Buying a small-body acoustic (on a budget)

Discussion in 'Acoustic Heaven' started by heshan, Jun 9, 2015.

  1. FMA

    FMA Poster Extraordinaire

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    Shop around for a Guild GAD F-30, I think it's called. Small bodied. All solid wood. Inch and three-quarters nut. Very nice sounding and can be found, used, for a very decent prices.

    I had one and it was a nice guitar. Sold it to get a Gibson Songwriter.
     
  2. cnlbb

    cnlbb Tele-Afflicted

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    Cool, that's actually perfect. It's the exact shape & size as the Ami, it just has solid wood back and sides (the Ami has a solid top).
     
  3. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I just went through this exercise about two months ago with great advice from here on TDPRI. http://www.tdpri.com/forum/acoustic-heaven/559082-looking-14-fret-blues-box.html I ended up getting the Epi EL-00 and it is fantastic for the money (note that someone else purchased the Epi during my thread). It depends on what you really want though. The EL-00 is a 14 fret which makes it more flexible than just old time blues, but it is still very, very bluesy sounding which is what I was looking for. The smaller bodied (000 12 fret type) like the Jim Dandy are very old bluesy sounding, which kinda turns my off unless you want to sound like those 1930's recordings with a cheap thin sound. I tried the Jim Dandy searching for my 12 fretter. I tried a few Recording Kings, Fender CP-100, the Ami & Patrick, plus a few Seagulls (no bluesy tones), the Martin and my wife has a Taylor GS (no blues sounds). None of these worked for me at all. The EL-00 is very bluesy sounding (but richer than a cheap 000), but for a solid top 14 fretter at this price it is hard to beat. It does have a small nut for big fingers which is something for you to consider as well, but for me that allows it to be a better strummer which I wanted both in one guitar.

    Good luck and I hope that helps.
     
  4. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've had an Alvarez AP710SB for about 4 years now and I like it a lot. The 24" scale and 1 3/4" nut width make for easy playing and while it obviously doesn't project like a Dread or a Jumbo, it has a sweet tone and a nice, loose feel.

    I did replace the tuners with high quality Grovers. The originals weren't terrible but cheap tuners are a mark of all these Chinese guitars, and it was a straight swap that took 10 minutes max. I also put ebony bridge pins in place of the stock plastic ones.

    It has a solid spruce top, mahogany neck and laminated rosewood back and sides. The craftsmanship and attention to detail is very nice, especially in this price range.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. oatsoda

    oatsoda Tele-Holic

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    I have some all solid wood acoustics, and all of the "complex undertones" stuff you hear...yup, it's true, makes a difference. But that doesn't mean that you can't also get great tone from plywood back and sides, which you absolutely can, just be sure the top is solid.

    In my experience, a true parlor size just isn't quite enough, and every time I have had one, it gets old in a hurry. For a compact plucker, I've been much more content with guitars more in the OM size range.

    The Yamaha FS720 meets all the criterion. Sounds amazing, compact size, 14 fret join, dirt cheap, and hey - available in a bunch of cool bursts too! I bought this one used to flip, but it sounded and felt so good that I had almost decided to keep it, and then when my wife saw it and decided it matched the living room more than the old yellowed one hanging on the wall, it was declared the new sofa strummer, couch companion, chesterfield champion, davenport duettist, OK, enough.
     

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  6. Tony Done

    Tony Done Friend of Leo's

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    They are Eric Schoenberg's importer line, made in China. I asked them about the neck joints, and they are apparently resettable, which is not true of most Asian guitars, at last by standard methods. To me that puts them in the "good" guitar class, even if a reset wouldn't be economical. - I don't like the idea of use once and throw away.

    Eric also commissions guitars in the US. Martin were doing it at one time - the "Schoenberg Soloist"- with voicing being done by Dana Bourgeois. I think the current ones are by Bruce Sexauer.
     
  7. heshan

    heshan Tele-Meister

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    Thanks for all the advice again :) Interesting to know more about the Recording King line, as well as the first comment on Alvarez! And the Yamaha FS720 looks cool too :) Even if it doesn't have that old blues-box vibe that I kinda want, haha

    @Obsessed, you seem to have wanted exactly what I want in my future acoustic guitar! That makes the Epiphone sound even more enticing to me, haha. I too don't want anything overly bluesy that makes any other style sound 'wrong' or bad. This seems to fit the bill at a great price. I'm reading your thread on this same topic right now :)

    My updated list (in no order):
    Epiphone EL-00
    Recording King RP-10/RP-6 (although these guitars look smaller, 12th-fret joint)
    Seagull Coastline Grand/Folk
    Simon & Patrick Songsmith Folk
    Alvarez AP-70
     
    Last edited: Jun 10, 2015
  8. TC6969

    TC6969 Friend of Leo's

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  9. heshan

    heshan Tele-Meister

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    Thanks, TC :)

    Question on resettable necks...what exactly does that mean? I'm guessing other guitars like the Epiphone or Seagull/S&P etc. don't have a resettable neck?
     
  10. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Another thing to consider is scale length. I have relatively small fingers, but once you try a shorter scale length guitar, some of that old bluesy sound seems to disappear and I think this has to do with midrange projection. What I learned from my spendy Eastman 12 fret parlor is the great midrange projection comes from a 24.9" scale plus the depth of the guitar. As the body grows from a 000 to a 00 size, this becomes less important (I'm sure some luthier can articulate this better than me), but somewhere in this transition a more rounded/less mid range sound starts to appear. I think most of the old blues guitars were usually 25" scale with a relatively thinner body giving a midrange, but kinda low volume (hence parlor). The Epi 00 is quite a narrow body and I think it must have to do with preserving the midrange with the larger body, but keep some of the larger volume. If you get a chance to try a Taylor GS mini (small body, short scale), it is a surprisingly very rich, well rounded, great volume projection acoustic, but has no bluesy midrange to speak of. It is amazingly more like a scaled down dread/concert sound.

    Oh, also one thing I was surprised since I bought the Epi sight unseen and never played one beforehand is the thin neck. It is thinner than any of my other guitars and really the only complaint I have with the guitar, but so far, only from a "normal" feeling" that I miss. If you have big hands though ... I dunno.
     
  11. heshan

    heshan Tele-Meister

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    Thanks Obsessed :) I hadn't though of scale length - I'm very new to acoustic guitars, even though I've played a few (often!), and I'm unfamiliar with these finer details

    I'm somehow not been a fan of Taylor guitars, though - I've played a couple and didn't really like either. I'll most likely be buying this acoustic without having played it too - I read that the Epi has a slim neck, and I'm not sure if it'll be a problem for me..I usually like it like that

    Again, the question on resettable necks, can any one enlighten me? Thanks
     
  12. Tonetele

    Tonetele Poster Extraordinaire

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    I came across Blueridge guitars in Singapore some 5 or so years ago. All solid woods in most models but a bit above your price range. But they have a Bristol line of guitars.

    Try www.elderly.com and type in Blueridge, scroll down to Blueridge Bristol BM -16 000.
    It's an entry level solid spruce top, laminated mahogany back and sides but only $225. There's a video to watch and listen to. I have been very impressed with some Chinese /Asian made guitars on my trips there. There are some seriously good low priced guitars that are coming out of Asia.
    I bought an all solid wood Ramirez there but they are not made anymore ( name, headstock, legalities etc.).
    We all still love all solid wood guitars, Martin, Taylor, Gibson etc. but money is always a factor for most people.
    Anyway check the video out, it's at least worth a look at. Cheers!
    P.S. no commercial affiliation with any brand.
     
  13. KevinB

    KevinB Doctor of Teleocity

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    Time takes a toll on all acoustic guitars. The tension of the strings tends to move the top and pull the strings higher and higher off the fretboard. Sanding down the base of the bridge saddle allows you to compensate for this somewhat but eventually the action becomes unplayable. At that point the neck needs to be removed from the guitar and reset at an angle that restores playability. This is typically a complex and expensive repair that can only be done by an experienced luthier. Spending $300 or so on a neck reset for a Martin or Gibson that you have a few thousand dollars into is one thing, but spending it on what originally was an inexpensive guitar usually doesn't make sense.

    While a neck reset is somewhat inevitable, it can take many years for an instrument to need one. I have a 30 year-old Epiphone and a 20 year-old Martin, neither of which are close to needing neck resets. Incidentally, Martin's warranty (for the original purchaser) includes neck resets at no charge.

    Here is Acoustic Guitar's review of the Alvarez AP70.
     
  14. Urban Turkey

    Urban Turkey TDPRI Member

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  15. mnutz

    mnutz Tele-Afflicted

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    I also have the Epiphone EL-00, and I agree with Obsessed... it really is a fantastic guitar at that price point.

    Fit, finish, playability, and tone were all there, right out of the box. I bought mine online, and other than a slight truss tweak and decent strings, it didn't require much setup. Saddle and nut slots were both good.

    I tried a few different strings on it, but settled on D'Addario EXP11 (confusing I know, actually 12-53 guage). I keep it tuned down a half step. I think the feel and tone are best there.

    Also I removed the pickguard on mine, it looks way better!
     
  16. blue metalflake

    blue metalflake Doctor of Teleocity

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    I've tried the Martin & in the same shop a Baby Taylor. Sound of the Taylor wins hands down & it's slightly cheaper.
     
  17. Obsessed

    Obsessed Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Oooh yeah, I forgot about the Loar LO-16. Good call Urban Turkey. It is one I never got to try. If you are going for finger picking w/chunky fingers this might be a better answer for you. It gets great reviews too. My Eastman has the wider nut for finger picking, but just does not feel right for strumming. There is a pretty famous guy who gigs with the Loar and I believe there was a link in my thread to look him up. It was definitely on my short list. I drove two states away to find one to play, but never did find one.
     
  18. TNO

    TNO Friend of Leo's

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    I have a Loar LO-216. Nice little guitar, made by the same company as Recording King. Needed a setup just like the RKs do.
     
  19. Big Tony

    Big Tony Friend of Leo's

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    Sweden, by golly!
  20. Urban Turkey

    Urban Turkey TDPRI Member

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    Justin Townes Earle gigs with the LO 16 exclusively these days. Lots of YouTube videos of him playing one.
     
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