#1
With a budget under $500 I'm looking at some used options; namely the Taylor GS Mini Mahogany (2013-Mexico) or the Martin DXM (1999-USA).

I've played the Martin and fell in love with the rich tone, but I believe it is laminate. I've also heard nothing but good reviews regarding Taylor's most popular guitar but can I do better for the money?

How about a Fender Hellcat or Ibanez Artwood; both solid mahogany dreadnoughts.

I appreciate the advice! -- Cheers
Ibanez RG321MH - (PAF Joe / FRED)
Vox AC30
#2
if you love the tone of the martin, get one. it is solid top lam back and sides, as is the taylor, which is going to have a brighter sound than the martin. if you love the rich tone, taylor may not be the guitar manufacturer for you. neither the hellcat nor the lower priced artcores are solid; they're also solid top lam back and sides, and the hellcat is also pretty bright.

why not get a seagull S6? they're the best sounding to me of all the solid tops - i like the S6, but there's the S6 slim for those who want thinner nuts.

or if you want an all solid guitar, get a recording king - the best deal in all solid guitars. sound good, too. http://www.elderly.com/instruments/acoustic-guitars/flat-top-acoustic-guitars/recording-king-rd-10-dreadnought-classic-series.htm

http://www.elderly.com/instruments/acoustic-guitars/flat-top-acoustic-guitars/recording-king-ros-10-12-fret-000.htm

if you're willing to go used or b stock, guild GADS and epiphone masterbilt guitars (not other epiphones) are all solid and sound good.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#3
Taylor, no question in my mind. The DXM is all-HPL (synthetic), including the top, not laminated timber. The GS-mini has a good reputation - I particularly liked mellower sound of the mahogany-topped version - and an easily/cheaply resettable neck.

At that price, I wouldn't worry about the difference between all solid and lam b&s, I would be trusting my ears. My favourite guitar for fingerpicking is all-laminated timber.
#4
Go with Taylor, Graphicism. The Taylor GS Mini is a great little axe and really pretty. Chicks love them, but they are really good guitars. Taylor also makes the BigBaby which is the next step down from the Mini, and it's great too.

You really can't go wrong with Taylor.
Last edited by TobusRex at Jan 7, 2016,
#5
Quote by Graphicism
With a budget under $500 I'm looking at some used options; namely the Taylor GS Mini Mahogany (2013-Mexico) or the Martin DXM (1999-USA).

I've played the Martin and fell in love with the rich tone, but I believe it is laminate. I've also heard nothing but good reviews regarding Taylor's most popular guitar but can I do better for the money?

How about a Fender Hellcat or Ibanez Artwood; both solid mahogany dreadnoughts.

I appreciate the advice! -- Cheers


Martin!
#6
@patticake I did love the Martin, and the made in USA bit! I would of walked out of Guitar Center with it if it were not for the 'sales' guy; The acoustic room was half empty with only 2 used guitars, a $2000 cracked Gibson and this Martin. He explained to me that they did so well on Christmas they hardly had any stock left, so I asked how long they had the Martin and he told me over 2 months. Maybe this is herd mentality but I figured if 2-months-worth of customers past on the guitar perhaps I should too. I played a number of Martins and Taylors in the $1500 range and still found myself preferring the 17 year-old Martin.

I hadn't considered a Seagull, I'll try and demo one before I do walk away with the Martin. I do love the older Guilds, a friend of mine turned me on to them. The new Guilds, at least the cheaper ones, are unfortunately *made in China* which I really want to avoid.

@Tony Done All-HPL really? The Guitar Center sales guy told me it had a solid top, but he could be wrong. This particular video made me really consider the Taylor.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HXo-wN6wq1Y

@TobusRex I played a buddies baby Taylor and didn't like the sound at all, it sounded very thin and toy-like. Maybe it was the strings but it wasn't musical at all. That experience is giving me reservations about the GS mini. Going on all the reviews people seem to love it but I suppose I'm going to have to find one to demo.
Ibanez RG321MH - (PAF Joe / FRED)
Vox AC30
#7
Graphicism I was actually referring to the Taylor BigBaby. It's a 15/16 dread. The Baby is a 3/4 scale model. I agree the Baby is a bit toylike but the BigBaby is a different animal.

Get thee hence to a GC, young master, and try out those Taylors!
#8
Quote by Graphicism
With a budget under $500 I'm looking at some used options; namely the Taylor GS Mini Mahogany (2013-Mexico) or the Martin DXM (1999-USA).
I'd go with the Taylor, at least over that particular Martin.

Quote by Graphicism
I've played the Martin and fell in love with the rich tone, but I believe it is laminate. I've also heard nothing but good reviews regarding Taylor's most popular guitar but can I do better for the money?
. Yes, it is all laminate, even the top. Martin had to figure out how to pay American workers, and that was it. If they were that good, Martin would still be making them. (Just an IMHO there, nothing chiseled in stone).

Taylor ships with Elixir strings. People complain that, "all Taylors sound alike". Blame that on the Elixirs. Another brand of phosphor bronze would likely tame the high end quite a bit.

The trouble with that warm rich tone is it tends to turn to dull and muddy when the strings die.

But, keep in mind, those mahogany tops are intended to add a bit of "sting" to the top end.

Another brand of phosphor bronze would likely tame the high end quite a bit.
Quote by Graphicism
How about a Fender Hellcat or Ibanez Artwood; both solid mahogany dreadnoughts.
AFAIK, the "Hellcat" is not a dread. Grand concert maybe? Patti knows.

I should chime in on the suggestion to try a Seagull S-6. Those have cedar tops, which should be "warm". They're one of the most often recommended guitars in your price range, and that would be on brand new. And hey, they're at least "North American made", if that matters to you.
Last edited by Captaincranky at Jan 7, 2016,
#9
@TobusRex Good to know, the smallest Taylor doesn't do anything for the Taylor brand. I will forthwith get thee to GC!

@Captaincranky We see a lot of things no longer made today that are highly sought after. Like most things the majority of cost is labor, so an all HPL guitar made in America at that price point isn't worth it for them. On the other hand they can justify a larger price tag for an all wood guitar and make it in America. I'm talking myself into the Martin aren't I?

Of the Taylors I've tried they sound a bit honky to me? Bright and metallic rather than warm and musical? I'm not sure how the Elixirs are, I currently use John Pearse Phosphor Bronze Slightly Light. If the strings really do make that big of a difference perhaps I should be looking at the feel and durability of a guitar and audition a few different strings.
Ibanez RG321MH - (PAF Joe / FRED)
Vox AC30
#10
Quote by Graphicism
...[ ]....@Captaincranky We see a lot of things no longer made today that are highly sought after. Like most things the majority of cost is labor, so an all HPL guitar made in America at that price point isn't worth it for them. On the other hand they can justify a larger price tag for an all wood guitar and make it in America. I'm talking myself into the Martin aren't I?
And doing a damned fine job of it too, I might add.

Quote by Graphicism
Of the Taylors I've tried they sound a bit honky to me? Bright and metallic rather than warm and musical? I'm not sure how the Elixirs are, I currently use John Pearse Phosphor Bronze Slightly Light. If the strings really do make that big of a difference perhaps I should be looking at the feel and durability of a guitar and audition a few different strings.
I kinda like "sting" in the sound, provided there is enough bottom end to balance it.

Taylor ships with 80/20 Elixirs on many of their guitars. I you want bright, that's definitely the way to get it.

I'm probably getting old and hard of hearing, but I've been more and more leaning to brass strings.

If you don't like the sound of a Taylor, buy something else. It doesn't have to be that Martin. This purchase doesn't have to happen tomorrow, does it.
#11
^^^Yes, IMO the Taylor sound could be greatly improved (to my ear) with mellower strings.

Played a spruce/maple lam dread, among others, in my mate's new importer brand yesterday. It's the second time in as many weeks that I've been gob-smacked by the tone of cheapo. It all goes to confirm my view that there is no useful relationship between price and tone in factory guitars. You have to trust your ears.
#12
@Captaincranky No I just wanted something before the end of the month. I have a birthday coming up and I'm at that age where you have to buy your own presents, it's also when the 'wife approval window' opens up so I have to plan ahead!

How about a Guild AD-3? Guild m120 or Martin DSR1?

@Tony Done That's good to know. I was planning to get another set of John Pearse but I heard the silk wrapped Martin Marquis strings this week and might have to give them a go.
#13
Quote by Tony Done
. . . . Taylor, no question in my mind. . . . .


Nor mine.
#14
The X series martins are made out of a similar material to cheap 1970's counter tops and have a tendency to delaminate when exposed to harsh conditions just like cheap 1970's counter tops. The Baby Taylor is made from slightly better plywood but is not actually good value for money. With both of these brands you are paying a lot of money for a name on a headstock which happens to have an entry level guitar attached to it. For similar money you could get intermediate or professional level guitars that don't have the taylor or martin name. So the 1st thing you need to ask yourself if you want a guitar or a name. If the answer is a guitar then I wouldn't even consider a low end martin or taylor. If you are after the name then might as well go with the one you think looks pretty.
Not taking any online orders.
#15
@CorduroyEW That's a good point and perhaps the underlying reason to my post. I want a guitar that plays and sounds great. The name on the head-stock means less to me than country of origin, I don't want another made-in-china! The material used is important in that it will last a few decades, not necessarily all solid wood.

Play-ability comes first, and what that means to me is something I want to pick up every hour of the day. Low action, no fret buzz, fast neck. And this in close association to the sound, a guitar I'm going to want to play all the time sounds great.

Lastly something that retains it's value. This more often than not means a popular name more so than a quality guitar. I've heard that Gibson, Martin and Taylor retain their value better than say a Collins because they're more well know.

What do you suggest for 500 bones CorduroyEW?
Ibanez RG321MH - (PAF Joe / FRED)
Vox AC30
#16
^^^^ What you are getting inn Taylor, in addition to the name on the headstock, is a design that allows the neck to be reset very quickly and very cheaply. This means there will never be an issue with bad and/or deteriorating geometry, as is reasonably common in guitars in all price ranges. Less expensive Asian makes like Recording King and Eastman also have necks that are resettable by traditional methods, but you have to ask whether it would be worth the cost, about $500, of doing so. I personally am very much against the idea of a guitar that cannot be maintained over a period of decades, as it the case with most Asian-made ones.

I also think Corduroy is using weasel words. - Sure HPL is the same as formica, but it is stable, acoustically adequate material and the glues and usage are quite different to those used on '70s counter tops. Though I will admit that there may be a higher frequency of joint separation - not sure. Sitka is used to make pallets as well as guitar tops. So what? "Plywood"and "laminated"are really synonymous, and over a long period I have come to prefer guitars with laminated/plywood b&s - and this from someone who owns a $3500 Bourgeois - and my favourite guitar for fingerpicking is all-laminate.
#17
$500 budget? I have played under $500 Martins and Taylors and they are not bad guitars, just not the best in that price range. Their sweet spot lies in the $2k-$3k price range.

Think Seagull, Yamaha, Takamine. All three make really pretty nice guitars that to my ears and hands sound and play better than the basement Taylor/Martin. They don't have that heavy brand panache but if guitar is more than just a headstock to you, give em a look.
"Your sound is in your hands as much as anything. It's the way you pick, and the way you hold the guitar, more than it is the amp or the guitar you use." -- Stevie Ray Vaughan

"Anybody can play. The note is only 20 percent. The attitude of the motherfucker who plays it is 80 percent." -- Miles Davis

Guthrie on tone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zmohdG9lLqY
#18
Just try them out at a store. It really is preference. Don't limit yourself to just those brands/guitars either.
#19
the martin DSR1 is all solid and sounds good; same for the guild D-120.

to the OP, retaining value is best achieved IMO by buying used - you can often get 100% of what you paid when you sell. any new guitar is going to lose value the second you buy it. if you plan to resell, i find that martin, taylor, yamaha and seagull sold fast for me. oddly gibson and guild didn't sell very quickly. a lot of people talk about lesser known brands selling for less, but you also buy them for less, so it works out. i got a higher percentage of what i paid for my blueridge, but it took forever to sell. i got most of what i paid for my composite acoustics when i sold it.

btw, my mistake about the DXM - it is all HPL.
Quote by Skeet UK
I just looked in my Oxford English Dictionary and under "Acoustic Guitar", there was your Avatar and an email address!
#20
having owned both guitars, I'd take the GS mini . the solid top really makes a difference. different strings on the mini tames it's brightness if you so choose to do so. I don't know if any are left but taylor did make a limited run of maple/engelmann Minis( I picked up a couple of them). they are my favorite GS minis. warm tone and surprising more bottom end than the standard or 'Hog minis.
need more gear and a lot more talent(courtesytuxs)
#21
I went to my local GC the other day just to dick around with some guitars in a reasonable budget (up to like 6-700) and I found my absolute favorite was the Taylor Big Baby (out of all the acoustics, not just Martin and Taylor). 2nd place was the GS Mini (not the mahogany, the other one), and 3rd was and Epiphone Masterbilt AJ45ME
I don't know if any of this helps you but this was my expirience with guitars in that range
Also, don't limit yourself to Martin and Taylor. Epiphone, Alvarez, Seagull, and Washburn all had some pretty solid choices in this range
#22
I agree about the Big Baby, teleobrien. I was picking around at GC and there was a very fine guitarist in the acoustic room at the same time I was. We were picking on the axes, comparing thoughts. His opinion was that the Taylor BigBaby sounded and played better than ANY other guitar in the room regardless of price. That was pretty impressive considering the acoustic room had a $1500 Guild, several high end Taylors, Martins, and others.

That being said I much prefer my (far more expensive) CA Cargo. I'm planning on giving my Big Baby to my nephew (once he's grown out of his Yammy JR-1).
Last edited by TobusRex at Jan 21, 2016,