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OT - Acoustic/Electric Guitar
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Wheels
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 1149
Location: Needham, MA

12/5/12 2:07 PM

OT - Acoustic/Electric Guitar

First off, I don't currently play and will be telling my wife this year that for Christmas, I want a guitar and some lessons to learn how to play.

Knowing that I was thinking of getting an acoustic guitar with an electric pick-up,so I could plug it into an amp directly if I wanted.

At this point in my life, I'd rather spend the money up front an get a high quality, nice sounding guitar than a "beginner" one, which I may have to then sell to to get a nicer sounding guitar. I find that in the end, the "intro" version followed by an up grade is more costly than just getting a "better" one right up front.

I am looking for a good quality/sound guitar, less than $800, preferably less than $600. As far as style, think "coffee house" type.

Thanks.

Wheels

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17537
Location: Portland, OR

12/5/12 5:12 PM

Maybe a semi hollow electric could be the ticket.

If you are looking to do a little rock and crunchy stuff, an acoustic plugged in sounds like an acoustic. Think Folk Pop music, and bluegrass etc.

If you think some rockabilly, countryish and some old zep favs this may not be the direction that will suite you.


Last edited by Sparky on 12/6/12 10:30 AM; edited 1 time in total

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

12/5/12 8:15 PM

Hmmm.

Honestly, the best value might be an Ovation. They're wood-topped, fiberglass-bowl-backed instruments that sound remarkably good, and they pioneered some remarkable pickup technologies back in the '70s. For a long time, they were the performance guitars of choice for acts like Cat Stevens, Joan Armatrading, and others.

They're aesthetically not to everyone's taste, but the sound is remarkably good and the necks are narrow and fast.

OTOH, you say that you don't currently play. Jumping to a steel-string acoustic might be difficult if that's the case. Classical guitars have nylon strings which are much easier on the fingers, but wider necks, which can make life difficult. There are hybrid designs, but nylon strings sound completely different from steel.

My suggestion would be to find a music store and play with a few instruments. Just walk into the acoustic section of your local guitar store, and ignore the prices and features and focus on the way things sound. Do that for a bit and you'll have a better idea of what you're looking for.

By way of reference, I own three guitars right now--a Martin OO-18 that I've had since '80 or so, a Giannini Craviola that I got used last year, and a cheap Yamaha classical that I keep at the office. I love them all. I've had others over the years, too...electric, 6-string, 12-string. The one I miss most was an Ovation Country Artist, which was a sort of hybrid with nylon strings. It was my first good guitar (before the Martin) and I wish I'd kept it...

See: https://lawschoolissoover.wordpress.com/2012/02/08/almost-perfect-4-enduring-near-perfection/

and

https://lawschoolissoover.wordpress.com/2012/03/28/nothings-perfect-but-some-things-are-worth-waiting-for/

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Pat Clancy
Joined: 13 Jan 2004
Posts: 1352
Location: Manchester, CT

12/5/12 9:36 PM

FWIW

I know next to nothing about guitars, but I offer this for what it's worth. A friend plays and collects acoustic guitars. He owns something like 35 of them. Several years ago when we wanted to buy a guitar for our daughter and were working with a tight budget, he strongly recommended Guild as a good value.

We purchased a Guild D-140, for which we payed about $500. The list on them now is $900, but a little Googling shows them selling in the $650 range.

See: http://www.guildguitars.com/

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Nick Payne
Joined: 10 Jan 2004
Posts: 2451
Location: Canberra, Australia

12/5/12 11:24 PM

If you're looking for a nylon string guitar, La Patrie (made in Canada) are worth a look. They make so-called hybrid models (cutaway with radiused fingerboard) as well as standard classical models.

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

12/6/12 6:25 AM

Guild

I haven't played one in years, but they were an excellent choice and likely still are. Their D models (like the Martin D) are the classic dreadnaught shape with square shoulders and a nice "bluegrassy" sound. They also (used to?) make larger guitars (F series?) with more bass and slightly smaller models (G) more aimed at finger-pickers.

I'm partial to smaller guitars, but the dreadnaught is what singer/songwriters adopted as the instrument of choice.

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JohnC
Joined: 10 Jan 2004
Posts: 1938
Location: Glastonbury, Ct

12/6/12 10:14 AM

I'm a very casual player, one of those who learned to strum chords back in my hippie days and kept at since, but didn't progress terribly far. I play well enough to amuse myself and accompany singing by me and the family.

I used a cheap nylon-string guitar for years, and it was adequate for me. About 15 years ago my wife surprised my with a beautiful Ovation with the built-in pickup, like this one:

I love it. Sounds great, easy to play (I use pretty light strings). I can run it through an amp when I want to mess with effects.

I think it's probably right in your price range.

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

12/6/12 10:53 AM

Ovation

I believe that Ovation still makes round-hole guitars as well, for those who are a little more traditionalist. The multi-hole design was first introduced in the late '70s on their top-of-the-line carbon-fiber-topped Adamas series, IIRC.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17537
Location: Portland, OR

12/6/12 10:58 AM

Godin, Seagul is the acoustic.

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Wheels
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 1149
Location: Needham, MA

12/6/12 11:37 AM

Thanks all

Some great advice. I have been reading up on the different types and brands. My brother has an Ovation Celebrity CC057 (1995) that he want's to sell and a guy tube demo'ed it and it sounded good to my ears, especially with all the electronic changes you can do it to may it sound different.

I will also check some out first hand this w/e and get a better feel. I also listened to a Martin, Taylor, and Guild, (Youtube) each one sounds different. Some have autotune electronics, some don't. Don't know if that is important. I know a lot of these guitars can sound amazing with a skilled player or junk in with poor player.

Sparky, as far as a semi hollow electric, do not think that will work, but will email you off list with some questions.

Wheels

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JohnC
Joined: 10 Jan 2004
Posts: 1938
Location: Glastonbury, Ct

12/6/12 11:38 AM

You are correct, Andy. Ovation makes instruments with all sorts of fronts and finishes, round-hole, f-hole, various woods and painted finishes. All have some version of the plastic round back, but from the front some look very traditional.

http://www.ovationguitars.com/guitars

I always kind of liked Ovation's backstory, too. They are literally an aerospace spinoff, begun in the 1960's by Charles Kaman, who built helicopters and was a guitar enthusiast on the side. The helicopter company had done a lot of work on vibration characteristics of materials and shapes, and he put some of his engineers to work finding a way to make a guitar with good and consistent sound, but with less hand labor. That's where the fiberglass round-back came from. They were a big success from the beginning. Their headquarters, R&D and high-end manufacturing are still done in an old mill building in the small town of New Hartford, in the hills about 25 miles west of here.


Last edited by JohnC on 12/6/12 11:59 AM; edited 1 time in total

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Tom Phillips
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 937
Location: Humboldt, CA

12/6/12 11:57 AM

Acoustics

In your price range, for coffeehouse type stuff, besides what has already been mentioned you might take a look at the Breedlove Retro series guitars. Copies of old Martins and very good. Breedlove makes several lines of these, Retro - American - Revival in order of increasing quality. You can find great deals on them used. Best guitar I've ever held in my hands was a Breedlove Revival 000-12 fret. Second best (maybe a tie...) was the neighbor kid's beat up, 20-year old Guild DV-52. He asked me to reglue the bridge, and I was sorely tempted to keep that guitar...only thing keeping me from it was the story of his long history with the guitar. really like what Guild does. Definitely worth a look, and they don't get the respect they deserve on the resale market. If you can find a DV-52 used, buy that sucker...

A lot of songer-songwriter types really like the Taylor, shimmery sound, it's just not for me so much.

Whatever you choose, setup is vitally important to your enjoyment. Take the time, spend the money, whatever, but get the thing set up.

Others:

Blueridge, Recording King.

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Tom Phillips
Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 937
Location: Humboldt, CA

12/6/12 12:05 PM

find...

http://washingtondc.craigslist.org/nva/msg/3441874977.html

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

12/6/12 2:09 PM

Notice...

...that guitar geeks are just as geeky as bike geeks...

One last word: Don't worry about having a tuner built into the guitar. An external tuner will cost maybe $10-15. Even better, though, is getting an A440 pitchfork and having a friend show you how to tune using harmonics. Never needs batteries, and a constant source of amusement. Impress your friends!

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17537
Location: Portland, OR

12/6/12 2:18 PM

I have a line on a late 60s spruce top Mahogany B15 Gibson if you are interested let me know. This will only go up in value IMO.

my email is busted, I have sent ANT a request to fix.

coupekissTAgmailTODcom if you want to send me email.


Last edited by Sparky on 12/6/12 5:30 PM; edited 1 time in total

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Nick Payne
Joined: 10 Jan 2004
Posts: 2451
Location: Canberra, Australia

12/6/12 4:22 PM


quote:
Even better, though, is getting an A440 pitchfork and having a friend show you how to tune using harmonics.

If you mean using the 5th and 7th fret harmonics on adjacent strings, that method doesn't tune an equal temperament instrument correctly, as the harmonics at the 7th fret are pure fifths rather than tempered fifths. I use the method below, that I got off a GAL data sheet many years ago. It may look complicated, but in practice it's quick and accurate:

Tuning the 1st and 6th strings: Get the E 1st string to correct pitch by tuning the A at the fifth fret to your A=440 tuning fork. Now tune the E 6th string so that the harmonic at the fifth fret is in unison with the open E 1st string. When these two strings have been properly tuned with each other, continue as follows.

Tuning the 4th string: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 6th string at twelve, and as this harmonic sounds, adjust the 4th string until the tone E on the second fret is in pure unison. Now you have the E, open 1st string, 1st on the 4th string at two, and E, open 6th string tuned pure (permissible because they are octaves).

Tuning the 2nd string: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 4th string at twelve. As this sounds, adjust the 2nd string until D at the third fret is in pure unison. As you have used two fretted tones for references and as the frets are positioned for tempered intervals, you now have the open 1st, 2nd 4th and 6th strings in tempered tuning.

Tuning the 3rd string: As it is easier to adjust a string while listening to a continuous reference tone, you may first try the following: Play a harmonic on the (in tune) 4th string at twelve and as this sounds, adjust the 3rd string until D at the 7th fret is in pure unison.

Double check: Now make this check to see if you have been accurate or if the instrument plays tune when fretted at seven. Play a harmonic on the (now tuned) G string at twelve, and as this tone sounds, play G on the 1st string at three. The two tones should be in pure unison. If they are not, either you are at fault or the instrument doesn't fret tune at seven. Go back to the beginning and carefully check each step up to this point. If the tones are still faulty, then readjust the 3rd string until the harmonic at twelve is in unison with the 1st at three. Do not tamper with the 1st and 4th strings because it is the 3rd string you are trying to bring in tune. When you have the 1st, 6th, 4th, 2nd and 3rd strings in tune, in that order, continue with the remaining 5th string.

Tuning the 5th string: Play the tone A on the (in tune) 3rd string, at the second fret. Listen to this pitch carefully and now adjust the 5th string until the harmonic at twelve is in pure unison. When the foregoing steps are followed correctly, the strings will be tuned perfectly to equal temperament. No further tuning adjustments are permissible.

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dfcas
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 2618
Location: hillbilly heaven

12/6/12 4:54 PM

I had a Garrison guitar that came with the Buzz Feiten tuning system and it was wonderful. It played in tune better than any other guitar I ever played, in fact it was the only guitar I ever played that played in tune all over the neck.

This thread came up just as I've been thinking about starting to play again. I'm leaning toward a 335 copy semi hollow body. Probably an Ibanez Artcore.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17537
Location: Portland, OR

12/6/12 5:36 PM

"I'm leaning toward a 335 copy semi hollow body. Probably an Ibanez Artcore."


That 51 Re-issue Casino is nice and not too much coin, FWIW

I have a late 80s Epiphone 335 I am considering selling [shameless plug]
It is rare due to the non goofy open book style headstock it has. Only seen two ever.

Like to see someone I know get it. I like old wood personally when it come to guitars.

Also, the Historic series Casino's, had one, are awesome, and expensive. The John Lennon Revolution Historic Series Sell for about 1600.00+ mint/used. MSPR was 3400.00 on those. NOT to be confused with the Inspired CNH Casinos, the Historic are MIJ.


Last edited by Sparky on 12/7/12 2:39 PM; edited 1 time in total

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

12/6/12 5:42 PM

Probably an Ibanez Artcore.

Ibanez makes great guitars--I had a neck-through-body Musician back around '79 or so. Lovely instrument. Since then I've migrated more to the Fender scale length, but it was so beautiful.

Of course, last year I actually got my fingers on a real Alembic, and THAT was an experience...

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

12/6/12 5:47 PM

permissible

"permissible"??

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 17537
Location: Portland, OR

12/6/12 5:49 PM

Artcores originating from Korea only IMO.

All these types should form the Samick or Peerless factory, so we are talking used.
The newer China made boxes should be exhaustively researched for reviews. Some OK, some very not OK.

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mag7
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 888
Location: Lake James, NC

12/7/12 12:59 AM

Shameless plug for a life long friend who has run a string business for years...might save you some money.
http://www.stringsandbeyond.com/

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Andy M-S
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3201
Location: Hamden (greater New Haven) CT

12/7/12 10:43 AM

Strings

When I first started playing, I (1) was anal about changing strings at least once per month, and (2) read Guitar Player frequently. My days of changing strings ended when I read an interview with Ry Cooder, who at that time was promoting Bop Til You Drop , one of my all-time favorite recordings. In the GP interview, Cooder was asked how often he changed strings, and his answer was "when they break."

That was it. From then on, I've changed strings (OK, sets) pretty much only when I break one (when I was performing, and broke strings on my electric with a little more regularity, I replaced only the broken string).

It's nice to see a source for less costly strings--and they stock my old nylon favorites, Augustine Blue! I started using these after somebody said Segovia used them (of course).

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Wheels
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 1149
Location: Needham, MA

12/7/12 11:22 AM

Great advice from all

I think I have narrowed down the makes Seagull, Martin, Taylor, and Guild (non-CAD series). Want something made on this side of the ocean and solid wood top.

As opposed to just learning to strum, I want to learn to finger pick well (Who/Behind Blue Eyes, Lynryd Skynard, etc.). I am off to the guitar store tonight to try a few out.

Wheels.

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lrzipris
Joined: 04 Mar 2004
Posts: 436
Location: Doylestown, PA

12/7/12 1:16 PM

An interesting discussion. I too do not play--indeed, for the grandson of a concert violinist and composer, I am horribly unmusical--but a long-time dream for retirement was to get a simple guitar and learn to play some blues. Hmmm, maybe a little motivation is forthcoming....

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