I have played electrics for a few years now. I would not consider myself a professional, however I would consider my self much, much more informed then your average player of my experience. Because I usually thoroughly research, seek advice, and explore options before making an "impulse buy"...i.e.(I played it one time and had to have it after the first chord I strummed). I am not a name snob that has to have a Martin ( I would like one but cannot afford 3 grand or even 1 grand for that matter). I am not the kind of guy that goes out and buys a Fender because Eric Clapton plays one, or an SG because Jimmy Page plays one. I care about quality and tone.

So now I would like to buy an acoustic. I know that solid tops are important in quality and tone. I also know that different woods provide different tones. I have also read that while a guitar has a spruce top for instance, there are higher end spruces, and usually only quality guitars specify which kind of spruce it is.

Understand that my main problem right now is that I live in a city with very limited options . There is one music store in the city and it is privately owned which deals mainly with Martin, Fender, and Yamaha when it comes to acoustic guitars. And no GC within 100 miles (for instance when I went to my local guitar store and inquired about where around I can try a PRS they told me Cleveland... I live in Pennsylvania). So it is not like I can go to a GC and try a wide variety of different guitars.

Being that this is a website of players of all caliber I enjoy reading opinions and getting info from a large variety of people on here. I expected a huge varience in opinions and suggestions, likes and dislikes. My consern is all I see anyone talking about are Seagulls. It makes believe that either only 1 or 2 people on here actually have a clue, or everyone just has an endless budget and can afford to spend anything they want on a guitar.

Based on my research ,mainly internet research (player reviews, expert reviews, on line articles, and magazine articles) and a handful of people I know that play... Yamaha by far hands down, unequivically provide the best quality and consistancy in the industry. I have also read that yamaha has sold more acoustics than ANY other company. So how is it that Yamaha has basically been snubbed and not even mentioned in the acousitcs forum??

I am not saying Seagulls are bad guitars, I've never played one nor do I know anyone who has played one. I do know quite a few people that own Yamaha's and have nothing negative to say. Can anyone give me any other insight on Yamahas? I would even love someone that has played both Yammis and Seagulls to give me a comparison if possible. I am open to all ideas and just want some more info if possible.

I am looking to spend somewhere between 300 and 500 hopefully, But I would probably go as high as 650 if it were justifiable.
Last edited by jsspang at Jul 31, 2010,
Yamaha has been making good, solid instruments for many years. My very first guitar was a cheap entry-level job I bought about 1976, and I've owned several others since.

In general, with the lower price ranges, you're getting a good, sturdy, well-made instrument. The tone qualities vary considerably... Cheaper models have laminated tops, better ones don't.
A lot of people like the Seagull line these days...They are comparatively new and were not around when I started playing. Neither was Taylor....
Difference comes down to which you like better for your money. It's a lot easier when you have a big "chain" store like Guitar Center where you can play a wide variety of instruments.
i would consider seagull and yamaha to be very similar qualitywise, and they're both very consistent brands, too.
I do agree that you can not really go based on reviews and comments alone. But for the most part if 99 out of 100 people give a product a great review, it is pretty safe to say it is a good product. BUT that doesn't always mean it is the right product for me.

I am pretty much sold on the FG730S. But much like you said obeythepenguin, there are a lot of good products that go unrecognized. I also believe that you can get a great guitar now a days for less then half the price the same guitar would cost 20 or 30 years ago. I think guitars are a lot more affordable today based on the fact that there are a lot companies in competition and guitars are more mass produced now.

I also feel import guitars are like anything else imported. You can get really great quality, or really poor quality if you know what to look for. For instance I know Martin's reputation and IF I could afford to I would probably buy a D15. But being that I am a hobbiest, it doesn't make sense to spend that kind of money when I can get a great sounding and looking guitar that will last me many, many years for half the price.
i would like to point out that the yamaha fg guitars have an 1 11/16" nut and a long scale, which is fine for some, but for fingerpickers, people with big hands, and those who want more room on the fretboard, you can't beat a seagull s6 with its wider neck and shorter scale.
I can definitely say that Yamaha is your safest bet to a guitar. They are very high quality, affordable, and play wonderfully. My first guitar, and the guitar I am still playing up to date after 3 years, is a Yamaha.

The funny thing is, I had no knowledge of any guitar brands. I didn't know anything about the quality and sound of a guitar. But I walked in to a guitar store with the intention of walking out with a guitar. I had never done any research before that point. The only brand I recognized was a Yamaha. I found it weird that a company that makes motorcycles, and all these other different things would make a guitar. But I picked up the prettiest looking model I saw and bought it. Only strummed it once to make sure it wasn't broken.

Now to this day, I am still impressed with how well the quality is. A $500 acoustic guitar, still holding up. Nothing wrong with it at all yet, nothing falling a part. Still in great condition. It sounds wonderful, it looks wonderful, and is very strong. Only recently did I decide to look up the model of my guitar, and if anyone else owned it. Not very many reviews did I find on the internet.

But this really tells me the quality of Yamaha, that you can pick any of their instruments, and play a great guitar for 3 to 5 to 20 years. Anytime you pick up a Yamaha, you're guaranteed to be satisfied, you're guaranteed it won't break on you.
Well currently I only use a pick and basically have no figure picking technique at all. However I would like to learn to finger pick eventually. I could understand how a bit of a wider neck could make things easier. But does scale really matter when fingerpicking. I was always under the impression that you could finger pick with any guitar, including electrics
Following up on what I said, I am looking to buy a new acoustic. I did hear about Seagull from these forums, so I went to my local guitar store to try it out (along with some other brands). Its quality is outstanding. I found that I played much more exceptionally than some of the renowned brands.

Seagull is also very affordable, with electronics and all they average out between $400-$700 around there. They have a distinct tone, of course their different models will sound different. But once trained, you may be able to distinguish a Seagull's sound from another.

I would say Seagull is comparable to Yamaha, and its very surprising too how well their quality is, seeing as how they are a relatively new brand, only 30 years old.

Seagull is under the Godin line of guitars. So that means they are with the Simon & Patrick, and also Art & Lutherie guitars. the A&L are their "lower-end" but I heard many beginner guitarists have bought these and have kept playing because of the exceptional sound they seem to be making.

I've played with some S&P, and they play as well as the Seagull's. They may as well merge them, I really don't see too big of a difference. I do find it peculiar that everyone seems to be recommending Seagull guitars when Simon & Patrick guitars are just as good, and they're from the same company. If I'm not mistaken S&P are supposed to be more "higher-end" than Seagull, but I can't verify that statement.
Well, I appriciate all the great responses so far.

I was wondering a few other things... They say a guitar sounds better with age. Is that basically the same for all acoustics, or only acoustics made of certain woods? Some of my favorite guitarists only play vintage acoustics because they prefer the sound. Realistically, how many years does it take an acoustic to begin to "break-in" for a lack of a better term, due to age?

I really like the deep tone of the Martins. Although, I think the yamaha's have a great tone, they don't have the deep sound. It may never be to the extent of a Martin, but is it unrealistic to think that a tone deepens with age? Basically, how exactly is a guitar's tune effected by age? (deeper lows, brighter highs, a wider range from high to low?)
Last edited by jsspang at Jul 31, 2010,
Thanks for the info!!!

Yeah, I know a yamaha will never sound like a martin. Obviously, they are 2 different guitars and most people would spend a lot less if they could get the same sound. I guess like I said before I was wondering if age would effect the tone like that.

All I have really gotten to play much are few friends older yamahas, a few lower end fenders, and the I guess I would say entry level/intermediate yamaha guitars at my local store. Yamaha is the forerunner thus far... but I am not ready to close the book just yet. I do not want a crappy cheap beginner acoustic that im gonna play for 6 months and want to upgrade. I am looking for something quality that would last me years and if I decide to upgrade would probably keep around cause its still a good one. But as I stated im lookin around the 500 price range give or take a hundred.

I have read up on the DX1, they don't have them at my local store, and frankly I didn't even bother picking up any of the martins because they are out of my price range. I have seen people say the DX1 have "that" martin tone, and others say they are garbage with a martin decal on the head... Has anyone played one??? Can anyone give me any personal experiences with them?
Last edited by jsspang at Jul 31, 2010,
Considering your local music store limitations, here is what I would suggest. Yamaha FG700S - this guitar is a steal at $200, it has what a good guitar needs, good sound, good build quality, good playability. With your left over cash you can use it for good hardshell case and for guitar setup to your preference, have a custom bone saddle made for it, nut filed/action lowered, and have it setup with gauge of strings you feel comfortable with. Yamaha's FG series is one killer set of guitars for under $400. I sure love my FG730S but I think it wouldn't have bothered me to buy 700S as I have played a few and they were just as good. Main difference is FG700S has laminated mahogany back and sides versus rosewood laminate for 730S.
I have done most of these mods to my FG730S and its an absolute pleasure to play and its a cannon (very loud balanced guitar).
Please play as many of them as they have in stock as no two are ever alike. You will know when you find the right one. If they don't have more in stock, wait until they do, then try as many as you can.
As far as the solid wood guitar go, they are better in most cases, at least ones built with better quality woods, but they are a lot more fragile compared to solid top, laminated back and sides guitar. Just today I played wonderful Guild GAD F20E and its soundboard was cracked near the bridge - such a shame - terrific little short scale git.
Hope any of this helps in your decision.
if you really like the deep martin tone, try some blueridges. they come the closest soundwise, and they're good values.
Great input guys and gal. You have been a huge help. I appriciate you giving your opinions!!
Quote by obeythepenguin
I've never understood Godin's business plan either, and from what I can tell, they seem to have terrible marketing (terrible stock photos, out of date web sites)... in fact, they really suck at everything besides actually building the guitars.

At least in my experience, they're decent on customer support, too. But I agree, their marketing efforts seems sort of underwhelming.

In fairness, over the past year or two, it seems a lot easier to find a Seagull guitar at a Guitar Center store. And to find more models there, too. (I live near a GC, work near a GC, and have family near a GC, so my opinion's based on several GC stores.)

Since GC is the 800 pound gorilla of guitar retailers, it might be seen as an improvement in Seagull's marketing efforts, that the GC/Seagull connection has been strengthened. (Although I suspect this is more due to Guitar Center's efforts, than to Seagull's.)

I'm an active participant in a variety of shooting sports, and would liken Seagull to CZ. CZ pistols and rifles are often praised for being of very high quality, at surprisingly low prices. But at least in the US, they're simply out-marketed by S&W, Remington, Beretta, Glock, Ruger, etc. (NOT trying to turn this into a discussion of guns. Just noting that the Seagull situation has parallels in other industries.)
Quote by jsspang
They say a guitar sounds better with age.

Some say this. Some don't. General agreement on this point does not exist, even if some people on both sides of the issue will swear to you that it does.

And there are even some people who wholeheartedly agree that the guitar's sound changes with age, but not for the better.

Is that basically the same for all acoustics, or only acoustics made of certain woods?

If it's true, most people would concede that it's not universally true. It's probably more true for all solid wood guitars, than for guitars having only a solid wood top or no solid wood at all. It's likely far more true for guitars that have been stored and maintained properly (especially with regard to temperature/humidity control). It's likely more true for guitars that have been extensively played for many years, as opposed to guitars that may be equally old, but which have seen little use. It may well be more true for some woods than for others. It may well be more true for some sizes/types of guitars, than others.

Some of my favorite guitarists only play vintage acoustics because they prefer the sound.

Okay. But even if that vintage Martin sounds different from a modern day Martin, it's possible that it sounded different even when it was brand new. (Well, not brand new. But let's say 2 or 3 years old.) Different woods, different glues, different construction techniques, different etc. It's unclear just how much of the difference in sound is due to the passage of time.

Realistically, how many years does it take an acoustic to begin to "break-in" for a lack of a better term, due to age?

Anywhere from "it'll start improving almost immediately," to "it'll never happen."

For what very, very little it's worth, my personal opinion is that many guitars, in many circumstances, do change in sound to some extent over their first couple of years. This change may be positive or negative, and it's often very subtle. And after these first couple of years of being played, the rate of continuing change seems to diminish, perhaps closely approaching zero.

And all this, with many exceptions.

But I recognize that there are people who'll completely disagree with this opinion. So be it.

is it unrealistic to think that a tone deepens with age?

Even if a guitar's tone does change with age, it may not deepen or turn more "Martin-like." And even if it does, it might well be a sufficiently minor change that other factors (choice of string, storage conditions, playing conditions, player technique, etc.) will vastly overshadow the subtle changes wrought by age.

Ultimately, if you want a deep tone, I'd strongly advise you to buy a guitar that sounds deep when new. Really. Relying on "opening up due to age" to bring a guitar closer to what you'd prefer, seems sort of silly.
Well, what did you decide on and how was it?

I'am a beginner and I purchased a Yamaha FG700s due to all the great reviews. I wanted a spruce solid top quality guitar for the least amount of money. I did a ton of research and went to the local GC to pluck a few. I was impressed with the 700s and it's worth $200 all day every day.

It just feels so good that when learning a song that the guitar actually sounds like what I'am trying to learn which doesn't happen on my electric(Squier.. yuck) lol.
Yamaha FG700S
Agile 3k
Laney Cub 15w Head with 2x12 cab
Vox VT 20+
I bought a FG730s a few days ago, and I have to say it was fantastic. It has a very nice bursty tone and it was nicely constructed. There is a bit of bling, which makes it nice. And it looks very sturdy as well. All in all, I felt that it was worth the money.