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Good Acoustic/Electric @ $500 Price Point

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by soulman969, Sep 4, 2013.

  1. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    I ordered a Breedlove C250/CM and have had it for 3 or 4 days. I admit that's it a very well built guitar but I'm still struggling a little with both the feel of the neck and the overall tonality. I was thinking it would please me more than it has.

    I realize it's not gonna sound like my $2000 Taylor but I'm kind of amazed at just how little projection it has and the stock electronics are nothing to write home about. There's a brittle tone to the highs that I'm having trouble getting rid of and it's much tougher to find a good balance between the low and high strings. The EQ seems very sensitive so a little move of the knob adds a lot.

    Anyway I'm willing to accept these issues and work around them if this is the best of it's class and based on some of what I've read it may well be. But I'm also curious about what other choices may be worth looking at which sell around $500. Is this the best out there or are there models from Alvarez, Washburn and Takamine that might be better choices. That's really my top end as far as price goes since this is a workhorse to use in place of my Taylor.

    One limiting factor is the "dread" bodies are out. I need something smaller than that. So if any of you are playing a model that you enjoy other than this Breedlove C250 let me know what it is and what you like about it.

    Thanks guys.

  2. Edwin

    Edwin Banned

    Jun 23, 2010
    For $500 you're not going to get much.

  3. Warren Pederson

    Warren Pederson Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 16, 2004
    I have the Seagull Entourage mini jumbo rustic (with no cutaway) and I like it a lot.

  4. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    Thanks Warren. I'll take a look at that one. Seagulls are very nice guitars as well and most of the mini jumbos I've seen don't have a cutaway. That's not a deal killer.

  5. teleamp

    teleamp Poster Extraordinaire

    Oct 17, 2006
    Under scrutiny...

  6. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    Well thanks for that suggestion but $500 is the budget and the Breedlove I have now is one of the best rated in that price range. It's not gonna compete with my Taylor and it won't have to. I need something less expensive and less fragile for gigs.

    I'm not totally unhappy with the Breedlove but I'm not sure it's what I'm looking for either. I'm still within my 30 day exchange period and I'm just exploring some other options within the same $500 price range. I've got the other base covered.

  7. Duffy

    Duffy Tele-Holic

    Soulman, I've found, over the years that it is hard to find an acoustic that has a very beautiful and full low end sound. In my experience, a lot of them have a very "klangggy" sound to them, with a lot of treble emphasis.

    I like the ones that are balanced but have a very full bass sound going on; and I like one that has a lot of clarity.

    What I have found is that I go to all the local stores and play various acoustics in my price range, in a quiet area. I try to identify the ones that have the full sound with a good bass response, and then I try to pick out the one I want the most.

    I try to leave out the brand name or the color or the composition of the woods, and just focus on the sound.

    That is how I found and bought my Yamaha LJX6C acoustic/electric on sale for 499 out the door, US dollars, with a nice case. The regular price was 699 and I just barely talked the salesman, that I know well, into selling it to me at the sale price, because the sale had ended the day before but they forgot to take the sale tag off of it. It is a medium jumbo with a cutaway.

    I did find, however, some really nice - in my opinion - small bodied Yamaha's that have that plastic ring around the soundhole. I was very surprised at how good they sounded and I think they are all laminated woods. I might get one of them someday. I think the series is APX or something.

    Anyway, the Yamaha model that I bought has an incredible electric sound system in it. It uses four sensors and no piezo pickup. It sounds really good and very close to the exact sound of the acoustic sound. When you tap on the top the sensors pick up the sound and it gets amplified. I like that.

    Even some of the cheaper Yamaha's I've played, like the FG series, sound very decent.

    I had a very beautiful Seagull anniversary model that had a solid spruce top and all quilted maple natural sides and back, laminated I think. I put a soundhole pickup hardwired into it. It was "okay", but not nearly as nice sounding as my Yamaha. I gave it to my son and he likes it a lot. He is a really good musician and gets the sound he wants out of it. It was an S6 version.

    I'd say go out and play everything in your price range and buy one that sounds and feels the way you like it. You will know when you find the right one. It seems like they "all" sound different.

    A long, long time ago I bought a really nice Aria "M" style mandolin from a good sized music store out off the West end of Colfax. I'm not sure if the place is still in business, but it was a professional place back then and had nice stuff. I sold that mandolin because I wasn't playing it about five years ago or so, and I wish I never sold it. It had two pointed horns on it, something like an SG, but mandolin style.

  8. uriah1

    uriah1 Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

    Feb 12, 2011
    Yamaha had good quality for price point....some early alvarez too..not all

  9. teleforumnoob

    teleforumnoob Tele-Afflicted

    May 25, 2010
    North Alabama
    Hard to find an inexpensive acoustic with good electronics in it.
    Id just play a bunch $300 guitars and budget $200 for good aftermarket amplification system.
    For example:
    Yamaha FS720 $280 + Baggs M1A soundhole $169 = $449
    or same guitar w Baggs Element $129 plus Para DI $169 = $618

  10. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    That may be the direction I'll head either now or as an upgrade. One issue I have with most lower cost A/Es is the lack of an internal mic so you're left with only the piezo and it's harsh more brittle sound. I even had to add a Fishman blender to my Taylor after I bought so even on higher end models it's still not addressed and I feel it should be.

    Thanks for the suggestions. I may have acted a little fast because of the sales going on last week and that's very unusual for me. Now I'm doing research after the fact in and not before as I usually do but the 30 day exchange has me protected for now. If I find something I like better I can always swap it.

  11. LGOberean

    LGOberean Poster Extraordinaire

    May 31, 2008
    Corpus Christi, Texas
    If I were in the hunt for a gigging acoustic/electric with the parameters you've specified, I'd definitely be looking at what Takamine has to offer.

    About body size/shape, Takamine has their NEX body shape, which they describe as a "scaled-down Jumbo." I played a Tak with this NEX body a little over a year ago in my local GC. Every time I was in there, I played that guitar. The model I played (GS430S) was not an a/e, but it does give me some experience with the NEX body shape, which was very comfortable to play. The GS430S also had a solid cedar top, which I liked. If I've understood you correctly, your C250 has a cedar top, and you're not sure about it in terms of projection/tone, so YMMV. For me, everything about this guitar was a winner, including the sticker price of $300. But I just didn't need another acoustic (not acoustic/electric), so even though I was really tempted, I passed.

    I've said all that about the one I have some experience with in order to suggest to you a similar but different Takamine, the GN30CE. Solid spruce top, mahogany b & s. Same NEX body, which I think you might like. It does have a cutaway. And Takamine is known for their on-board electronics. The GN30CE has a pinless/string-through split saddle rosewood bridge. (The GS430S I played also had this, and I really liked it.) The neck of the GN30CE is described as slim, but that's such a personal choice as to size and feel you'll have to decide on that for yourself. Here's a video review of it by Sweetwater...

    Sweetwater doesn't have them in stock just now. I didn't check other online retailers. but the price is well within your stated budget: $370. At that price you might also be able to address that internal mic.

  12. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    Thanks Duffy. There aren't any models listed in that price range that correspond with the one you bought but there are several others which might be a fit. I think the idea of going out and playing a few is what I need to do. That's how I came across Taylors many years ago.

    I've tended to ignore the Yamaha brand for many years because I saw their quality begin to slip and I also found they were not all that easy to play. The action was high and stiff. However that's not unsolvable if I find one that fits in other way.

    Normally I'd have done all this before I bought one but I reacted to the labor day sales and an interest free offer that seemed to good to pass on. So even if I end up swapping the Breedlove I've still kind or marked my place and am in that 30 day window and now I research. Kind of backwards but not the first time I've gone at things that way. Needs sometimes dictates circumstances.

    Thanks again for the suggestions Duffy I'll check a few out.

  13. Edwin

    Edwin Banned

    Jun 23, 2010
    I like the Takamine's in that price range and the electronic's are better. I have a Tak G523SC 12 string that sounds pretty good for the lower end pickups and preamp and it's price is $750. I also have an EAN40SC that is the smaller NEX size with a better pickup and bridge and is my favorite acoustic. Takamine has discontinued the model and the equivalent seems to be their P3N40 and it runs for over$1000. I think the Takamines project better than the Breedlove's but I haven't plugged one in. The lower end Tak's, Breedloves,Yamaha's and Alverez are pretty much the same quality. I've never been impressed with Seagull. Just my opinion.

  14. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    Larry, thank you that GN30CE seems like it may be a fit as well. I haven't had a Takamine before but any number of guys I've played with have and they've always been great stage guitars. It doesn't hurt that this one's a little lower in cost either. I'll check it out.

    Hey thanks so much to all of for taking an interest in this pursuit of mine and responding so quickly. Now that I have a handful of alternatives I think I can head for GC and play a few and get a taste for how they differ from the Breedlove which is exactly what I want to do.

    Since I've got this one here already now it's a process of elimination to see if there's one that suits me better and swap it and if not then I'm where I need to be. I realize it's a challenge to find a top notch sounding and playing A/E in this price range (that's why I have a Taylor) but that's all the budget allows for it's gigging sub.

    Between Tele, basses, and acoustics there are more than one master to serve so the budget has to get spread out. Thanks again guys.

  15. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    Thanks Edwin. I'm coming to the conclusion that I need to take a look at a few of these Takamine's. I've always had a respect for the line and if the electronics represent an improvement over what other offer that half that battle won since it will almost always be amplified when I use it.

  16. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    Well just to finish up this thread I can report that after having followed some of suggestions made by you all, and having played about a half dozen models of Takamine's, Yamaha's and an Ovation ranging in price from $400 to $1000 alongside the Breedlove C250 I bought I found what you said to be very true Edwin.

    Acoustically there was very little difference between them and even less when amplified including a $1000 Takamine and a $700 Yamaha I put in the mix just to see if there was much of a difference. The Yamaha dread style body projects a bit better acoustically as you'd expect but none of the concert body styles seems to really out do another including an all maple Takamine I thought would be very bold and bright but wasn't.

    My goal was to find the best or at least one of the best A/Es I could find in a $500 price range and I've come to the conclusion that for me this Breedlove C250 is at least as good as anything in a $500 to $1000 price range out there and better than some costing more. It wasn't until I began playing models in a $2000 to $3000 price range like my Taylor that I began to notice some differences and even those weren't huge.

    I'm not implying they aren't better sounding but just not as great a difference as I expected there would be. Most however where somewhat fancier in appearance which I'm sure makes up some of the difference in cost and of course their preamps had much better features. But somewhat like custom shop electrics there is a point on diminishing returns and even a $500 model can get you a very decent sounding and playing guitar.

    The setups or the action of some of the lower end models wasn't all that great but I didn't find that true of the Breedlove so much in comparison to some of the higher end models. Even the rep in the acoustic department was a little surprised at how favorably the C250 compared to some costing twice or three times as much. So it was a worthwhile experience and it got me just a little more in touch with A/Es again after not having played them much for a few years.

    I'm content with my choice now and thanks again for all of your feedback fellas. I thought I at least owed you a comment or two on how it all came out for me so this was it.

  17. DaddyG

    DaddyG Tele-Meister

    Oct 25, 2012
    Norton, Ohio
    A few weeks ago I bought a Breedlove Atlas Studio D250/Sre from CL for $400. I couldn't be any happier for what I paid. The guitar has good tone low to high and fairly booms with volume. The LR Baggs preamp is a real plus when plugging in. Nice to see you're happy with your choice.

  18. Stuco

    Stuco Poster Extraordinaire

    Aug 27, 2006
    You need to move up to a USED Breedlove Atlas C25 with the solid back, anything lower is going to have limitations.

    Other Options: (again, go used)

    Epiphone Masterbilt EF-500RCE -All solid wood OM with Rosewood B/S, Cutaway with decent electronics

    Guild GAD-30, now called F-130 -All solid wood, they make them in mahogany and rosewood with the option of cutaway and electronics

    Alvarez Masterworks "MF" -All solid wood, top of the alvarez line (before getting into Yairi) in their folk size. Cutaway version comes with electronics.

    You could also spend a little more and get a used Eastman or Larrivee.

  19. nogin007

    nogin007 Tele-Meister

    Apr 22, 2003
    Wellington, AL
    A couple of years ago I bought a Washburn EA 10SCE, with Fishman electronics in it. Its a small bodied guitar, so it doesn't sound loud acoustically, but plugged in, it sounds as good as many more expensive guitars I've owned. It was $399 plus tax, and came with a Washburn hard case. I use it with a Peavey keyboard amp, and can dial in a balanced sound.

  20. soulman969

    soulman969 Telefied Ad Free Member

    Mar 20, 2011
    Englewood, CO
    Agreed, but as I posted in my title the budget for this particular guitar was $500 or less and I actually wanted to stay away from all wood guitars. I already have a great sounding Taylor 414ce I love but it can be a little too fragile for everyday play in this dry air low humidity environment where I live. This one was purchased to pinch hit for the Taylor as my workhorse and backup.

    Other brands may be a little hardier and not quite as much of a problem here in Colorado but in this case I chose not to go with an all wood guitar just to avoid some of the previous problems I've had altogether. I can risk leaving this one out of it's case more often so it gets played and I can't do that with the Taylor. It's actually in a humidified studio now so the back doesn't separate at the book match seam again.

    It was a spur of the moment decision to buy using up a 20% discount offer I had and to take advantage of an interest free payment deal or otherwise I probably would have shopped for used models like the Atlas Series. So I bought the C250 right in all respects and after a little more legwork I think it's probably as good or better than I could have done in this price range compared to others I played.

    If I decide to upgrade it later I should be able to get most of my cost back out of it and then I may move up to an Atlas Series or another brand entirely but for now this will get the job I need it for done.

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