McAlister vs Olsen

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by gi doc, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. gi doc

    gi doc Member

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    I'm thinking about buying another acoustic guitar. I already have a Collings, Bourgeois, Martin, and Goodall......all nice instruments for what they do. I'm considering the JT model of the Olsen, but I'm not sure I want to pay the $15K for it. The cedar top is appealing because I don't have one of those and I admittingly love the James Taylor tone, not to mention my style is a light fingerpicking like he does. I've been hearing a lot about Roy McAlisters guitars lately.......He has a host of artists that play his instruments, namely Jackson Browne as well as many others (check his website). I've heard that his instruments might actually be better quality than even Olsen. I guess I'm concerned about possibly overpaying for an Olsen because of his name, rather than for the guitar itself.

    Has anyone ever compared the two instruments.......I'm probably most interested in the OM size of guitar???

    Thanks,
     
  2. Ogre

    Ogre Member

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    I have played both. In my opinion, the Olsons are way overpriced for what they are. They are nice guitars, but not any better than Santa Cruz and Lowden, which are my favorites. Roy McAlister used to work at Santa Cruz, and left under a dark cloud of controversy.(Ask Richard Hoover) I played his David Crosby model, which was very nice. I have played Santa Cruz and Lowden models that are as good as anything out there. I have played many fine and expensive guitars. I don't think you have to spend 10-15K to get a great guitar. If you are considering spending that much, I strongly suggest that you experience the guitars in person. And as always, don't be overwhelmed by the name on the headstock.
     
  3. gi doc

    gi doc Member

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    My favorite guitar thus far is a Collings OM2 with a Koa back/sides and an Englemann Spruce top......just an outstanding guitar for what I do (soft fingerpicking)....can't say enough good things about it. It was hand picked out of about 20 Collings.

    Knowing this and what I mentioned about the James Taylor tone and playing style, as well as the cedar top issue/curiosity, which model would you recommend on the Santa Cruz and Lowden models?? I've never played a Lowden and just a couple of Santa Cruz in my life. The particular Santa Cruz I played was nice, but wasn't in the league of the above mentioned Collings I ended up purchasing. I can't recall the specifics of the model I played. I have heard of a Santa Cruz signature model....Tony ______?? that apparently is very nice.

    Thanks
     
  4. suttree

    suttree Member

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    tony rice. it is very, very nice. the pro model is about $6500 us-ish, and is stellar. definitely in the league of the collings guitars i've played.

    for fingerpicking though, and as a santa cruz owner, i'd probably go the lowden route. you might consider tracking down an older one, even.

    my 2 cents
     
  5. Pa'ani

    Pa'ani Supporting Member

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    Check out Kevin Ryan guitars there simply amazing!
     
  6. suttree

    suttree Member

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    threet guitars

    manzer guitars

    i mean, if you're considering dropping serious money on a fingerstyle guitar... manzer is considered by many to be the premier acoustic guitar builder of the world.

    judy threet is from calgary, i've played three of her guitars, they were all wonderful.
     
  7. enr1co

    enr1co Member

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    I never thought I would drop over 6K on a luthier built guitar but had the opportunity to meet and play a few of Kevin Ryans guitars at the 03' healdsburg fest. Went home with one of his Cedar/Rswd Mission GC's.
    Of all the fine builders guitars I had the chance to play, his just
    felt and sounded the nicest- for MY preferences in a guitar. (That year, Kevin and James Olson's booths were right next to each.

    If you're intent on dropping the serious coin on the subject guitars, I
    would spend a few hundred on attending one of these festivals or
    make a trip to a dealer that carries some of the builders inventory
    to personally test drive them.

    A good start would be checking w/ Mike or visiting him in San Diego at http://luthierscollection.com/home.html. He carries some pre owned Olsons and McAlisters, as well as inventory of other premier builders.
    There are others specialty shops in the country similar to Mike but
    have first hand experience with him after purchasing another Ryan MGC from him. He's knowledgeable and pleasant to work with.

    Best of luck with your decision!
     
  8. pickaguitar

    pickaguitar 2011 TGP Silver Medalist Silver Supporting Member

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    Olson's a great and very much worth it. He's a very nice guy too.
    Call him...his number's on his website and he'll answer personally.
     
  9. clemduolian

    clemduolian Silver Supporting Member

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    Go to Dreamguitars.com and check the great photos and amazing sound clips from Al Petteway. Not quite as good as "A-Bing" yourself, but a great resource for checking out some of the finest builders all in one place. (BTW, the Sobell Model 1 on the pre-owned page is a MONSTER guitar).:crazy

    Clem
     
  10. gi doc

    gi doc Member

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    Wow, It looks like I've got a lot of homework to do. The more I think about it, I'm probably going to need to take the time to travel to one of these boutique shops and try these out personally. I live in Arkansas and there are no dealers like this anywhere close, once you get past the Collings, , Taylors, Santa Cruz, etc type guitars. On looking at a few web sites, the one that seemed to have the best inventory was "Different City Guitars" in New Mexico. Long trip, but might be worth the trek. I'll have to give them a call. Dream Guitars looks interesting as well. Thanks for everyone's input!

    Steven:)
     
  11. guitarlix

    guitarlix Member

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  12. Steve L

    Steve L Supporting Member

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    You might also want to check out Guitar Gallery outside of Nashville (I believe). Nice selection of high end guitars. You can check their website, too, at:
    http://www.guitargal.com/
    I've spoken to Kim on the phone, too. Very nice and knowledgeable.
    With respect to "handmades," I came across Jamie Kinscherff in Austin a few years ago (he's in Wimberley, Texas now) and was inspired by him as a person and as a guitar maker. The guitar he made for me is incredible! Not too many people know of Jamie, so I guess what I am saying is go for the builder and the guitar and NOT the name on the headstock. Whenever I play my Kinscherff, people always ask about it.
    Good luck and have fun!
     
  13. enr1co

    enr1co Member

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    Choosing a builder to commision a guitar is one of the fun but difficult decsions in life.

    As mentioned in an earlier post, call a few of them personally and
    discuss your requirements. Most all of the builders are very nice folks
    and can provide feedback to your needs.

    If not in a rush, plan a vacation with your search and attend the
    Healdsburg CA Fest in 2007 ( it is held every other year) or the
    Newport RI Acoustic Fest. Its a superb opportunity to meet builders
    and play their works in person.

    One couple more shops that might be of interest- fineacoustics.com in MD.
    Ive never dealt with the shop but have heard good feedback
    and he happens to have 2 Ryans that I had sold off. He also has a few McAlisters in stock!
    Also my local favorite shop- Gryphonstrings.com in Palo Alto CA

    Cheers, enrico
     
  14. gi doc

    gi doc Member

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    Thanks again for your help,

    I'll give these guys a call in a few days. I'm actually coming to Las Vegas for a conference in mid-Oct. I wonder if there are any nice stores in that area?? I'm going to be Steinway and Bosendorfer shopping at that time as well!

    Steven
     
  15. jimmybcool

    jimmybcool Supporting Member

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    I have several acoustics and the ones I am impressed with are:

    Martin OM-28 Marquis - has an adirondak spruce top and EIR sides and back. Clear as a bell, articulate, loud for an OM. Probably my favorite acoustic. I would not sell these short against any OM size.

    McPherson 5.0 - adi top and quilted maple sides and back. These guitars have some unique features and ring like a bell. They make a braz version and if I ever see one it might follow me home. But I'm not as sure I like the neck as much as the Martin. Better get it out tonight and see.

    Santa Cruz Vintage Jumbo - very nice tone. Nice middle size.

    I have also tried out the Collings OM with German Spruce top and it is wonderful and warm. Would have bought it but I already have a perfect (IMO) OM.

    I have also researched a possible top end acoustic and have concluded there are probably a lot of them that would do for me. But I won't buy without trying first. So I might be visiting San Diego sometime in the future.
     
  16. enr1co

    enr1co Member

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    Nice taste with pianos! Cant help with piano sources and I only know
    of Cowtown guitars and ed romans in Vegas- not too many acoustics
    at either.

    You are getting pretty close to San Diego and Luthiers collection... its about an hour flight from vegas, ~$89 each way on Southwest Air ;)
    Or you could fly into Orange County and meet with Kevin Ryan ;)

    e
     
  17. fyrwyr

    fyrwyr Member

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    As much as I love the Olson line (the Cedar tops he makes are still my favorite for fingerstyle); I would definately try as many different high end guitars as possible before spending so much. The Babitz line looks very interesting and may be worth a try as well, very unique approach to acoustic design for sure!
     
  18. u12drag

    u12drag Silver Supporting Member

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    I know someone has already mentioned Guitar Gallery. Robin there is fantastic. 2 guitars I would recommend checking into are Charis and Doerr. I really like the Doerr stuff. And, it isn't overpriced. I played a Charis at Guitar Gallery last year and liked it better than any of the Ryans. However, the McAlister Brazillian was really great. Incredibly clean and balanced. Robin at Guitar Gallery (www.guitargal.com) has a used Doerr brazilian in right now. That would be a great purchase. It has an adi top, though.
     
  19. Pa'ani

    Pa'ani Supporting Member

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    If you're in the San Diego area go and check out Buffulo Bros. Guitar it's located in Carlsbad,CA.
    Or just check out their web site:buffalobrosguitars.com.
    They have an incredible selection of superb and awesome guitars!
     
  20. PHLOW

    PHLOW Member

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    I have owned one of each in the past. Both build superb guitars, both are wonderful luthiers and great guys. At this level, a lot comes down to the specific instrument you are buying (either already existing or to be built.) Both luthiers will have somewhat of a signature sound, but the use or particular materials, the model, the communication with the luthier if building a new guitar will influence the result. Budget considerations always have an impact, and it is now very true that certain luthiers are commanding a premium that does not necessarily represent the quality difference between their product and the next guy-not their fault, just the way it is!
     

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