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Applause Applause AN13 Minibowl 3/4 Classical Guitar
Overall Rating
Submitted: November 25th, 2007
by Neri_1
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Sound Quality
Acceptable for that ridiculous price, I guess, but nothing to write home about. You'll never mistake it for a solid top, not even for one second. Mine came with corroded strings that I replaced immediately with medium-tension D'Addario. The three lower strings project surprisingly well for such a small guitar, probably thanks to the deep bowl, but the low E especially sounds twangy and muddy. The three high strings sound OK but with very little sustain. It feels to me as if the guitar, with its obvious steel-string heritage, is slightly too massive for achieving that sweet tone you get from many classical guitars, even some cheap laminate tops. Try tuning half a tone higher, which restores the strings to the tension they've been intended for in a full-scale classical and tightens the bass somewhat. Intonation is adequate up the neck (another benefit of nylon strings - they tend to involve much less intonation problems) and light fingerpicking with a capo on the 5th or 7th fret actually does sound sweet. Strumming always sounds dull no matter how and where you do it.
Didn't have the chance to put it into any demanding tests yet, but the composite bowl, laminated gloss top and overall rigid construction easily make this the most durable guitar in its category. I keep it anywhere around the house with no worries, out of the case and readily available for picking up, which is a big plus in a practice guitar.
General Comments
I???ve had a bit of formal classical guitar training when I was a kid, been playing on and off for years, and re-picked it as a hobby during this last year. I mostly fingerpick folk, rock and acoustic blues, and my main guitar is a Martin DX1 (which is probably why I have such high standards of tone in small budget guitars). However, for some reason I've never managed to develop hard enough calluses to play a steel-string for more than an hour nonstop, so I figured I'd buy a cheap nylon string "parlor" guitar that I can practice for hours with, picking up new songs or developing muscle memory even while I sit in front of the TV or computer screen, and maybe experiment a bit with bossa and flamenco. The Applause AN13-4 seemed to fit the bill exactly, but I couldn't find it in any store, so I took the risk of ordering it online from Musician's Friend (NOT the recommended way to buy a guitar). The AN13-4 certainly does what I bought it for, and in its low price and very limited category I'm yet to come across anything better overall (though there's at least one with better tone: the Giannini GWNE6 3/4). Still, I wonder if the Kaman engineers have even bothered playing this model at all, because with minor ergonomic redesign and slightly better tone it could have been the ultimate beginner's acoustic, especially for young children where sturdiness is a definite plus. As it is I'd hesitate to buy this guitar as a present for a young beginner because it tends to induce an incorrect left wrist position. If this guitar was stolen I would have been tempted to add a few hundred dollars and buy a solid top classical instead, or maybe one of those traveler/silent electric guitars.
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