstock to get that elusive bluegrass gig that everyone here talks about.

    The store brands make it very expensive to go custom. Even Taylor. I'd imagine most of these brands would be a little more affordable if you cut out the middle man. When I go full custom, what is the dealer doing, besides play telephone between me and builder? The few times they did that, I found the dealer to be in the way. For the extra dough, what am I getting?
     
  8. davess23

    davess23 Member

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    My acoustics are Collings and Santa Cruz. They're great, but if you want a D-28, for god's sake buy a D-28. Martin certainly knows how to build those, and a good one is right up there with just about anything, boutique or otherwise.

    One small thing: I often see that people seem to equate nicely built boutique guitars with being "sterile", as if somehow that goes along with being perfectly built and pricey. Okay, I get it, but with all due respect for all our differences in tonal perception, I wonder how many people who feel that way have ever played a well broken in 20-something-year-old example of a Cruz or a Collings.

    I do, every day. I bought mine new in the mid-1990s and by now they're very well played-in. I wouldn't have described them as sterile (or anything like that) when new, and I can assure you that when other guitarists hear the way they play and sound now, they aren't calling them sterile, either. These guitars are workhorses, not show ponies.
     
  9. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    The OP isn’t looking for just a D28.. His posts states he’s looking specifically for the 75th anniversary D28.. different animal altogether and could be tricky to find.
     
  10. GibbyMartin

    GibbyMartin Member

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    You're asking the wrong person (go back and read the part I wrote about only playing and preferring what I consider "workingman's guitars".

    And no need to throw a cheap shot at everyone on TGP accusing them of being brand whores, or everyone who plays Bluegrass a brand whore (last time I checked Bryan Sutton, arguably the best bluegrass guitar player in the world plays a boutique made Bourgeois. And Molly Tuttle plays customs from small builders as well, as do a myriad of other well-known players. And although you may think it's the case, if you showed up to a Bluegrass jam and can keep up and play along with everyone else, I highly doubt anyone is going to give you crap for playing a guitar with any name on the headstock other than Martin.

    I never said anything negative or talked down the boutique builders. Everyone unfairly compares production line Martins to guitars from the boutique builders, then trashes Martin saying their guitars don't measure up, all the while, the production models are a bit less expensive than a boutique-built instrument. It's better to compare apples to apples here.

    If your thing is a custom made guitar to your personal specs and preferences, with appointments you want and certain aesthetic appointments, certain woods, etc., then you're gonna pay. No way around that. But you also don't have to come here and attempt to justify anything to us, or defend your opinion to want or not want any one brand over another.
     
  11. Frozen Rat

    Frozen Rat Gold Supporting Member

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    Collings does for sure. I know for sure that neither Goodall nor Santa Cruz have glued in complex neck joints (going by the ones I've owned and inspected, which are quite a few). I believe I read somewhere that Froggy Bottom necks are not bolt-on either. It's only H&D and Thompson that I have no information on regarding neck joint.
     
  12. Frozen Rat

    Frozen Rat Gold Supporting Member

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    That's a good point. One should compare custom-shop Martins to the boutique makers, not the production line Martin guitars. I had a custom shop Martin for a while and it was pretty impeccably made and had a great sound. I sold it after owning it a year and a half mainly due to the v-neck and the fact that I prefer mahogany (the Martin had rosewood) and I wanted to buy another hog guitar. That Martin was far better than any production Martin I had ever played. It was built with great attention to detail. I have had custom shop Gibson electrics that, while not as impeccable as a SCGC or Goodall, were still very well made guitars.
     
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  13. Frozen Rat

    Frozen Rat Gold Supporting Member

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    I can't imagine anyone who has said that has played one for any length of time. SCGC and others boutique guitars are the opposite of sterile: they're the most musical guitars one will likely find. I can coax tones from mine that I never knew existed before. Not sterile. Not even close. Cheap guitars sound sterile to my ears. When one gets up to Martin/Gibson standard lines and boutiques, that's when one finds guitars with a soul. Of course there are exceptions, I don't mean to lump all economical guitars into that adjective, just most of them. My son actually has a Yamaha he paid $250 for that isn't half bad. I've not encountered any others of that brand that are as good. It took us a long time to find him that one.
     
  14. Bluzeboy

    Bluzeboy Gold Supporting Member

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    I guess everyone has their own idea of sterile.
    I, personally, don’t think of Collings as sterile but to my ears they do have their own thing going in their vocing.
     
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  15. Frozen Rat

    Frozen Rat Gold Supporting Member

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    I've played most of the more common boutique guitars and every one of them has their own thing going on. I like Collings guitars a lot, but I like SCGC and Goodall just a hair better. I am not going to say that Collings is better or worse than the others, just different; and that is after all the point, they are not sterile at all, they each have their own voice based on their master luthier's concept of how they want their guitars to sound. It's like that with all things: a Nissan Altima is not going to drive and feel nearly as nice as a Porsche. A cheap piano is going to sound like a piano, but when you sit in front of a Steinway you know you are playing something truly special.
     
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  16. rowdyyates

    rowdyyates Supporting Member

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    I play a Collings D2H MR A T (Mad Rose, Ad spruce, Traditional).. sounds like what you’re looking for. It’s an extremely versatile guitar- sweet and delicate if you want that, or driving power.

    You can get all that in a Martin, if you have the patience and means to try a lot of them. The advantage for the boutique builders is 90% of their guitars are exceptional.
     
  17. Jon Silberman

    Jon Silberman 10Q Jerry & Dickey Gold Supporting Member

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    I really do believe this is the case. It's one of several reasons I liked GibbyMartin's long post (relevant excerpt below).
     
  18. Creighton

    Creighton Member

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    You are correct that I'm not too experienced with acoustics. My first high end instrument was the 75th Anniversary D-28 that I found on consignment at Hill Country Guitars in Dripping Springs, TX. I played a few guitars there before buying it, including some Collings, Santa Cruz, some Gibson and a few other Martins, all of which sounded great in their own way but the warmth and voice of the D-28 was the best to my ear. Long story but I sold it and would like to replace it with either the same model or something on the same level.
     
  19. DRS

    DRS Member

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    Martin builds great guitars. If you love a 75th Anniversary D28, buy it.
     
  20. quilsaw

    quilsaw Supporting Member

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    I'd like to +1 almost every sentiment expressed in this thread, which are pretty spot on, even with some disagreement. I will add that it is very, very helpful - even if it's kind of hard to arrange - to play a wide selection of such instruments. They all really do have their own thing going on that you have to play and hear personally and so have a good/better feel for what those flavors are really like. None of the brands noted are bad, in my experience, in any way, just a bit different in very interesting ways.

    I play a very good Martin and a Bourgeois, fwiw, but would easily add a Collings, Goodall, and probably a Santa Cruz to the list, should my fortunes allow. They're all stellar.
     

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