Sound — 9
The price of this guitar is not representative of it's sound. I was truly impressed from the moment I first strummed it. The balance across the strings is incredible, it seems that someone spent a good deal of time tuning the top. The bass is authoritative, yet not overwhelming and the trebles are sweet, yet not harsh as is typical of a laminate body. The guitar excels at strumming, particularly with open chords. As a fingerstyle player however, I must say it falls short of my needs. While balance is stellar, the note separation and clarity fall short. Complex chords sound muddy and it takes more work to draw a melody than I would normally accept from one of my instruments. However we must keep in mind the price difference between a Taylor 700 series and this. For the price, this guitar should be a strummer's first choice. It's wonderful for flat picking as well and I can't think of a better guitar in the price range for either style. For fingerstyle players on a budget I would actually also recommend this. I may complain about the clarity but that's a very subtle issue compared to the guitar's many positive features. For the price, it simply can't be beat. Well done, Seagull.
Overall Impression — 10
I'm truly impressed by this guitar. The Cedar and cherry with Adirondack bracing produces a unique voice which I find quite appealing. I never would have chosen to buy one myself but having won one I would certainly recommend it to my friends and students. Even though I'm primarily a fingerstyle guitarist, this guitar fills the void I have for a solid strummer with a powerful voice. It's a beautiful addition to my collection. I doubt I would replace it if something were to happen to it but I assure you it would be sorely missed, this guitar has earned it's spot in my collection. I don't even begrudge it's laminate sides. I would probably have believed the man who handed it to me if he had said it was $700 and all solid wood. This is truly a GEM for the price and I highly recommend it. I've been playing for 6 years, 1 professionally. I'm a music major with a focus on guitar and theory. My main instruments are a Taylor 712 with a red Cedar top, rosewood back and sides and an LR Baggs anthem, a Cordoba C10 with Cedar and rosewood, a PRS CE, a HOT rodded stratocaster and a Fender Deluxe Reverb.
Reliability & Durability — 9
This guitar will most likely serve as a backup to my Taylor for live performance though I don't really feel like installing a pickup in it which costs as much as the guitar would. It would definitely be my instrument of choice for open mics, street performances or anywhere else I didn't want to take my Taylor however. My only worry is the soft quality of the top. I'm fairly certain this guitar will be riddled with dings and dents by the end of this year, but then again, what well loved guitar isn't? I'm confident that it will last me as long as I have the desire to play it though the cosmetics probably won't hold up honestly. Either way, I have no worry of it physically failing on me. With the Adirondack bracing and laminated sides the guitar has an incredibly solid yet graceful feel to it.
Action, Fit & Finish — 10
The guitar was professionally set up before I even got my hands on it so I can't speak of it's action from the factory but as it stands it's quite comfortable to play. The neck profile is perfect for chord work and the action is high enough to not buzz when strummed, yet still comfortable. The Cedar top is an excellent piece with no cosmetic flaws that I can detect. The finish was beautifully applied and makes the guitar really stand out in a crowd. The faces chosen for the back and sides are also beautiful and really make the guitar a looker. The nut and saddle are cut well and are clear of burrs which might break strings. The tuners were solidly assembled and produced no rattle when the guitar was strummed. The frets are smooth and feel wonderful on my hands. Fantastic overall fit and finish. Seagull's quality control seems to be outstanding.
Features — 8
To begin with, I won this guitar and did not pay for it, though I believe they can be had for somewhere short of $300USD This is a brand new, made in 2011 model of the entourage, fresh from the factory. It sports a thin, solid Cedar top with laminated Wild Cherry back and sides. Wild Cherry isn't typically used as a tone wood as it doesn't have many redeeming qualities but Seagull does a nice job with the laminate. It's beautiful as well! The finish is probably this guitar's best feature. Seagull calls it a "rustic burst" which is a gorgeous Orange and brown finish, similar to a tobacco burst, but ligher. It's incredibly thin, just enough to make the top Shine in the light and really lets the guitar breathe. Unfortunately it offers almost zero protection to the wood. It takes little more than a finger nail tap to dent all the way to the wood so that's something to look out for. Players who use a great deal of body percussion should probably avoid this as I've already put a great many dents in it. The tuning stability is one of this guitar's few but important downsides to consider. It's the weakest feature by far. The tuners are smooth yet it takes a great deal more work to keep the guitar in tune than my Taylor or Cordoba. Additionally, for those who use alternate tunings frequently like myself, it's a pain to keep the pitches from going flat or sharp depending on the way you tune which was never an issue with my Taylor. The guitar comes with no accessories and I would recommend purchasing at least a soft case to protect the top.