Price paid: C$ 250
Purchased from: Avenue Guitars
Sound — 6
I have had a chance to use this guitar for a very long time now, but this also means that mine has had a chance to age and open up a little bit tone-wise. Fortunately, I have a newer example (my brothers'- less than 6 months old) on hand so I can compare the two. For fingerpicked styles, the S6 is passable. It is reasonably loud and fairly even across all the strings, but the bottom end can be a little lacking and the treble can be very harsh. Hybrid pickers who use a pick and their fingers may find the punchiness of the top end coupled with the lesser bottom end to complement their style very well, but traditional fingerstyle players will find that the guitar just sounds a little unrefined. This isn't exactly unexpected at the price, but it is a little bit of a let-down. Strummed with a pick, the guitar is much improved. In standard dreadnought fashion, the guitar projects well and compresses somewhat the harder it gets strummed. This is actually quite a good thing, as the compression somewhat tames the high-end harshness noted earlier, balancing it better with the bottom end. That being said, the overall tone is on the bright side, but pleasant. Certainly, the guitar lacks the sophistication and nuance of a better guitar, but it isn't bad in any sense. In fact, the guitar is quite a bit more alive sounding than various other guitars costing much more. Essentially, this guitar is a little crude sounding but very alive. It isn't particularly sophisticated, nor is it the most pleasant sounding acoustic out there, but it is very successful in avoiding the flat, dead sound that plagues many cheaper acoustic guitars. Chords have good body, while single notes are bright and zippy. Compared to the newer guitar, my guitar has significantly more upper-mid and treble frequencies present. Additionally, the bottom end is a little bit looser than the new instrument. This is probably largely attributable to the gradual ageing of the top-wood in my guitar. The new guitar, though slightly muffled in comparison, is still a commendable sounding instrument considering the price tag. Overall, this guitar does not warrant a particularly high rating. It's not that its a bad guitar, the issue is that it isn't as good as other guitars. For the money, it is really quite good, depending on your needs. However, it simply cannot compete against other guitar that do not cost significantly more. That being said, this guitar hides its cost-conscious construction well, and it certainly outplays many of its direct rivals by a large margin.
Overall Impression — 7
Like I said before, I've played this guitar for over 6 years and it has suited me very well. It's bullet proof and it plays reasonably well; it's not a Taylor or a Martin, but it definitely outplays much of it's direct competition. While the sound is unrefined, brash and rather rude, it is quite commendable that Seagull have avoided making a flat, dull and dead sounding budget guitar. While I would not buy another Seagull S6 I would certainly recommend them to anybody looking to spend $500 on an acoustic. I think that this guitar is one of the better made, better playing and better sounding guitars available for the price, and they hold up very well. Of course, this is not going to compete against higher end instruments, but as a fun guitar to play around on and to learn with, it is really quite good.
Reliability & Durability — 9
Given that I've played this guitar for over 6 years, I have a very good idea of the durability of the instrument. My guitar has traveled across North America, been to Europe, New Zealand and Australia, so its pretty well been through hell. Structurally speaking, the guitar is still flawless. The bracing is still intact, the body shows no signs of cracking and the neck is still very easy to get proper relief out of. Additionally, the tuners are still working very well. I have absolutely no concerns as to the build quality of the guitar. I have, however, imparted some significant wear on the guitar. After just over 5 years, the frets were toast and had to be replaced. That really isn't half bad for a cheaper guitar. Additionally, I have worn through the finish on the neck and parts of the body, as well as wearing the wood around the soundhole to the point that the soundhole is now 1/2" wider than it was when the guitar was new. These are not unexpected consequences of abusing a guitar for 6+ years, and they really would not dissuade me from recommending the guitar to others.
Action, Fit & Finish — 8
Given that my guitar was used, I cannot comment on the factory set-up. However, the factory fret-work (since replaced on my guitar) was absolutely excellent on both examples that I have. There are no sharp edges, and the frets were nice and level. Otherwise, the build quality on my guitar was good, but not great. Everything was applied neatly, the finish was relatively consistent, there wasn't too much extra glue in the body, the rosette was nicely installed- you start to get the idea. Everything is done well, but nothing was done flawlessly. At this pricepoint, this is frankly commendable - most guitars in this price-bracket seem to have at least 1 major issue, depending on their manufacturer, so it is nice to see that Seagull managed to keep things consistent. On another note, this guitar is very easy to set-up and intonates quite well. The nut is cut properly and the compensated bridge works well to eliminate intonation issues. Additionally, the tuners, though cheap in-house units, are still working quite well. Kudos to Seagull on a well made guitar.
Features — 7
I bought my Seagull S6 almost 6.5 years ago, and it was used at the time that I bought it, so I'm really quite unsure of when it was made. It was made in Lapatrie Quebec, Canada. The town, though small knows guitars- almost half the population work in guitar manufacturing! This guitar really is a stunning deal for a North American made instrument, as I believe that they retail for under $500 new. The guitar is a dreadnought body shape, with no cutaway Anyways, the guitar features a solid Cedar top - a really nice touch for the price, - laminated Wild Cherry sides and back and a silverleaf maple neck with a rosewood fingerboard. The body is finished in a semi-gloss lacquer, and features dark brown binding and a generic rosette around the soundhole. The bridge is also made of rosewood. Otherwise, this guitar is unremarkable in virtually every single way. The nut and saddle are Graphtech Tusq pieces, and the tuners are Seagull branded, closed-back non-locking units. The included strap button (there is only one- something I hate on guitars) is a Schaller strap-lock compatible piece. Otherwise, the guitar has a dual adjustable truss-rod and pretty well nothing else. Like I said, unremarkable. While this guitar is not breaking any new ground anywhere, it does offer a decent selection of components, and very nice wood choices, for such a budget guitar. The fact that this guitar is hand-built in North American is just shocking for the price.