#1
What would you fine gentlemen of the Acoustic & Classical Guitar forum consider the Steinway of acoustic guitars if you had to name one? Steel strings I mean. By that I mean a company that turns out without a doubt some of the finest instruments available, there may be better companies than Steinway but I am using it as an understandable crossover.

I don't really know if one can say there IS a Steinway of guitars, but if you had to, which company/luthier would you say? I'm curious as to who you guys think makes the highest quality instruments. I feel like there are quite a few really good companies (Santa Cruz, McPherson, etc) and probably just as many private luthiers but what do you think?
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#2
Well, it all comes down to the taste of that one person. And although Steinway pianos may be the 'best' out there, I've seen numerous touring artists use other brands that sound wonderful, such as Kawai, Yamaha, some Baldwin's, etc.

On to the main topic of guitar, I'd say there is less of a 'best' like there is in the piano world; There are MANY great companies that produce MANY great instruments. Martin and Taylor come to mind, they make amazing instruments that have amazing sounds. But there's more than those too, there's Breedlove, Alvarez (like in my case ), Takamine, Ovation (for some), Gibson, and the thousands of luthiers around the world who make absolutely outstanding instruments. While for some instruments, there is only a couple major companies (like the clarient), guitar, being one of the world's most popular instrument, has several companies perfecting the art of making the instrument for just about anyone's wants.

But if I had to say one Company, I'd have to say it's been Martin; they've been around for ages and just about everything they make (the lower end stuff isn't amazing, but it's still good) is wonderful. I'd say after 150+ years, a company would know how to make an excellent instrument. But I dunno, there are way too many different excellent guitar companies, whereas for pianos there are fewer.
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#3
steinway isn't the finest name in pianos - they were the best known name in pianos, and the one that came up with the line "a steinway is a steinway". while i don't like many martins myself, i'd say that martin is probably the brand you'd be talking about. they're the best known brand of guitars, and except for their x and 1 series guitars, they live up to the hype. martin also has some top of the line guitars.

i don't see how you can compare santa cruz - they're a very small company and they make top notch guitars. steinway made good quality somewhat affordable pianos as well as top factory pianos. grotrian probably makes better quality pianos, yamaha may be making more pianos now.
#4
Quote by patticake
steinway isn't the finest name in pianos - they were the best known name in pianos, and the one that came up with the line "a steinway is a steinway". while i don't like many martins myself, i'd say that martin is probably the brand you'd be talking about. they're the best known brand of guitars, and except for their x and 1 series guitars, they live up to the hype. martin also has some top of the line guitars.

i don't see how you can compare santa cruz - they're a very small company and they make top notch guitars. steinway made good quality somewhat affordable pianos as well as top factory pianos. grotrian probably makes better quality pianos, yamaha may be making more pianos now.


My high school has a couple Yamaha pianos; they're probably budget ones, and need tuning (thanks to a low budget school), but they're not too bad...except I just graduated, but that's kinda irrelevant.

My Girlfriend plays piano and she says Yamaha actually makes a lot of really nice pianos, acoustic and digital keyboards. She said the piano in the Greenroom at UMaine is a Yamaha. If you watch Coldplay Live 2003 (DVD, which is of course on youtube), you see that he's playing a Yamaha.

But on topic about guitars...Martin is definitely the most famous; my previous band director said that he doesn't know much about guitars, other than Martin is good. And while the 1 and X series aren't magnificent (I love my Alvarez much more), they are pretty fair sounding.
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#5
Quote by patticake
steinway isn't the finest name in pianos - they were the best known name in pianos, and the one that came up with the line "a steinway is a steinway". while i don't like many martins myself, i'd say that martin is probably the brand you'd be talking about. they're the best known brand of guitars, and except for their x and 1 series guitars, they live up to the hype. martin also has some top of the line guitars.

i don't see how you can compare santa cruz - they're a very small company and they make top notch guitars. steinway made good quality somewhat affordable pianos as well as top factory pianos. grotrian probably makes better quality pianos, yamaha may be making more pianos now.



I just used Steinway as an example that everyone would understand. They aren't necessarily the best but they are very well known and turn out damn nice pianos. I personally have a Yamaha I like quite a lot and my old piano teacher has a really nice Yamaha grand but still.

Santa Cruz may not have been the best brand to name, Martin may have been a better choice but I was talking about sound quality again and not necessarily company size. I probably just didn't make my first post clear enough.


Quote by clayonfire
Well, it all comes down to the taste of that one person. And although Steinway pianos may be the 'best' out there, I've seen numerous touring artists use other brands that sound wonderful, such as Kawai, Yamaha, some Baldwin's, etc.

On to the main topic of guitar, I'd say there is less of a 'best' like there is in the piano world; There are MANY great companies that produce MANY great instruments. Martin and Taylor come to mind, they make amazing instruments that have amazing sounds. But there's more than those too, there's Breedlove, Alvarez (like in my case ), Takamine, Ovation (for some), Gibson, and the thousands of luthiers around the world who make absolutely outstanding instruments. While for some instruments, there is only a couple major companies (like the clarient), guitar, being one of the world's most popular instrument, has several companies perfecting the art of making the instrument for just about anyone's wants.

But if I had to say one Company, I'd have to say it's been Martin; they've been around for ages and just about everything they make (the lower end stuff isn't amazing, but it's still good) is wonderful. I'd say after 150+ years, a company would know how to make an excellent instrument. But I dunno, there are way too many different excellent guitar companies, whereas for pianos there are fewer.


I agree with your first statement. I've played some very nice Kawai's and Baldwins but I still prefer the Steinways my school has. That may just be personal bias but still.

I also agree with your second statement, but I just wanted to know if someone else had a differing opinion. I would rank Martin, Taylor, Breedlove and Gibson highly but I've never managed to find an Alvarez, Takamine, etc that blew me out of the water. Not to say I haven't played nice ones. My girlfriend has a beautiful, old Takamine but I wouldn't buy it myself.

Martin is the first company that came to mind as well with Breedlove coming in second. I wouldn't rank breedlove first since they just aren't old enough and some of their lower end guitars just don't do it. At least not for me. But then I always come to wonder about companies like Lowden, Santa Cruz, McPherson, Larrivee, etc.
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Last edited by Artemis Entreri at Jul 22, 2010,
#8
I clicked this because I thought it said "the Steinberger of acoustic guitars".
#9
Quote by Artemis Entreri


Santa Cruz may not have been the best brand to name, Martin may have been a better choice but I was talking about sound quality again and not necessarily company size. I probably just didn't make my first post clear enough.

I also agree with your second statement, but I just wanted to know if someone else had a differing opinion. I would rank Martin, Taylor, Breedlove and Gibson highly but I've never managed to find an Alvarez, Takamine, etc that blew me out of the water. Not to say I haven't played nice ones. My girlfriend has a beautiful, old Takamine but I wouldn't buy it myself.

Martin is the first company that came to mind as well with Breedlove coming in second. I wouldn't rank breedlove first since they just aren't old enough and some of their lower end guitars just don't do it. At least not for me. But then I always come to wonder about companies like Lowden, Santa Cruz, McPherson, Larrivee, etc.


From your original post I was under the impression that you were asking for the person/factory that made the "finest" acoustic guitars - as in highest level of craftsmanship, meticulously built to perfection, and made with the finest materials in existence . Like patti said before, steinways aren't the best pianos but the most well known pianos so referencing steinways kinda goes against your original question.

None of the guitars that you listed above are anywhere near the "finest" acoustic instruments available in the world. Just the fact that everything that you listed are either built in HUGE factories (martin, taylor, etc) or small factories (larrivee, santa cruz, etc) makes it an inferior guitar compared to something built solo and professionally hand-voiced from a master luthier.

The only guitars that can truly be labeled as "the finest" acoustic instruments in the world are the ones by master luthiers who can charge $20-50k+ for their guitars and still have 1-4 year waitlists. When you get into this price range, there is really no longer a "best one" but rather a "best fit."

A few of these top luthiers in no particular order:

Ervin Somogyi
James Olson
Kevin Ryan
#10
What you posted is what I was sort of looking for as well. I truly phrased my first post poorly. I wanted a company sort of equivalent to Steinway, good name, turns out a lot of good instruments, pretty reliable. Then I also wanted the nicest guitar one could purchase. Looks like I got what I wanted, thank you!

And to sp4zmo, who would even play those 20-50k guitars?
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#11
Quote by Artemis Entreri
What you posted is what I was sort of looking for as well. I truly phrased my first post poorly. I wanted a company sort of equivalent to Steinway, good name, turns out a lot of good instruments, pretty reliable. Then I also wanted the nicest guitar one could purchase. Looks like I got what I wanted, thank you!

And to sp4zmo, who would even play those 20-50k guitars?


Most people that own and play the top tier of acoustic instruments are either very wealthy with large amount of disposable income and/or musicians that make a living with their instrument. In both of the above instances, I think its very reasonable to purchase a 20-50k guitar that can last a lifetime and be passed on to future generations. You buy a 10-40k car so you can drive to work to make a living...is it really unreasonable for an established musician to buy a 20-50k instrument that may potentially take his artistry to another level? Also, unlike the car that you will be replacing in 1-10 years, guitars can last a lifetime if taken care of properly.

However, for the average person, these guitars are not practical and usually not worth the price. You should never go into debt buying a guitar - its just not worth it. I think its a fair goal for most musicians with a day job to own or hope to own a 3-6k guitar someday. Good computers run 2-3k and become almost worthless in 4-5 years. At least the 3-6k guitar will be good for the rest of your life.

There are also diminishing returns as you move up the price ladder in regards to play ability. High end acoustics are usually all hand-voiced and thus have higher sustain, clarity, dynamics, balance, etc than a cheaper mass produced acoustics. However, if you don't have the playing ability to put all of these nuances to good use, you might as well get the cheaper guitar.
#12
Well, it is all just ones own taste, but my favorite out of all the guitars I've played and I will eventually buy one when I have the money is a Huss & Dalton and or Collings.
#13
If you're looking at ridiculously good guitars, there isn't really a company which is the equivalent of a Steinway. With guitars, the equivalent in quality would be independent luthiers from around the world. I'm not too sure about the best luthiers for steel string guitars but Greg Smallman makes the most acclaimed classical guitars in the world.
#14
Quote by clayonfire
Well, it all comes down to the taste of that one person. And although Steinway pianos may be the 'best' out there, I've seen numerous touring artists use other brands that sound wonderful, such as Kawai, Yamaha, some Baldwin's, etc.

I've played extensively on each of those pianos, and I always come back to Steinway. Part of it is the sound (British Steinway's have such an incredibly clarity with their bass, and it's such a full sound), but part of it is the feel. Steinway's keys seem to be weighted to correspond with my hands perfectly.
I'm just going to go ahead and say that out of every single piano I've played (a lot), Steinway's are by far my favorite. And I really don't think there is an equivalent name in guitars.
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#15
I'd say probably Martin, just because it's quality and its backed by hundreds of years of history.
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#16
Quote by Artemis Entreri
I agree with your first statement. I've played some very nice Kawai's and Baldwins but I still prefer the Steinways my school has. That may just be personal bias but still.

I also agree with your second statement, but I just wanted to know if someone else had a differing opinion. I would rank Martin, Taylor, Breedlove and Gibson highly but I've never managed to find an Alvarez, Takamine, etc that blew me out of the water. Not to say I haven't played nice ones. My girlfriend has a beautiful, old Takamine but I wouldn't buy it myself.

Martin is the first company that came to mind as well with Breedlove coming in second. I wouldn't rank breedlove first since they just aren't old enough and some of their lower end guitars just don't do it. At least not for me. But then I always come to wonder about companies like Lowden, Santa Cruz, McPherson, Larrivee, etc.


The only reason I said Alvarez is because I'm biased and I own a Masterworks (or is it masterclass? I should know this ) and Looooooove the sound of it. And yes, Breedlove's are very nice guitars, I played a 12 String by them, and although the backs and sides were still laminate, it was one of the most beautiful guitar's I've ever played and the best sounding 12-string I've ever played.

As for the whole steinway thing (aimed towards everyone else), Steinway and Martin have two incredible reputations. Which is why people usually say steinway is best for pianos, and Martin is best for guitars (however, this is subjective depending on the musician).
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