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Any good small-bodied vintage mahogany guitars out there?

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by [J.K.], Feb 23, 2019.

  1. [J.K.]

    [J.K.] Tele-Meister

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    I've been looking around for small bodied parlor/concert sized mahogany topped guitars lately, but I personally find that the newer models I've played have a substantially stronger "twangy" sound to the trebles, so I've been scouring around to see if there are some vintage (or at least pre-70s) alternatives out there.

    Ideally, I'm looking for something with x-bracing (I like the Gibson LG-0 and even some old Harmony guitars, but they're more in the blues box territory than a folk machine to me), and I'm not seeing much besides old Martin 15s and 17s.

    Anyone here know of any older li'l mahogany (non-laminate) guitars that have a nice mellow sound for recording?

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2019
  2. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    The Epiphone L-00 was a good model, my best mate has one, i just checked out theirw ebsite and they're now not in production. The small Martin all Mahogany ( which he also has ) is a very nice sounding guitar but ordinary in appearance.
     
  3. [J.K.]

    [J.K.] Tele-Meister

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    I think the only pre-70s Epiphone models are the FT-30 guitars, which are basically the ladder braced Gibson LG-0 with a different headstock and pickguard.

    I actually have a Martin 00-15M from a few years back when they switched from sapele(?) to proper mahogany on the body. It's okay, but a bit brighter than I'd like, and I have to buy custom low E strings to give the bass some girth. I like it, but recording with it requires a lot of tweaking of the EQ, and shelving some of the high end and using a LP filter to taper off the brightness cuts into the overtones of the wound strings a bit much, while the unwound strings still feel off in the mix no matter how I adjust my fingerpicking and swap out mics.
     
  4. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    Sorry I could not help. I had a Japanese pre-70s Epiphone 12 String and an original Epiphone Texan. Both great guitars.
    Why I still don't have them as my family went on holidays to Uluru ( Ayers Rock) returned when interest rates were 17,75% and had to sell them for a water heater and bathroom repairs.
    Played many a good gig with some semi- famous singers with those Epiphones.

    Footnote: Buy an Epiphone where the E on the pick guard is NOT embossed but set in.;)
     
  5. studio1087

    studio1087 Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Have you played recent Martin 15’s? They’re as warm as it gets. I have a D-15 and a OOO-15M. So warm!

    Here are two OOO’s.



    Here is th OO (Parlor sized)



    Warm.

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. studio1087

    studio1087 Telefied Silver Supporter

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    Ibanez makes a Mahogany parlor slot head now that is also a warm little cuddler. I picked this up off Craigslist for$175. The top is solid wood.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. 4pickupguy

    4pickupguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    Guild made a mahogany parlor if memory serves. It was called the M20 and the few I remember hearing sounded great.
    01AFABD8-872D-4663-B529-A928DC079B1B.jpeg
     
  8. [J.K.]

    [J.K.] Tele-Meister

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    Like I mentioned in my last post, I actually have a Martin 00-15M. It was my first "serious" guitar after I got bored of playing in punk bands and wanted to go back to fingerstyle. Amazing guitar at a super reasonable price (well, I got my for $900).

    My only complaints about the OO-15M (outside of the weaker low end, which is manageable) are that they went with a 25.4" scale rather than the original 24.9" scale, and I just feel like mahogany sounds better when it's aged a few solid decades. Spruce settles in quickly, I think, but if you play something like an older 00-17 Martin, there's a much more profound warmth in the mids with less bite than more recent models, and I think the b and e strings take on a bit more mellowness over time, which is what I'm really looking for. I just want a dark sounding little picker where the trebly overtones have been more substantially subdued over a 50 year lifespan of abuse. Besides, I think there are still deals to be found on vintage guitars that are competitive with modern ones.

    I played a few unbelievably fantastic Collings guitars that I'll never be able to afford when I was visiting a buddy who worked there, and I remember being blown away, but still wishing a bit of their brilliant range was swallowed a bit by time. Those were guitars that really set a high watermark for playable, rich, even-bodied masterpieces of production, but for better or worse, I'm looking for something that is much less brilliant in range with less of that sweet articulation of a great guitar: I'm searching for more of a melancholy, subdued sort of tone from something built in the 50s or 60s at least.
     
  9. imwjl

    imwjl Poster Extraordinaire

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    You might have a problem where like other stuff, the guitar makers have increased the quality of all their output. I’m of the opinion that there are just not a lot of really good older guitars. They didn’t make as many and in some decades a lot of them did not have the build quality we’ve seen in recent decades.
     
  10. [J.K.]

    [J.K.] Tele-Meister

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    I've been considering one for a while. I played a spruce F-20 model from 1966 at a local shop and was really blown away by it (even the narrow nut width), but it's been tricky to find a mahogany model that's in decent shape and priced fairly, and factoring in repairs and a potential neck reset (which are notoriously difficult with some of those Guilds), makes me want to make sure I find a good seller if I can. I almost got one a month ago; I added it to my cart online and, when I went to purchase it an hour later, it was sold. Ha ha. Brilliant luck. The reissues are actually really fantastic, but they're definitely a bit more twangy and bluesy than the older models, and I'm not a huge fan of the wider nut.


    Yeah, I've kinda picked up on that. My friend has a couple Larrivee guitars that are a sturdier build than most older guitars I've played, and like I said earlier, the Collings I've played have made my Martin feel like a toy. Still, I've definitely noticed that the few Martins I've played from the 50s, even the ones with a spruce top, had less off a brash presence than anything I've played from a modern manufacturer. Don't get me wrong; I think modern acoustics are amazing, but I'm looking for something with a little more of a "blurred" midrage, for lack of a better term, than the articulation and clarity I've found in my 00-15M or other similar models. Even though mahogany is considered to be a darker tonewood, there's still a twangy zing to the treble and, in my experiences, the way mahogany ages and settles suits my preferences for playing and recording much more than anything I've played recently.
     
  11. imwjl

    imwjl Poster Extraordinaire

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    Austin is a long way from La Crosse, WI but you'd (any player) probably enjoy a trip to see Dave's collection: https://davesguitar.com/daves-collection/browse/

    On a few trips I got to hear and look as Dave let some guitars be played. On one he handed me guitars while my new one was being set up. That really helped me understand the vintage tone thing and how good modern stuff is. It might not be instant gratification but Dave's has so many connections, and now the scale of 3 stores, that they can be on the lookout for what you want in a vintage guitar.

    Something interesting about your mentioning Collings is I found Santa Cruz in general have that super responsive nature but the tone is not as brash or scooped. They don't have the less expensive Waterloo line as Collings does.

    It probably seems silly to a non-player or some but I get the pursuit of or loving a particular tone. I was playing my acoustic last night and ES like electric in the morning, then went to the Tele I love, but realized I'm years into just not tiring of the tone two of the three make.
     
  12. Festus_Hagen

    Festus_Hagen Tele-Holic

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    I came into this Kalamazoo 1966 Kalamazoo KG-10. It is a Kalamazoo neck/headstock decal (they were the same necks, different decals) with the Gibson Body from that time. I saw one on Reverb and he thought he had the only one....lol.

    https://reverb.com/item/6392210-1969-kalamazoo-branded-gibson-b-15-anomaly

    Mine is a player. Stays in tune great and sounds like a vintage guitar should. Sadly I don't play it as much as I should .... :( 20180406_212640.jpg
    20180406_212649.jpg 20180406_212656.jpg 20180406_212715.jpg
     
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  13. [J.K.]

    [J.K.] Tele-Meister

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    I have family in Wisconsin and Iowa, so Dave's may actually be a destination sometime later this year.

    As for your assessment of Santa Cruz, yeah... they only have a few guitars that interest me, but the ones that do are maybe the best modern production guitars I've heard. They're also among the most expensive. One of the dudes I was in a band with who is a luthier got offered a job there a year or two ago, but I think family stuff in town kept him from accepting it. He's happy now doing what he does, but... I wish I had the SCG hookup~


    I played one like that locally, but yours looks way different. Very cool. Is the saddle made of wood?
     
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  14. imwjl

    imwjl Poster Extraordinaire

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    Mine is a 2009. These posts got me to look at current prices from a few builders. It looks like the recession period was a good time to buy. The list price has gone up and at the time the dealers seemed quick to make a deal on inventory they were committed to. Mine was a brand new arrival but the dealer didn't offer anything special on anything that had to be ordered.

    Also, Richard Hoover said while my guitar is not of exotic wood, it was made from a stash of old wood. I'm sure that can't be easier to keep or find with time and I believe it makes a difference. Almost same and similar guitars seem 25% to 30% more now.

    All the Dave's shops are quality. The inventory is online. The original store is the must because of his collection (museum).
     
  15. Festus_Hagen

    Festus_Hagen Tele-Holic

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    It is, and I recently put a replacement bone saddle in it. It sounds fuller that way. It has a great sound IMO with the mahogany sides/ back with the spruce top.
     
  16. toomuchfun

    toomuchfun Tele-Afflicted

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    You mentioned in your first post, but have you tried an older Gibson LG-0?

    I have a 1958 model I got a few years ago for $650 and it sounds like what you are looking for. It's a 00 size, short scale and has a mellow folk sound to me. I can make it do blues but that's not all it does.

    58_LG-).jpg
     
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  17. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    I got my sister a sixties Gibson LG-0 last year. She loves the sound and the thin, thin neck.

    I think I paid $600 or $700 for it. The finish is pretty beat, but the neck is straight, the top is flat, the intonation and tuners are good, and the bridge is rosewood. (The one thing to look out for with old LG-0s is that some of them have plastic bridges. If you find one that does, it doesn't cost much to replace it with wood. Just something to keep in mind.)

    And there were a lot of them to choose from at www.reverb.com for well under $1,000.

    Here she is playing it last week:

    sofs4.JPG
     
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  18. uriah1

    uriah1 Telefied Gold Supporter

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    Buddy of mine played a 000 Martin Hog at Sweetwater
    last week. Nice
     
  19. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

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    Don't overlook Guild. They made several models of mahogany guitar. Make sure it's a RI made model.
     
  20. Charlie Bernstein

    Charlie Bernstein Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah, someone posted a picture of one above.

    Guilds are my favorite acoustics. They're the Tele of the acoustic world - lots of response and expression.

    My Guilds have been from Westerly, Rhode Island, but the older ones from Hoboken seem just as good, and you can find those for well under a grand, too.

    Another nice thing about Westerlys is that they were union-made. Other than old Boseman Gibsons, I don't know of any other guitars that ever were. Or are.

    For reliable answers to Guild questions, check out www.letstalkguild.com.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2019
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  21. noah330

    noah330 Friend of Leo's

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    RI & NJ are great. There are a lot of imported ones floating around that I would avoid.
     
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