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bluewolf

playability: Martin vs Taylor

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I am in a bit of a quandry. I'm looking to buy another accoustic, I have a Taylor 214 which plays very well and sounds good but I am looking for something in the 1500-2000 price range. I am leaning towards a martin or a Taylor and heres the problem: The martins sound better than the Taylors but the Taylors play alot easier and since I already have a Taylor I am used to a Taylor neck. I really want to love the Martins, but playability is an issue for me. Anybody have this same problem??

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I think Taylor has a smaller radius than Martin. Do I have that right? Or are they the same radius? Larry has compound radius. Either way, you need to take radius into account.

 

Anyway, after having my Martins set-up by a good luthier, I have no complaints about the way they play. The action is low. I use one of them as a jazz guitar.

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it always felt like taylor had a larger, IE flatter, radius than most other guitars. but it may just feel that way because they're so slim.

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I have a Taylor 310 and a Martin D-1. My observations re. playability vs. tone are very much like your own.

 

Here's how I feel about it. Playability is important, yes. But tone is much, much more important. Or at least I've found it to be a consideration that outweighs playability. If the Martin were actually PAINFUL to play or something, I might feel differently. I agree that generally Martins sound much better than Taylors. In fact I've been trying to sell the Taylor and can't seem to GIVE the freakin' thing away, but that is neither here nor there. No matter how much I'm not crazy about the way it sounds, I do love the way it plays. But that's just not enough. I find myself playing the Martin - a significantly less expensive model, by the way - much, much more often.

 

As Cldplytkmn points out, there's a wide world of choices out there. Certainly do not count Larrivee out of your consideration. In your price range, you can swing just about anything in the 03 & 05 series, all of them great guitars. I also like JT's suggestion of a Marty OM-21. Fantastic guitar. Try one.

 

And there is Guild. American made Guilds, I mean. Nothing against the Chinese Guilds, but I'm not quite as familiar with them. I have an old RI Guild dread and the playability is wonderful - somewhere in between the Martin and the Taylor. 16" radius (most of the new ones are 12).

 

Damn, this is a long post. Sorry. In a nutshell: Favor tone ultimately over playability. But they don't have to be mutually exclusive.

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I agree, tone is more important and a good set up helps. I have also played an epiphone masterbuilt and it it was great and had good playability. A Guild gad50 is another one i played and it had good playability as well as tone. of course they are made in China and if I am going to spend 1500 to 2000 I want an american made one. Arent some larrivees made in california??

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Are you looking for a cutaway and electronics? I played a Martin DC16GTER I think was the model-rosewood back and sides, blender electronics, and it played much like a Taylor. It also sounded a lot like one for some reason. I love the way Taylors play and sound-better than most Martins-I like the brightness myself. For that money, you don't have to limit yourself to a 310-you can easily get a 410. They look much nicer to me. You could get a used higher end one. Check out local stores-they are usually cheaper than the mail order MAP prices by 2 or 3 hundred on Taylors. Play a bunch of Martins and Talors and check out Larivees too-I like them as well-check the fret ends on them. Some people swear they've never seen it, but of the ones I've played, a bunch had the fret ends sticking out from fretboard shrinkage.

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If it is a great playing and sounding guitar I will get it with or without a cutaway and electronics. I usually end up putting in electronics that I like such as the Fishman Rare earth blend with a mike and soundhole mag.

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You can have a Martin set up to play the same as a Taylor. The neck profile is another matter. Even among Martins the neck profile will differ with different models. You just have to find the one you like. A good point was made above and that is that there are many other makes of guitars available. You might want to check these too.

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Playability was good and it had a darker tone to it that I like for blues. Dont J-45's have a 24 and 3/4 inch scale??? Im sure there are alot of j-45 lovers out there.

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As Winston said, nothing wrong with Canadian Larrivees. Every bit as good as anything made in CA, no question. Some of the best guitars in the world are being made in Canada.

 

I recently tried an Epi Masterbilt myself - a slope-shouldered rose dread. Played and sounded great, I agree. I need more guitar on my next buy, though.

 

If you ultimately DO decide to go Taylor on your next purchase, check out the short-scale models in the 500 series. The 510-L9, I believe. If you're gonna make a sacrifice, get every ounce of playability you can.

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can't really say enough about larrivee's in this price range... you can get about 6,000 different larrivee models in that range... haha...

 

RE:california larrivees... all the 03 series guitars are still being made in vancouver, but its my understanding that everything else is coming out of california.

 

RE:fret ends... any underhumidified guitar can/will have bad fret ends. its not a larrivee thing, its a guitar thing.

 

I love J45s and would recommend you play a few of those, rosewood as well as mahogany models. also check out an advanced jumbo, same body shape, but a different bracing pattern that i prefer.

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I honestly like larrivees , but they seem to be carbon copies of one another , at least as sound goes ( hope i didnt offend anyone ) I was seriously looking at a larrivee 30 years ago as well as 3 months ago, their not a guitar for everyone - I had a larrivee in my hand when the dealer pulled out the Martin OM-28v , and in all honesty the larrivee had a faster neck but the Martin killed it for tone quality - Ive avoided Martin like the plague till now , always though Guild was a better bargain for the dollar , but Ive always liked there sound ( Martin )- Ive recently played a few Guilds and I dont think there the same now that Fender bought the company - Guilds can be either really good or really mediocre , I honestly love guitars in general and will proudly display my Martin right next to my Guild , there both great instruments ! Hoping some time in the near future to pick up a Taylor !

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Originally posted by bluewolf

I already have a 214, is the 314 that much better than the 214??

 

The neck on the 314 is different. The nut width is 1.75" and has (ivroid?) binding. The 214 is 1.6875" and has no binding - and I believe is actually the same neck as on the 110. I'm not sure if the neck radius or profile is all that different but AFAIK they're both bolt-on necks. I've seen them go on ebay for $800-$1000.

 

As for Larriv

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Originally posted by bluewolf

I am in a bit of a quandry. I'm looking to buy another accoustic, I have a Taylor 214 which plays very well and sounds good but I am looking for something in the 1500-2000 price range. I am leaning towards a martin or a Taylor and heres the problem: The martins sound better than the Taylors but the Taylors play alot easier and since I already have a Taylor I am used to a Taylor neck. I really want to love the Martins, but playability is an issue for me. Anybody have this same problem??

 

If you'r going to spend $1,500 to $2,000, take the time to find an instrument that has excellent playability and excellent tone. Also consider used instruments. Heck, in that price range, used instruments from makers such as Santa Cruz and David Webber are available.

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Martins traditionally come from the factory with a higher action than Taylors. And in most guitar stores, the Martins get played the most, so the strings are usually dead. The tone from each guitar is subjective. If you like the Martin sound, you will have to get it set up to the action you want. Taylors usually play easier from the start, if you like their tone. Both are fine guitars.

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Originally posted by Tosis Maguill

I love Taylors.

 

^^

 

What he said!

 

The Taylor 214 and 314 are quite different, the 214 has sapele back and sides (a brighter or "poppier" sound) whereas the 314 is made from African Mahogany(resonant and bright). The 214 has a wider neck than the 314 and the 214 is ALL satin finish whereas the 314 has a gloss top and satin back and sides. Another "little" difference is the 314 has the engraved custom Taylor tuners and the 214 doesnt. All Taylors are awesome I find. And I've never ever played a Martin that I liked the sound of, which disappoints me because I always heard such great things about Martins, but hey you can't like eveything.

 

But always remember, you can change playability MORE than you can change sound. But you CAN alter sound. Examples: changing the type of strings (from bronze to phospher bronze can give you a totally new sound, especially with Taylors I find). And I mean, even by changing the nut and saddle from Tusq to bone can give you a slight tonal difference.

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What is wrong with the Taylor 214, The 100 and 200 Taylors have a 1 11/16 nut while the 300 and above all have 1 3/4 nut, so they are a bit wider, all Martins are 1 11/16 nuts. So the more expensive Taylors will have a wider neck for some reason, never able to figure this out. Martin necks are not real bad, it depends on the model and set up , but they are not Taylors, I believe Taylor necks have a compound radius

Jim

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i typically like a bit thicker neck when using a 1 11/16th width... the only larrivee necks that work for me are the 1 3/4 ones cause they're a little bit on the thinnish side of what i like.

 

it needs to be said that martin makes plenty of guitars with 1 3/4 inch necks.

 

i'll never really get why taylor does what they do with the necks.

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That pretty much sums it up , unfortunately Martin has that old worlds attittude , of not letting their dealers vary from certain standards , such as what specifications it must have when its sold. They typically dont let their dealers tinker with them . Its not really all that hard to lower the nut a touch or the saddle , I personnaly like my guitar set up the way i like it , not the way Martin has to give it to me. I'm giving mine a few more months, to build up my hand strength then Im taking it to a Luthier to fine tune it . Martin doesnt seem to change as quickly to Customer demands as other Manufacturers, thou nothing bets them for off the shelf Sound . In the Seventies when they had all those neck problems , they stuck to their guns about not putting in adjustable truss rods - said their solid bars and t bars were the best and thats that- which at that time sold alot of Guilds that didnt have the neck problems .I love my Martin , but the Martin company does not listen to the Customer's needs or wants !

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