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  • NGD: Art & Lutherie Ami Cedar

    Actually, the official NGD was a couple of days ago, but I've been getting acquainted with my new friend.

    Let me say this at the outset. The best advice when buying a new guitar is to play it, or at least one like it. Research and reviews are good but go only so far. There is nothing like having the acoustic in your lap and playing it for a bit. Unfortunately, no one near me sells Ami's, or any Art & Lutherie, for that matter.

    My initial impression was mixed. I was prepared for a smaller guitar, but not quite this small! My wife's comment was that I had bought a toy.

    I had allowed the Ami to acclimate overnight, so I tuned it to see what the sound would be. Not bad, but not real good. It certainly didn't meet my expectations based on the reviews. In addition, the B string did not sound crisp. I fear my description will leave something to be desired, but the B string had an almost-ukulele sound. Buyer's remorse was beginning to set in.

    As I was wondering what changing the strings would do, I had a set of D'Addario EXP16's, the phone rang. The guy at Maple Leaf Music in Brattleboro, Vermont, called to see if I had received the guitar and if I liked it. I thought that was a really kind thing to do. Well, I told him my misgivings, and he told me again what a great guitar the Ami is. In response to the sound I was getting, he said that changing the strings would make a great difference. His comment was that the Godin strings which the company puts on their guitars are, in his word, "crap." He also suggested having it properly set up with a certified luthier and it would probably take care of what I was getting out of the B string. He asked if I wanted to return the guitar, but I figured that because I would lose the $40 shipping and have to pay another $15-$20 to ship it back, I would probably keep it. I felt that the little git would probably grow on me.

    After the phone call, I changed the strings. The difference was night and day. The Ami sounded louder, fuller, and more crisp.

    I feel sure it will prove a keeper. For one thing, the sound is good fingerstyle as well as strumming with a pick. I was really surprised at how good it sounds with a pick. No one will confuse it with a dread, but still it will suffice well with small group sing-alongs. It does not sound tinny like a lot of small guitars do. It sounds like a real guitar.

    Also, it is very comfortable to play. Sitting on the sofa with it is certainly less awkward than holding a dread. Also, the nut width is 1.72", the same as all A&L's, with the exception of the Ami Nylon Cedar, which is 2". It's the same as my Norman ST68, so switching between the two is easy.

    The guitar is well built and is very sturdy. I don't see any imperfections. I got the antique burst model. Yes, it looks just like the website photo. And, as is noted often, it comes with a serviceable gig bag, though I wouldn't mind finding something more sturdy for trips.

    As far as the guitar itself, the biggest annoyance is the raised decal rosette that A&L is putting now on all their guitars. They claim that it adds strength and support to the wood around the sound hole, but it just seems like a cheap way to say we have a rosette. Frankly, I'm thinking about pealing it off. Does anyone think that would be a bad decision? The design of the rosette is not unattractive, but I would prefer the painted decals that the Ami's had a few years ago.

    Still, for the money, I doubt I could do much better for a new parlor-sized guitar. It cost me $225 plus $40 shipping. I could have saved a little buying used on eBay, but the difference wasn't enough to warrant going that route to me.

    One issue I hope to resolve is the B string still is not quite as crisp when using a pick as the other strings. The Maple Leaf guy said that a bone saddle would probably make a difference is both volume and quality (though volume is very good to me), and a good luthier would have it sounding like I want it. I don't know. I don't even know a certified luthier, but I'm sure there are some in Greenville or Spartanburg. It may simply be my perception that the B string sounds differently. This may simply be the way the B string sounds on parlor-sized guitars.

    Be that as it may, I wanted the guitar to keep in my office and carry on trips. I suspect the Ami will do very well for those purposes as well as playing in intimate settings.

    I'll be glad to post pics as soon as possible, but it simply looks like the photo in the A&L link I placed a few paragraphs above.

    Bill
    Martin OM-21; Eastman AC710S

    The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism--1647).

    Carolina Commentary

  • #2
    The Maple Leaf guy said that a bone saddle would probably make a difference is both volume and quality. I don't know. I don't even know a certified luthier, but I'm sure there are some in Greenville or Spartanburg. It may simply be my perception, that this is simply the way the B string sounds on parlor-sized guitars.


    Its not hard to make your own bone saddle, and it probably wouldn't hurt to buy a couple of bone bridge pins too. I'm having some issues with the Frets.com website right now (otherwise I'd post a great tutorial from it) but here's a link to a thread I posted from when I was making my own bone saddle: http://acapella.harmony-central.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1683113.

    If I can do it, you can do it.

    And about the rosette: I bet you could peel it off. I've heard of peeling off unattractive pickguards from time to time and I bet its a similar process.

    Ellen

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    • #3
      Thanks, Ellen.

      Bill
      Martin OM-21; Eastman AC710S

      The chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy him forever (Westminster Shorter Catechism--1647).

      Carolina Commentary

      Comment


      • #4
        I will admit that it took me a little while to get used to the sound of my ami. Now it's my favorite but I think my real ideal would be a Folk.

        I will say that one of the things that I really don't like about the new Godin guitars is the puffy sticker rosette. My Ami has a wood inlaid rosette and it's really nice.

        Comment


        • #5
          Well..I am glad you are enjoying it and I know having owned an electric acoustic one myself for a few years it does grow on you. I did plenty of gigs with mine, busked rain or shine and it always performed well. I even went so far as to put meduim strings on mine as I play a lot of open tuned slide and that guitar was the best for that purpose as it really had an authentic old time blues tone. I kind of miss that guitar as it was like an old friend.
          I hope yours grows on you too.

          Here's a pic of me with mine backstage at a gig.

          Guitars = Chick Magnet
          Guitar Hero = Guy Magnet
          You do the math.


          HCAG Civil Posters Society, Charter Member #002.
          Simple music is the hardest music to play and blues is simple music. - Albert Collins

          Comment


          • #6
            Ditto on Ellen's ideas Bill. You have a solid instrument there. Make it yours.

            Dan
            The last of the world's great human beings.

            Looking for a beater D28 or D35 Martin. Needs neck reset ok. Thakns

            Comment


            • #7
              Great review, Bill. Thanks for taking the time to put that up. Now, the real question is ...


              Do I have enough dough to get the Ami Nylon?

              GAS ATTACK!!!!

              Comment


              • #8
                Great review, Bill. Thanks for taking the time to put that up. Now, the real question is ...


                Do I have enough dough to get the Ami Nylon?

                GAS ATTACK!!!!


                I know...I know...no bridge pins.

                The solid cedar topped one sounds really really nice. I tried one out a few months back when I was looking for a nylon stringer. I ended up with the Takamine G128S. It was really a close call between the two but I opted for a full size classical to start out on. Turns out...I am still starting out on it.
                Guitars = Chick Magnet
                Guitar Hero = Guy Magnet
                You do the math.


                HCAG Civil Posters Society, Charter Member #002.
                Simple music is the hardest music to play and blues is simple music. - Albert Collins

                Comment


                • #9
                  I know...I know...no bridge pins.


                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Congratulations. I hope it gets better. My S&P parlor has a tusq nut and saddle and it has a good balanced sound on all strings. When I got mine I wasn't looking for a guitar, and certainly not a parlor which I knew nothing about. I happened to grab it off a wall and the sound out of that small guitar simply amazed me and I found a way to get it.

                    I put Martin Marquis lights on mine when I got it, only because I got them free with the guitar. When I first put them on they were very jangly, I didn't like it at all, and almost just took them off. But luckily I'm to cheap to discard strings so fast, and after two days they actually sound very nice on that guitar. The change after a few days was really quite amazing - I did play it quite a bit those two days.

                    Scott O
                    Taylor 110, Martin D12X1, Simon & Patrick Parlor, Washburn D10CBL, Yamaha F-335 BL, Yamaha G-100A, Hilo Soprano Ukulele, single string stick-in-a-can upright bass, Washburn "Billy" electric, Jaw Harp

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