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Posted (edited)

I actually bought this guitar about 12 or 13 years ago in Vietnam.

But it’s a new guitar. It has been in the case over a decade.

 

I spec'd it. 20 frets, slot-head, full-size Gibson Jumbo. Barn door Fishman pick-up. Cedar top & Cambodian Rosewood back and sides. Maple neck, Ebony fret-board and

bridge.

 

It is an amazing piece of work. It sat in the case for over a decade.

When Mr. Binh built it but the bridge was far too high. When I pulled it out of

the case - it was like new but the saddle & the bridge

were way too high for my weak fingers.

 

So I gave it to a local guy to sand the bridge & saddle. He did a beautiful job

but it took almost a damned year!

 

Anyway - this is an INCREDIBLE guitar as you will see.

 

Cedar top. Cambodian Rosewood back & Sides, Venetian Cutaway

It is a 20 fret slot-head. Grover Stay-Tite Tuners lock it in tune beautiully.

 

Ebony fretboard & bridge. What a big, beautiful guitar. w/ the Cedar top, it has a unique sound too. '

 

[img2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"https:\/\/www.harmonycentral.com\/forum\/filedata\/fetch?photoid=32526761"}[/img2]

 

 

[img2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"https:\/\/www.harmonycentral.com\/forum\/filedata\/fetch?photoid=32526762"}[/img2]

 

[img2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"https:\/\/www.harmonycentral.com\/forum\/filedata\/fetch?photoid=32526763"}[/img2]

 

[img2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"https:\/\/www.harmonycentral.com\/forum\/filedata\/fetch?photoid=32526764"}[/img2]

 

In case anyone doesn't think it is different enough - here is the back I spec'd. 2 dragons at war w/ each other.

 

[img2=JSON]{"data-align":"none","data-size":"full","src":"https:\/\/www.harmonycentral.com\/forum\/filedata\/fetch?photoid=32526765"}[/img2]

 

 

Edited by Etienne Rambert
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The lovely intersection between the Rosewood & the Maple neck. Beautiful job here.

 

fetch?photoid=32526804&type=small

 

Finally, the bridge in question. I think I still have room both on the bridge & on the saddle

 

fetch?photoid=32526794

 

 

 

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Lovely guitar even if the back is a bit blingy for my taste. As for the bridge, I've never seen anything quite like it. Definitely distinctive. Happy Returned Guitar Day. :thu:

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Posted (edited)

This is a new guitar really. The case has some wear. The guitar has barely been played in 12-13 years. there’s not one scratch on it.

 

As far as tone goes, the Rosewood & Cedar give it a very silky strum sound.

Edited by Etienne Rambert

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Wow, that's really a unique looking guitar. The bridge is definitely unusual too.

 

I really like it overall - except for the split diamonds on the headstock - they look a bit out of place IMHO, and not as well executed as the rest of the inlay work. Outside of that, it looks like a really cool guitar! Happy NoGD! :cool2:

 

 

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Yea, kinda blingy but I love dragons and the whole Asian mysticism surrounding them. I'd like to hear that guitar finger picked.

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Posted (edited)

Bling is where I was 12 or 13 years ago. I don’t regret that.

i agree w/ Phil O’Keefe. The diamonds on the headstock are not rendered so well.

 

I’ll be posting some music from this guitar in the months ahead.

It has a big sound. It will be tougher to record than my little grand auditorium.

 

this guitar stays in tune for days. The set-up, intonation & fretwork

are first-rate.

Edited by Etienne Rambert

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Bling is where I was 12 or 13 years ago. I don’t regret that.

i agree w/ Phil O’Keefe. The diamonds on the headstock are not rendered so well.

 

The dragons are awesome though! :thu:

 

I’ll be posting some music from this guitar in the months ahead.

It has a big sound. It will be tougher to record than my little grand auditorium.

 

In what way? Too much bass? If so, engage the mic's high pass filter (if it has one) and try that first.

 

I look forward to hearing your guitar - I'm interested in hearing what those woods sound like! :snax:

 

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Etienne, you're still there?

Nice guitar, even though the dragons ... but other than that, really, really nice.

How's life going now that you're back in the Big Easy ... you are, aren't you?

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Posted (edited)

 

 

 

The dragons are awesome though! :thu:

 

In what way? Too much bass? If so, engage the mic's high pass filter (if it has one) and try that first.

 

I look forward to hearing your guitar - I'm interested in hearing what those woods sound like! :snax:

 

Yeah. I think this guitar can overwhelm a mic. I can record my grand auditorium Guild F65ce w/ 1 Mic and it just sparkles. This will need

2 mics for sure.

 

Guitarcapo:

 

Since I had this made from scratch, it was $400 or 500 IIRC.But I was living there. No shipping costs.

 

Katopp: That’s close: I am one more refugee from New Orleans who fled to the beaches of Mississippi.

 

I’m only an hour away from Nola if I need to drive in. I am 1/4 mile from the beach.

 

BTW I have another VN acoustic dread I’ve never shown here.

It surprised me when I opened it up this year. It was buried in a case

under a stack of other stuff.

 

It is probably 15 yrs old but brand new - unplayed.

It’s back at the homestead in Lousy Anna. I use it for Nashville tuning

there.

Edited by Etienne Rambert

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Leave that in a case for a decade? A year to sand nut & bridge? And sometimes I think I procrastinate too much... thoughts (choose as many as wish): you maybe have too many guitars if you can put that aside for so long; like me you have creeping dementia and forgot you had it; you like to age guitars like fine wine before imbibing (still in France?)....

Do you know if Mr Binh is still in business? Might give me excuse for field trip. Not too blingy for me (I live in Thailand... Thai temples as bling as can be). Love that guitar... and enjoy your posts

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Posted (edited)

FWIW:

 

dimensions are 17” wide at lower bout

 

4 1/2 “ deep at sides

 

body is 20 “ top to bottom

 

(Numbers added by me)

 

 

(1) Leave that in a case for a decade? (2) A year to sand nut & bridge? And sometimes I think I procrastinate too much... thoughts (choose as many as wish): (3) you maybe have too many guitars if you can put that aside for so long; like me you have creeping dementia and forgot you had it; you like to age guitars like fine wine before imbibing (still in France?)....

(4) Do you know if Mr Binh is still in business? Might give me excuse for field trip. Not too blingy for me (I live in Thailand... Thai temples as bling as can be). Love that guitar... and (5)enjoy your posts

 

(1) yup. The bridge was ridiculously high. Dunno WTF Binh was thinking.

(2) yup. Boy I was getting pissed too.

(3) yup. I have too many steel-string acoustic guitars.

(4)yes he is. His Facebook page is https://m.facebook.com/guitarbinh/

(5) Thanks

 

Katopp might have more up to date contact info. It’s worth flying to Saigon just to visit Guitar Street.

 

I haven’t been back since 2017. It’s only 45 minutes from BGK.

 

 

Edited by Etienne Rambert
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Posted (edited)

In regards to Binh - just take a look at his Facebook Page. I haven't bought a guitar in years. I have everything I need and more. Sad, but true, I can go into any guitar shop and pick any guitar and I can say: nice, but I have better. Or at least as good. I fact, I am thinning the herd. Not aggressively, more on a "donate a guitar to someone who needs it" and "give it to a good friend" basis. The only guitar that could possibly tickle my interest would be a carbon. But those are still prohibitively expensive and well beyond what I would want to spend for just another guitar.

Yes. Guitar Street is worth a visit, but beware. Most of the shops are selling Chinese made stuff and very few of them - foremost Binh and his brother and a shop on the other side of the road whose name escapes me - are worth shopping at.

 

Edit: Explanation: you have different kinds of instruments there. The lowest grade is Chinese made for the VN market. Price is around two meal deals at McD. Ugly. Avoid. Then there is the VN made instrument for the domestic market. Still bad, slightly more expensive. Priced like two bucket meals at KFC. Still avoid. Then you have the generic Chinese or VN stuff that goes to the $100+ range. Some of that is actually pretty, but the wood isn't dried and I still would rather pass. A step above you have the VN (or sometimes CN) made semiprofessional stuff. Still cheap, still pass, given the low price difference. Top notch are the handmade instruments from the masters of the trade. Binh and his brother and the shop across the street. Problem is, they also sell everything from the VN domestic upwards. Binh now runs a CNC set for machining necks ... you only do that if you have a constant high throughput. And, of course, they will sell you a VN domestic or semiprofessional instrument for "tourist prices" if they can. They have to live, too. And as a tourist, you pay more than a Vietnamese. So get there, by any means, pay a visit, but be careful what to buy. If it's too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Rather go to a shop like Binh's, which has a reputation, mention Etienne or myself and HarmonyCentral when at Binh and don't pick from anything but the top shelf. Yes, more expensive, but still a steal. I have 8 Binh and only two slight issues with one guitar sticking up the 13th fret and another showing sign of stress during winter. Most amazingly, the stressed guitar isn't the lightest built, but a rather more substantial all-Koa Jumbo.

Edited by katopp

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Posted (edited)

S

In regards to Binh - just take a look at his Facebook Page. I haven't bought a guitar in years. I have everything I need and more. Sad, but true, I can go into any guitar shop and pick any guitar and I can say: nice, but I have better. Or at least as good. I fact, I am thinning the herd. Not aggressively, more on a "donate a guitar to someone who needs it" and "give it to a good friend" basis. The only guitar that could possibly tickle my interest would be a carbon. But those are still prohibitively expensive and well beyond what I would want to spend for just another guitar.

Yes. Guitar Street is worth a visit, but beware. Most of the shops are selling Chinese made stuff and very few of them - foremost Binh and his brother and a shop on the other side of the road whose name escapes me - are worth shopping at.

 

Edit: Explanation: you have different kinds of instruments there. The lowest grade is Chinese made for the VN market. Price is around two meal deals at McD. Ugly. Avoid. Then there is the VN made instrument for the domestic market. Still bad, slightly more expensive. Priced like two bucket meals at KFC. Still avoid. Then you have the generic Chinese or VN stuff that goes to the $100+ range. Some of that is actually pretty, but the wood isn't dried and I still would rather pass. A step above you have the VN (or sometimes CN) made semiprofessional stuff. Still cheap, still pass, given the low price difference. Top notch are the handmade instruments from the masters of the trade. Binh and his brother and the shop across the street. Problem is, they also sell everything from the VN domestic upwards. Binh now runs a CNC set for machining necks ... you only do that if you have a constant high throughput. And, of course, they will sell you a VN domestic or semiprofessional instrument for "tourist prices" if they can. They have to live, too. And as a tourist, you pay more than a Vietnamese. So get there, by any means, pay a visit, but be careful what to buy. If it's too good to be true, it is too good to be true. Rather go to a shop like Binh's, which has a reputation, mention Etienne or myself and HarmonyCentral when at Binh and don't pick from anything but the top shelf. Yes, more expensive, but still a steal. I have 8 Binh and only two slight issues with one guitar sticking up the 13th fret and another showing sign of stress during winter. Most amazingly, the stressed guitar isn't the lightest built, but a rather more substantial all-Koa Jumbo.

 

His name is Duy Ngoc. I agree. He and Binh are the best dealers on the street. IMO, Binh’s easier to work with and less expensive.

 

http://duyngoc.vn/

 

It helps if you are living there or can fly in from Bangkok to check on the progress. I would NEVER recommend Guitar Street custom orders for first-time buyers. Too many things can go wrong.

 

I do recommend a visit there for anyone and buying off the rack though.

 

living there, I bought two unique guitars - this Jumbo my big marcellis archtop.

They are keepers.

Edited by Etienne Rambert

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Too many things can go wrong? There's only so many things about an acoustic guitar build. Do you mean errors caused by lack of understanding, or misinterpretations? IIRC, katopp ordered his in absentia and...got lucky?

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Yes and no.

I could not have done it without the very valuable help and assistance of Etienne. You could be buying an off-the-shelf guitar/ukulele/mandolin while you are there. Then, obviously, go and triple check. If it's too good... yadayadayada. Don't fool yourself with the bling. In Asia, they love bling. But does bling sing?

Chances are, you still buy a mass-produed CN guitar. That is, if you don't buy from one of the three mentioned dealers. They have come a long way in China. When friends of mine over here want a new guitar and there is nothing locally available, I order direct via Alibaba. The I do the check and setup here. Chinese quality has risen in the past 10'ish years. The last $300 guitar from China was so good, I did not even need to do a full setup and the sound was more than acceptable.

Guitar Street and Binh, his brother and Duy Ngoc are frankly unbeatable, when you want something that you can't get falling off a production line somewhere. Your own wood, your own appointments, your own design ideas. In Martin's - or anybody elses - Custom Shop, you will spend easily the value of a good car. Order from Binh and it will be significantly less.

 

But it will be a full spec custom order. If you want a stock Martin D28, you'd be better off buying from CFM. If you want a Martin D28, but not a spruce top, but a cedar top in antique lacquer, with a torch inlay on the headstock and koa binding, you will get ripped off at the custom shop. Go to Binh. But remember: it will be a full spec custom built. If you don't specc it properly, it won't be in there or done as the builder sees fit. If you don't have the option to check during the build, you will get what the builder sees fit. If it takes longer and you are not there to get it under control, you will wait. Not, that it is vastly different from ordering a custom from any other maker, but it is not like buying off the shelf. There is so much more in a guitar than you can see from the outside....

 

There was, to be honest, not a single guitar from Binh that was exactly like being ordered. It was always positive, though. Like better bindings and purflings, little details that I had not properly specced and Binh filled in the blanks. If you like it how he does it, it's okay. If you however don't like it .... well, you haven't specced it up properly. Not Binh's fault. So, it is better to start off with someone who did already order a custom guitar before. Best someone, who has worked with Binh before. I have a number of friends, who ordered their first customs through me and they got hooked, just like me. It's hard to believe that you pay significantly less for a custom guitar than for an off-the-shelf guitar, still have the full custom experience and get what you can't get otherwise. There is a reason, why Binh's guitar make up 1/3 of my collection.

 

What I would suggest is to combine a holiday in VN with the ordering/pickup of a guitar. Either you get there mid-build to check if everything is just as you wanted it and give Binh a chance to fix what's to be fixed, or you fly over to pick it up. Then you can take care of it on the way back and possibly even bypass customs. Plus a guitar is cheaper (and faster) shipped as luggage than via DHL or any other shipping agent. Just avoid United Airlines :-)

 

VN is a fantastic holiday destination. It's possibly the easiest country in Asia to travel. The French have left their mark there for a long time and you possibly get the best French Coffee and pastries outside of France. Try a "Weasel Coffee", but don't ask, how it's being made. The local cuisine is fresher and lighter than Chinese and not as hot as Thai. Prices are ridiculously low in country. If you are the adventurous, get yourself the schedule of a $5000 package holiday and book hotels and transport yourself. Spend what you save in Guitar Street. You'll return with more than one guitar and still stick to your budget....

 

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So it goes for any builder regarding specs. I spec'd a commission and got exactly what I spec'd. But, there wasn't a detail that was not identified and set in writing (contract). Should a buyer take the time to ponder every aspect of a build and describe them in terms of preferences a builder's instructions are concise. However, if such woods and appointments are not to be had, in whole or in part, it would either kill the deal or a firm compromise agreed upon and set to writing. Then, of course, due to CITES there must be paperwork necessary to quickly grease the build through the borders of any national regulatory scrutiny. I mention the last bit because my commission got held up in cold storage (winter) waiting for material documentation (early CITES kick-off). When it arrived the Ents opened the case in a warm room and the finish crytalized over all exposed surfaces. This after waiting one full year.

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Yes, it's like with any other custom order. If you don't spec it, it's up to the builder's discretion.

So, yes, it's like with any other custom order.

But if you haven't done a custom order before, this is a steep learning curve.

And CITES is getting less strict. There are talks of getting rid of CITES addendum II for small instruments like guitars, which would reallow Abalone and East Indian Rosewood. I can feel your pain. Ordered a guitar in October, got into delays, got it shipped in December and it got redirected due to some bollocks not knowing where Ireland is. The Guitar was shipped from Florida to Yellowknife in Canada, spent two days in a warehouse there, then via Greenland to Iceland and then to Sweden until it arrived in Ireland. All the time in and out of climatized airplanes, into unheated warehouses, trucks, the whole shebang.

Guess what? It arrived pretty much ruined. Had to send it back....

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Yep, same slings and arrows. Funny, only an acoustic guitar player would suffer this kind of disappointment. Meanwhile, the rest of the world of cellphone caliphates cock their collective eyebrow in apathy. Once bitten, twice shy, and a visual learner to boot; I'll never commission another. AFAIC, Yamaha is still going strong for good reason.

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Posted (edited)
Too many things can go wrong? There's only so many things about an acoustic guitar build. Do you mean errors caused by lack of understanding' date=' or misinterpretations?[/b'] IIRC, katopp ordered his in absentia and...got lucky?

 

Bingo -- so many things can go wrong in communications. Hell people get communications wrong with Guitar Center. If you're dealing w/ a vendor whose native language is not English in a tiny shop 12,000 miles away - what can go wrong?

 

Katopp made his own trips too. He wasn't ordering blind.

 

Nobody should do straight on-line order from guitar-street - even from Binh or his competitor across the street.

 

Emory - OTOH, can fly in from Bangkok. The flights are not expensive

and only take around 45 minutes IIRC. If someone lives in the

neighborhood, it reduces the risk considerably.

Edited by Etienne Rambert

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Bingo -- so many things can go wrong in communications. Hell people get communications wrong with Guitar Center. If you're dealing w/ a vendor whose native language is not English in a tiny shop 12,000 miles away - what can go wrong?

 

Katopp made his own trips too. He wasn't ordering blind.

 

Nobody should do straight on-line order from guitar-street - even from Binh or his competitor across the street.

 

Emory - OTOH, can fly in from Bangkok. The flights are not expensive

and only take around 45 minutes IIRC. If someone lives in the

neighborhood, it reduces the risk considerably.

 

Funny but true. Sometimes a story can't get two people distant from the source and the next thing you know the media is first in with the Hoover Dam burst story. I was on an island in the Pacific that did not have communications with the world. So, I gave a verbal message to the flight engineer of a scheduled air carrier to relay to my company in Florida. The message was to inform my boss that I'd cut my arm and would be laid up for about a week. Two days later he returns laughing with a message from my boss to go to a (named) hospital on Guam where they'd arrange an air ambulance home. The message my boss got was that I'd lost my right arm completely and was suffering from some form of jungle fever with marginal chances of survival.

 

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Posted (edited)

Married couples who speak the same language and sleep in the same bed have trouble communicating.

 

Language translated into expectations causes all sorts of problems.

I’d recommend someone fly there and buy a couple of instruments off the rack. Guitar, mandolin, ukelele?

 

They will definitely get an amazing deal.

Edited by Etienne Rambert

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I could hardly agree more. Fly over, pay this wonderful country a visit. They have earned it. They have been invaded by anyone from anywhere. China, Cambodia, France, USA ... Still, they have not ended up as a vile and hateful people. The countryside is amazingly beautiful - follow the coastal road from Da Nang to Hue over the Hoi Van Pass - amazingly beautiful.

And, if you play your cards right and don't fall into the trap of package holidays, you easily can afford a guitar or two from Binh from the money you have saved.

To put that into perspective: usually, I take triple digit photos a day. In Saigon I took only very few. There was way too much to see. Saigon is an attack on to all of your senses. Hanoi has a Guitar Street, too, but it ain't half as good as Saigon's. Hanoi is also worth a visit, but compared to Saigon, it's calm...

Really, pay Vietnam a visit. It's worth it. You will not regret going there. I loved the country.

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Married couples who speak the same language and sleep in the same bed have trouble communicating.

 

Language translated into expectations causes all sorts of problems.

I’d recommend someone fly there and buy a couple of instruments off the rack. Guitar, mandolin, ukelele?

 

They will definitely get an amazing deal.

 

Married couples have trouble with a lot of things, primarily dealing with being married, and prefer not to talk much about it much less sleep on it.

 

I have no doubt the rack merchandise is good. It was built with known qualities. Customs are a departure from that and at that point all bets are off.

 

All the stuff on the walls at any GC is decent. It's all cookie-cutter from specs of proven designs; newly embellished. Excepting the high-end cookie cutter stuff, it's good quality and pretty cheap. No reason to ford the Pacific for more of the same at a higher (airfare+) price, unless the spirit of adventure just can't be denied.

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