#1
Hello people,

i'm new to the forums, this is my first post. I'm trying to choose a good budget guitar to transition from classical to steel-string.

A bit of background on myself that i think is relevant to my question.

I've been teaching myself guitar for about a year and a half now, using a very cheap Stagg classical guitar. I'm mostly interested in rhythm guitar and vocal accompaniment of rock and roll, blues and country songs. I enjoy using my fingers to pick and strumm (i particularly enjoy playing the "chicka-boom" sound of many Johnny Cash songs, picking the bass strings with my thumb while strumming chords) and like playing some easy fingerstyle pieces.

I use a hard pick occasionally to play the 3 bass strings, sometimes in a power chord manner (LOVE the sound of Johhny Cash's cover of Personal Jesus), or to play some relatively simple lead guitar pieces (i learned Johnny B. Goode this week). Not interested at all in faster-than-light metal soloing, shredding, etc.

On the other hand, i found that i hate using a soft pick to strumm a chord over all strings, i feel much more comfortable using my thumb, back of my nails to strumm down, and the tip of my index finger to strumm "up".

So, now to the question: since a classical nylon-stringed guitar doesn't have that sound i want, i'm thinking about buying a steel-string guitar with a relatively wide fret (i'm used to the wide fret of the classical and don't care much for the narrow fret of electrics). Every once in a while i need those upper frets, so i definitely want one with a cutaway.

I plan to spend max. 275 euros (about $400). For the features i want, the Takamine EG260C (259 euros, about $385) seems like a very nice option:
http://www.takamine.com/?fa=detail&mid=2312&sid=525

The nut is relatively wide for a steel string (42,5 mm), which is something i like. The body is FXC Cutaway type (http://www.takamine.com/?fa=body3 ), which seems to fit my needs reasonably.

The NEX Body (http://www.takamine.com/?fa=body4 ) of the EG440C is a bit outside of my budget ($443) (http://www.takamine.com/?fa=detail&mid=1975&sid=527 ) but seems to be a better all-rounder for my needs.

So what do you guys think? Are those worth my money, or do you have better suggestions? (i didn't find anything fitting in the "Acoustics under $300" thread).

Thanks in advance,
C.
#2
Hmm... Though Takamine guitars are great i found their lower-end models to be rather terrible. Action is usually too high, neck isn't fast at all, and the entire guitar feels 'stiff' and hard to connect with. I personally recommend Laguna acoustic/electrics (most cutaway guitars are usually acoustic/electric) after owning one for about a year and a half. They feel wonderful and sound great, leaving other guitars in the price range, and even for double that, behind. You might have some problems finding them though since you're over in Europe from what i can see.
Originally Posted by evening_crow
Quoting yourself is cool.


WARNING: I kill threads.
#3
I'd actually recommend my guitar that I have. The only thing is, the frets aren't as large as a classical... though are bigger than an electric. Have a look at it... Lindo: Slim Dove.
It's beautiful to look at. Sounds pretty good (not as nice as I'd like but still nice). Check it out!
#4
i don't care for the lower end taks - the sound just isn't there for me.

i'd suggest a seagull if you can find one. much better sound and also wider nut, which will feel more comfortable to anyone who's been playing classical. true, at that price range you won't get a cutaway, but there's usually a tradeoff in this price range. at $400 there's no quality solid top with a cutaway unless you go used.

if you have to have it, i'm going to break away from conventional wisdom and suggest you try a fender - not a gimmicky on, a standard solid top cutaway guitar. they wouldn't be my first choice except that they do sound better compared to others with cutaways in the lowest price ranges.
#5
Quote by patticake
i don't care for the lower end taks - the sound just isn't there for me.

i'd suggest a seagull if you can find one. much better sound and also wider nut, which will feel more comfortable to anyone who's been playing classical. true, at that price range you won't get a cutaway, but there's usually a tradeoff in this price range. at $400 there's no quality solid top with a cutaway unless you go used.

if you have to have it, i'm going to break away from conventional wisdom and suggest you try a fender - not a gimmicky on, a standard solid top cutaway guitar. they wouldn't be my first choice except that they do sound better compared to others with cutaways in the lowest price ranges.

Valid point. Most cutaways will automatically have a less round sound if compared to full-bodied guitars, despite of the price tag. Also at that price range i really recommend staying away from your typical big-named acoustic brands like Takamine and Ovation. I simply find them to be rip-offs; cashing in money from inexperienced ears and fingers by relying or their commercial reputation. Go out and compare side by side several different guitars to see what you like, regardless of the name on their headstocks. Also throw in some more expensive ones to see how they do against those and even get someone else to play them in front of you if possible. Guitars sound very different to the person playing them and to the person in front hearing them.

EDIT: It's possible to find good-sounding guitars at that price range without going used actually. Since i bought my $500 cutaway acoustic/electric i've only found one other guitar that i liked the sound of better. That happened to be a $2,100 Martin... but even then the neck didn't feel as nice for me. It's all about going out and trying every guitar that you can up until you find one that makes you think "damn, i'm taking this."

After that, play a couple more going up your budget to see if you're still right.
Originally Posted by evening_crow
Quoting yourself is cool.


WARNING: I kill threads.
Last edited by evening_crow at Oct 27, 2009,
#6
I wouldn't go with any of those mentioned so far, just as brand-stereotype, if you are into Johnny Cash. Nowhere near enough low end for those alternating bass lines...

It is certainly possible to find a guitar among any of those that will suit your needs, it just might take a little searching. And by "little searching" I mean "play 40 to find 1"

Unfortunately, I can't think of a guitar in that price range that isn't quite jangly, as a rule.

That doesn't mean you won't find a guitar in that range or on the list above that isn't perfectly acceptable. It's just me spouting opinions on overly-treble-based tone. Of course, you preferred a Takamine, which isn't know as a "bass heavy" brand either.

*flameshield up

I'm the one guy on the planet who likes the Martin X series. Martin can build a better guitar out of recycled dog food bags than the other guys can out of real wood.

More seriously, be wary, some people have reported HPL Martins peel and disintegrate. I haven't, I've adored each one I've ever owned, but...bad reviews usually exist for a reason.

I once owned a low-end Takamine Jasmine that practically disintegrated after five years. It was pampered well, but the tuners pulled loose from the head at the same time as the soundboard started to cave in. I continually downtuned, but it didn't seem to stop the progression. I eventually sold it for a huge loss.
Bluegrass Rocks

CYNONYTE!

Quote by Basti95
People only come here to get sigged anyway


Quote by Basti95
Rats, I thought someone would sig it and make me famous...

it was going to be my big break

#7
Thanks for the input guys, i guess there won't be any low-end Takamine for me

Since i live in Germany, brands like Laguna and Lindo are apparently not available.

I realize a good sounding guitar with a cutaway under $400 is pretty much impossible, so since i'm a beginner and i just play for fun i'm willing to trade some sound quality for playability.

What about the Yamaha APX500? (http://www.yamaha.com/guitars/products/productdetail.html?CNTID=451519&CTID=5063100 , about $442)

As with the Takamines, i like the idea of the slim body and supposed easy playability. According to a review site, "Nut width on the APX500 is 43mm, action height at the 12th fret is 4mm on the bass side, 3mm on the treble and string spacing at the nut is 49mm". The top is not solid, but as i said, perfect sound is not my priority right now. I'll try out the APX500 at the shop this evening.
#8
Quote by carlosesteban
Thanks for the input guys, i guess there won't be any low-end Takamine for me

Since i live in Germany, brands like Laguna and Lindo are apparently not available.

I realize a good sounding guitar with a cutaway under $400 is pretty much impossible, so since i'm a beginner and i just play for fun i'm willing to trade some sound quality for playability.

What about the Yamaha APX500? (http://www.yamaha.com/guitars/products/productdetail.html?CNTID=451519&CTID=5063100 , about $442)

As with the Takamines, i like the idea of the slim body and supposed easy playability. According to a review site, "Nut width on the APX500 is 43mm, action height at the 12th fret is 4mm on the bass side, 3mm on the treble and string spacing at the nut is 49mm". The top is not solid, but as i said, perfect sound is not my priority right now. I'll try out the APX500 at the shop this evening.


I've never heard anything bad about Yamaha guitars to be honest. Give them a shot to see if you like them. Also it is possible to find a good-sounding guitar at that range, you've just gotta look for them.
Originally Posted by evening_crow
Quoting yourself is cool.


WARNING: I kill threads.
#9
Quote by carlosesteban
I realize a good sounding guitar with a cutaway under $400 is pretty much impossible.


No, its easy enough to do. Just don't rely on any brand name/model strictly on reputation. Even if you play 100 guitars from ---manufacturer, of ---model line, don't expect the next one to match the others.

Even better, not sure how things are in your part of the world, but over here, discounts can be huge on second-hand guitars. The $400 Takamine you originally wanted, that all of the posters so far haven't liked, in a used store you can find it for half price. I mirror what the pawn shops do: offer about half the resale value. At $100, that Tak is muuucch better. It takes patience though. I buy, sell, or trade a ton of guitars, but I also travel throughout the US, and spend probably 10-20 hours a week browsing stores in whatever city I am in. Considering the time, I probably have hundreds of hours looking for a good deal, before finding one that catches my interest. At other times I have bought two guitars in a week. It seems its largely a matter of luck and perseverance.

I didn't mean to imply all of the guitars above were junk. Sorry if I misled.
Bluegrass Rocks

CYNONYTE!

Quote by Basti95
People only come here to get sigged anyway


Quote by Basti95
Rats, I thought someone would sig it and make me famous...

it was going to be my big break

#10
So, i went yesterday to the shop and tried the Yamaha APX700 (slim body electroacoustic with cutaway and solid spruce top), and i think i'll stay away from slim body electroacoustics, there was practically no sound coming out of it unplugged, and since most of the time i won't be plugged in, it's not worth it. I decided to get a decent acoustic instead, if i want electronics i can add them later. The cutaway would be nice but since steel string guitars have a couple of extra frets when compared to the classical, i decided it's not that important.

I also realized yesterday that the nut width and playability for someone with a classical background will be the main argument for the guitar, since i'll be reaching back to classical guitars every once in a while.

The guy at the shop recommended the Seagull S6 Original, which seems to be very popular at these forums, but costs 399 euros at the cheapest online-shop here in Germany (around $588). I liked the wide nut (1-8/10) and the string spacing for fingerstyling (as i said, not a big fan of flatpicking).

Since $588 is out of my budget, the guy recommended the Baton Rouge L6, which is an apparently pretty decent replica of the S6 Original and it costs only 219 euros/$324 (with solid cedar top, maple back and sides, indian rosewood fretboard). It felt nice but i must say, as superficial as it sounds, that i don't like the design, especially hated the non-gloss finish, but still consider it as an option.

Any other recommendations of acoustics with a wide nut in my price range? Yesterday i tried out the Yamaha FG730 as well, which is a recommendation in the "guitars under $300" thread. It felt ok at 43mm (1-11/16) nut width (and looked 1000 times better than the Seagull/Baton Rouge), but i think i prefer the wider nut of the Seagull and its replica.

All budget recommendations seem to be dreadnoughts as well, are jumbo guitars more expensive in general? Which body is more appropriate for fingerpicking?

Boy, is choosing the right guitar an endless task...