Jump to content
Ultimate Garage Band

Acoustic Guitars

Recommended Posts

As earlier mentioned, acoustic guitars can be broken down into 2 distinct groups, steel string and nylon string. Let’s look at them in greater detail.

Steel string acoustics are, by far, the most commonly played acoustic guitars. What’s funny is most actually use a bronze alloy string but they’re called ‘steel’ string anyway. There are several different kinds of steel string guitars and they are probably best described by the name given to the body style. The most common are:

The Dreadnought

The Jumbo

The Grand Auditorium

The OM

The 000

The 00

The 0

The Folk

The Parlor

And many, MANY others some being copies or variations of the above.

Now, for the sake of this thread, in order to not overwhelm with too much data, let’s sort of group these into 3 categories we can generally call, big, medium, and small. There is going to be a bit of overlapping but in very general terms, the dreadnought, the jumbo, the grand auditorium and the OM could be called ‘big’ guitars. They generally have large bodies, the necks join the bodies at the 14th fret, and they are ‘full scale’ guitars coming in somewhere around 25 inches in very broad terms. The dreadnought and Jumbo are the biggest of that group and by far and away the most popular steel string body style sold is the dreadnought. It a very large, loud guitar made for solid rhythm strumming and is best played standing up. It’s very commonly used in Rock, Country, and Bluegrass.

In the medium group we could have the Grand Auditorium, the OM, the 000 and the Folk. These guitars will handle rhythm strumming but are probably best suited for finger picking. Many in this group do not have a pickguard. These guitars are also typically full scale and usually have the neck join at the 14th fret. They are more comfortable to play sitting down than a larger guitar and are often found in Rock, Country, Blues, and ‘fingerstyle’ jazz.

In the small group we have the 00, the 0, and the parlor. Another type of guitar we could put in this group are ‘scaled’ guitars such as a ¾ size dreadnought. Small guitars usually feature a shorter scale, the body and neck join at the 12th fret, there’s usually no pickguard, and these guitars are best suited for finger picking and they are incredibly comfortable to hold and play sitting down. They are typically found in Blues and some fingerstyle jazz.

There is another category of steel string acoustic and that would be the jazz guitar, either a ‘gypsy’ jazz or an archtop. These models typically exceed the entry level price point of a first time player so I’m not going to address them.

The nylon string guitar is basically placed into 2 groups, the classical guitar and the flamenco guitar. There is not near the selection of body styles and sizes. Typically there is a full size and a scaled size as in a ¾ classical. There are some other models out there such as 2 models of Parlor sized bodies from the Godin company, but the focus is really on the full size models.

I’ll use this opportunity to highlight some major differences between steel string and nylon string guitars. As I mentioned in the other thread, to just identify them by string type is shortsighted.

Most nylon string guitars do not have an adjustable truss rod because the necks are under so much less tension from the nylon strings. This is one of the most attractive reasons many new players opt for a nylon string; they are much easier on the fingers in the beginning. The necks are wider and flatter than steel string guitars. They are played with the fingers not a pick. The guitar is held over the left leg and the left foot is usually on a footstool. They are never played standing up. They always join the body to the neck at the 12th fret. They often do not have as many side position dot markers and never have dot markers on the fretboard itself. The construction method is different than a steel string typically using a ‘fan brace’ method as opposed to the ‘X’ brace method of steel string acoustics. The strings tie onto the bridge whereas steel string guitars use a ball end string with bridge pins. Can you see how different these guitars are from steel strings? Here’s another remarkable difference.

In the classical guitar market there is really no middle ground of models and prices. There are basically 2 groups; student models and performer models. Understand that in this realm, a $2000 guitar is still considered a ‘student’ model! Any classical guitar by a major guitar company like Washburn, Fender, Ibanez, etc. would be considered a student model. 99% of student models sell from $100-$1000. A serious performance instrument begins at around $4000. In the lower end of product offerings, nylon string guitars are not as loud as steel string guitars.

Things to look for in ANY acoustic guitar:

A solid top will have a more pleasing tone and a louder tone than a laminate top. Guitar companies do many things to make the unobservant purchaser think they are purchasing a solid top guitar when the top is actually a laminate. For instance:

All spruce top

100% spruce top

Vintage toned spruce top

Beautiful spruce top

Spruce top

All of the above are LAMINATE tops! Unless the word ‘solid’ is next to the word ‘top’, it’s a laminate top. ‘Solid spruce top’ is a solid top. Anything else is a laminate. In an entry level instrument, expect to purchase a guitar with a laminate back and a laminate body/sides. I’m also not inferring that a laminate top does not have a place in the guitar world. They are more durable for kids that tend to knock them around a bit more, they hold up better to abuse/knicks when camping, etc. They fight feedback better when used in a louder, amplified environment. If your first guitar has a solid top, you’ll probably keep it longer. The longer you keep a guitar, the more value it imparts to you.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am a beginner and I'm looking for an acoustic guitar. I have my sights set on a Yamaha 730s. Any opinions on the Yamaha brand? I don't want the cheapest guitar, but I don't want to spend over $300 on it either. What would be my best choice between Takamine, Ibanez, Washburn or Yamaha (under $300). Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Kris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ebay each brand in your price range to get an idea of what is out there. Research the results. You will find lots of reviews for your choices if you google for them. Take Harmony Central reviews with a grain of salt. For some reason they are usually really skewed towards the plus side. I have not bought a guitar for under 400 or so i have limited hands on experience. Take a look at some Tanglewoods and Garrisons. I'm sure some of our members will give you their choices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a Fender Strat (almost never used) and a classical Admira Sevilla which I have been using under the guidance of a tutor who insisted that I needed to learn to read music. This has worked and I find myself now playing the melodies in simple songs rather than the chords. But I want to do both and realistically my preferred direction is to be able to play without an upright (classical) stance and methodology, ideally on an acoustic guitar.

I have just moved and will be finding a new tutor (non-classical). My question is should I buy a steel-string acoustic or "make-do" with the nylon string classical guitar? Money is not an issue here.

There is a fab guitar shop round the corner and they are keen on selling me a Faith acoustic. Sound sensible ..?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I never heard of Faith guitars till now. The reviews look good though. Getting a steel string is a good idea if your expanding your musical tastes. Nice to have at least one of each.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Gosh, I remember before I was married saying money is not an issue, kinda forgot what that sounded like...;)

I forgot what that sounded like, but it is good to hear it, I think a steel string would be a good addition to your collection Figwold and give the Fender a run out deserves to be played.:winkthumb:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I am a beginner and I'm looking for an acoustic guitar. I have my sights set on a Yamaha 730s. Any opinions on the Yamaha brand? I don't want the cheapest guitar, but I don't want to spend over $300 on it either. What would be my best choice between Takamine, Ibanez, Washburn or Yamaha (under $300). Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Kris

I was in the same boat as you about a month ago, buying my first decent guitar.

I read a bunch of reviews on the various web sites and narrowed it down to the brands you mention. I then went to the music store and played them all. I played the tak GS330, the Yamaha, 730, 720, Washburn D10 and the Ibanez in my price range which was also $300. I also played some other cheaper models and some of the more 500-600 dollar ones that I knew I wouldnt buy but wanted to see how they sounded.

The Takamine and the Yamaha stood out as sounding much better than the others. I ended up going with the Takamine, because it just felt a little better to me. IT's a solid Cedar top while I think the Yamaha is a solid spruce top. The Yamaha 730 was definately better looking as the Tak, is really plain.

My advice would be to go and play them all and take your time. When I went to the guitar store I thought I wanted the Washburn, but it didn't take long for me to decide that the Takamine and the Yamaha sounded better to my ear.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If money's not an issue, a new guitar is always a great idea! :yes:

Buying a good used acoustic may have the advantage of having the solid spruce top aged a bit already. Won't take so long for it to get the beautiful effects they do get from aging.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have decided to try to learn guitar. I sold guitars 'bout 27 and so years ago (also worked on amps) and my father played and teached. Unfortunately, when "we" sat down together things just didn't "pan out". I have "fiddled farted" on the guitar for decades and seem to have some sort of knack for it ,just have never wanted to be dedicated. Last year I went in to a music store ( much like the one I worked in when I was a young 25 year old cock) to buy my son an acoustic. Knowing what guitars really cost the franchises made me want to vomit when looking at sticker prices. I went in to checkout some Fenders, Gibsons, blah blah. I started gazing at where these guitars were "made". I could feel myself "peaking" and started ranting about the Communists and how we were supporting the sobs. Well, the salesman took me over to another section and asked if I'd buy one from California? It was a tiny bit over what I wanted to spend but I bought my son a Taylor Big Baby (2005 year model-new). It played wonderfully and had a great low action. Not very bassey but understandibly so with it's shallower body depth. Now my son has lost interest and "I" find it enjoyable to "fool around" with it. I want to do this. I guess I need to find a teacher that will put up with me in my older years. Thanks for listening.

p.s. I paid $380 for it and gigbag and tools. Those things are retailing for nearly 600 this year. I guess he wanted me and that guitar out of the store. hahahahahahahahahahaha

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats, Mr. Wilson. Taylors are great guitars. I have a 110e acoustic/electric and absolutely love it. I played a lot of guitars when I was trying to decide which one to buy, and the Taylor wasn't the one I really "wanted" to want (I really liked the looks of the Breedlove better), but I kept coming back to it for its sound. It won out and came home with me, and I haven't regretted it once.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Very Informative.....I have a question. Decided to learn late in life. Want to get an accoustic and figure to spend $500-$600 so as I progress I won't feel the need to trade up right away. Done tons of research and review all kinds of reviews. Kind of torn between the Martin or Seagull. Want to learn country, folk, some blues and particually fingerpicking. Only learning to play at home on the couch in front of the fire. Over 6 ft. and long arms if it matters. Want best tone and easiest to learn on for the money. Whatcha think? Any recommedations in particular? Appreciate the help.

:helpsmili

As earlier mentioned, acoustic guitars can be broken down into 2 distinct groups, steel string and nylon string. Let’s look at them in greater detail.

Steel string acoustics are, by far, the most commonly played acoustic guitars. What’s funny is most actually use a bronze alloy string but they’re called ‘steel’ string anyway. There are several different kinds of steel string guitars and they are probably best described by the name given to the body style. The most common are:

The Dreadnought

The Jumbo

The Grand Auditorium

The OM

The 000

The 00

The 0

The Folk

The Parlor

And many, MANY others some being copies or variations of the above.

Now, for the sake of this thread, in order to not overwhelm with too much data, let’s sort of group these into 3 categories we can generally call, big, medium, and small. There is going to be a bit of overlapping but in very general terms, the dreadnought, the jumbo, the grand auditorium and the OM could be called ‘big’ guitars. They generally have large bodies, the necks join the bodies at the 14th fret, and they are ‘full scale’ guitars coming in somewhere around 25 inches in very broad terms. The dreadnought and Jumbo are the biggest of that group and by far and away the most popular steel string body style sold is the dreadnought. It a very large, loud guitar made for solid rhythm strumming and is best played standing up. It’s very commonly used in Rock, Country, and Bluegrass.

In the medium group we could have the Grand Auditorium, the OM, the 000 and the Folk. These guitars will handle rhythm strumming but are probably best suited for finger picking. Many in this group do not have a pickguard. These guitars are also typically full scale and usually have the neck join at the 14th fret. They are more comfortable to play sitting down than a larger guitar and are often found in Rock, Country, Blues, and ‘fingerstyle’ jazz.

In the small group we have the 00, the 0, and the parlor. Another type of guitar we could put in this group are ‘scaled’ guitars such as a ¾ size dreadnought. Small guitars usually feature a shorter scale, the body and neck join at the 12th fret, there’s usually no pickguard, and these guitars are best suited for finger picking and they are incredibly comfortable to hold and play sitting down. They are typically found in Blues and some fingerstyle jazz.

There is another category of steel string acoustic and that would be the jazz guitar, either a ‘gypsy’ jazz or an archtop. These models typically exceed the entry level price point of a first time player so I’m not going to address them.

The nylon string guitar is basically placed into 2 groups, the classical guitar and the flamenco guitar. There is not near the selection of body styles and sizes. Typically there is a full size and a scaled size as in a ¾ classical. There are some other models out there such as 2 models of Parlor sized bodies from the Godin company, but the focus is really on the full size models.

I’ll use this opportunity to highlight some major differences between steel string and nylon string guitars. As I mentioned in the other thread, to just identify them by string type is shortsighted.

Most nylon string guitars do not have an adjustable truss rod because the necks are under so much less tension from the nylon strings. This is one of the most attractive reasons many new players opt for a nylon string; they are much easier on the fingers in the beginning. The necks are wider and flatter than steel string guitars. They are played with the fingers not a pick. The guitar is held over the left leg and the left foot is usually on a footstool. They are never played standing up. They always join the body to the neck at the 12th fret. They often do not have as many side position dot markers and never have dot markers on the fretboard itself. The construction method is different than a steel string typically using a ‘fan brace’ method as opposed to the ‘X’ brace method of steel string acoustics. The strings tie onto the bridge whereas steel string guitars use a ball end string with bridge pins. Can you see how different these guitars are from steel strings? Here’s another remarkable difference.

In the classical guitar market there is really no middle ground of models and prices. There are basically 2 groups; student models and performer models. Understand that in this realm, a $2000 guitar is still considered a ‘student’ model! Any classical guitar by a major guitar company like Washburn, Fender, Ibanez, etc. would be considered a student model. 99% of student models sell from $100-$1000. A serious performance instrument begins at around $4000. In the lower end of product offerings, nylon string guitars are not as loud as steel string guitars.

Things to look for in ANY acoustic guitar:

A solid top will have a more pleasing tone and a louder tone than a laminate top. Guitar companies do many things to make the unobservant purchaser think they are purchasing a solid top guitar when the top is actually a laminate. For instance:

All spruce top

100% spruce top

Vintage toned spruce top

Beautiful spruce top

Spruce top

All of the above are LAMINATE tops! Unless the word ‘solid’ is next to the word ‘top’, it’s a laminate top. ‘Solid spruce top’ is a solid top. Anything else is a laminate. In an entry level instrument, expect to purchase a guitar with a laminate back and a laminate body/sides. I’m also not inferring that a laminate top does not have a place in the guitar world. They are more durable for kids that tend to knock them around a bit more, they hold up better to abuse/knicks when camping, etc. They fight feedback better when used in a louder, amplified environment. If your first guitar has a solid top, you’ll probably keep it longer. The longer you keep a guitar, the more value it imparts to you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Very Informative.....I have a question. Decided to learn late in life. Want to get an accoustic and figure to spend $500-$600 so as I progress I won't feel the need to trade up right away. Done tons of research and review all kinds of reviews. Kind of torn between the Martin or Seagull. Want to learn country, folk, some blues and particually fingerpicking. Only learning to play at home on the couch in front of the fire. Over 6 ft. and long arms if it matters. Want best tone and easiest to learn on for the money. Whatcha think? Any recommedations in particular? Appreciate the help.

:helpsmili

dug, i just recently after much debate and review readings "probably about 100 hrs. worth" yeah! settled on a $600 acoustic epiphone masterbilt. i've had it for 2 weeks now and very happy with it.. all solid wood in mahogany or rosewood, i got the rosewood which i would recomend for fingerpicking. the thread is located here with pics. http://www.guitarforbeginners.com/forum/lets-see-your-equipment/24277-another-acoustic-me/ good luck in your hunt..:winkthumb:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Very Informative.....I have a question. Decided to learn late in life. Want to get an accoustic and figure to spend $500-$600 so as I progress I won't feel the need to trade up right away. Done tons of research and review all kinds of reviews. Kind of torn between the Martin or Seagull. Want to learn country, folk, some blues and particually fingerpicking. Only learning to play at home on the couch in front of the fire. Over 6 ft. and long arms if it matters. Want best tone and easiest to learn on for the money. Whatcha think? Any recommedations in particular? Appreciate the help.

:helpsmili

Yes. The Seagull S6. This guitar is tough to pass up in its price range; in fact, it's tough to pass up in guitars running twice or maybe even 3x as much. The street price of the S6 is right around $400.

I don't own one now, but I did and gave it to my niece a few months ago. I'm referring to the original S6 with the cedar top. The tone is incredible for a guitar in its price range. Since you're going to play only on the sofa, the extra projection that a spruce top would give wouldn't be a concern, I think. Moreover, it's a short(er) scale guitar, which means less string tension than a "standard" (25.4") scale guitar which makes it easier on the fingers. The frets on the shorter scale are of course a bit closer together, too--all of this translates into easier playability. (Be sure to have any guitar set up properly according to your own playing style/comfort level before you seal the deal.) At least go to your local dealer and try one (or a few) out.

You also mention Martins: I've played a bunch of Martins (I own two), and not one below a list price of $1500 delivers what the S6 does for so much less (Less-expensive Martins do sound thinner--maybe what the OP was referring to when he says that Martins are too "trebley," since I've never heard or read that said of Martins before. Of course, there a lots of things I've never heard or read about guitars.)

Anyway, just my humble opinion, of course--and, truth be told, I'm a beginner myself, having been playing just short of three years. But my musician friends (who own custom-made guitars as well as those by Gallagher, Martin, Santa Cruz, etc) think the S6 is a fine-sounding instrument in its own right. In fact, it was their recommendations that led me to one.

FWIW and all that.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ooops. I noticed well after I posted that this thread is a sticky. For whatever reason, it was in my mind that it was started by mantablueraider (the "OP" in my reply immediately above).

Apologies to UGB and to the forum in general. :blush:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Someone once told me that buying a guitar is kind of like buying a TV.. in the end you should just get the one that you like the sound of... ?

I, also, am looking to 'upgrade' my guitar (shouldn't be difficult because I have the cheapest one ever). When I went to a couple of stores the guys basically said that was the decision maker..

I read, with interest, the information on the cost of acoustic guitars and the costs of a professional one... mmm looks like I'll have to stick to a student model for some time...

thanks for the info.. (it seems that every question I have has already been answered)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×