I know how annoying all those vague "which guitar" threads can be, so I'll try to make this as painless and as specific as possible. Having said that, I do have quite alot of questions, and would greatly appreciate any help you can give.

My situation is this: I've been playing guitar for about 2 and half years now. I play alot of blues and "classic" rock - mainly on electric. Recently however, I have rediscovered the joys of playing an acoustic and, as such have an intense craving to replace my trusty piece of plywood with a respectable acoustic. My budget is $1300 AUD/$1000 USD. This is where things get kind of tricky...

...I'm currently living in Switzerland but will be returning home to Australia during December/January armed with a fistful of cash to spend on a new axe. I've played some fantastic Australian guitars (various Maton's and Cole Clark's) and have pretty much figured out what models are within my price range. (I'm leaning towards and Aussie guitar, because they're cheaper than their American counterparts and I think have quite a different sound because of the Australian woods used) So here come the questions:

1) What is your experience with Australian guitars (eg: Cole Clark/Maton)
2) Is the Cole Clark "facebrace" pickup system as good as they claim it is?
3) I understand that the Maton's within my price range have a "laminate" top or something :-S , anyone care to elaborate/explain?
4) I hear that there is a difference in sound between acoustics with a cutaway and full-body acoustics. Is the difference actually noticeable, or did I just hear this from acoustic purists?
5) These same potential "acoustic purists" have informed me that having a pickup in an acoustic and obviously a pre-amp (if thats the right word?) built into the side of the guitar will detract from the sound quality as well. They recommended I get a soundhole/retrofitted pickup. I'm quite confused about this whole thing really, so could someone please clear this up?
6) Should I consider Martins/Taylors? (its quite hard for me to find a store that sells these here)
7) Are there any other brands I should consider?
8) Any and all other pieces of advice in buying an acoustic?

If you've actually read this far, then thankyou very much for just doing that! If you could answer my questions it'd be great. I'm a relative noob when it comes to acoustics and I need all the help I can get.

Thanks in advance!
"Dakota" - Fender Splatter Strat
"Jacqueline" - Maton CW80
Martin thats all you need to no
Make Love Not War!!! & I love Ally!! [8.12.06] To Be Married 10-25-08
Quote by flea433
Martin thats all you need to no

Did you even read his post? It really pisses me off when someone just replies 'get a martin' or 'get a taylor' to that kind of price range.


You have a lot of questions there and it's good that you went into detail. If I was in your position I would get an Australian guitar. I hear very good things about them, and since you are returning to Australia at the end of the year, I'm sure a nice cole clark/Maton would be easy to find and buy.

More specifically - Cutaways do chop some of the volume/projection out of a guitar, however I think a lot of guitars compensate with a thicker/wider lower body... don't quote me on that though. I really don't know if a pre-amp does affect the sound of a guitar... i've never owned a guitar with a built in pre-amp. I think it won't be a HUGE difference though.

I've never played a Cole clark or Maton, so I can't comment on them. I own a Taylor and would recomend one to you, but as I said, if I was in your shoes I'd go for an Aussie guitar. I'm sure Maton's in your price range will sound great, even with a laminate top - after all, Tommy Emmanuel uses a Maton in nearly all of his shows.

So that's about as much advice as I can give you. Hope that helped.

Yeah, actually I've heard wonderful things about Cole Clark as well. With your budget, you won't be able to afford a Fat Lady 3, but you might be in the range for a FL2. Here's a link:
Fat Lady 2

I hope that helps you. I can't speak to most Australian brands because I live in the States, but I'd be interested in knowing what you think of some Australian brands once you've had a chance to play some while shopping. I'm supposed to visit Australia this winter, and I might pick one up if it's worth it.

Good luck in your search!
Quote by flea433
Martin thats all you need to no

ask_withnail: thanks for the advice! As you said, if I'm going to be in Australia, I should be able to find a really quality guitar - which brings me to another question! Is there a big difference between two guitars of the same model? I'll rephrase: hypothetically, if I decide to go for a Cole Clark FL1, should I try out all the CC FL1's I can find, or will they all be quite similar?

schitz: mate, the FL2 looks amazing! But it seems to me as though the differences between the FL2 and the FL1 are mainly aesthetic, so I might put the extra money towards investing in a good hard case or something. Although, summer's almost here and if I do lots of jobs around the place I could probably scrape some more money together.

Thanks guys! Anyone else got anything to add?

Cheers, Jason.
"Dakota" - Fender Splatter Strat
"Jacqueline" - Maton CW80
Quote by kpasa01
I would say Laravee guitars.

I've never even heard of them but i just checked out their website. I'm assuming the prices are in $US and the cheapest model is already a bit over my budget.

Why do you recommend Larivee though? (If they're really that good then I might be able to increase my budget a bit)
"Dakota" - Fender Splatter Strat
"Jacqueline" - Maton CW80
I recommend them because they are hand crafted guitars and I have heard them play first hand. My friend sells them at his shop and can actually order one for you custom made if that is what you wish. But I am looking to buy a more expensive guitar and told him I was thinking of an Alvarez and he talked me into spending more money and showed me what I should buy for a few hundred more. If you want some info about how to contact my friends shop you can pm me and I'll give you the info. He actually has pics up on his site and you can check out some of the Laravee guitars he carries and also some other brands.
Just a quick update:
kpasa01: I think Laravee guitars are gonna be a bit too far out of my price range. Maybe in a few years or something.

I've looked into the Martin's that are withing my price range and its pretty much just the 15 series thats on offer (I don't really want an X series, I want something thats all solid wood that will improve with age).

Few concerns about the 15 though: a fraction above what I'd like to pay and looks incredibly boring. Plus, I've only played a few Martin's and i'm almost certain I've played a D-15 but can't remember it specifically. What I do remember though, is that none of the Martin's I've played really sounded that good...maybe they've just been overhyped but they all sounded very flat and "ordinary" to me.

So its back to the whole Maton/Cole Clark debate now, because I've "connected" with almost every single Maton/Cole Clark that I've ever played.

Revised list of questions:
1) What are the different ways of amplifying an acoustic for live performance?
2) Which of these is in your opinion the "best" (and why)?
3) Will a pre-installed pickup system (ie: one that's built into the guitar) sound better than a soundhole/piezo that is installed later?
4) What will an acoustic sound like played through my amp? (see sig)

I think thats all for now. Any help at all (even from you flea 433 ) would be greatly appreciated!

Adios, my hard rockin' amigos!
"Dakota" - Fender Splatter Strat
"Jacqueline" - Maton CW80
I'm genuinely thankful that we have someone who really puts the time and effort into making posts about their next guitar...

Ok i'll try and answer your questions in no particular order...

Firstly, yes it is a good idea to try out all the same models within the store. Because you are buying a handmade guitar, there might be a slight difference between two of the same guitars that is noticeable - and that difference could mean a lot to you. It certainly did for me when I bought my Taylor.

I've never played live, as of yet I'm strictly a bedroom musician, but as far as I know, the different ways to amplify your acoustic are: plugging into an amp, PA system or close mic'ing it. I think it's best to buy an acoustic amp for an acoustic guitar ... especially if you want to do a Cole Clark or Maton justice... don't plug it into a regular amp. Hmm perhaps plugging it into PA system is the best option, though I am not experienced in live situations.

As for the Martin 15 series, that's fair enough that you didn't like the sound of it. You are probably looking for something more sparkly/chimey ... Tommy Emmanuel's Maton sounds like that, though he's just an amazing guitar player so he can bring a range of sounds out of any guitar.

i'm pretty sure you have narrowed it down to either a cole clark or a maton... but just in case you are still looking at other options i would reccomend breedlove also (specifically in your price range the ad25/sr plus). i wouldn't reccomend any martin or taylor for $1000 really. larivee makes really nice guitars also but it sounded like they might have been a couple hundred out of range. anyway, all the being said here's my answers to your most recent questions:

first, there are a few different ways to amplify your acoustic in a live setting. the most common and my personal preferred method is to play an acoustic-electric guitar plugged into an acoustic amplifier. you then actually mic up the amplifier and run that into the pa system at the venue.

on to pickups... generally speaking an undersaddle or internal condenser mic pickup is going to sound a good bit better than a soundhole pickup. i have several guitars that are acoustic-electrics and 3 guitars that are just acoustic. i have two different soundhole pickups that i go back and forth with on my acoustic guitars and i really don't think they sound as good as my acoustic-electrics do when plugged in.

as for playing an acoustic through your amp... it's not going to sound much like an acoustic really. it would certainly be a shame to have a nice guitar in the $1000 range and have to listen to it through an electric amp. i'd say to go ahead and get your nice guitar and then just try and gradually save up a few more hundred dollars so you can get a decent acoustic amp. i think that crate (only their newest edition) and fishman both make really great acoustic amps if you want somewhere to start looking.

ok this isn't one of your recent questions but i really wanted to hit on this topic... you mentioned that the maton guitars in your price range all had laminate tops. bearing in mind that i am not familiar at all with either of these two brands of guitars because i live in the us.... but i would never even consider spending a thousand dollars on a guitar that didn't AT LEAST have a solid top. frankly, i'm in shock that there are guitars costing a thousand dollars that have a laminate top! another thing you asked about earlier is whether or not different guitars of the exact same make and model will sound different... the answer is absolutely yes. to me personally, taylor guitars seem to have the biggest differences in tone from guitar to guitar. i've played 2000 dollar taylors that sounded like they should cost 10000 and i've played some that sounded like they should cost 200!

and just in case... here's a link to that breedlove guitar i reccomended.... i really love these guitars!

My friend also sales Breedloves in his shop. They are also very fine quality guitars.
ask_withnail: and i'm genuinely thankful that most of you are putting in the time and effort to really help me out. $1000 is alot of money to a 15 year old, and it'll take about a year in total to save up that much (I started saving in January) so I want get the best guitar I possibly can. I haven't gigged with an acoustic either (mainly because my current acoustic is a stock $100 ibanez) but certain songs that my band plays are just much better suited to an acoustic.

By the way, I listened to the soundclips of your new Taylor and they sound pretty damn amazing. Its not exactly what I'm looking for but it's close - alot more impressive than the Martin's I've played, so I guess I am looking for a more "chimey" tone.

jimtaka: I have basically narrowed it down to a Maton or a Cole Clark, however those Breedlove guitars have really caught my eye - definitely an option that I'll investigate. As for the pickups, I assume an undersaddle pickup is the type that come standard with most electric-acoustics? This is the pickup that the Cole Clark has. They've boasted amazing results, and every (including professional) reviews I've read say that the big guys (Martin, Taylor etc.) have something to be worried about. Whether thats just hype or not I dunno, but if you wanna have a look and tell me what you think that'd be great!

And yeah I think I will eventually invest in an acoustic amp - no point having a brilliant acoustic that's let down because of the amp.

As for the Maton, I'm not positive that it has a laminate top, its just something I read on a forum elsewhere. I agree, even though they sound good with a laminate top/back/whatever it actually is, I'd much rather have a solid wood guitar that will get better with age.

kpasa01: As I said, the Breedloves have definitely caught my eye. Thanks for the link, and I might PM you if I want to find out more about Breedloves (I'll do a bit of research first).

Thanks alot guys, I'll let you know how things go. Oh, and if there's anyone else with some ideas/contributions, I'd appreciate any info you can give me!

Cheers, Jason.
"Dakota" - Fender Splatter Strat
"Jacqueline" - Maton CW80