#1
I've been trying acoustics for a while, and based on what the sales person at guitar center told me todays - I like warmer sounding guitars. Here's what I know about what I've tried:

I like:
Martin: but I liked the $800 Mexican martins with solid top/HPL back and sides. I didn't touch them at first because I thought I wanted all solid. I sort of liked the all solid performing artist $1300. But not as much.
(Also, The rep said that solid top is LESS high-maintenance than an all solid. Is that true? I thought I heard the opposite.)

Breedlove: I've really liked them. There's just never a great selection of them.

Seagulls: I've really liked the seagulls I've tried.probably the most out of all of them. If I had to buy one now I'd just get the maritime seagull,.. They're just not so exciting,.. But the sound is impeccable for the price ($730-ish)

Gibson: I played a $1,600 Gibson. Oh my gosh -I loved it. Was a bit out of my price range but I never saw a Gibson so cheap before so I decided to just try it. It's just another data point about the sound I like.

Yamaha: the higher ends ones ($600) were less bright and really nice sounding. (But I thought I wanted a price ier brand than that)

Fender: The old solid top laminate body that I'm borrowing from a friend. 20 years ago it was a guitar.$275 I love this guitar .. It sounds great. The seagull and the Gibson sounded better. The Mexican martins are a little better.
What's funny is I've not liked any of the fenders I've played in the store.
Does this just prove that I know nothing?

Disliked:
Taylor: this makes me really doubt my juspdgement. Maybe I don't even know what I like .. Or I can't tell if I like the guitar, the strings, or the set up. Doesn't everyone love Taylor?
I wanted to want a taylor... But the 100's and 200's are just too bright. The only Taylor I've played that I've liked was $5,000,... The rest are too 'jangley'.. The rep said that's called 'bright' and Taylor's are designed to sound just like that.

Takamine.

Also,.. Does the fact that I liked the solid top and HPL-body Mexican Martin (especially that I liked it better than the all solid) mean that I have absolutely no taste? Or that there may be something seriously wrong with me psychologically? (I'm kidding about there being something wrong with me - but I was shocked).

So I really have 3 questions:
1. Based upon what I've tried and liked/disliked so far, what else should I try? that's my biggest question. For instance if I do some traveling I can get my hands on a Marton or a Blueridge.

2. Is it true that an all solid is higher maintenance than a solid top?

3. Why does what I seem to like seem so counter intuitive? I mean, other than the Gibson, when I went down in price I likes how it sounded more. (I'm Jewish, could that have something to do with it?) but really my question is, am I going to turn around and realize that I, like everyone else, want a really bright guitar (like the Taylor's which I know are super popular.) and does it sound strange that I preferred the solid top Martin to the all solid?

You guys are always so incredibly helpful -even with my novice questions. Thanks so much in advance!!
Last edited by Stevuke79 at Dec 14, 2014,
#2
I'm a complete philistine when it comes to guitars, so at least we have some historical commonality. I reckon you have a much taste as me, that is, not much.- My favourite guitar for fingerpicking is a Maton M300, which is all-laminate. I'm a big fan of the Taylor construction principles, but I'm not a wild about their tone, and of what I've tried I prefer the inexpensive Mexis (100 and 200 series) to the more expensive US-made ones. There are not many Martins I like, but I've played some really nice D-18s, D-28s and a 000-18 - all with plain braces.

I don't see any relationship between tones I like and price in standard factory guitars once you get past a couple of hundred $, and mid-priced solid rosewood can sound really bad, IMO. What you pay for mostly is fancy and mojo, again IMO.

Try Eastman and Recording King, both have a reputation for being well made (in particular, resettable neck joints) and sounding good

Laminate will stand more accidental abuse than all-solid.
#3
Thank you! At least I'm not the only one...

I just wish I knew what I was missing when I hear those Taylor's or the all-solid martins I've tried. Like maybe if you play in a band you appreciate brightness or something?mi just don't want to find out that I just like a certain kind of string,.. But really I'd be happiest with the Taylor 214ce with the strings I like.

I'm in the US so martons are hard to find, but I could find one or two to play.

I will try Eastman and recording king - thanks.

What's a 'resettable' neck?

Btw, what IS the tonal quality of laminate? Is bright, bland, icy? Why do I see to like it? (Is it that I don't like bright? Is laminate 'warm'?)
#4
A resettable neck is one that is glued or bolted on in such a way that it can be removed and reset at a steeper angle. As the guitar ages it often goes banana-shaped and the action gets higher. This is initially fixed by lowering the saddle, but eventually you run out of saddle. If the neck is resettable, it can be taken off and replaced at a steeper angle, thus lowering the action again. This is very easy and cheap on Taylors, which have a fully bolt-on neck, and fairly expensive on glued necks like Martin. It might not be cost-effective on something like a Recording King or Eastman, but at least it shows that they made the effort to use good building principles.

I like the 214ce a lot, I've tried several, and preferred the basic version to the deluxe ones. Warm strings and maybe a lutehole soundhole cover would likely tame the sound abit.

The tonal quality of laminate reflects to some extent the character of the timber used,so sapele lam with be brighter than rosewood lam, all else being equal, but overall it has less distinctive character, so bland (not necessarily equating with dull) would be fair description in most instances - and a lot of the tone comes from the top anyway.
#5
I have a Seagull maritime SWS mini jumbo. It's a beautiful, nice sounding and well made guitar; not sure why that doesn't excite you. LOL I also have a Yamaha A1R, also a great guitar. Both retail around $700. Between the 2, the seagull is brighter and more lively and the Yamaha is dark and more subdued. Not sure which I like better overall, depends on the song. Both play very nicely. The Yamaha has a cutout and electronics which is nice. Both are solid spruce tops. The seagull has solid mahogany b/s while the Yamaha is laminated rosewood.

I've never really understood the term "warm sounding". I think it's a marketing phrase made up to give you a warm fuzzy feeling about how your guitar is supposed to sound . LOL I guess a nylon string would have "warm" sound.
#6
Thanks tony. I often wonder how I would like some of these guitars with different strings.
#7
Quote by Stevuke79
Thanks tony. I often wonder how I would like some of these guitars with different strings.
You generally only have two tiers of string sounds, the mellow phosphor bronze, and the brighter 80/20 "brass" alloy. It's actually bell bronze, but calling 80/20 "brass" prevents confusion.

The issue here is, you have to investigate each guitar beforehand to determine what strings it ships with, and then decide if the change you could make, takes you in the sonic direction you want to go.

This is no mean feat. As an example, Gibson has about 2 dozen specific models of their popular J-200 super jumbo, and possibly as many as a dozen different string sets on them.

Fender ships with their proprietary coated brass (80/20) wickedly bright strings. If you didn't like them in the store, that could be part of the the reason. My "Sonoran came with those, and they damned near gave me a headache. Fender is trying for tons of twang with that model, and they've been wildly successful. I'm not certain what their other Asian guitars ship with. As for Fender USA acoustics, they're pretty much the same thing, but 10 times the price. Some of our members defend to the death Fender's mid line solid top guitars, the CD-100, CD-140, and the all mahogany "Tim Armstrong Hellcat".

Some of the Chinese Guild, (GAD series), might be worth a listen also.

Personally, I string 12 strings with phosphor bronze, (brass is way too strident for a 12 IMO), and am gravitating towards brass on my 6 strings. (I'm old though, and it's possible I've lost a bit of high frequency hearing).
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 15, 2014,
#8
Quote by rohash
I have a Seagull maritime SWS mini jumbo. It's a beautiful, nice sounding and well made guitar; not sure why that doesn't excite you. LOL


You give me too much credit, rohash. I'm kind of shallow,...

The substantive and "less shallow" part of my brain probably already knows I should get the seagull. I really wanted to want a fancier sounding name (Taylor, martin).

(Actually I would kind of like one of the seagull artist mosaic models,.. With the sexier inlay and a few finishing touches, but then I found out that neither guitar center nor my local shop carries it.
I've never really understood the term "warm sounding". I think it's a marketing phrase made up to give you a warm fuzzy feeling about how your guitar is supposed to sound . LOL I guess a nylon string would have "warm" sound.


I don't fully understand what 'warm' means either. (which doesn't speak very well of me, since in my OP I just claimed to like 'warm' guitars!! ) I know that I don't like guitars that are very "jangley".( The Taylor was the most jangley.)Like every string I pluck sets off it's own cascade of higher pitched bells that in turn reinforce each other. I think it's that more of the guitar has a higher resonating frequency and those higher resonating bits do so at a higher volume. I really have no idea what it actually is - that's just what it sounds like.

I was told that higher pitched "cascade sound"was the "brightness" that I'm hearing, and to not like that, means I like 'warm' sounding guitars.

But the reason I say I don't know what it is - after that last trip on Sunday I read somewhere that 'warm' is NOT the opposite of 'bright'.. And that a guitar can be both very warm AND very bright... Or alternatively a guitar can be neither warm nor bright.

So I guess I should just say I like guitars that are "less bright". Maybe that's 'mellow'.
#9
Captaincranky - thank you so much for your reply. I will respond to the rest of it later, but right now I'm just stuck on the first thing you said.. Kind of pulling my hair out over it.

But this is great because it's what I want. I want to tell someone what I like,.. And then have them tell me what that sound is called.

Quote by Captaincranky
You generally only have two tiers of string sounds, the mellow phosphor bronze, and the brighter 80/20 "brass" alloy. It's actually bell bronze, but calling 80/20 "brass" prevents confusion.


So 80/20 is less bright? Uh oh,.. So now I'm back to not knowing what I'm talking about.

The first time I put on strings, I put on elixir phosphrebronze nanoweb and my guitar got very "jangley".. That sound I don't like. The one I've been calling very bright. They mellowed out a lot,.. But I never liked them as much as what I had on before (I don't know what those were.. I was too stupid to take note in the very beginning), or as much as the 80/20s that I put on after a month. I put on un-coated dadarrio 80/20's, and I was like PHEW!! Much better... Not too jangley. I thought it sounded very warm and mellow. (I think I'm being to specific,.. Telling you coated or Uncoated,.. Sorry if I'm being a pain,.. I just don't know what might be relevant. I have no idea what little fact might allow you to say"ooooooohhhhhh.. THAT'S what you're hearing!)

But here's the thing - that quality,.. The jangley-brightness ... That I heard that in the Taylors... I heard it in the phosphrebronze but not the 80/20s. Does that make sense? Could the PBs have been very bright, while the 80/20s were not?

Or do I not know what bright means?
#10
Quote by Stevuke79
You give me too much credit, rohash. I'm kind of shallow,...

The substantive and "less shallow" part of my brain probably already knows I should get the seagull. I really wanted to want a fancier sounding name (Taylor, martin).

(Actually I would kind of like one of the seagull artist mosaic models,.. With the sexier inlay and a few finishing touches, but then I found out that neither guitar center nor my local shop carries it.


I don't fully understand what 'warm' means either. (which doesn't speak very well of me, since in my OP I just claimed to like 'warm' guitars!! ) I know that I don't like guitars that are very "jangley".( The Taylor was the most jangley.)Like every string I pluck sets off it's own cascade of higher pitched bells that in turn reinforce each other. I think it's that more of the guitar has a higher resonating frequency and those higher resonating bits do so at a higher volume. I really have no idea what it actually is - that's just what it sounds like.

I was told that higher pitched "cascade sound"was the "brightness" that I'm hearing, and to not like that, means I like 'warm' sounding guitars.

But the reason I say I don't know what it is - after that last trip on Sunday I read somewhere that 'warm' is NOT the opposite of 'bright'.. And that a guitar can be both very warm AND very bright... Or alternatively a guitar can be neither warm nor bright.

So I guess I should just say I like guitars that are "less bright". Maybe that's 'mellow'.


I guess if warm means mellow, I'd say that my seagull is both warm and bright then. It has the higher pitched, higher resonating frequency sound which I would also consider bright but it's more on the mellow side as opposed to harsh sounding. It's not really jangly though. I have a washburn that sounds bright and harsh with quite a bit of buzz. I don't really care for that guitar, other than it's a great looking guitar. It does play OK but the sound leaves a little bit to be desired.

FWIW, at first I didn't want to buy a seagull because I hated the look of the skinny headstock but after getting the guitar, it's actually not that bad and I've grown to like(well at least accept) it.
#11
Quote by rohash
I guess if warm means mellow, I'd say that my seagull is both warm and bright then. It has the higher pitched, higher resonating frequency sound which I would also consider bright but it's more on the mellow side as opposed to harsh sounding. It's not really jangly though. I have a washburn that sounds bright and harsh with quite a bit of buzz. I don't really care for that guitar, other than it's a great looking guitar. It does play OK but the sound leaves a little bit to be desired.

FWIW, at first I didn't want to buy a seagull because I hated the look of the skinny headstock but after getting the guitar, it's actually not that bad and I've grown to like(well at least accept) it.


The headstock is definitely growing on me,..

At the end of the day, I liked the seagull, .. who cares if I know what to call it.
#12
Quote by Captaincranky
You generally only have two tiers of string sounds, the mellow phosphor bronze, and the brighter 80/20 "brass" alloy. It's actually bell bronze, but calling 80/20 "brass" prevents confusion.

The issue here is, you have to investigate each guitar beforehand to determine what strings it ships with, and then decide if the change you could make, takes you in the sonic direction you want to go.

This is no mean feat. As an example, Gibson has about 2 dozen specific models of their popular J-200 super jumbo, and possibly as many as a dozen different string sets on them.


It sounds REALLY daunting!
#13
New Question:
and maybe this question should be it's own thread,..

Does it sound like I know what 'bright' means?

Not that it matters - I should just buy what I like. But of course I'm curious. If I thought PB Exlirs on my fender sounded much brighter than with Dadario 80/20,.. does that imply I don't understand the term? Or am listening to the wrong thing?
In other words, is there something else that I'm hearing and I'm mistakenly thinking that's bright?
#14
Quote by Stevuke79
The headstock is definitely growing on me,..

At the end of the day, I liked the seagull, .. who cares if I know what to call it.
One of our members insisted that Seagull's head stocks looked like whale penises! (Likely more so the 12 string models).

Seagull head stocks are made narrow so the string won't be at an angle after it exits the slot going toward the tuning pegs, possibly causing them to jamb in the slot.

The straight line lay of the strings allows a smooth entry into the slot, making for a comfortable, frictionless fit.

I see you all out there, trying to make something dirty out of what I just said...
#15
Quote by Stevuke79
New Question:
and maybe this question should be it's own thread,..

Does it sound like I know what 'bright' means?

Not in the least!

It "sounds" like you're confusing the sound of new strings, with the general tonality of any guitar, after the strings "break in".

I actually like the twang of new phosphor bronze strings, but I feel they're a bit lackluster after it goes away.

IMHO, brass (80/20) strings are tinny and thin brand new, but tend to remain a bit brighter later in their service life.

Which is another issue shopping for guitars. How old or new the strings are, can alter tone greatly, as can the room you're playing in, the composition of the pick, the thickness of the pick, and countless other variables.

As far as "the Taylor sound" goes, ATM there is a big resurgence in acoustic guitars. Taylors are intentionally very forward, in order to "cut through the mix". This allows the sound engineer to place the guitr where he, (or she) , believes it should be relative to the overall sound front,(or "perspective, or "relative distance from the listener"). It's always easir to cut some of the highs, making the guitar sound further away, than it is to attempt to add highs that don't exist is sufficient quantities. (When you boost treble in a channel, you also boost noise).
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 15, 2014,
#16
Quote by Captaincranky
Not in the least!
It "sounds" like you're confusing the sound of new strings, with the general tonality of any guitar, after the strings "break in".


Thank you for that - I appreciate you guys being so patient as I show my ignorance.

This actually happened every time I went to try guitars,.. I went and tried to digest what I liked or didn't like,.. And realized that what I thought I liked was the thickness of the strings, or the phosphrebronze, or it needed to be set up,.. And each time I started from scratch.

So I guess I'm back there again.. Have to go back to the store and sort it all out from scratch to a certain extent. (Because mostly all I heard while playing was: jangley or not jangley.. And since that's just new strings,.. I basically didn't get any real idea about the guitars.)

I actually like the twang of new phosphor bronze strings, but I feel they're a bit lackluster after it goes away.

IMHO, brass (80/20) strings are tinny and thin brand new, but tend to remain a bit brighter later in their service life.


Interesting,... On my borrowed fender I clearly had a preference for 80/20's. So I guess that means I kind of like 'bright'?

Which is another issue shopping for guitars. How old or new the strings are, can alter tone greatly, as can the room you're playing in, the composition of the pick, the thickness of the pick, and countless other variables.


Right. The problem is that when it comes to the effect of picks or the room - I can figure that out to an extent even after the 3 months I've been playing. But strings.. I guess it takes a little longer to understand the impact that is having because you only change strings once a month.

As far as "the Taylor sound" goes, ATM there is a big resurgence in acoustic guitars. Taylors are intentionally very forward, in order to "cut through the mix". This allows the sound engineer to place the guitr where he, (or she) , believes it should be relative to the overall sound front,(or "perspective, or "relative distance from the listener"). It's always easir to cut some of the highs, making the guitar sound further away, than it is to attempt to add highs that don't exist is sufficient quantities. (When you boost treble in a channel, you also boost noise).


Wait.... Who's the sound engineer? Is that the owner? (Me?) can I adjust the sound and warmth and brightness of a Taylor more so than other guitars? Or is that the guy who designed that particular model?

If it's the former, that's a great reason to prefer a Taylor.

And when you say "cut the highs" (which I guess subtracts brightness).. Is that only with an amp? (Because otherwise, how do they adjust it?)
#17
Quote by Stevuke79

This actually happened every time I went to try guitars,.. I went and tried to digest what I liked or didn't like,.. And realized that what I thought I liked was the thickness of the strings, or the phosphrebronze, or it needed to be set up,.. And each time I started from scratch.
Strings aren't either "good" or "bad", it's a downward slope from "new & twangy", to, "old and dull". Each of us has a different threshold of dullness as to when we change the strings. I don't change strings on my 12 strings until the frets wear through the wound G-3. Otherwise, they're too strident, especially with a fresh set of strings, where all you get is tinny.

Quote by Stevuke79
So I guess I'm back there again.. Have to go back to the store and sort it all out from scratch to a certain extent. (Because mostly all I heard while playing was: jangley or not jangley.. And since that's just new strings,.. I basically didn't get any real idea about the guitars.)
not really. At the end of the day you get steered toward guitar "X" or "Y" via its pedigree, but you need it too speak to you, it terms of feel, sound, and looks, before you plunk down your hard earned cash. You also have to sleep on the decision, and kick the discussion around with us here, lest you make a grave mistake, with respect to buying on impulse.


Quote by Stevuke79
Interesting,... On my borrowed fender I clearly had a preference for 80/20's. So I guess that means I kind of like 'bright'?
Quite possibly.


Quote by Stevuke79
Right. The problem is that when it comes to the effect of picks or the room - I can figure that out to an extent even after the 3 months I've been playing. But strings.. I guess it takes a little longer to understand the impact that is having because you only change strings once a month.
I have 7 acoustic guitars. I wish I could afford to change all the strings once a month.

Quote by Stevuke79
Wait.... Who's the sound engineer? Is that the owner? (Me?) can I adjust the sound and warmth and brightness of a Taylor more so than other guitars? Or is that the guy who designed that particular model?

If it's the former, that's a great reason to prefer a Taylor.

And when you say "cut the highs" (which I guess subtracts brightness).. Is that only with an amp? (Because otherwise, how do they adjust it?)
Yes, only with an amp or at the mixing board. I never play a 12 string, even a full on acoustic 12, dry.

I'm a firm believer that you should never buy any acoustic guitar without onboard electronics, for a multitude of reasons. Everything sounds better with either or all of the following, reverb, chorus, delay, and definitely some equalization. For playing by yourself at low volumes, a touch up on the bass, and some cut in the treble makes for a pleasant experience. With electronics, you can also turn a so-so guitar, into a fairly decent one. You can also keep up with a home sound system more easily, should you decide to strum along.

(It's a slippery slope though. You can also annoy the living crap out of people around you, should you elect to do chord progression exercises at 100DB).
Last edited by Captaincranky at Dec 16, 2014,