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Am I Crazy? Can a Cheap Guitar Sound and Play This Well?


yanktar
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My Martin J-15, which I picked up on Craigslist for $450 to be used as a knockaround backup, wound up sounding & feeling so good that I sold my other three much more expensive Martins ($1500 - $3000 price spread). Now I'll be looking around for another J-15 (unfortunately discontinued).

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I'm busy exploring the medium-priced acoustic-electric world and have looked at and tried the following:


Seagull Entourage with cutaway

Yamaha APX500II

Yamaha FGX730 with cutaway

Takamine Jumbo

Taylor MIM with a cutaway (about $700)

Alvarez--there's one in my local shop with brass fittings and a green finish--I think it's an FD 60, but it's not on the Alvarez web site.


So far, the best have been the Seagull, the Taylor, and the Alvarez. While I like the Seagull's feel and sound, probably the most, the two I've played have had fret buzz. Is that simply solved by careful setup? The Taylor felt the best but the sound, while good, was only good. The Alvarez seemed to do everything pretty well, but the green....that's a guitar you gotta love because you're not going to sell it...the shop has had it for months now.


So, tonight I picked up my kid's $60 Carlo Robelli, a Sam Ash 3/4 cheapie that I liked from the first. So I'm plinking away on it and I'm noticing that the action is light and low, but no fret buzz at all. The sound is surprising full and even, not dead sounding. I'm wondering, "WTF is going on here? How can this cheap POS sound and feel so good, and work so well?"


How can such a cheap, laminated bargain instrument feel and sound so good? A friend with 30 years playing experience has also said it's a surprisingly nice guitar. How can this be? I KNOW I am no mavin of guitars, especially acoustics, but can I be that wrong?????


I'm now wondering what I should be looking for in my own acoustic...

 

Quality and price don't always go together....if it sounds good to you, go for it.

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Quality and price don't always go together....if it sounds good to you, go for it.

Thanks, I did. I ended up with a Taylor 110ec, spruce top. I just loved the sound and feel of it.

 

Friend came by Friday with his old Yamaha, the predecessor to the APX500II and APX500IIfm. I had found the II to be OK in sound but very, very hard. The fm sounded dead and was even harder. But my friend's APX (something 4????) has a wonderful sound and was a much lighter touch. He's a wonderful player, but terrified of doing anything mechanical. It was clear it not only had no relief but was even bowed toward the strings and still had too high an action. So I got out my toolkit and gave the truss rod about 3/4 of a turn. Got the neck straight with just a hint of relief, but the rod was so tight I didn't want to force it--I don't know the mechanics of acoustics. But the guitar immediately got easier to play, he could bear down with no fret buzz, and now he can have the bridge lowered a bit because there's room, by a pro, not me. Not something I'd risk trying.

 

Had I found a Yamaha that sounded and felt like my friend's I would have taken it at half or less what the Taylor cost without thinking twice, but NOTHING else I tried in various shops sounded and felt like the 110. So that came home.

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  • 9 years later...
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On 2/9/2012 at 12:25 PM, yanktar said:

OK, today it hit. And it was a Taylor 110CE.

More than I planned to spend, but OH! the sound! None of the Yamaha guitars had a sound like it. I tried to APX500IIs, the regular and the FM...which had a dead sound. There was a Takamine in red, that had a really rich sound, the action was OK, but the tuners were instant throw-aways. The Taylor seemed a bit high, but still good, but a tiny bit of a fret buzz because it looked like it had no relief. The tech set it up for me--and told me I was right. The bridge was high and there was no relief. He set both correctly and it was instantly better. It was the first guitar (acoustic) I played that sang to me and felt good at the same time.

 

Now I just have to learn to play the damn thing decently!

I am a die hard Taylor lover! They are the top of the guitar food chain period.

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