#1
I've been eying the Epiphone Masterbilt DR-500ME ($549 shipped) for awhile now but I noticed that Carvin has acoustics now (I hadn't been to their site in quite awhile and was surprised to see these). I was looking at the Cobalt C770S ($608 shipped).

I realize these are two completely different guitars (the cobalt has a mahogany top and is a cutaway). I'm more concerned about playability and lack of fret buzz (oh how I hate fret buzz) than the actual sound quality, but if I can have my cake and eat it too I'll be happy.

The pros and cons as I see them:

Carvin:

Pro: They set their guitars up in California before shipping and I hear they're pretty good at it (I've never played a Carvin acoustic or electric). Fishman electronics?
Con: If I don't like it I have to pay to ship it back.

Masterbilt:

Pro: All-solid wood construction, can play it locally before I buy.
Cons: I might have to have the local guitar shop set it up (probably including fretwork). I hear the electronics kind of suck in them.
I also have concerns about their fretboards--both Epiphone electrics I've own had not-so-good boards; they both had/have little pits in them (especially the rosewood, the ebony not so much).

The price of the two come out about the same because I'd have to buy a case for the Masterbilt.

Anybody played both a Carvin acoustic and a Masterbilt? Any thoughts on the quality and/or sound? Is there a third option at the same price I should be considering?

I've been playing guitar for about 22 years now but I've never taken lessons, which I'm about to do because I don't know **** about music theory and I decided it might be worth learning and I want to do it on an acoustic. I've only owned one acoustic before and it was an all-mahogany Dean with a concert body (I think that's what they're called? small body, but not spanish guitar small).

Thanks
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
Last edited by Prime2515102 at Feb 22, 2012,
#2
Carvin by far. Great quality and Fishman Electronics are top notch. Awesome guitars for great prices.
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Last edited by stonyman65 at Feb 22, 2012,
#3
Thanks for the input, that's 1 for Carvin (I tried to make this a pole but I messed it up heh...)
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
#4
If I never buy another Epiphone, it will be too soon. One person's opinion, and of course, "your results may vary".

Anyway, Carvin enjoys a stellar reputation for their USA built guitars. Arguably, they wouldn't want to screw that up with a poor performing line of imports..

I've perused the Cobalt line, and while it isn't extensive, it does provide coverage at all the necessary feature/price points.

Fishman transducers sound very good. Ibanez pairs them with a number of their own or modified preamps.

It should be obvious that there's no such place as a "Cobalt" guitar factory. It would be interesting to find out if anybody knows who the OEM is for this brand.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Feb 22, 2012,
#5
Out of curiosity, why the mahogany top? Could probably go cheaper with a more traditional look.
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#6
unlike their electrics, carvin's acoustic guitars are korean built, and have laminate back and sides - and even when i couldn't usually tell the difference between all solid and lam, i could tell there was something fuzzy in the carvin acoustics sound.

the masterbilts are all solid, and while they're the only epiphones i consider worth trying, they are worth trying. also you can get them through big box stores with a looong exchange/return policy, so if you get one with an issue, they'll take care of you.

out of curiosity, why not get an all solid guitar and add electronics later? it would open you up to a much better selection of guitars, including a number of all solid models from companies like guild, blueridge and recording king.
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Last edited by patticake at Feb 22, 2012,
#7
Quote by staticoverdub
Out of curiosity, why the mahogany top? Could probably go cheaper with a more traditional look.


I just thought it looked nice and that Dean I had sounded really good (for a $180 guitar anyway) although, the small body may have offset the warmth of mahogany.

Quote by patticake
...including a number of all solid models from companies like guild, blueridge and recording king


Those sound expensive... lol

Quote by patticake
why not get an all solid guitar and add electronics later?


Well, that's what I decided to do...

I went around the net reading about the Carvin acoustics and there are too many bad reviews for comfort so I decided to get an Epiphone. Unfortunately nobody has any in stock around here so I ordered one. I ended up ordering a AJ500M. Where I ordered from has pictures of the actual guitar so I picked the one that looked like it had the smoothest fretboard (they all looked pretty smooth though). It ended up about $30 cheaper (with a case) so if I have to take it in for adjustment I have an extra $30 to go toward it.

I guess I'll find out if I made a mistake on Friday lol

Edit: look here, a guy playing an AJ500M along side a Martin and nobody is throwing tomatoes... that has to be a good sign lol
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aAjvF0SWkxQ
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
Last edited by Prime2515102 at Feb 22, 2012,
#8
I was gonna start a new thread about this but I decided to just post it here...

From what I've been reading, that Epiphone should be coming with 12-52 strings on it. I bought a set to go on it but the kind I wanted only came in 12-53.

Anybody think it'll need to be adjusted for that (let's say it comes set up well)?

I wouldn't bother with an electric but I don't know anything about acoustics really.

Thanks
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
#9
Quote by Prime2515102
From what I've been reading, that Epiphone should be coming with 12-52 strings on it. I bought a set to go on it but the kind I wanted only came in 12-53.

Anybody think it'll need to be adjusted for that (let's say it comes set up well)?

Please take a moment to take our little survey:

(A): I'm obsessing.

(B): I'm normally this histrionic.

(C): Chronic paranoia runs in my family

(D): All of the above.

The only possibility I could see is the top nut slot might have to be widened to prevent the string from hanging up. I don't even see that being necessary.

Normally an .052 E-6 occurs in "custom light" string packages, which begins with an .011 E-1 and is lighter all the way across.

Take note in this D'Addario string tension chart: http://www.daddario.com/DADProductFamily.Page?ActiveID=3768&familyid=9

The difference in tension between .052 & .053 is less than one pound, and the tension between "light & "custom light", is less than ten pounds.

A obsessive compulsive might see this as significant, in practice it doesn't matter.

The only situation a problem might manifest itself, is if a guitar with "lights" on it, was set up as low as it could possibly be without buzzing, then the whole set was changed to ,"custom light". It might buzz a bit.

In reality, a factory setup guitar isn't really on that ragged edge. The makers don't want slight imperfections in fret work and neck straightness to present themselves that readily.
#10
E. None of the above.

I just wondered... lol

Thanks
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
#11
strings should be fine.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#12
Well, it was delivered this morning. I haven't put the strings on it yet (because they won't be here until next week), but this thing was just about perfect out of the box. Hell, 4 out of 6 strings were even in tune when it got here!

I did had to give about a 1/8 turn on the truss rod though but it plays just about perfect now.

It has huge bass yet manages not to overwhelm the higher notes with boominess like I've heard on a lot of other acoustics. It's a little warmer than I would prefer, but I'm probably still just remembering the sound of that little Dean I had.

The only thing I can see wrong with it is that there is a slight mar on the body binding but it can't really be seen, only felt (it's on the back anyway). I do notice some of those little pits/cracks/what-have-you (like tiny splits) on the fretboard but I did some reading up on it and apparently it's normal, and from what I read they shouldn't be filled or anything.

I had no idea the Chinese could make a guitar this good. Too bad they didn't do such a good job on my Les Paul

All-in-all I would say that if I had paid say, $650-$700 for it, I'd still be just as happy with it.

I know this wasn't a new gear thread but I thought I'd throw my 2¢ in about it.
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
#13
Quote by Prime2515102
It has huge bass yet manages not to overwhelm the higher notes with boominess like I've heard on a lot of other acoustics. It's a little warmer than I would prefer, but I'm probably still just remembering the sound of that little Dean I had.
You'll probably get used to this, and learn to like it. If that's not the case, you may be able to solve it with strings. 80/20 brass strings are colder and brighter. Mahogany body guitars are fairly warm sounding, as compared to maple B & S axes.

Quote by Prime2515102
The only thing I can see wrong with it is that there is a slight mar on the body binding but it can't really be seen, only felt (it's on the back anyway). I do notice some of those little pits/cracks/what-have-you (like tiny splits) on the fretboard but I did some reading up on it and apparently it's normal, and from what I read they shouldn't be filled or anything.
And you say you're not obsessive.

Rosewood is what is known as an "open grain wood". What you're calling "splits" are actually pores. Another "open grained wood", is most, if not all oak. Examine a piece up close, you'll notice the same characteristics as rosewood. An example of a, "closed grain wood", would be maple. Probably ebony as well.

Quote by Prime2515102
I had no idea the Chinese could make a guitar this good. Too bad they didn't do such a good job on my Les Paul
The Chinese can do anything they put their minds too, that's why the rest of the world is starting to fear them. Not only that, but they invented gunpowder! I have a Chinese Epiphone 12 string. Beautiful instrument! Too bad the neck is on a the wrong angle. That said, China's luthiers & QC have come a long way in the 15 years since I bought it. Count your blessings with such slight defects.

Quote by Prime2515102
I know this wasn't a new gear thread but I thought I'd throw my 2¢ in about it.
I think you're entitled to a "NGD" thread also, you just might have jumped the gun on it a bit.

Quote by Prime2515102
I did had to give about a 1/8 turn on the truss rod though but it plays just about perfect now.
For me personally, this would be my last course of action on a new guitar. Do you mind if I ask why?

My point being, if you had a genuine issue with the neck relief, fine. If this is the route you chose to lower the action, sanding the saddle is a better remedy.
#14
Well, the buzz was right in the middle of the fretboard (frets 6 through 9-ish, it was the worst at 6 though) so I figured it was a little arched back. It looked pretty straight, but I don't have a straight edge handy. It still looks straight though but without the buzz.

Edit: I'm going tomorrow to set up some lessons and I'll have the instructor take a look at it when I start just to make sure all is well.
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
Last edited by Prime2515102 at Feb 25, 2012,
#15
happy NGD. I've owned a couple masterbilts, they're better guitars than what's commonly found in their price range. I'm sure you'll get a lot of use out of it. Just remember that it is a solid wood guitar and will need to be stored somewhere with humidity control.
.
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#16
Speaking of humidity... Living in Michigan it can vary between practically nothing and 100% so I was kind of worried about that. Any recommendations for a humidifier? This guy on YouTube says just get a soap dish and drill holes and put a damp sponge in it.

What about dehumidifying? A dry sponge? Silica gel packs? Or isn't that as important?

Should I get one of those hygrometer thingamajigs?

And no Captaincranky, I'm not obsessing lol I'm a man of modest means so I want to make this guitar last as long as possible because I might never get another one lol (my funds tend to concentrate more on the electric side so... ya know).
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
Last edited by Prime2515102 at Feb 25, 2012,
#17
Quote by Prime2515102
Speaking of humidity... Living in Michigan it can vary between practically nothing and 100% so I was kind of worried about that. Any recommendations for a humidifier? This guy on YouTube says just get a soap dish and drill holes and put a damp sponge in it.

What about dehumidifying? A dry sponge? Silica gel packs? Or isn't that as important?

Should I get one of those hygrometer thingamajigs?

This is the same principle, but made specifically for the job: http://www.zzounds.com/item--PTWGH Everybody sells these. Musician's Friend is having a 10% off accessories sale ATM. Could be your big your big chance....

IMO, too low humidity is much more dangerous than a spell of too high humidity. Wood expands under high humidity, pushing glue joints together. Wood contracts under too low humidity, ripping glue joints apart. The wood killer is central heating, without a working humidifier. Most older heaters don't even have them.


Quote by Prime2515102
And no Captaincranky, I'm not obsessing lol I'm a man of modest means so I want to make this guitar last as long as possible because I might never get another one lol (my funds tend to concentrate more on the electric side so... ya know).


The first sign of anything is denying it. Soooo, I beg to differ. No shame in it really. With guitars, the obsession goes in before the poly goes on. Working on the principle, "he who dies with the most toys wins", it does pay to take good care of your stuff.
#18
That deal going on at Musician's Friend is a crock. Have you seen the list of excluded manufacturers? I wish there was an included manufacturers list. I had a cart full of all kinds of stuff the other day (like 12 items) and not a single item took the code so I went to zzounds instead.

I was looking at that planet waves one but wasn't sure. I'll probably grab one at one of the local stores tomorrow.

Too bad about all the reports of leaking goop from those Planet Waves "humidipack" thingies. Seems like a good idea if they didn't mess people's guitars up.

The first sign of anything is denying it. Soooo, I beg to differ. No shame in it really. With guitars, the obsession goes in before the poly goes on. Working on the principle, "he who dies with the most toys wins", it does pay to take good care of your stuff.


Well I guess I'll get one of those hygrometers then lol
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
#19
Quote by Prime2515102
That deal going on at Musician's Friend is a crock. Have you seen the list of excluded manufacturers? I wish there was an included manufacturers list. I had a cart full of all kinds of stuff the other day (like 12 items) and not a single item took the code so I went to zzounds instead.
I indeed have seen the internet exclusion list.

Even though some manufacturers have opted out of this special, well over 1,000 brands and 40,000 items are still discounted today! If you have a problem with this coupon, please call us at 866-226-2918
It has been my experience that this disclaimer trumps it. at least with respect to a Fender guitar and a Peavey amp.

Although, it's also true that zZounds will actually beat a sale price. Ruthless lot, they are.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Feb 25, 2012,
#20
glad you're enjoying your Masterbilt, I have three, a Sunburst AJ-500M, a natural DR-500M and a natural DR-500MCE. All three are easily the best guitars under $550 I've ever played.
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#21
Well that didn't last long lol I guess I didn't inspect it enough, but there was major fret buzz starting at the 13th fret and was almost completely bottoming out at the 15th, but perfect again at the 16th (this was mostly with the B and high E strings). I went over the replacement with a fine tooth comb and this one is perfect along the entire fretboard.

And what I said about it being a bit warm for my taste, well, I think the strings on it must've been really old or something because this one is twice as bright. They may have put a new set on before they shipped it but the strings on the other one looked and felt pretty new. I dunno...
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
#23
Well that depends on how long the guitar has been sitting in a warehouse. You don't have to play strings for them to get dull.
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude
#24
Quote by Prime2515102
Well that depends on how long the guitar has been sitting in a warehouse. You don't have to play strings for them to get dull.
Forgive me, I was just musing as to whether your first guitar could have been a return.
#25
Quote by Captaincranky
Forgive me, I was just musing as to whether your first guitar could have been a return.


It's possible, the box was pretty beat up.

They sent the first one in the Epiphone box also so for all I know it was damaged in some kind of weird way that kills the treble. The second one was double boxed.
"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect." -some dude