Price paid: $ 385
Purchased from: Ye Olde Music Shop, Hanahan, SC
Sound — 10
I don't know how to describe it - surreal. I've played a few other 12-strings before, several (at another store) costing twice as much or more - but none of them can match this one. Very well balanced, warm tone. Not as bassy as a Martin Dreadnought, not as twangy as a Backpacker, but incredible. Probably my favorite notes are the octave G and the high E course. Just to die for. Because I'm predictable and uncreative, the first song I always try is "Stairway," and while it sounds good on pretty much any 12-string, this is the first guitar of *any* kind I've picked up and gotten a perfect tone right away. In fact, everything sounds good on this guitar, even considering the guitarist. Literally everyone Who's heard it so far has made some comment, and since most of my family and their friends are also guitarists, they've pretty much all played it too. I know I've rambled on way too long here, so I'll just put it to you this way: I'm trying to convince them to get their own, so I can listen to someone good play without giving up mine. Sitting here at school with only my laptop for company, I think I'm starting to have withdrawal symptoms. I'm not sure how to rate the volume; my house is usually quiet enough that any guitar sounds pretty loud, and I haven't taken it gigging or anything, but it fills up the room without being overbearing, and holds it's own against my family's other acoustics, even my brother's incredibly noisy metal guitar.
Overall Impression — 10
I don't know what else to say - it just totally feels like My Guitar (yes, with caps). I play all sorts of stuff - from the obligatory 12-string songs ("Stairway", "Hotel California", anything R.E.M.), to classic rock (especially great with Boston and the Rolling Stones), to Folk songs (Dylan, both Guthries, and all the rest), and when I'm bored, even the odd Metallica (ugh) or Ozzy riff (have you ever heard "Crazy Train" on one of these? ) Everything just sounds better with twelve strings. Anyway, I've only been playing seriously since last May, so take with an appropriately large grain of salt, but it's at least enough time I know what I like, and this is It. (Yes, more capitals.) My other gear includes a Fender Standard Strat, two Martin Backpackers, and sometimes my dad's D-18 - all great instruments, of course, but this one just blows them all away. I hardly even touched my Strat this weekend; love the thing, but nothing beats the 12-string sound. I've only played a couple other 12-strings at the store - some $200-something Epiphone, let's just say $100 extra makes a huge difference, and a few Yamaha and Ibanez models at another store for about $700 - but just a few seconds with this one was enough time to feel (and hear) the difference. Sure, there's a few minor flaws, but this price, they're practically giving it away. (Probably the only other 12 I've liked was the 12 neck on a Vintage EDS-1275 at the same store - fastest one I've ever played - but let's not be silly here.) If this guitar were stolen/lost/damaged the resulting carnage would make a Tarentino version of "Titus Andronicus" look tame. I can't think of anything else I wish it had - I've never owned an Acoustic with electronics, might be nice but nothing to cry over, certainly not worth hacking up this beautiful body to stick in the wiring. Of course - yeah, it's campy - but I wouldn't mind if *I* had another.
Reliability & Durability — 8
It's withstood my playing for almost two weeks now, so I suppose it's a tough instrument - high G hasn't even snapped yet. In all seriousness though, I'd have to have a bit more time before I could rate that. Right now it's doing fine, but then again I've been pretty paranoid about protecting it since it's a lot more fragile than the solidbodies and Backpackers I'm used to. All the hardware's solid, and the strap button hasn't popped - a first (but hey, two weeks! Give it time) - although I do worry a bit about the finish, which other reviews have said is pretty thin. I'd probably want a backup for at least the first couple gigs, until I've had more experience with this instrument, but I have a feeling I can depend on this one. Guess I'll just find out!
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
The setup seemed just fine. When I bought it, the only major problem was it had fallen slightly out of tune, which is normal for guitars that have been in the store for a while. The action's not bad for an Acoustic; I downtune a half-step and capo the first fret, which I hear is better for the neck anyway, which makes it easier to play for someone used to electric instruments. The finish is nice, semi-gloss, looks much better than in the photos. There are a few small scratches and dings, though - I don't know much about woods, but I believe Cedar is a softwood, and this is par for the course. Probably the biggest cosmetic problem is the pickguard; I like the solid black, but there's a couple bubbles in the plastic covering that kind of bug me. It is pretty tricky to capo the first fret right, even with a 12-string capo designed for the thicker necks, but the higher frets are fine. (The A octave buzzes if it's not *just right*.) Once you get past that it's just the usual 6-to-12-string adjustment. This is the only 12-string I've played with 'perfect' string spacing; even the $700+ guitars at another store were somewhat off. Close enough together they're playable, spaced enough you can pick them (the courses, and even the single strings) comfortably and accurately. I personally find it easiest to play with a hard pick; lately I've been using my brother's 1.1mm Dunlops, which make it easy to get a rice "rolling" sound. But it's fine to finger-pick too, it only took me a day or two of practice to get "Dust in the Wind".
Features — 9
This is a 12-string guitar. According to the serial number this is a 2007 model. Made in Canada, like all Seagulls. 21 frets, 24.84" scale, fairly thick maple neck with Indian rosewood fingerboard. Wild Cherry laminate dreadnought body with semi-gloss Cedar top. No electronics on mine, but available with Godin piezo option. Seagull's house tuners, so far seem to keep it in tune just fine. No accessories included, to my knowledge, but my local store threw in a nice zipper case and strap for $30 extra. It should fit most dreadnought cases; the headstock looks pretty compact for a 12-string, and the body is slightly larger than a late-80's Martin D-18.