#1
I've been working this whole summer, saving all of my money, and I've decided that I want to get a new acoustic guitar. I have a basic squier as my only acoustic, but that's because it was my first guitar. I have many other electrics, and I have the skill level for a really nice acoustic. Here's the thing. I'm not sure whether to buy an acoustic electric, an electric and buy a pickup, or buy a vintage guitar and get a pickup for it. Right now I have about 1700, but I'll probably have close to or over 2000 when I'm ready to buy. I'm going to Berklee College of Music starting this fall, so I'll need something that I can perform with plugged in. My question is, can an aftermarket pickup compare with built-in electronics. Also, is there anything vintage that I can find in this price range that doesn't have a completely checked body? Thanks for any help you can give me.
#2
It's good to know what you're getting in to when you buy a vintage guitar. Vintage guitars are sometimes a bit fussy. They are usually quite a bit more fragile just because of their age, they require a bit more attention in order to take care of them, and the cost of upkeep may be significantly higher. Things like a net reset, fret change/dressing and maybe even some body restoration might be required.

As well, not all vintage guitar finishes will check over time. They will, however, get a beautiful golden tan if they have a nitro finish or somethign similar as opposed to a poly finish. With vintage guitars, you're really getting a trade-off between a beautiful worn in sound, but at the cost of higher maintenance.

Anyway, it's lunch break and I'm running out of time to type this.

My suggestion is that you either look for an acoustic and get some aftermarket pickups or an electro-acoustic. You can actually get a great new guitar for $1700. My setup(which is in my sig) costed me around $1700. The benefit of getting a new guitar is that you can be a little rougher with it than a vintage guitar, which you'd really have to baby.

As well, I generally suggest getting a pure acoustic with aftermarket pickups over an electro-acoustic. With aftermarket pickups, you have the benefit of being able to switch out your electronics when you need them to be replaced(if they break or are just really out of date). It's not so easy when you have an electro-acoustic and there's a hold in the side of your guitar cutout for the onboard electronics.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.
#3
That's definitely something to consider... I didn't even think about possible maintenance to factory installed electronics. Here's my only thing, is it worth it to get an acoustic that's in the $1500 range, or should I get something more around $1,000, like a Martin DSM with solid back and sides for $900
#4
Well, I think that once you get into the $1000+ category, the quality is definitely going to be there, regardless of where you go. The difference between a $1000 and $1500 guitar isn't going to be huge. The extra cost might just be coming out of the cost of the actual materials or the aesthetic appointments(I'm thinking like abalone rosettes or herringbone inlays) of the guitar that take a little more labour and time to create.

Basically, just go for what you like most. Don't feel pressured to spend to the maximum of your budget because you can get absolutely wonderful guitars for $1000(and even less sometimes). Time and time again we get people in this forum who ask for "the best guitar for $x", and it just doesn't work that way. It's not about finding the best deal/bang for your buck, it's about finding a guitar that suits you, your personality, your preferences, and your playing style.

In the $1000+ price range, the only advice I really have to give is to:
1. Get all solid wood body construction.
2. Get the guitar you like, not the most expensive one.
3. Play the guitar you want in the store for a few hours. (I actually played my Martin in-store for a total of 7 hours before I decided to buy it.)
4. Take your time to purchase. Do not rush your decision because you're making quite a big investment.

Lastly, you're going to want to allot about $200-$350 of your budget for aftermarket pickups(and preamp, if need be), if you decide to go that route. Also, don't forget that you'll need someone to install them for you, so that may be another $75-$100 depending on how much your guitar tech charges.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

Have an acoustic guitar? Don't let your guitar dry out! Click here.