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Hey recently bought an epiphone pro 1 ultra t ostart learning on, but I want something that is gonna last for a few years. I am looking at more bang for the buck types. 


I have three options that i am currently stuck on Any input would be greatly appreciated Thank you all.


Ibanez aw45ce 

Yamaha fg830

Fender cd60 

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I can recommend lots of bang, but not for the bucks.  Also, my most recent guitar purchase was about 10 years ago and it's retail price was over $5K, so I don't get out to see which budget guitars I like best.  Yes, I'm a guitar snob.  :cool:  In the past, when dirt was young, I worked in a few music stores.  At that time I thought Yamaha was usually the best in a given price range, at least until the prices got to $1K.

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All three models are very good "student level" guitars.  Though the Yamaha FG830 is simply a dressed up version of their FG800 and there will be no difference in the sound quality or playability of the lower priced Yamaha.  Yamaha has largely dominated the student level guitar market for several decades due to the generally high quality of their product for the dollar spent and the amount of guitar you get for your money. 


The previous generation Yamaha, the FG700 sold in vast quantities, as have all of the FG's over the years.  Since Yamaha FG series guitars tend to occupy the "student level" they are seldom a last guitar purchase.  This means you can buy a pre-owned FG series guitar for about 1/2 or less the price of the current models.  And there are plenty to choose from on any large instrument retailer's site.  As a student, you will not recognize any significant difference between a new and a pre-owned Yamaha FG since the formula for keeping this guitar in the $200 street price market was refined long ago and has had little variation over the years.  Buying used may get you a guitar with a solid spruce top that has had some time to break in which will provide slightly better sound quality and you might even find someone selling a pre-owned FG with a case thrown in.  You won't go wrong with a Yamaha FG but you may be spending money you don't need to spend to buy a new guitar.


I have found Fender to be a highly competitive line against Yamaha in the last few years.  They have stepped up their production methods and the quality control of their models built overseas.  Their customer support is US based and more accessible than Yamaha's.  I would say Fender today is easily the equal to the Yamaha in quality - if not slightly superior - and should be considered a very safe choice for a student.  The Fender "house sound" is more neutral IMO than the "brighter" and slightly cool sounding Yamaha.  It isn't as loud as the FG800 but I have yet to find anything in the $200 price range that beats the Yamaha in volume alone.  Both necks are described in rather similar terms and both will suit a student well though my personal preference is for the Fender neck profile.  I would strongly recommend the Fender to a student.


The Ibanez is another contender though, like Fender, they are better known for their electric guitars.  The AW54 will stand out due to its solid mahogany top vs the more typical spruce on the Yamaha and the Fender.  The Ibanez is a good value guitar for a student though it too will not be your only acoustic if you decide to pursue the guitar beyond the student level.  Both the Ibanez and the Fender should be available as a pre-owned guitar though they are probably not available in the quantities of the Yamaha.


You might also want to consider Alavarez, Gretsch and the guitars coming from the Godin factories which include Simon and Patrick, Art and Lutherie and Seagull.  These lines are most typically sold through smaller local retailers vs the big box sellers of Yamaha, Fender and Ibanez.  You should find more personal service and better answers to any questions at your local music store though they will not be able to show as many guitars as the less personal big box. 


Keep in mind, due to their point of origin and the manufacturer's desire to fill many price points, the vast majority of student level guitars in a big box will be, like the FG830 vs the FG800, simply more highly decorated variations on the same guitar.  Smaller local retailers will select representative models they feel best suit their clientele and will typically order any guitar they don't stock from any of their lines.  Local retailers will try to meet the big box prices though you should cut them some slack IMO if they've provided higher levels of service.  After the sale assistance is to be considered in the selling price and the big boxes remain big boxes after you've made your purchase.  Good and bad sales staff exist at both large and small retailers though and you should take any individual sales person as a one on one relationship.      



Alvarez is a line I would highly recommend to any prospective buyer as their sound and their build quality has always been top notch for their cost.  Gretsch is IMO building some very high value guitars in this price range.  Check out their parlor and "00" sized guitars.  Smaller in over all size, these models are similar to guitars from 100 years ago and IMO more comfortable to play than the ubiquitous dreadnaught size such as the Yamaha. 


Smaller bodied guitars are better suited to playing while seated than is a dreadnaught and many smaller bodied guitars will also have a shorter "scale length" which will be slightly more comfortable for the student due to the inherently lower string tension of the short scale length.  You will give up some volume with the smaller body and a bit of thump but the sound of many parlors and 00's will be more midrange focused with less boom and more single note tones. 


Smaller bodies also exist in "travel size" guitars from Martin and Taylor.  Do not consider a smaller body guitar to be a toy, they are high quality musical instruments when they come from a high quality manufacturer who is putting their name on a product they intend to stand behind.    


Godin is a North American company and, therefore, stands out as being the only guitar lines in this price range not built either in Asia or Mexico.  Godin is a rather big company as far as North American guitar manufacturers go and the basic quality of their guitars is seen in each line they represent.  The differences between, say, a Simon and Patrick and a Seagull are less numerous than are the similarities.  Seagull, built either in the NorthWestern portions of the US or in Canada has become a very well known and well liked line of guitars and, as with the Yamahas, there are a good many Seagulls on the pre-owned market.  Like the Ibanez, the Seagull has a less typical cedar top vs the spruce found on most student level guitars in this price range.  So expect a different, though no less high quality, sound from the Godin guitars.   


Buy a digital tuner with your new guitar and get in the habit of checking the guitar's tuning every time you pick up the guitar and before you hit the first note.

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