Thoughts on carbon fiber guitars

killa j

Member
Messages
349
To begin, I'm left handed. The usual advice to go try a bunch of guitars out won't apply. I've literally never seen a high end lefty acoustic in a store. I'm not trying to start off my post negatively, but I know that's usually the default reply.

I'm thinking about purchasing a new acoustic soon, and I am considering an Emerald X20. I have a lower end Eastman right now, and I want to stay under $2000 for the next one. I used to have a really nice Bourgeois Custom D, but I don't play acoustic enough (and aren't a good enough player) to have a $4k+ guitar.

The reason I'm considering carbon fiber is that all of the traditional guitars I seem to be interested are in the $3k range. The Emerald is $1500 without pickups and I've read good things about them. My playing style is rock/metal with a little blues here and there. Almost no fingerstyle, but I do like to "shred" some classical sounding parts.

Are carbon fiber guitars a gimmick? I like the idea of being super durable, and supposedly they are very loud. And I think they look pretty cool. It's kind of hard to tell from YouTube videos if they sound good or not. They seem to sound good on recordings, but that's not always a good indicator of how they sound in person.
 

-CM-

Something Clever Here
Gold Supporting Member
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2,181
Can't say how much of a "gimmick" they are, but you can try one from Musician's Friend and return it if you don't like it.

These Kevin Michael guitars are interesting.
 

killa j

Member
Messages
349
My only option from MF would be to order a right handed guitar just to see how it sounds and then return it
 

royd

Member
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2,042
they aren't a gimmick and the Emeralds are nice guitars but they do not sound like wooden guitars. Only you can judge whether you like them or not.

I've owned a Rainsong and a CA.
 

LeicaBossNJ

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
2,632
I played a decent Rainsong at Mandolin Bros.

It was super bright with incredible clarity. Percussive attack.

On the negative, it was a wee bit thin and maybe not very harmonically rich.
 

Jon C

Member
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17,877
I've had a Composite Acoustics Cargo for several years. Stunningly good travel guitar w pickup, not overly bright (small body), good punch, good enough to gig with it Not too bright. I'd stick with known quantities like CA and Rainsong.
 
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14,366
I have an Emerald X20 and like it a lot. It's one of the older ones(number 10, in fact), though, so I don't know how the new ones compare.
 

Gary Ladd

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I don't think Emeralds are sold in MF/GC :dunno

I own two Emerald Artisan X10s, which are no longer in production as Alistair no longer has complete Parker Fly fretboards available to him, so he changed the formula/product line.

One is my favorite acoustic - There's something about the attack/tone (between a parlor and resonator) that is immersive and expressive in a way no other acoustic can touch. A total lead instrument.

The other Artisan sounds like a good acoustic with a little more punch and clarity...

The necks play like butter, with zero issues.

I've tried numerous CA/Rainsong offerings in stores from NY to LA, and none of them impressed me the way these two do :aok

Also; Strings are VERY important on the Emeralds, and thus far I :love: Pyramids Acoustic 12s on my numero uno, the second Emerald I'm still experimenting with...

Best of luck in your hunt :hiP
 

joeprs

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1,516
I didn't care for the Rainsong I tried at GC, but liked the McPherson that I recently played at Sam Ash. The McPherson sounded much better than the Rainsong.
 

flcmcya

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3,538
I have an Emerald OX 20.. and a CA OX

The Emerald sounds fabulous plugged in.....really projects with the upper soundhole when unplugged so you really hear it....... get a lot of compliments at my Church gig.... the CA OX is very nice but I prefer the larger size for sitdown playing as the CA just seems almost weightless... my sound guy says he prefers the CA as it sounds more like a wood acoustic to him...... it has a standard soundhole so I dont hear it as well....it is about half the thickness of the Emmy.
I tried 6 Rainsongs at Namm last year and didnt get the "this is the one" feeling......the playability wasnt there for me but I AM a sissy and prefer electrics..... the Blackbirds were in the same boat for me.
Definitely get one with electronics...... the eq is awesome for tone tuning if you plug in...........

Looks like an OX 20 can be had for around $1700.

I find they dont sound as rich as wood unplugged.......BUT
I live in Minnesota so i have no fear.. :cool:
 
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derekd

Silver Supporting Member
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47,107
Definitely not a gimmick.

They are their own thing, however. The two I played were quite articulate and loud. Haven't plugged one in before.
 

s2y

Member
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20,611
I like Emerald's wilder models. I keep thinking about ordering a harp uke to "test" the waters. Using molded construction allows them to remake a lot of models with less time and labor than by hand.
 

lamenlovinit

Member
Messages
3,843
They are not a gimmick. It's kind of like resonators. They are a bit of a different beast. For instance going up above light strings to mediums doesn't improve anything unless the guitar was designed for mediums. It can diminish your tone. I wouldn't hesitate to get a used blackbird, rainsong, or CA. However, based on my test drives I would do it in that order. There seem to be a lot of used emeralds around. I've never played one so I can't comment on them, other that to say that like Taylor BTOs, there seem to be a lot of them for sale.
 

Gary Ladd

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There seem to be a lot of used emeralds around. I've never played one so I can't comment on them, other that to say that like Taylor BTOs, there seem to be a lot of them for sale.

Where :dunno

I just checked and didn't see one used Emerald for sale on eBay or Reverb, but there are plenty of used Rainsong and CA guitars for sale :facepalm

Dunno about the newer models - since Alistair did shut Emerald down for several years, but I can tell you that you'll never see my Artisans for sale, as long as I'm playing, nor have I seen any other Emerald Artisans for sale anywhere in recent memory.

I betcha that 99.99% of TGPers have never even seen one in person...

:wave
 

Gary Ladd

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BTW,

This is what the original Emerald Artisans look like, before Alistair changed the design due to an inability to procure Parker Fly fretboards...

4e630c8737490c49df1d8d4545098c92.jpg


http://www.mickeyharteforever.1hwy.com/catalog.html

Completely different guitar that was handmade, and based on my two X10s, very different from build-to-build, with the fastest playing neck I've ever encountered on an acoustic (basically a Parker Fly with acoustic strings).

These guitars will last forever, and the SS frets on mine have -0- wear after 10 years of daily use (#1), and I normally burn through frets in under a year :aok
 
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lamenlovinit

Member
Messages
3,843
Where :dunno

I just checked and didn't see one used Emerald for sale on eBay or Reverb, but there are plenty of used Rainsong and CA guitars for sale :facepalm

:wave

I should have said "online" I've never touched one myself. They show up on the Acoustic Guitar forum.

The others have been around a while and there are a significant number of them. So of course they will be found more frequently.

It's harder to find a Lucky 13 than an emerald
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,913
When I first pick up a good carbon fiber, I am impressed. I am liking the clarity, the ringing highs, mids and lows and generally balanced output. Good volume. Good playability. Not too many overtones muddying up the sound. After about ten minutes, I start to hear them as more strident, bright and finally tiring. Maybe just a hair too bright. Of course, the same thing happens when I play certain wood body guitars too though to a lesser degree. I am pretty sure not all carbon fiber guitars are created equal and I am on board with the concept at least. And given enough time my ear would probably fully adapt and accept the sound. But a few attempts left me not wanting one.

hunter
 

lamenlovinit

Member
Messages
3,843
When I first pick up a good carbon fiber, I am impressed. I am liking the clarity, the ringing highs, mids and lows and generally balanced output. Good volume. Good playability. Not too many overtones muddying up the sound. After about ten minutes, I start to hear them as more strident, bright and finally tiring. Maybe just a hair too bright. Of course, the same thing happens when I play certain wood body guitars too though to a lesser degree. I am pretty sure not all carbon fiber guitars are created equal and I am on board with the concept at least. And given enough time my ear would probably fully adapt and accept the sound. But a few attempts left me not wanting one.

hunter

I hear you. But again, the comparison to resonators is apt. The key is adapting, and pushing the strengths while minimizing the downsides. Switching from a sweet mahogany OM to a rosewood dread feels the same way to me.
 

hunter

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
8,913
I hear you. But again, the comparison to resonators is apt. The key is adapting, and pushing the strengths while minimizing the downsides. Switching from a sweet mahogany OM to a rosewood dread feels the same way to me.

Hard to address since I am no fan of rosewood dreads and never saw fit to own one but, yes going from my 000-28 to my D18 and vice versa does require my ear to adapt. Difference is when I adapt all is well but when I have adapted to carbon fiber the result has been mildly negative. Maybe if I played Taylors it would be easier for me to get on the good side of carbon fiber.

hunter
 
Messages
14,366
BTW,

This is what the original Emerald Artisans look like, before Alistair changed the design due to an inability to procure Parker Fly fretboards...

4e630c8737490c49df1d8d4545098c92.jpg


http://www.mickeyharteforever.1hwy.com/catalog.html

Completely different guitar that was handmade, and based on my two X10s, very different from build-to-build, with the fastest playing neck I've ever encountered on an acoustic (basically a Parker Fly with acoustic strings).

These guitars will last forever, and the SS frets on mine have -0- wear after 10 years of daily use (#1), and I normally burn through frets in under a year :aok


That is what mine looks like, great guitar.
 




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