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Anybody have a Garrison?


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Just for the heck of it I bought a new Garrison of which I'd never heard the name but the price was good and guitar was full and loud and had this special bracing made of some polymer with this story along with it of how it was developed.

 

The dealer quit stocking them shortly after that.

 

I wonder how they are doing and if many folks got on the Garrison kick. Some get a little pricey. I'll check Google to see if they are still around but just wondering if anyone here has one and how they like it.

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Kidding aside, yes! I have a G-25 that I've had for five years, and it's every bit as great as I could possibly imagine. I do have a bit of a crack on the finish from some careless humidifying (or lack thereof!) but it sounds and feels amazing.

 

I don't know if there are any 'true' Garrisons really being made anymore...I know after the sale things got a bit weird and I know they're doing the import models with the resin top bracing, but I don't know if you can get the ones with the full deal any more, or if they're still made in Canada.

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The Garrison Guitar company was bought out by Gibson 2-3 years ago. The Gibson guitars that are made in Canada are built at the old Garrison factory in Newfoundland and Chris Garrison is head of that operation.

 

Also, from what I understand some Garrison owners (not all) claim to have had problems with these guitars due to the fiberglass bracing. Has soon as Gibson bought the company they would not handle any Garrison repairs under warranty

 

I tried a couple when they first came out and my verdict was...meh.

 

Personally, I'd stay away.

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Some Garrisons develop cracks because the plastic bracing expands/contracts at different rates from the body woods. Humidification helps. Garrisons are no longer made.

 

Gibson bought the factory, and produced their low-end "Songmaker" series there. The factory is no longer operating.

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Hey a Garrison thread that isn't years old!

 

I own 3: a G4-12 I bought back in '05 - ordered from the factory, an '02 G20CE-HG that I bought off eBay in '06, and an '04 G40CE I bought off eBay for $129 last year. That's out of some 20-odd guitars lying about around here - lost count.

 

I like Garrisons, obviously.

 

Comment on humidity sensitivity is dead on. I've never had any problems with mine but I'm a humidity fanatic (trashed 2 early '70's Martins years ago before I got educated on humidity control). Garrisons are extremely sensitive to humidity fluctuations, as stated, because of the variance in expansion between the bracing and the wood (maintain 45-55% ALWAYS - buy a hygrometer!). I've seen a lot of examples of separated backs and tops at the bookmarks, bracing separation, and neck issues. Strictly regulated humidity = no problems - my experience anyway.

 

As for Garrison the guitar and the company: The brand is dead. The factory is gone. Gibson abandoned the bracing system. The founder moved on and was no longer making guitars last I knew. Sad but true.

 

I think Garrisons need a couple years to mellow, otherwise they sound tinny and a bit brittle. Not as much tonal range as a wooden braced guitar but they have a characteristic earthy sound that appeals to me. Both guitars I bought off eBay had to have the necks seriously relaxed - buzzed like hell - probably why the original owners were selling them. Factory setting with wet wood, no doubt. Fix took 3 minutes and a star wrench (. . . or allen wrench, I forget which at the moment).

 

I've seen people describe them as heavy, but I don't really think so. I have a Tak EF341SC. Now THAT'S heavy. Damned thing is a tank. Sounds like one too. Should be good in a bar fight though . . .

 

Garrisons are all solid woods (G series not the AG series). And these days - reeeeaaaallllly cheap. If you find one without humidity damage (splits/brace separations/neck issues), you'll find they're solid guitars at beach guitar prices (i.e., guitars you take to the beach 'cause you don't care what happens to them). I've jammed with the 6's and I gig with the 12 along side my custom Martin J40.

 

Many of them come with decent Fishman pickups too - 2 of mine did. They sound excellent plugged in.

 

However . . .

 

from a collector standpoint, I wouldn't buy one as an investment :)

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Hey a Garrison thread that isn't years old!


I own 3: a G4-12 I bought back in '05 - ordered from the factory, an '02 G20CE-HG that I bought off eBay in '06, and an '04 G40CE I bought off eBay for $129 last year. That's out of some 20-odd guitars lying about around here - lost count.


I like Garrisons, obviously.


Comment on humidity sensitivity is dead on. I've never had any problems with mine but I'm a humidity fanatic (trashed 2 early '70's Martins years ago before I got educated on humidity control). Garrisons are extremely sensitive to humidity fluctuations, as stated, because of the variance in expansion between the bracing and the wood (maintain 45-55% ALWAYS - buy a hygrometer!). I've seen a lot of examples of separated backs and tops at the bookmarks, bracing separation, and neck issues. Strictly regulated humidity = no problems - my experience anyway.


As for Garrison the guitar and the company: The brand is dead. The factory is gone. Gibson abandoned the bracing system. The founder moved on and was no longer making guitars last I knew. Sad but true.


I think Garrisons need a couple years to mellow, otherwise they sound tinny and a bit brittle. Not as much tonal range as a wooden braced guitar but they have a characteristic earthy sound that appeals to me. Both guitars I bought off eBay had to have the necks seriously relaxed - buzzed like hell - probably why the original owners were selling them. Factory setting with wet wood, no doubt. Fix took 3 minutes and a star wrench (. . . or allen wrench, I forget which at the moment).


I've seen people describe them as heavy, but I don't really think so. I have a Tak EF341SC. Now THAT'S heavy. Damned thing is a tank. Sounds like one too. Should be good in a bar fight though . . .


Garrisons are all solid woods (G series not the AG series). And these days - reeeeaaaallllly cheap. If you find one without humidity damage (splits/brace separations/neck issues), you'll find they're solid guitars at beach guitar prices (i.e., guitars you take to the beach 'cause you don't care what happens to them). I've jammed with the 6's and I gig with the 12 along side my custom Martin J40.


Many of them come with decent Fishman pickups too - 2 of mine did. They sound excellent plugged in.


However . . .


from a collector standpoint, I wouldn't buy one as an investment
:)

 

Cogent entry.:thu:

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Man..thank you! What a story. I am confused though. I thought the plastic bracing was supposed to solved the problems of humidity not cause them.

 

I live in humidity hell. Warp is a big problem will all instruments here. I was hoping my Tak and Martin were so well made they could stand up to it. My EKO has...that thing is a tank too..but the pick guard just fell off playing it outside once. Humidity strikes again.

 

Well, I gave my $500 cherry red Garrison away. Maybe some day they will be a collectible since they were in and out of the biz so quick. It was a dread and had a deep full sound and was not heavy. Very playable..and I say that because I do the blue/rock lead thing on acoustic to keep from spitting ear drums these days.

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I bought a used Garrison GGC-20-ce. All solid wood (cedar / birch) with electronics. I wasn't looking to buy a guitar when I went to L&M but saw it and after one strum bought it. It's not as full sounding as my Taylor or Martin but it's a great 'beater' guitar for me.

 

It still reacts to humidity because the top/sides are still solid wood (although some models have laminate sides) so you still need to care for it like other solid wood guitars.

 

Good luck!

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Well..from what I gather here Garrison is no longer alive.

 

It sounded like some great idea but never took off. Some models had their entire bracing network make of a polymer (plastic) material that the inventor claimed has all the resonance of wood with none of the problems of wood...but of course the rest of the guitar is made of wood so you have these impervious bracings attached to wood. Maybe NOT a good idea. If it is all wood then everything can breath, move together but if your bracing is rigid and your body moves with humidity, temp..trouble.

 

I bought it on a whim. Gave it away on a whim. They are gone now. Sounds like somebody just got a little too creative, got some start up money, did a guitar co. and failed.

 

Long live rock and roll.

jb

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I hear you. I liked mine a bunch...but had to give it to this couple who were without a guitar to do their Christian music thing. As soon as they played and sang for me using that Garrison, then said they had no guitar..it was all over..case, tuner, guitar..gone. I replaced it with a Martin. I'm happy.

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Thanks, that little action made me high in a good way as a kite for weeks after and still does. They were so young and struggling to make their way in a ministry through music and openess. I'm not very religious but something just hit me to help em out. It was like I didn't have a choice, I was hit by something to help.

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I believe Garrison was actually around at least 10 years. It was quite the rising star in Canadian start-up circles in the early 2000's or so. I think they got into debt and liquidity trouble trying to grow too fast.

 

Methinks the guitar making biz is a tough gig, especially if you go cutting edge. CA just bit the big one. Too bad as those were also pretty cool guitars. No telling what the future holds for Rainsong either.

 

The biggest problem with any humidity issue is not the the humidity level itself, but rather the swing in humidity levels as the seasons change. I live in the Northeast US. In the summer, you can see RH rise above 70%, so I run the A/C even if it's not all that hot. During the winter heating season, indoor RH will typically fall to the mid-teens if you don't humidify. It will fall to 8-10% if your abode is forced hot air. If you use a wood stove, it's probably more like 2 (the Sahara is moister than that). The humidity yo-yo will destroy anything from a custom guitar to a shipping pallet over time. Given enough time, it will even attack and destroy the neck and fretwork on a metal-body reso.

 

We've got baseboard hot water and still, in the winter, I have 1 or 2 clay canister humidifiers in every case (including my metal reso's and woodwinds) and I run humidifiers as needed throughout the house, including the basement.

 

If you value your instruments . . . . As I said, it cost me 2 Martins to learn this the hard way.

 

The Garrison bracing system is more sensitive to humidity flux than an all wood brace (even the AG series has a composite top brace), but, if you monitor and manage, there shouldn't be any problems. As I mentioned previously, I've my G4-12 is 5 years now and my G20 is 8.

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  • 7 years later...
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Greetings everyone,

 

I have a Garrison G50-CE which I've been told may soon need a neck reset to the tune of about $1200. Since I paid only about half that for this guitar, it's not an investment I'm inclined to make. I noticed on the inside of the body where the neck-heel meets there is a large (3/16") hex bolt which appears like it might be some type of adjustment. I've never seen this on any other acoustic. Does anyone know what that's for? I can find no info on this anywhere online.

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I have a Garrison scheduled to come into my shop to have a pickup installed. Not quite sure when that will happen - the pickup is on order - I would guess in the next week or so. When it gets here I'll see what I can figure out. I'll PM you when that happens but if you don't plan on checking this forum often you might want to PM me your e-mail addy.

 

Let me add that I build guitars and do repairs, including neck resets, so I have a bit of understanding about the issues here. I'll try to figure out what would be involved.

Edited by Freeman Keller
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Greetings everyone,

 

I have a Garrison G50-CE which I've been told may soon need a neck reset to the tune of about $1200. Since I paid only about half that for this guitar, it's not an investment I'm inclined to make. I noticed on the inside of the body where the neck-heel meets there is a large (3/16") hex bolt which appears like it might be some type of adjustment. I've never seen this on any other acoustic. Does anyone know what that's for? I can find no info on this anywhere online.

First, Welcome to the Forum, Jason. Second, AFAIK your guitar has a bolt on neck. The bolts aren't for adjustments. From Music Center Filibe:

The neck of your Garrison Guitar bolts through the neck block with machine screws into two high quality inserts. Not all that uncommon. Except... your neck block is also made from long-strand glass fiber that "locks-in" to the bracing system.

Your issue may be as simple as loose bolts, which shouldn't cost near as much as a reset and may be a DIY project, but you could be in for serious expense. I have no idea what issues are involved with the Fiberglas neck block but that could easily account for some of the added cost. $1200 is still about twice the going rate for a reset on a normally constructed guitar, and bolt on neck resets typically cost less than that. I'd let Freeman get back to you after he has a chance to look at the one that's coming into his shop.

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Well, I don't think Jason Owen is going to return but since I promised and the guitar came in today, here is my report. The Garrison has a molded skeleton made of fiberglass (or maybe its just some sort of plastic), I seriously doubt that its carbon fiber. It has a lot of little molding vents and is more or less in the shape of normal braces. There is a structure that runs around the rims (kerfing), X braces with some tone bar looking things, a bridge plate with some extra reinforcement, a skeleton tail block and sort of a neck block, again what I would call a skeleton. The neck block has two allen head bolts in it, they must hold the neck on. The neck "block" is not thick enough to have a neck tenon inserted into it so my best guess is that this is a bolted butt joint. The f/b extension looks to be glued to the top - there are no bolts like a Taylor NT neck has.

 

Based on this, if I were asked to do a reset I would assume it would be fairly straightforward - heat and pop the f/b extension, unbolt and floss the neck heel to get the correct angle, glue the extension back down. I know I would at least have to make a new saddle so that and a setup would be included. There is always the possibility that a new nut will be needed when the neck angle is changed.

 

I would probably give an estimate of $200 for the reset and $50 more if a nut were needed.

 

There is one other possibility with any bolt on neck - if the bolts become loose the neck angle will change and it looks like it needs a neck reset. If thats the case and I didn't make a saddle or do any other setup work the cost would be $25 for a half hour of my labor.

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. . . The Garrison has a molded skeleton made of fiberglass (or maybe its just some sort of plastic), I seriously doubt that its carbon fiber. . . . The neck block has two allen head bolts in it, they must hold the neck on. The neck "block" is not thick enough to have a neck tenon inserted into it so my best guess is that this is a bolted butt joint. The f/b extension looks to be glued to the top - there are no bolts like a Taylor NT neck has. . . .

 

. . . There is one other possibility with any bolt on neck - if the bolts become loose the neck angle will change and it looks like it needs a neck reset. If thats the case and I didn't make a saddle or do any other setup work the cost would be $25 for a half hour of my labor.

Just about everything I've read suggests the molded bracing is Fiberglas. Based on the description I found of how Garrisons are constructed I suspected something similar to your findings regarding the neck joint. I also mentioned the possibility of plain old loose bolts before and if Jason is very lucky that's all that's wrong. In any event, $1200 seems very high for a reset. Thanks for the update.

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The skeleton is kind of interesting looking - there are very obvious molding marks and vents. It certainly does not look like CF - I would agree that it is just molded fiberglass. The wood appears to be glued to it, there are small blobs of glue that just looks like epoxy. Seems to be an OK sounding guitar, I'll put the p/u in it tomorrow and convert it for a left handed player.

 

If Owen had any interest and had contacted me as I originally suggested I would take some pictures and experiment a bit with the neck bolts but since he didn't bother I won't either.

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To be honest, I don't know that much about Garrisons. One cropped up in a GC across the Mississippi in Illinois a while back but it was a bit of a drive to satisfy curiosity. I've seen a few pics of the molded ''framework'' but I'd very much like to see any pics you might post.

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OK, here is what it looks like inside

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]n32104650[/ATTACH]

 

[ATTACH=CONFIG]n32104651[/ATTACH]

 

The first is just a shot thru the sound hole at the lable and back bracing. The second looks up towards the "neck block" showing the bottom of the two neck bolts. They ar 3/16 allen head and were nice and snug on this guitar. The braces are basically T shaped and have little cylindrical protrusions on them - I'm not sure if they have structural use or were part of the casting process. The top bracing is made the same way and looks pretty much like a normal X brace with some fingers and tone bars. It has a black plastic bridge plate to which I glued the transducers of a K&K pickup.

 

Back and sides are some sort of light colored wood with a nice grain - maybe cherry or something. Top is probably spruce.

 

I played the guitar a bit last night - sounds fine but I'm not going to run right out and buy one. It will go back to its owner today.

 

Edited by Freeman Keller
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. . . Back and sides are some sort of light colored wood with a nice grain - maybe cherry or something. Top is probably spruce.

 

I played the guitar a bit last night - sounds fine but I'm not going to run right out and buy one. It will go back to its owner today.

Thanks for the pics. Garrison sometimes used birch (it being a local Canadian wood) for backs and sides so I'd guess that's what that specific guitar has.

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