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Tell me what I need !!

Discussion in 'Acoustic Instruments' started by haslar, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. haslar

    haslar Member

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    I'm in the process of setting up a classy soul/jazz cover act.
    Cassandra Wilson, Madeleine Peyroux, Norah Jones, Diana Krall, acoustic Clapton, this kind of stuff.

    Setup: drums, double bass, guitar, occasional keyboards, voice.

    I think an acoustic guitar sound would fit nicely in this band.
    I am already well equiped for the electric stuff.

    Unfortunately, I don't know much about acoustic guitars... So I don't know what kind of guitar I should look into.

    The guitar I would buy would be primarily for live use.

    For this kind of music and environment, what should I go for?
    Parlor?
    Triple O?
    Dreadnought ?
    Jumbo?
    Dobro?

    I was thinking about getting a Variax 700 Acoustic, as it would cover all these bases. It would also allow me to have various sounds, depending on the tune played.
    However the price seems a bit high compared to a good acoustic w/piezo.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. Johnny Raz

    Johnny Raz Member

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    Anderson Crowdster -- if you have the $$$
     
  3. Jerrod

    Jerrod Silver Supporting Member

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    Yeah, but if he's not an acoustic guy (I'm not sure from his post) the Variax might be an easier transition from electrics. It's not like acoustic guitars are just electric guitars with different pickups.
     
  4. r9player

    r9player Silver Supporting Member

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    A lot of it depends on how much you have to spent.
    If you are much more an electric player .. a Crowdster or like guitar is a great choice ...
    the range and choices in a regular guitar pending budget are near limitless ....
     
  5. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    John and I have a completely different assesment and opinion of the Variax Acoustic.

    I play in a professionaly run country band as the acoustic guitar player. I am a hired gun on this gig. Managment is very exacting about tone, image and parts. There is no wiggle room to get "close" or have a "fake" digital tone. My point? I am not alone in my assessment of what the Variax Acoustic can/will/does do.

    I have played it live at club shows, showcases, outdoor shows and very large festival shows with never a hitch. It sounds incredible and having a flatter body than a given acoustic is a great help live in order to put on a good show. You can move around a lot more; and it does not feedback. NO matter what.

    A properly mic'd acoustic is the best choice for tone; but it is highly impractical and doesn't happen live around here much. Hanging with a full on band isn't realistic at volume; you howl and feedback. Been there, done that.

    I have owned and played Taylor, Martin, Wechter, Ovation and Tacoma among other acoustic guitars chiefly for live use. Anyone wanting to argue with me about how "real" or "acoustic" a piezo or piezo/blender system sounds more authentic or somehow "better" in *any* way to the Variax just doesn't have any weight with me. I flat out hate the quacky clicky thumpy piezo "tone" and anyone prefering that to the Variax Acoustic is well, not in agreement with me.

    My Tacoma DR-38 is an artist relations guitar; it has been recorded and was on a world tour (and used on stage) by Gary "Bisquit" Davis with Dolly Parton. He had it for 4 years and it is on Grammy winning recordings. It is a fine guitar, far beyond what you might expect, but live it is no match for the Variax Acoustic in tone or feedback IMHO.

    I have no ties to Line 6, nothing to sell, and no dog in the hunt. Just trying to clearly lay out my opinion and back it up.

    I respect John and like him a great deal, but we have some very polar opinions on things. To each thier own.

    And FWIW, the Variax 700 "Acoustic" does have a neck like an acoustic, a bridge like an acoustic and strings up with acoustic strings like..... well, an acoustic. You attack it and play it like an acoustic. The Variax 700 (aka non-acoustic) has electric guitar strings and is lacking considerably on the acoustic tone side IMHO. And yes, I own one of those too.
     
  6. haslar

    haslar Member

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    Many thanks, Scott & John, for these insightful posts.

    Just like Scott, I have a dislike for Piezo pickups. I owned an Ovation 1968 Elite, and never bonded with it. Playability, shape, sound, and especially that piezo thing: I liked nothing of that.
    Sold it and never looked back.

    Last year I played a Taylor 300 series, acoustically only, and loved it !! But I have no experience with it plugged into a PA.

    so Scott"s experience with the Variax is interesting - but can you tell me if the Variax is OK to play unplugged at home, or not?
    The price is pretty high, I think, so I'd like a guitar I can use in the FoH as well as at home.
     
  7. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    You can play the Variax 700 Acoustic at home, but it doesn't project like an acoustic guitar. It is created to plug in, period.
     
  8. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    I'm not a fan of the Variax either, sound quality, and tracking being my main issues, but, for your situation, it could be a vibe killer. You got a double bass, and the casual jazz/soul vibe going, I gotta say, you might look into a bigger hollow-body a-la Tuck Andress, or a cool acoustic. It's not just a musical instrument, it's a stage accessory. Your opinions may vary, but the look of the Variax wouldn't fit in, and doesn't exactly scream "Class." It kinda screams "Prosumer." I think a cool acoustic would fill the bill better. Would work very well for a party cover band, though. If it makes anyone feel any better, I hate the new Taylor ES more than the Variax... lol
     
  9. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    FWIW I don't like the ES either - I don't think it's an improvement over piezos as much as a giant sideways step... it sounds just as unlike a real acoustic guitar, but in a different way, that's all (IMO). I also dislike the restricted onboard controls - if you're going to have knobs on an acoustic, you need more than just bass and treble - the older most basic (non-Blender) Fishman model with the Notch filter, phase switch and mid (with frequency) control is far more useful on stage. Either that, or no knobs at all and do it with an external box.

    I've got the older Fishman system, but I "accidentally" added a Fishman Rare Earth soundhole pickup - at one point I thought there might be a problem with the piezo, and needed an onboard backup in case it went down at a gig. In the event, the piezo was fine, but the combination of it and the magnetic was so much better-sounding than either alone that I wired the Rare Earth in permanently, and now use both together. It's kind-of like the ES in that there is a magnetic sensor at the end of the fingerboard and a body sensor in the bridge area, but to me it sounds so much better... and I can control the tone and balance of them with the Fishman preamp.

    I notice dave251 (Wendler) is using a combination piezo/magnetic system on his guitars, which from the clips he's posted sound very good too.


    I respect Scott's opinion on his Variax (he's earning good money with it, for a start ;)), but that lack of 'acoustic projection' is one of the main things that kill it for me - there's none of that tactile feedback you get from a real acoustic... no thump under your hand when you play hard, and no feeling of connection to the amplified sound - at least, not for me. It's probably an exaggeration to say that you can hear the latency (it's most likely in the few-millisecond range), but it did feel like that to me. It won't feed back when amplified - which I certainly admit could be a major advantage on stage - because it's inherently acoustically dead. The way the sound is created breaks the connection between the physical instrument and the electrical output.

    And, no matter how much I dislike the piezo 'tizz' and quack
    (which I do, especially with "soundman's-acoustic-guitar-EQ" on it), I dislike that digital sizzle and crackle even more...

    Different priorities :).
     
  10. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    I gree on hearingg/feeling latencey, but more specifically, it doesn't respond appropriately to vibrato, and there isn't any touch responsiveness.

    I was really upset with that ES from Taylor, man. Can't express that enough. There has to be a way to improve it. The lows sound really great, and on the first 3 frets, I can live with the sound, but move up at all, and it's awful to me. Maybe if there were a way to control what part of thesound came from which sensor, just some way to get that awful, middy, picking over the fretboard sound.

    I've jammed with a guy before who used mic/mag/piezo on a yamaha, and it did sound phenomenal. Still not exactly acoustic, but more acoustic than I did.
     
  11. haslar

    haslar Member

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    That is a valid point. For my cover band, we have to look classy, as we are going to play at expensive restaurants & bars as well as at corporate cocktails & the like.
    We have been discussing dressing matters seriously, and I hadn't thought about the Variax not looking the part.

    I think I might well follow John's recommendation: a Taylor 312 or 314 CE.

    It would look OK on stage, I suppose:
    [​IMG]

    This one goes for $1,500 at Boston Guitars...
    Looks tempting.

    .. but is that the ES system I see, on the upper horn?

    :rolleyes:
     
  12. haslar

    haslar Member

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    BTW: Is there a real difference between the Grand Concert 312CE and the Grand Auditorium 314CE?
    I'm really not familiar with acoustic body shapes.

    Taylor's website says:

    312CE: "Scaled-down proportions make the Grand Concert ideal for fingerstyle playing."

    314CE: "The Grand Auditorium is a strong fingerpicking guitar that also adapts well to medium strumming. "

    I don't know which one would fit my needs best? I would fingerpick almost exclusively, no strumming.
     
  13. Bluzsteel

    Bluzsteel Member

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    Have a Taylor 414CE with ES , run it into a Fishman PL Pro EQ w/ DI and play live shows with it and it sounds great, dont have problem with the ES at all.
     
  14. Den

    Den Member

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    While your shopping, you owe it to yourself to check out the new Martins with the onboard Aura systems ... I finally had an opportunity to play one last week (OMC Aura) and was blown away. This was the finest example I've found to date of a real acoustic guitar that sounds amazing ... really "acoustic" plugged in. It offers several "sound images" to choose from, which are built using high quality mic recordings of the same model guitar. No piezo quack to be found when blending in the Aura sound images. There's also built-in feedback reduction, great EQ and an onboard tuner.

    If you haven't yet, you can read about the Aura system at Fishman's website and see the details of the various Martin Auras at the Martin site.

    This is a great "walk in with your guitar, plug-in and play" solution. For not much more than a lower end Taylor, you can have a guitar that, IMHO opinion, is in another league when it comes to an amplified acoustic that's also a great acousic unplugged.
     
  15. haslar

    haslar Member

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    This one?

    [​IMG]

    It DOES look good, that's fer sure !!
    :)

    But it seems to go for $2550, which is a lot more than the $1500 asked for a 312CE or 314CE.

    I don't think my financial director (i.e. my wife) would let me spend that much...
    :D
     
  16. haslar

    haslar Member

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    BTW have you tried this one?

    Martin 16 Series: 000C-16GTE Premium



    The List Price is $1849.00, a bit more suitable for me.




    [​IMG]
     
  17. Den

    Den Member

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    I haven't tried that one yet ... but I will try to find one. When you consider pricing, keep in mind that with other solutions, you usually need additional outboard gear to get your sound where you want. These Martins are ready to plug in and go. If you have a chance to actually hear one of these in person, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at the tones, both plugged and unplugged. let me know if you get to play one.
     
  18. haslar

    haslar Member

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    :confused: What do you mean exactly? The Taylor 312 and 314 CE are also plug in & go, AFAIK? Or I am missing something?

    :)
     
  19. John Phillips

    John Phillips Member

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    I would say that the new Taylors with the ES are not plug-in-and-go, not if you're going straight to a PA anyway. Nowhere near enough EQ and especially anti-feedback control... you'll need an external preamp. Which pretty much defeats the purpose of having controls on the guitar at all, IMO. This is one of the major complaints I have with the ES, which does not apply as much to the Fishman systems, which do have more effective onboard controls.

    IMO you want one thing (no onboard at all and an external preamp - simplicity and reliability, and the abilty to change preamps if required) or the other (full onboard control, maximum at-hand player convenience)... not a halfway house requiring both.

    Of course, if you're only playing pro gigs with a big enough PA and a sound engineer who can dedicate a feedback filter or separate EQ to your channel, that may be a different story.

    Just my opinion.
     
  20. waxnsteel

    waxnsteel Member

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    When I tried out the aura, all it did was thin out my signal. Don't know if an "on-board" version would really be any better, but you never know. That ES stuff, while I don't like the sound, I will defend it's gain-before-feedback capabilities. It crushed anything anything piezo-ish or microphones in that category. In either case outboard may be a nice thing, and may provide enhancements, but is by no means required. All that control required on Piezo/dual source, and mag systems are really kind of a non-issue for ES.
    And the ES needs no external "preamp" if we must be technical. That's probably one of the best features on the system. EQ may be what you're after, but an additional preamp? Not required. That's why Taylor hired Rupert Neve to help on the project. The EQ on board may not be comprehensive, but it's for tone control, not surgery. I don't know what can be done to make the ES sound good to my ears, but certainly a preamp is not the answer. In that respect, I would have to say, with the Balanced output, and no DI required, it is plug and play. The ES isn't going to sound much better going through another $100-$500 box.

    However, John brings up great points about feedback filters and/or EQ's. It would be great to have a 15 or 31 band graphic, or a quality 4 band parametric EQ to cut out feedback-prone frequencies, or a notch filter. In the case of Piezo, mic, mag, or combo systems, those could help out a lot. Could be something to look into so you know YOU will have ultimate control over feedback.

    On X12 VS X14 guitars, I agree, there's more "boom" and a little more hollowness in the X14's. AND especially if you're a smaller dude, the X12 would likely be a better fit for you. I stilll like playing the Grand Concert size guitars, though they look tiny when I play them.

    That T5 guitar... I played it, I'm still not sure what it's supposed to be... It is definitely it's own animal. Kinda cool, but not for me. I'm sure tons of people will love it.
     

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