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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups Warmoth.com

Acoustics? I don't get what makes one better than the others?

Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Axis29, Mar 8, 2011.

  1. Daddy Hojo

    Daddy Hojo Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 25, 2011
    Kentucky
    For me the opposite is true. I find that the difference between a crap electric guitar and a much more expensive one is a smaller gap than there is between bad and good acoustic guitars.

    The ridiculous thing is, I rarely get a chance to gig on electric. It's all coffeeshops, restaurants, and acoustic gigs around here.
     

  2. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

    I thought the exact opposite. When I was test driving acoustics in this price range I thought the Seagull I bought sounded better than the Yamaha FG700S that I was considering buying. I also thought the Seagull was much better made both in terms of materials and workmanship. The Seagull I bought normally sells for about $80 more than the Yamaha and I think that $80 is well worth it for a better instrument. The fact that I got my Seagull brand new for only $22 more than the Yamaha sells for made it a no-brainer for me.

    I agree with respect to some of the Taylors I tried out (Big Baby and 110) as I didn't think they warranted the extra couple of hundred bucks that they cost.

    Would I still like to buy a Martin or a Taylor at some point? Perhaps, but the guitar would really need to blow me away for me to justify the cost as the extra money just isn't worthwhile for a home player like myself. If I was a pro it would be an entirely different story. But for me, I might end up being just as happy with a high end Seagull as I would be with anything else and that guitar would enable me to keep some money in my pocket.
     

  3. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

    The S6 Original might just suit your needs perfectly then as it has a wider neck and a cedar top.
     

  4. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    Ah, I see, the $110 one: http://www.jr.com/yamaha/pe/YAM_FD01S/

    I've never played that particular Yamaha, but have played a couple of the $200 Yamaha FG700S guitars. A good FG700S is a surprisingly good guitar IMO.
    Yum, that's one tasty guitar! :D
    That's the one thing I did not love about the Yamaha's I tried, the strings were closer together than I'd prefer.

    I just looked up Seagull's website and the S6 Original has a 45.7 mm nut width (1.8 inches). My Yamaha FGX730SC nut measured at a hair over 43 mm. So there's almost a tenth of an inch difference in nut width, small but enough to notice.

    The actual spacing between the slots on the nut is more important (not every manufacturer leaves the same amount of overhang at the two edges of the fretboard), but nobody seems to publish the actual distance between the two E string slots on the nut. On the FGX730SCA, it's 36 mm (1.417 inches, or roughly 1 13/32 inches).

    I have big hands - my index and middle fingers are big enough to stick between the black keys on a standard full-size piano keyboard. So every single steel-string guitar I've ever tried feels cramped to me. My right thumb is wide enough that if I place it on the A string at the bridge, thumb aligned along the string, it actually touches three strings on my Yamaha at the same time - the low E, the A, and the D!

    Despite that, I can fingerpick the guitar with my right hand pretty well, but the string spacing at the nut is cramped enough to make it challenging to do anything complex with my left hand. Complex chord voicings or fast left-hand fingering in between chords are tricky.

    -Gnobuddy
     

  5. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    Actually I agree with you on that. The body in most electric guitars contributes very, very little to the sound. The neck contributes a bit more - it's longer and skinnier than the body, so it has more mechanical resonances at frequencies that matter than a solid wood slab body, and that shows up a little in the final tone. But most of the tone is in the pickups, the amp, and the player.
    Get yourself a Super Champ XD, plop in a $10 L-pad from Parts Express to dial down the speaker volume, plug in a solid-body electric, and you can get lovely electric tone at volumes no higher than an acoustic guitar. And you get all the increased playability of a good electric guitar at the same time.

    The only downside is lugging the amp and solid-body guitar around, much more of a pain than lugging a single acoustic guitar!

    -Gnobuddy
     

  6. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

    I have the Seagull S6 Original Slim which is, as the name would suggest, slimmer at the nut. On these the nut is 1.72 inches (I'll let you convert that to mm as my math skills are abysmal). I just grabbed a tape measure and checked the distance between the two E string slots and mine measured 36mm. You can take that and do the calculation to get an idea of what the same spacing would be on the S6 Original with its wider nut (again, my math skills are terrible so I will leave the calculations to you).

    ETA: According to an online source, 1.72 inches equals 43.68mm.
     

  7. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    I'm curious, what Seagull model goes for $80 more than a Yamaha FG700S? Here in the USA, that Yammy is $200 at Guitar Center, and the cheapest Seagulls I saw there were around $500.

    The Seagulls I tried had noticeably shorter sustain than the Yamaha FG700S I tried, and I also found the playability a little worse. It's hard to pin down exactly what the difference was, but I liked the Yamaha necks better, even though I don't like narrow necks. Neck preferences are pretty subjective, though. I don't like the Squire CV50 (electric) necks, which are quite popular on this forum - they don't fit my hand very well.

    I'm curious if the smaller and lighter headstocks on the Seagulls have anything to do with their reduced sustain. More weight at the two ends of the string does enhance sustain - remember the fad for brass nuts in the 1980's?
    Agree. A lot of working musicians these days don't make much money from their gigs, and I would think they too would need to balance income earned against the costs of their guitars. It doesn't make much financial sense to buy a $10,000 guitar if you play $200 gigs, and would have got those gigs anyway with a $500 guitar.

    -Gnobuddy
     

  8. Daddy Hojo

    Daddy Hojo Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 25, 2011
    Kentucky

  9. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    Thanks! Interesting, that's exactly the same string spacing I measured on my Yamaha with its narrower neck.

    It looks like the S6 "original" neck is .08" wider (1.8 vs 1.72 inches) or roughly 5/64" wider if you like fractions. (I hate fractions!)

    Since there are 5 spaces between 6 strings, and a total spacing increase of 5/64", all else being the same, that will translate to an increased spacing of only 1/64" between every two strings.

    That's a really small increase, but I'm pretty sure you can feel that. I can feel the difference between a Strat's 1 11/16" wide nut and the 1 3/4" nut on my Agile guitars, and that's about the same increase. Very small, but perceptible.

    Now you've got me thinking. There's probably room to move the two E strings on my Yamaha outboard by 1/32" each without getting too close to the edges of the neck. That would give me an increase of 1/16" or 4/64" from E to E, almost exactly the same as the difference between the "original" and "slim" Seagull necks. For the price of a new nut, it might be worth trying!

    -Gnobuddy
     

  10. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    Here's an eight-ohm one:
    http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=260-265

    For our use, you wire it between the output of the guitar amp and the loudspeaker. It works a bit like a volume control, but with one major difference: even while you dial the speaker volume up or down, the L-pad makes sure your guitar amp "sees" the same fixed load at every volume setting. So it keeps your tube amp happy, and if you dial down the L-pad, you can push your tube amp to get that nice tubey tone, and still keep the speaker volume low enough for the quietest gig. Put another way, it's a dirt-cheap attenuator for your guitar amp.

    I learned about this trick from a post by "Jeober" in the Super Champ XD thread on this forum. All credit goes to him.

    I love the thing, it lets me play through my 15 watt Super Champ XD while my wife is asleep in the next room without disturbing her. Turn the gain up to around 7 to push the amp hard enough for lovely tube amp tone, turn the L-pad down to get the volume really low, and jam away.

    -Gnobuddy
     

  11. dmarg1045

    dmarg1045 Friend of Leo's

    Oct 28, 2006
    Massachusetts
    I agree, although the term "snobbery" to me is pretty negative. The folks I know with fairly pricey acoustics tend to be nice guys who happen to like cool guitars. Not a bad description of TDPRI folks in general. Often they're acoustic-only guys, so their budget doesn't go toward amps, pedals, and special knurled knobs.

    I admit to being a tad spoiled, but I'll happily play your Yamaha, Godin, or Wal-Mart guitar as long as it's playable and stays in tune. And you are certainly welcome to try my guitar. I'll ask my butler to admit you to the music room, pour you some sherry, and give you a jacket and tie to wear.
     

  12. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

    The ones I mentioned in my previous post - the Yamaha FG700S and the Seagull S6 Original (I bought the slim version but the price is the same). Up here the Yamaha FG700S goes for $270 (first link below) and the Seagull goes for $350 (second link below). There is actually a $5 difference in the prices in the links below and the prices at the chain from which I bought mine but the difference between the two is still $80 (the chain where I bought mine doesn't have the Seagulls listed on their website so I used another store's website instead). Keep in mind that, being a Canadian product, Seagulls are cheaper here than they are down there in the US. And, as I said, since I only paid $299 for my Seagull brand new (I have a good relationship with the store so got a good deal) it was a no-brainer for me.


    http://www.stevesmusic.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_16&products_id=6793


    http://www.stevesmusic.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=1_16&products_id=5507



    I found the opposite and was actually beginning to think I would never find an acoustic neck that I found comfortable until I came across the S6 Slim. Once I tried that model I knew it was the one for me. I found acoustic necks to be difficult to play as I've only been playing for a couple of years - maybe if I had been playing for a decade or more I might have found more that were comfortable for me. But, as I said, once I tried the S6 Slim I knew it was the right guitar for me.


    I don't like them either.
     

  13. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

    No problem at all. I needed to get her out of her case anyway as I haven't played any guitar at all yet today.



    Would that not necessitate a new bridge saddle as well or is the difference small enough not to matter?
     

  14. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    Well, that certainly makes a big difference. And that's $299 CAD, right? The two currencies are very close now, but today the US dollar is still a couple of percent stronger.

    If I did my math right, you paid USD $291.82 for your Seagull, while Guitar Center wants around $500 for the same model. That's quite a markup - 71.33% to be exact! :eek:
    What I notice among my musical friends is that the people who play a lot of different types of guitars regularly usually adapt quickly to every new neck they encounter. They may not love them all equally, but at least find them all playable.

    Meantime, the people who've been playing on one single guitar (or one single brand of guitar) for many years cannot adapt to anything different. I have one friend who's been playing a nylon-string classical guitar with a 2" nut width for the past twenty five years or so, and she can't handle any guitar with a neck narrower than 2 inches. Which I find a little amusing, as she has much smaller hands than I do!

    So, cramped as my Squire Standard Strat's 1 11/16" nut is for me, I'm grateful to it, because it keeps my hands used to dealing with narrow necks. Same goes for the 2" wide nut on my classical guitars, which keep my hands trained at dealing with wider necks. As long as I play both those guitars fairly regularly, I can get along fairly well with most other guitars out there that fall somewhere in between.

    The only guitars I'm truly uncomfortable with are the really narrow entry-level Squire guitars with the 1 5/8" nut - those are practically torture to play, right at the limit of what I can manage with my big fingers.

    -Gnobuddy
     

  15. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    The latter, I think. I don't think any change at the bridge is necessary. We're talking a pretty small 1/32" change in position at the nut, spread out over a 25 9/16" string length. A really tiny change, but enough to make a perceptible difference to that somewhat cramped left hand spacing.

    I'm going to look for some slightly wider nuts, this seems well worth trying considering the low cost and the fact that it will be easy to return things to stock if it doesn't work out.

    -Gnobuddy
     

  16. colchar

    colchar Friend of Leo's

    Yep, $299 Canadian. Our dollar is actually worth more than the US dollar right now. It has been like that for a while actually. At the rate I just saw online $1US is only worth $0.9814CDN.

    I've noticed that they charge more for them down there and figured it was a Canadian company giving a price break to fellow Canadians but that markup is bloody ridiculous. Outrageous is more the right term.


    I've played nothing but my MIM Standard Strat for the last year and, although I really wanted an acoustic, I was worried that I just couldn't play them. If I keep going between my Strat and my Seagull (as well as the Tele I plan to buy) I'm betting that, in another year or whatever, I will find it easier to switch necks.


    ETA: I just checked the GC website and I think you were looking at the Coastline series with the spruce top (that line also has an S6 model). The one I have is the Original series with the cedar top and GC charges $399 for them. Here is the link to it on the GC webpage (GC doesn't name them properly which obviously contributed to the confusion):

    http://www.guitarcenter.com/Seagull-Cedar-Slim-Acoustic-Dreadnought-104215736-i1147713.gc

    That is $50 more than the normal Canadian price and $100 more than what I paid.

    MF also charges $399 for them:

    http://guitars.musiciansfriend.com/product/Seagull-Cedar-Slim-Acoustic-Dreadnought?sku=512360

    I'll leave it to you, the guy who actually has math skills, to figure out the markup based on those prices!

    Here is the Original Series from the Seagull website:

    http://www.seagullguitars.com/productlistingoriginalseries.htm
     

  17. Daddy Hojo

    Daddy Hojo Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 25, 2011
    Kentucky
    I like the sound of this. Do most folks mount them on the back or in a separate box up front with the wires running to the back?
     

  18. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    Daddy Hojo, I really love this mod. My Super Champ XD seems to have its best tone when turned up to about 6 or 7 on the volume knob, and even though it's "only" 15 watts, before I added the L-pad it was way, way too loud to play indoors in the house at that setting. So I only ever got to hear that lovely tube tone on the rare occasions that I would go play outdoors in my friends back yard (he lives in a neighbourhood where people are pretty easy-going).

    With the L-pad, I can now enjoy that tone at living-room friendly levels in the day time, and late at night I can turn the amp down to practically a whisper and still get much of that tone without disturbing my wife or the neighbours.

    The only caution I'd add is that this L-pad cannot handle vast amounts of power. The ones Parts Express sells are rated at either 50 W or 100 W, but that is a very "generous" rating. I'm sure these things would quickly fry if you connected a real 50 W or 100 W amp to them, and if the L-pad fries, the amp will probably fry immediately after that, since it won't have the proper load. But it works great for my 15 watt SCXD, and should work great with other low power amps (VCXD, champ, Blues Jr, and so on). For a smidge of extra safety margin, use the 100 W L-pad rather than the 50 W one.

    As for installation, make sure there is plenty of access for airflow around the L-pad. I wouldn't put it in a small sealed project box. Jeober, the guy who turned me on to this thing, mounted his L-pad on a scrap of wood and installed it to the back of his amp with, I think, double-stick foam carpet mounting tape. It should be easily removable without leaving any marks on the cab.

    I just recently transplanted my Super Champ XD into a bigger cab with a 12" speaker. The cab came from a CraigsList Fender Princeton 65 DSP (solid state) amp that I gutted. I added an L-pad at the same time, and mine is temporarily just sitting inside the cab at the back, held by the high-strength velcro strap normally used to hold the power cord tidily against the case.

    After adding the L-pad, I was having so much fun enjoying tube tone at bedroom-friendly levels that every time I went to work on the amp, I ended up spending the time playing through the amp rather than doing a better job of mounting that L-pad!

    Anyhow, the Princeton 65 cab I'm using has a particle-board strip about 3" wide running across the entire width of the cab at the back, and I'll probably just drill a hole through that and mount the L-pad on the inside, with the knob at the back of the amp. The only bad thing about that is that the knob would stick out at the back of the amp, and could be damaged if someone tips the amp back or tries to move it flush against a wall. So maybe I'd better add some wood and mount the L-pad with the knob recessed a half inch into the back of the cab.

    Here's jeober's original post on the L-pad:
    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/2673416-post437.html

    And a couple more of his posts, follow-ups to the first one:
    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/2702094-post471.html
    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/2673900-post440.html
    http://www.tdpri.com/forum/2675562-post444.html

    -Gnobuddy
     

  19. Gnobuddy

    Gnobuddy Friend of Leo's

    Sep 15, 2010
    British Columbia
    You're absolutely right, I managed to read that backwards when I looked up the exchange rate.

    Wow. I knew the US dollar has been losing value like crazy, but I recall that back in 2002 (I visited Vancouver / Tsawwassen /Vancouver Island briefly that year) the exchange rate was something like 1.30 CAD to 1 USD. So the US dollar has fallen about thirty percent over that time, relative to the Canadian dollar. And I'm sure the Canadian dollar has fallen too, given the worldwide economic crisis. That means the US dollar has fallen even more than that 30% figure would indicate.

    Geez. I should have opened a bank account in Vancouver in 2002 and put my guitar-buying money there. It would have grown by 30% today, turned back into US dollars!
    I'm sure you will. Grab a beater used classical nylon-string off of Craigslist, and you will end up even more adaptable. And you may find yourself falling in love with the purity of tone of nylon strings, as I do every time I pick mine up!
    I bet Guitar Center pays less for them than you did, what with their volume discount and 800-lb gorilla status in the industry. To me, a $50 markup would be fair, but a $100 mark up seems excessive. Since their actual cost is almost certainly less than what you paid, it's likely their markup is even more than $100.

    Guitar Center was charging $30 for blue Snarks (a very nice new electronic guitar tuner). I found the same tuners for $8 plus $5 shipping on Amazon - $13 delivered to my door, versus $33 if I bought from my local GC (including sky-high California sales tax).

    All this wouldn't bother me so much if GC paid their employees handsomely. But what I learned from a couple of GC employees I made friends with is pretty ugly. Did you know that if you buy an item at GC, take it home, find out you don't like it, and return it, GC then takes away the commission the salesperson made when they sold you the item? That seems totally unfair to me, since it's not the salespersons fault if you change your mind later.

    -Gnobuddy
     

  20. dmarg1045

    dmarg1045 Friend of Leo's

    Oct 28, 2006
    Massachusetts
    In virtually all sales jobs, commission is paid on completed sales. If an item is returned, there was ultimately no sale.
     

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