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Guitars... Another expensive hobby

post #1 of 80
Thread Starter 
I recently moved out of my apartment in San Diego, and with my apartment went my roommate, and with my roommate went his acoustic guitar. I've been an electric player for years (though nothing fancy, I took lessons for about two years before I went to college), and I'm thinking that before I move overseas, which is in barely over a week, I'd like to pick up a nice acoustic to take with me.

I know my questions could probably be better answered on a musicians forum but I'd like to hear what the members here have to say/think on this subject.

I went to Guitar Center today to have a look-see and realized that in a sea of acoustic guitars, I know next to nothing about them. I could sit down and play each one of them but obviously that's impractical and to be quite honest I may not know what's good for me. In electric guitars I'm pretty keen on what to look for, what kind of woods make what sounds, what kind of action I'm comfortable with, etc. but when it comes to acoustics, it's basically "this one hurts my fingers too much," or "ooh this ones purdy.."

I'd like to hear some pointers on shopping for an acoustic (looking for a metal-string, non-electric, buy the way).

quesitons I'd especially like to hear an answer for: where should I buy one? I'll travel up to LA or Orange County to make the purchase if it's worth it. I figure there's some awesome guitar store in LA that I've never been to where I can find everything I've ever wanted, but I just don't know where to look.

Are there any repercussions for buying used, and if I do buy used, (back to question A) where shall I look?

Generally speaking, what are the "safe" brands for acoustic guitars? I don't mind spending up to maybe $650 or so, seems like that's around where some of the Takamines and Taylors sit.

Most of the music I play is some variation of pop, though I'd like to delve into some classical style eventually as well. Anyway, let me know what your thoughts are on this matter.
post #2 of 80
As a long time collector and writer for a music publication I would advise you to do your research and find an American made instrument that you really like. Then, search want ads for used ones, you will be able to, at least, double your buying power.
post #3 of 80
In terms of what to look for, many of the same things with an electric. Different wood makes different sounds, though Maple top/Mahogany body and neck is still a standard combination, Rosewood is used in a lot of the higher-end models which gives a more piano-like tone in my experience. The more expensive ones are often similiar to less expensive ones but (like electrics) simply have more elaborate inlays, binding, abalone everywhere, etc. Different shapes make different sounds as well (and feel different in your lap), so you should try out the standard dreadnought and then try some of the less common ones. Cutaways are another options as are electronics (I would recommend getting one with a Piezo just in case you ever need it). The neck/action is pretty personal, but different makes have different standard neck shapes. You'll know right away whether or not you like Martin, Taylor, etc...just pick one up. I also found acoustics to have far more variation in sound among the same models than electrics did, at least to my ear, so I would absolutely recommend spending a lot of time with the exact guitar (not just the same model) whatever you're going to purchase. Also have the shop throw some new strings on there (and know what strings you'll be using) to see what it sounds like then. If the shop has two of the same model, try them both. I will wholeheartedly recommend Larrivee, which is a make from British Columbia that, at least several years ago when I was shopping, was far and away the best guitar I could find under $1000. I believe they carry them at most of the larger retailers, or at least they used to. You will pay a premium for a Martin or a Taylor and it costs a lot more to get a decent guitar from them than from the lesser known/advertised makes (and at $500, it's no contest). They make great guitars, no doubt, but unless money is no object or your particularly set on the name (and it doesn't seem like you are) you could do more for less elsewhere. Tacoma is another lesser-known make that puts out a good product for your money.
post #4 of 80
Well, I'd say a Taylor or a Martin is a surefire safe bet when it comes to acoustics, thought I doubt you'd find a Taylor for $650.

We have a Martin dreadnought and it is pretty fantastic. We also have a Martin 12 string that sounds beautiful. I've played quite a few Taylors and they're top-notch.

I've only been playing a few years, so I'm sure other guys like Dedalus or people who have played longer will know more obscure brands that are high quality, but these 2 are safe bet name-brand acoustics.

Also, this is a much cheaper route, but I have a Yamaha guitar. It's in the styling of a Gibson Hummingbird. It isn't the greatest for individual notes, but if you plan on playing chords instead of finger-picking or playing individual notes, then this is a pretty nice guitar for the value.

As far as where to look, I can't help much there. Guitar Center is about as good as it gets for us, but really, imo, it will have pretty much everything you want.
You could also get on Taylorguitars.com or Martinguitar.com and they will have a list of authorized dealer.

Anyway, best of luck to ya buddy, and let us know how it goes (with pics!!!!)


Edit: What do ya know, as I'm typing someone recommends the more obscure brands I was talking about.

And 2 other things.... 1) Spend at least 10-15 minutes playing each guitar once you have it narrowed down to 4-5. It will make a huge difference.

and 2) If you really want to get into classical guitar, then you should buy a nylon-stringed, which is another thread entirely.
post #5 of 80
Really good advice so far.

For $650 you've got some legroom. Obviously Martin and Taylor are going to get a lot of buzz (the good kind) and they should as they're well-made instruments. I would agree, however, that you will pay a premium for the name. That might come in handy later, however, should you decide to resell.

Honestly, I recommend you visit a few shops around the Sunset strip where GC is located. That Sunset GC has loads of new/used acoustics for you to try out and investigate; the area in general also has several used guitar shops that will help you figure out the kind of sound you want (bright? heavy? balanced?) and how dedicated you really are on the price/bargain.

If you're going straight up new for $650, that's low-end Taylor/Martin or general Fender/Takamine/Ovation/Gretsch. It's been a year or so but the Taylor/Martins I heard at that price range sounded pretty average/chunky to me. I like Ovation but realize it's not a standard guitar company. Fender isn't bad but their stuff is made in Korea; my friend's $550 Fender looks nice and plays very brightly for the price. I think Dashboard only uses Gretsch so that's an idea of the sound.

Used: It really helps to know beforehand the model and company you're looking for in particular. You could go the Craigslist route but that might take some time. Since 2000 I've bought nearly all of my guitar equipment off ebay not just because of price, but because I knew specifically what I was looking for. It's definitely not a bad way to go IF you know what you want. I bought my Jonny Greenwood '91 Tele Plus that way and would do it again a million times over to save some bucks from trying to hunt it down at a pawn shop or the "vintage" section at a GC. Make sure you get the guitar's history, some nice closeup photos, log of any corrections or matenance done, etc.

If you go the used guitar at GC route, find a friend that works for GC. I used to have a buddy who was a manager at Covina who would bring down the prices of stuff by 30-40% like nothing.

Edit: I just glanced through Brian278's thread and didn't see that he mentioned Tacoma. I'd put Tacoma up before 99% of the guitars out there at your price range. Really great stuff.
post #6 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian278 View Post
In terms of what to look for, many of the same things with an electric. Different wood makes different sounds, though Maple top/Mahogany body and neck is still a standard combination, Rosewood is used in a lot of the higher-end models which gives a more piano-like tone in my experience. The more expensive ones are often similiar to less expensive ones but (like electrics) simply have more elaborate inlays, binding, abalone everywhere, etc. Different shapes make different sounds as well (and feel different in your lap), so you should try out the standard dreadnought and then try some of the less common ones. Cutaways are another options as are electronics (I would recommend getting one with a Piezo just in case you ever need it). The neck/action is pretty personal, but different makes have different standard neck shapes. You'll know right away whether or not you like Martin, Taylor, etc...just pick one up.

I also found acoustics to have far more variation in sound among the same models than electrics did, at least to my ear, so I would absolutely recommend spending a lot of time with the exact guitar (not just the same model) whatever you're going to purchase. Also have the shop throw some new strings on there (and know what strings you'll be using) to see what it sounds like then. If the shop has two of the same model, try them both.

I will wholeheartedly recommend Larrivee, which is a make from British Columbia that, at least several years ago when I was shopping, was far and away the best guitar I could find under $1000. I believe they carry them at most of the larger retailers, or at least they used to. You will pay a premium for a Martin or a Taylor and it costs a lot more to get a decent guitar from them than from the lesser known/advertised makes (and at $500, it's no contest). They make great guitars, no doubt, but unless money is no object or your particularly set on the name (and it doesn't seem like you are) you could do more for less elsewhere. Tacoma is another lesser-known make that puts out a good product for your money.

I second Larrivee... excellent acoustics.
post #7 of 80
You probably know this, but GC may still price match. I once brought in a printed out web page and they matched a very low price on some stuff with no hassle at all.
post #8 of 80
I got my guitar from GC. The guy from Spain working there told me I didn't need a guitar, I needed a life. He also called me Jesuit, that one hurt? I wouldn't get anything expensive at first, cuz you'll suck balls and your fingers will hurt. I just got a relatively inexpensive Ibanez that I haven't touched in 3 years.
post #9 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by j View Post
You probably know this, but GC may still price match. I once brought in a printed out web page and they matched a very low price on some stuff with no hassle at all.
YMMV...BUT... I've had GC price-match EBAY FOR ME BEFORE. Yeah. No print-out or anything like that. I was about to return some stuff and told them (lying) that I found a better deal on ebay when really I just didn't need the stuff. They pricematched what I told them. This worked more than once.
post #10 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by tiecollector View Post
I got my guitar from GC. The guy from Spain working there told me I didn't need a guitar, I needed a life. He also called me Jesuit, that one hurt? I wouldn't get anything expensive at first, cuz you'll suck balls and your fingers will hurt. I just got a relatively inexpensive Ibanez that I haven't touched in 3 years.

Well he said he's been playing for a few years and has had lessons, so he probably won't have fingers hurting or new callouses or anything.

Ibanez though, imo, is pretty good, and will be cheaper than your price point.

Somebody else mentioned Ovation, and I would second that as well. Their rounded backs make them extremely comfortable to play in odd positions (like leaning back or laying down... am I the only one who does that?). They're also really easy to play chords. I can't think of the actual term, but the distance between where the string is and the neck seems smaller to me than on other guitars, so you don't have to press so hard to get the notes. Just a small detail thoughl\\.
post #11 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by whodini View Post
YMMV...BUT... I've had GC price-match EBAY FOR ME BEFORE. Yeah. No print-out or anything like that. I was about to return some stuff and told them (lying) that I found a better deal on ebay when really I just didn't need the stuff. They pricematched what I told them. This worked more than once.
Yeah, I forgot to mention (at the time, too) I think the page I printed had a minimum order of 100 units for that price... Oh well, it's not like they lost money with their markup on some things.
post #12 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwilkinson View Post
Well he said he's been playing for a few years and has had lessons, so he probably won't have fingers hurting or new callouses or anything.

Ibanez though, imo, is pretty good, and will be cheaper than your price point.

Somebody else mentioned Ovation, and I would second that as well. Their rounded backs make them extremely comfortable to play in odd positions (like leaning back or laying down... am I the only one who does that?). They're also really easy to play chords. I can't think of the actual term, but the distance between where the string is and the neck seems smaller to me than on other guitars, so you don't have to press so hard to get the notes. Just a small detail thoughl\\.

Oops missed this part. Though electrics are easier on the fingers. I've always wanted to play classical, as they are the coolest.
post #13 of 80
Pfft.... Don't get a guitar, man. You need to get a bass.

On an unrelated note I have a bass up in the B&S forum.
post #14 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by xchen View Post
Pfft.... Don't get a guitar, man. You need to get a bass.

On an unrelated note I have a bass up in the B&S forum.

Or if you really wanna go acoustic, I have a Takamine acoustic bass you could buy.
post #15 of 80
Quote:
Originally Posted by xchen View Post
Pfft.... Don't get a guitar, man. You need to get a bass. On an unrelated note I have a bass up in the B&S forum.
Bass is for chicks with penis envy.
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