Price paid: £ 80
Purchased from: Dawsons (Manchester)
Sound — 8
The sound is pretty bright. I'm pretty sure the strings that mine came with were.011s at most. I replaced them pretty quickly with.013s and haven't really gone with anything of a lower gague than that since. The heavier strings really bring out a fuller sound. I ceratinly found it just a little too bright with lighter strings. Heavier strings are useful for playing in dropped tunings too, if that's something you're interested in. I've mostly used D'Addario strings, although I will pick up some Martins from time to time. I mostly play Folk songs, acoustic versions of various styles of rock, and a little bit of blues. I do a lot of finger-picking. I'd be lying if I said that the F-310 had a massive range of voices on offer, but it handles anything that I've ever played adequately, and for Folk I've not heard anything better in this price range.
Overall Impression — 8
I would recommend the F-310 to any beginner Who can afford it, and to those Who can afford something a bit more expensive as well. I've not really played a better acoustic than this until you start pushing above twice the price I payed for mine. I'd say, basically, if your budget is 150 or less, definitely try out an F-310; you might find it performs quite admirably alongside 120-150 guitars. If mine were stolen, I doubt that I would replace it with another F-310. Firstly because I'm looking to Switch to more electric playing, and secondly because after four years of playing, I think I'm ready to move on to something more expensive (man, I'd love a Seagull). All in all though, it's been a better first guitar than I ever imagined. I never thought it would last for four years as my main acoustic, or that it would even still be in one piece. I definitely made the right choice in buying this guitar. It's not a masterpiece of instrument-making, but for a budget guitar, I've never seen better.
Reliability & Durability — 9
I've had the guitar for just over four years now and it's still going strong. I'd say I play it a minimum of four times a week. Obviously Live playing is a different prospect with an acoustic than with an electric. I wouldn't have any reservations about using it Live though, in terms of durability at least. Obviously, if I was gigging regularly to decent crowds (I wish! ) then I might want to invest in something more expensive simpy because it would have better tone. The one problem I've had with durability is the tuner for the G-string. After a couple of years of play the screws holding it in place began to work themselves loose of the headstock. I saw a luthier, Who said that it was a common problem, even in much more expensive guitars, then told me how to remove the tuner, fill in hole and refit the tuner. It was a pretty simple operation, and I've had no problems since. Aside from this problem, the guitar tends to hold it's tune pretty well, actually. I rarely use a strap, but the strap button has never been a problem when I have. I've never had any problems with corrosion of metal parts. I've never had any problems with warping of the neck or body. Over the years a few chips have been taken off the finish, mostly from banging off frames and desks and the like, but nothing major. Just adds a bit of character without affecting the sound. All in all it doesn't look too much different than it did four years ago, and the sound hasn't deteriorated one bit.
Action, Fit & Finish — 7
Out of the box, the action was high. I would say significantly higher than average. Being a complete beginner when I got the guitar though, I didn't realise this. So I soldiered on with this high action, and I have to say that, in the long run I think it benefitted my playing. Perhaps if my style was more dependent on rhythmic strumming, rather than picking, I would have sanded the bridge to lower the action, but I think that my hand strength and dexterity has improved as a result of the high action. Barre chords were pretty tough for those first few months though. If you have weaker or smaller hands, you might want to look at lowering the action if it's as high as mine was (although I think the narrow neck helps alleviate some of the problems for people with smaller hands). The finish was great out of the box. I mean, being a cheap guitar, there's nothing especially fancy about it, but there were no flaws at all, either from the factory or the shop.
Features — 8
Mine's a made in Indonesia F-310. Not sure what year it was made, but The F-310 was my first ever guitar of any type. I picked it up Brand New boxed in the summer of 2004, and I doubt it was hanging around in the shop for that long; the assistant said the F-310's their most popular beginner's acoustic. It's a 20-fret neck, which is quite thin compared to some other acoustics I've experienced, but not ridiculously so. I'm pretty sure it's a spruce top, but it's not solid-top. I'd have to say that the sound is pretty decent for a laminate-top guitar though. I've kept the stock tuners since I've had it; they're pretty unremarkable steel ones. There is only one strap button. The pickguard is black plastic; pretty standard really. I got mine with a cheapish case and a tuner, but these cost extra (about 25 for the two? )