What are your votes for guitars in the $4500 to $5500 range?


So I'm looking at investing in a top of the line acoustic for my studio, and right now leading the front of the pack is the McPherson. Trully an amazing piece of craftsmanship IMHO, but I also thought about maybe a 60's Gibson hummingbird or dove. I really love the sound of a vintage Gibson but love how even and musical the newer handmand acoustics are. I know there are a lot of small luthier out there building amazing guitars so be detailed with your answers because I would like to check out each vote. Not really looking for a parlor sized of OM sized instrument. Wanting a dreadnaught or in that size. Needing big body for the studio. So let me hear your votes. Right now I have my eye on a McPherson around $5200 and that's about as high as I have gone but I wanted to put some kind of price bracket out here. Thanks and I look forward to checking out your votes.
You could do great in that range.....some of the lesser-known builders start in that range. IMO, they're all good. If you go to the acoustic shows, you'll see one amazing craftsman after another. It's hard to choose! A bunch that start at 7K, 10K or even 17K and have seemingly endless waiting lists....that's an easy way to limit the choices.

The McPhersons sound really good, based on the recordings I've heard......

I'm quite happy with the Running Dog I commissioned. Check out Rick. I had a 000 shape, probably not quite what you want, but he makes Jumbos and Mini Jumbos too.
My guitar came out just the way I wanted it. Great balance, excellent for fingerstyle, not a big dread, but great for strumming too.

A generalization: Keep in mind most of these luthiers are either recreating classic designs (Martin) or making fingerstyle guitars. Also the resale on these guitars isn't great, so you could come across a 10K guitar that falls in your range as a used instrument.


If you like the McPherson, check out Batson as well. Kind of similar, but honestly I like the looks and innovations of the Bastons more. I've spoken with Grant (one of the brothers that makes up Batson Guitars) and he was exceedingly helpful and friendly. Other guitars in that range that I would consider if it was me:

Upper end Collings
Froggy Bottom
Tom Bills (if you could find a nice used one)
Used Kevin Ryan


McPherson guitars are way overbuilt, too heavy, and sound little and constipated. They have engendered lots of hype that should be on the wane by now. I am a former owner. For a great recording guitar, I would go with a medium size (OM) Santa Cruz, Collings or Lowden(F). Dreadnoughts tend to be too boomy in the studio.


I pretty much agree with Ogre. I have tried McPhersons and they were not my cup of tea. An OM size guitar in the studio sounds great! I would look into Collings and Santa Cruz for my vintage Martin & vintage Gibson needs (of any body size). Collings tend to be a bit brighter than SC, and that can often be advantageous in the recording studio. I own two Collings, a dread and an OM.....the perfect pair for me.

Have fun, there are a lot of good options in your price range, and you might even be able to squeeze in two guitars for that amount.

jekyll & hyde

Silver Supporting Member
I agree with Riff & Ogre, Mcphersons look cool but the ones I played (6) sounded
lifeless. OM style flat tops are my favorite too. Don't forget Huss & Dalton, they
make nice guitars too. In the end, it's about the instrument that you connect with,
regardless of name.


Silver Supporting Member
MacPs are not good sounding in my experience. Dead, heavy, lifeless and not fun. That's just the 3 or so I've gotten on. They don't FEEL particularly good either. I'd really suggest something else.

If I had your bankroll and was looking to outfit my place with some good acoustic guitars? I'd get a nice mid 40's LG-2 or L-00 (3500) and a newish D-18 (1500-2000). That covers a lot of turf.


Just get a great old banner J-45. They're getting reasonable again.


I sold a Martin D18 Authentic and a Merrill C18.....to get my Leo Posch.....it's got a huge open sound......a booming bass with more balance the the Martin....and more whomp than the Merrill.......the Posch is cuban mahogany; red spruce top; hide glue; stainless frets; waverly tuners.....long saddle; slotted bridge.....yada yada yada........I paid $4,200 for it....




Gold Supporting Member
Collings Cowboy--sitka spruce top; mahogany back sides. Incredible craftsmanship and playability. Tonal response is full and sweet, with plenty of bass and an angelic voice. Amazing recording guitar...loves the microphone(s). The size is perfect for recording AND any player (male or female), strumming and finger style. IMHO, if you want a great studio guitar for ALL purposes you don't want a dread.

There is only one available for sale...they will never make any other Cowboys (23 made to date--Lyle Lovett, Chris Hillman, Robert Earl Keen, John Sebastian are among the owners).

Oh and its listed in the Emporium (excuse the shameless plug but I DO BELIEVE its the best guitar in the price range...)

And it looks pretty cool too!


Well, if you're in Texas, I don't know how you could seriously consider anything else but a Collings!!! Statehood jingoism and all that... LOL!

Seriously, Collings are purportedly wonderful guitars - haven't played one yet, personally... I am really in love with James Goodall's work, in any size or shape; his style 1 is a dread, but very responsive - Alex DeGrassi plays fingerstyle on a Goodall style 1 - go figure! James puts IT ALL into every instrument he makes, and the sound is superb, finish is non pareil... he doesn't do a lot of "showboaty" type stuff with his guitars, just excellent, beautiful instruments!

I have been extremely satisfied with both of my Mark Angus acoustics, both my 6 and 12 string guitars... they're both over 25 years old now and sounding, playing great.

BTW, if you are serious about an older Gibson acoustic - maybe the sound you are looking for is exactly that dead, tight, non-responsive, restricted sound that a lot of Gibson acoustics have - especially the Hummingbird/Dove/ J-45 's ... in which case, you definitely don't want a nice custom, 'cause it's gonna be lively, loud and quick to respond... don't mean to be sarcastic here either; ait's important to know what you want the guitar for...

Maybe you want 2 guitars? A "dead" one and a "lively" one?

In any event, good luck on your search - but if you don't get a Collings, I wouldn't let other Texas acoustic players know about it!!!


there are great deals in the vintage market right now.
you don't need a 60's Gibson, you could get a 50's, or even 40's era J45 with that budget.
guitars of a lifetime.

that collings cowboy is pretty awesome though.
played one at Mandolin Bros. a few years ago. the only "new" guitar I ever regretted not buying.

John Thigpen

Gold Supporting Member
Bourgeois guitars record extremely well...Dana says he shoots for clarity and balance in every guitar, and engineers say they need no EQ. Listen to Bryan Sutton or Sean Watkins solo albums for some examples.


Doc W

I am not a recording engineer, but I have done a fair amount of studio work. My acoustic is more or less an OM size (Beneteau, a small luthier in Canada) and engineers always tell me what a dream it is to record it. A dreadnaught normally has a big arse end in terms of tone whereas the OOO or OM's have a much more balanced range that allows the engineer more options. IIRC, Ry Cooder always used 00-18's for recording (except for acoustic slide where he uses a Roy Smeck) and he sounds pretty good.


Silver Supporting Member
A Mayes guitar would be at the top of my list as you can see from my sig. With history with Bourgeois and McPherson he has built a lot of guitars for some big names. I can tell you first hand that the guitar John built for me is better sounding than any guitar I've compared it with period. I've compared it with a lot, Collings, McAlister, Bourgoeis, McPherson, Santa Cruz, R. Taylor, Martin.

He uses hide glue and adi tops standard on all his guitars and his base price is only $3700 which allows for some nice upgrades. If you order one you can't go wrong.


Here are some shots of my current Mayes.




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