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Sound Quality

The D-03 comes remarkably close to my Holy Grail tone. With the right strings and setup, the D-03 exhibits wonderful projection and high end sparkle. It sounds very much like the Taylor guitars I have played, which is kind of funny when you consider that most of us view mahogany as a relatively dark tone wood. Yet, despite the treble bliss evoked from the D-03, the bass is where it came up short. Bass runs seem tinny and cold (also much like a Taylor) and playing bass strings near the 12th fret was very disappointing. Likewise, when lightly strumming, this guitar's midrange and high end detail were quite beautiful. Unfortunately, strumming heavily blurred all the detail out of the chords. Note separation was abysmal. It was as though the soundboard was distorting under high volume. Quite a surprise for a mahogany guitar. Additionally, I'm dumbfounded at those who claim that this guitar is suited for finger picking. My Martin blows this guitar out of the water in this area. The D-03's sound is far too present for finger picking to sound pleasant. Trust me, pick up a rosewood Martin and play it in a quiet room for a while. You'll never consider the Larrivee a rival for finger picking. Last, light gauge strings are certainly NOT the best sound for this guitar. The Clear Tone strings that come standard on D-03's are awful. Martin mediums are better, and D'Addario medium phosphor-bronze strings are the best match I found. The D'Addario's added much fuller tone and a great deal of volume.

Reliability/Durability

As noted above, I have little to take issue with in regard to the D-03's durability but for the satin finish. The finish of the D-03 is the only concern I have with its reliability. I never gig, so it's difficult for me to speculate on how it would hold up under such treatment. Personally, I would think this would be the type of guitar you would want to perform with. That way, you could allow your prized acoustic to remain at home--protected and maintained away from the perils of the public stage. If your D-03 were to be irreparably damaged you could easily and (relatively) cheaply replace it.

General Comments

In total, the Larrivee D-03 is a very good buy in its price range. It sounds quite good in most applications, but its shortcomings in playability and bass response lead to my replacing it. For those of you looking for a classic-sounding bass from this guitar, you really ought to consider a Martin dreadnought. If you are looking for the Taylor sound, this is your guitar. However, a Taylor is much easier to play.

 

A good guitar any way you look at it, but not in the league of the best.




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